This is a travelogue series of a recent piligrimage from Srirangam to Muktinath and back covering many Divya Desams and holy places including Naimisharanyam, Nandigram, Ayodhya, Allahabad, etc enroute. The following is Part 2 of the travelogue till the first stopping which is Nandigram.
Nandigram: On the morning of 14.09.2013, we left Sri Naimisharanya Mahakshetram after morning coffee and tiffin. Everyone was downstairs by 7.00am and by 7.45 the bus started on the 2nd lap of our journey. Chanting Sri Naimisharanya ki jai our bus moved towards Ayodhya. We did our morning chanting of Suprabatham, Daya Sathakam and other Swami Desika stotrams in the bus. The greenery provided by the vast open fields and water-bodies everywhere was a contrast to the plots and concrete jungles we see elsewhere. We were eager to see the spot sanctified by Bharatha and Sri Rama Padukas. The subject matter of Swami Desikan’s thousand verses Mani Paduka ruled from here. Her rajyam surpassed Ramarajyam says Swami Desikan for everyone adhered to dharma and no one had to bear putrashokam during Padhuka’s reign.
By about 11.00 am we reached Nandigram. Bharatha went with all Ayodhyavasis to Chitrakootam asking SriRama to return , but SriRama refused. So Bharatha got Sri Rama Padukas and ruled not from Ayodhya but from the village of Nandigrama. He put SriRamapaduka on the throne and lived as an ascetic for 14 years with matted locks, cold river baths and Spartan diet. It was our fortune to see this hallowed spot. We entered a temple and found Bharatha and Hanuman in Alinganam (embrace).
When Rama’s vanavasam was completed and they were returning to Ayodhya SriRama sent Sri Hanuman to Nandhigram to convey news of their return. Even a second’s delay would have meant Bharatha falling into fire (Agni-pravesham) So the emissary of good-tidings, the one who saved Seetha from committing suicide, Hanuman was sent in advance. This was the spot where the two Ramabhakthas hugged each other in happiness. The faces (Tirumukhamandalam) of both are serene and expressive. The Mahanth made us all sit down and explained about this spot. Many people gave donations and receipts were issued. We also got Panchamruth prasadam. The Mahanth who was a bundle of bones took us downstairs where we got to see Sri Rama padukas called Charana padukas. There were several Salagramamurthis in front of SriRama-Sita and we were told that they were spotless shilas which were bathed in cow’s milk daily. We saw Bharathazhwar in meditation and a vigraha which looked like Vishnu, Shiva and Buddha when seen at different times. There was a sannidhi for Hanumanji where akhanda jyoti was glowing.
Outside food was being served. Sambar rice, curd rice and lady-finger sabji was filling and the atmosphere was peaceful and far from the madding crowd. The single toilet was simply basic but clean and water was available in the hand-pump.
We next visited Bharatha gufa or Bharatha’s cave. There was a purana (old) cave and a new one. Inside the cave was a swami observing total silence (Maunam) and we felt embarrassed at the cacophony we were making. After resting in the courtyard of the temple which was surrounded by lemon trees, flower trees etc we boarded our bus to Ayodhya after taking leave of the swamiji and saying “ Bharathazhwar ki jai.”
Courtesy: Vyjayanthi and Sundararajan