Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Badrinath Dham......a legend, a journey : Part 4

Some 1200 years ago, Adi Shankaracharya was born in India. He is claimed to be a reincarnation of Lord Narayana himself, who had taken birth to re establish the knowledge of Hinduism & the Vedas amongst the people.

From an early age, he started displaying signs of things to come & by the time he was just 12 years old, he had demonstrated command over the Shastras & ancient scriptures. His mother needed a lot of persuasion to allow him to become a Sanyasi. He is considered the propagator who consolidated the doctrines of Advaita Vedanta in India. He was responsible for re establishing the ageless teachings of the Vedas. By the time he was just 12 years of age, he had already created a huge following of disciples from all over the country.

It is said that in his efforts to establish the faith of the Hinduism across the country, he travelled for about 3-4 months through the jungles & mountains to reach Badrikshetra. After taking a dip in the Tapt Kund, he visited the temple to see that there was no idol & Lord Narayana was being worshipped on a Shaligram ( a black stone, considered to be sacred by Hindus). On enquiry, he was told that for fear of vandalism, the priests of the temple had hidden the sacred idol in the waters of Alaknanda.
Shankaracharya, as if guided by divine insight, went & took a dip in the Kund & came up with a four armed idol of Narayana. However, he found that the right hand’s fingers of the idol were broken. Since in Hindu tradition, there cannot be any deformity or limb broken of any object of prayer, he flowed that idol into Alaknanda & took a dip in the Kund again. Once again he came up with anidol & quite surprisingly, this also had a limb broken. He again put the idol in the waters of Alaknanda & took a third dip & came up with another idol, which also had a finger broken. It is said that, there was a divine voice from the sky saying, “ Hey Shankar, don’t be worried. You have got the right idol. Since it is Kali Yuga, it is ordained that the idol will be deformed. In Kaliyuga, only the broken idol would be worshipped. Go and establish this idol. People visiting the temple & worshipping this idol will get the same benefits as seeing Narayana in person. This place will become the holiest of all pilgrims.”

Hearing this, Shankaracharya, went to the temple & established the idol of Narayana. Since then the tradition of a Namboodari priest conducting the rituals of Badrinath has been established.
While, legend says that the temple was first made by Vishwakarma, the architect of the Gods, even before the Vedic age, at the behest of all the Gods, it was re established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. However, the temple had to undergo several renovations, due to damages by avalanches over the centuries.
The present temple, was built by the Garhwal Kings about 200 hundred years ago. It now has a Singh Dwar(Lion Gate or main entrance), & the temple is basically in three parts. The Garbha Griha(the sanctum sanctorum), where the various idols are housed along with the Narayana idol in the centre, Darshan Mandap(for Pujas) & the Shobha Mandap(where the devotees assemble).
Badrinath is considered to be the holiest of all the pilgrims in India. It is said that a visit to this place washes away all the sins.

Jai Badri Vishal…….. may there be peace & prosperity for all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hamara Bajaj........ end of an Era !!!!

Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer…….Hamara Bajaj….”, one of the best & most popular advt campaign & jingle in the Indian history is finally coming to an end. End of an era!!! The historical Chetak Scooter from the stables of Bajaj Auto, walks into oblivion. The brand, which used to be the one of the key aspirations for the Indian middle class for decades, especially the 70s & the 80s, will soon be a part of the history. Chetak, which was probably launched in 1972, became a household name almost overnight.

I remember, as a child, I would hear families speaking of owning a Bajaj Chetak Scooter with so much pride. It was like a status symbol. At marriages, it was one of the popular / credible gifts given as dowry. People would actually queue up to get one of those scooters & it needed serious clout & reference to get a delivery ahead of schedule. There was a huge premium attached. The sales people from Bajaj auto would be given princely status, everywhere they went. With demand : supply ratio, heavily skewed towards the supplier, the sales people & the showroom owners, were just raking in moolah along with other freebies.
The famous advt, would show people from various cross sections of the country, riding the scooter. From a lady trying to learn how to drive, to a milkman delivering milk, to a family of five riding, to two oversized men riding, to an executive on road, to a newly wedded couple, to an old couple, to a man cleaning the scooter himself, pride in the eyes, & a few more….it was like an inseparable identity with the common man of India.

In fact, even a second hand Bajaj scooter would fetch a premium. The closest competition was from LML NV, Lamberetta(the longest scooter ever, I guess), Vespa etc. For every 10 Bajaj Chetak on road, there would be maybe 3 LML, 2 Vespa & 1 Lamberretta. There would be endless discussions & debates over tea / coffee, on how the economy hinged on the success of these scooters & so on & so forth…….we as growing teenagers, would listen to such chattering with awe.

There was an uncle in our neighborhood, who would give us children a ride in the evening, if we finished our homework in time. We would do anything for him, including running errands, as that would stand a better chance for a ride on the scooter. Also a chance to hold the handle of the scooter, while it was stationary on its stand & pose for a picture in black & white, are one of the popular memories I still retain. Those were the days, indeed !!

As quoted by R Balki, chairman of Lowe India, the agency who had created the legendary advt in the 80s, “ There was a time for horse carriage & the scooters, now it is the time for the bikes. Today, the bike symbolizes the middle class of India. Bharat is changing, Bajaj is changing”, he said.

I would like to imagine some fifteen - twenty years into the future, A Vijay Mallaya or a Ness Wadia, or an Anil Ambani heralding a Vintage Scooter race of Hamara Bajaj(at least 70% of the scooters belonging to the ever popular Bajaj stable)......just imagine, people in all colours & sizes riding a Bajaj Scooter, with crowds pouring along the walkways, witness the "Two wheeler Prince of yester years on road", sputtering & humming......Hamara Kal, Hamara Aaj....Buland Bharat ki Buland Tasveer...Hamara Bajaj......

Yaad aa rahi hai….teri yaad aa rahi hai……. Hail ho : Hamara Bajaj. .......

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Numero Uno …..finally !!

So finally we have conquered the summit. MSD & his boys have finally achieved, what we all have been dreaming for years…… 77 years since India started her foray into cricket, we have accomplished the goal. India reigns the no 1 slot in test cricket, toppling the mighty Aussies & the ever daunting Proteas.

The midas touch of Dhoni continues to bring in laurels after laurels for Team India. With the Lankans biting dust, & India winning the test series 2-0, we have finally reached the top of the ICC test rankings.

A simple look at the team shows that it has been combining extremely well & the hunger to achieve has been palpable. In batting, right on top Sehwag has been murderous, scoring runs with elan & at a pace that puts even the one dayer records to the sword. Coming back from injury, he has just torn the Lankan attack to shreds, scoring at a strike rate of more than 100. Keeping him able company has been Gautam Gambhir, scoring runs at will. He has been the run machine, carving out centuries at will. Coming at one down, old war horse Rahul, seems to have regained his Wall status. Next in Tendulkar is only getting younger, with an unbelievable hunger to plunder centuries even at this age. With Laxman, Dhoni, Yuvi following next, the runs just keep piling on, relentlessly. In attack, Zaheer spearheading the opening bowling along with Sreshanth & Ishant, & Bhajji & Pragyan Ojha with the spin, the opposition has just no time to breathe. In short, Team India looked good throughout the series to capture the Numero Uno status.

The team that has a wonderful blend of youth & experience, however must owe it to the nucleus building that was done by Saurav Ganguly & John Wright, when they took up the reins in 1999-2000, at a time when the ghosts of match fixing scandals had taken the team spirit & performance to its nadir. They had scouted for talent & believed in the capabilities of the rookies who are now the mainstay of the team. Though the controversial stint of Chappel along with Rahul Dravid, in between, had taken the team performance to the pits, it came back strongly under Kumble & Kirtsen. Dhoni could not have asked for a better platform to take on the Captain’s responsibility, & has only gone from strength to strength.

Lets regale in glory, as a nation. We have finally fulfilled the dream …..No 1 team in the world.