visits the Unmanifest
How Baba ‘re-charged’
the Badrinath Shrine
In June-July 1961, Baba toured North India
and visited many holy shrines in Haridwar, Srinagar, Rishikesh,
Badrinath and Nainital. The purpose of the visit, in Baba’s
own words, was to “charge the exhausted spiritual batteries
of the temples”. Prof. N. Kasturi who was among the
fortunate few who accompanied Baba on this trip recounts the
astounding events that took place when they visited the shrine
‘The visit to Badrinath was first mooted
by Baba in 1958, at a Bhajan session held on the sands of
the Chithravathi. He said then that He would take the Bhakthas
(devotees) to the place where He was doing Tapas (penance)
and everyone present there was wonder struck, for that was
the first time they had ever heard of Tapas, associated with
His earthly career.
Every one until then was convinced that Baba
indulged in no Tapas, here or anywhere, corporeally or extra-corporeally!
But by the time the tour ended they had understood the actual
import of Swami’s statement and the great significance
veiled in it.
Once the visit became a certainty, plans
were ready and the party fixed, before the end of May. Since
the pilgrimage to Badrinath involved a week long journey by
train and bus and an exhausting climb of about 20 miles, Baba
chose only a minute fraction of the hundreds of devotees who
prayed to be given the chance to join Him.
Baba greeted the fortunate few with His Darshan
at the Ethiraja Kalyana Mantapam, Alwarpet, Madras (now Chennai)
on the 7th day of June, 1957 and sent them by train to Delhi,
where He promised to bless them personally, since He proposed
to fly to the Capital, the very next day.
The train reached Delhi about six hours late
and when the hungry, tired and distracted devotees arrived
at last, they found Baba shedding cool comfort and consolation
and strength by His Smile and His Motherly attention.
The next day, at Hardwar, the Governor of
Uttar Pradesh, Dr. B. Ramakrishna Rao, joined Baba, for he
too had planned a visit to Badrinath. On 11th June, Baba and
His Excellency attended the evening Arati to Gangamatha at
the Brahmakund; the vast assemblage of pilgrims got the Darshan
of Baba at that holy spot; Baba blessed the priests and Archaks
with the Vibhuti that He materialised and He sprinkled the
sacred waters of the Ganges on those around Him.
That night, Baba called together the devotees
who were to accompany Him to Badri and reminded them of the
rare privilege that they had won. "You have the
good fortune of proceeding with the Manifested Form to the
Unmanifested Form whereas usually, people pray to the Unmanifested
Form, immanent in the idol, to manifest itself before their
eye, so that they might win the fruit of their Sadhana."
The chosen few were thrilled with joy at
the revelation. He then described in great detail the sacred
shrine to which He was leading them, as if He knew every nook
and corner of the holy area. When He disclosed that Narayana
was there depicted as in Tapomudra, as doing penance, and
explained that it was called Badarikasram on account of this,
the devotees began to see light, and the doubt that assailed
them on the Chitravati sands three years ago about Sathya
Sai Baba and Tapas melted away in a blaze of joy.
Baba spoke also of the subsidiary shrines
in and around Badrinath and also of certain unknown aspects
of its sacredness. For example, no guidebook has published
the information that Sankaracharya brought from Kailash five
Lingams and that he installed one each at Badri, Puri, Sringeri,
Dwaraka and Chidambaram, but Baba revealed this fact that
night. Baba planted in every heart the pilgrim mood of prayer
of brotherhood and loving service.’
Prof. Kasturi in “Sathyam Shivam Sundaram”
explains day-wise details of their journey from the 7th of
June. But now, let’s go to the heart of the story, the
17th of June:
‘The 17th was in fact the day of days,
the day selected by Baba for re-infusing spiritual efficacy,
for charging the run-down battery.
During the morning Abhishekam at the shrine,
Baba who was sitting facing the idol materialised a beautiful
four-armed Narayana Idol, with Sankha Chakra Gada and Padma
(conch, wheel, mace and lotus), and idol of supreme craftsmanship.
Then, in a trice, He created a Golden Lotus,
a thousand petalled one, beautiful beyond all imagination.
We all wondered why the Lotus appeared; but, before our wonder
could find expression in a gasp, Baba waved His hand again.
This time there was a Lingam in His palm,
evidently the same that Sankaracharya had planted in the stone
cavity over which the Narayana idol was placed inside the
Badri Shrine. This last He placed in the centre of the Lotus
and both the Lotus and Idol placed on a silver plate appeared
to have been made for each other.
There were large groups of pilgrims pressing
to enter the tiny hall before the shrine. In order that they
might have access, Baba proposed to ‘charge the battery’
(revitalise the Lingam with spiritual energy) at the Gujarat
Dharmasala where the party stayed.
There Baba directed bhajans to be done and
while the praise of Narayana was being sung, He rose from
the floor, saying, "Now we shall consecrate this
‘The process of recharging’,
Sri Kasturiji writes in Loving God, ‘which over two
hundred witnessed, was most exhilarating. He showed the Lingam
to every one, bringing It Himself near each person, and pointing
out to all the translucence of the material and the form of
an Eye, that was mysteriously incorporated inside it! He called
it the Nethralingam from Kailash.
He drew the devotees’ attention to
the Eye that could be clearly seen inside it, the black shining
retina on the white background and the tapering end with the
lids both upper and lower. When Baba turned the Lingam to
right or left, the eye seemed to roll in the same direction.
“Has everyone seen it?” He asked.
“If you haven’t, come here”,
He invited. “For, it has to go back to where
Sankaracharya placed it,” He announced.
Then, while Badrinath echoed with Bhajans
sung by devotees, Baba rose with a silver pot in His Hand
a pot that had come into His palm when He willed. He came
near the table where the Silver plate with the Lingam on the
Lotus was visible to all. He said, The pot contained holy
water from the Gangotri, the spring in which the Ganga is
born. He released His finger from under the pot and, lo! a
hole was formed there to allow a stream to fall on the Lingam
as ‘Abhishekha’ (ceremonial bath of the idol).
The pundits and priests recited Vedic hymns prescribed for
After Abhishekha, next was Puja (ritual worship).
Baba materialised for the Puja 108 Bilva Leaves (considered
sacred for worship of Lord Shiva) made of gold; they fell
in a scintillating shower from His Divine Hand on to the silver
plate beneath! Again, the Hand was waved!
This time, the shower consisted of a heap
of "Thumme" (Leucas Linifolia) flowers, with the
dew still fresh upon them, tiny bits of fragrant fluff, plucked
with care from a hundred little tropical plants!
These dew-dipped thumme flowers with which
devotees at Puttaparthi worship Baba are generally found only
on the balding hills and dry plains of South India. The Puja
was performed, on behalf of all present, by Dr. B. Ramakrishna
Rao, while appropriate Manthrams like Rudram, Narayana Suktham
and Purusha Suktham were being recited all the while by the
Baba then declared, “Now, the
Lingam will return,” and the Netralingam was
sent back into the secret niche where it was installed by
Sankaracharya 1200 years ago. When it suddenly disappeared,
Baba explained to the devotees that the purpose for which
it was drawn out had been fulfilled with the completion of
the ritual aforesaid.
It had been charged with immense potency
and the Temple consecrated anew by the Manifested form Himself.”
1) “Sathyam Shivam Sundaram”, Vol-I by Prof.
N Kasturi. Page: 221-226. Published By Sri Sathya Sai
Books and Publications Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam.
2) “Living God” by Prof.
N Kasturi. Published By Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications
Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam.