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Swamiji's Journey to Badrinath and Kedarnath
by Swami Krishnananda

(Darshan given on February 1st, 2000.)

Swamiji: There was no motor bus at that time because in the year 1950 about – no motor bus. From Chamoli you have to walk. Oh, oh, what a distance! What a distance! I was a young man at that time, very vigorous, strong, strong body, and I walked, walked, walked, walked with luggage on my back, with a stick.

An ashramite: Food, Swamiji?

Swamiji: Food? Very difficult. Narayana. There are some shops on the way. They are called chattis. Sometimes we ask them, “Can you cook some kitchari for me?”

They will say, “If you pay, we will cook kitchari for you.” In those days it was cheap, everything. There was no naya paisa at that time; it was annas – I give annas to him, he will cook the kitchari and give it to me. And another 4 annas I would give to wash the vessel, and all that. In one or two places they refused to do that, so I starved. I ate some raisins and other fruit. Every day it was not possible. Mostly they were very cooperative. Only kitchari, boiling kitchari.

In one place they said, “You yourself cook the kitchari. I will not cook.”

But I said, “I don't know. I have never done this work.”

They said, “We will teach you.” They gave a vessel. “Wash it,” he said. I washed it. And he said, “Pour water into it.” Then after that I had to light the fire.

I asked, “How to light the fire?”

He was telling me one by one. He gave small twigs and he said, “Take the match; it will work. After the twigs started burning, he gave bigger ones. Then the fire started burning.

“Keep the water boiling. And put dal first. Don't put rice first, because dal takes more time to cook.” I did that. Then when it was again boiling he said, “Put rice.” I put rice.

Then I took the pot down. Then he said, “Chhote dalana.”

He gave some spoon with some mirchi and some salt and some condiment, and poured it into it. And because I did it with great difficulty, it was very tasty [laughter]. Oh, I ate it nicely. I cannot make complaints because I myself cooked it. And in that process of lighting the fire I burned my finger also, because I never did such work. The first time in my life I did that, and second time I never did that. And some places I could not do anything. I took some raisins and walked off, that's all. It was great suffering but as I was very young, I didn't feel the suffering. I walked 10, 15, 16 miles every day, and when the sun sets, I will sleep. When the sun rises, I will walk. Roads are there.

A very long, long journey it was. I walked about 150 miles both ways – Badri-Kedar. I fell sick also in Badri because I went too high up towards Dara. Oh, that was a rarefied atmosphere, no oxygen. Due to that, headache, fever. I came and fell, and no doctor there. Fortunately there was somebody from Rishikesh. He gave some tablet. I lay down, like this. For 2-3 days I did not get up also. No food, nothing. Then I took bath in Tapta Kund, and I walked off, again walking alone. Alone I walked because that gentleman went away. He said, “I cannot follow you. I am tired now. You go.” Then all the distance I walked single-handed.

So now I will not undertake any journey like that. It is finished. Accha. Om Namo Narayanaya.