It was 1998 when we all had gone to pay homage to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Haridwar and Rishikesh. That trip has been one of the most unforgettable one, with experiences that left me awestruct as I seemed to have seen the ‘Real Lord Shiva’ in his usual attire.
To reach the Kedarnath temple we had to sit on some donkeys or mules as the path was too dangerous, full of twists and blind turns, with the river Mandakini flowing just too deep, down in the valley. I too sat on some donkey whose name was “Dhanno”. A funny, cute name. I must say! My “Dhanno “ started running really fast, to my utmost horror, with the guide behind me calling out “Dhanno Dhanno….”. I was screaming, trying to poke and hold Dhanno’s skin and ear so that it could be controlled. But the guide said from behind,” Madamji, don’t worry, Dhanno knows the way and will not slip down in the valley”. I cried back, “Bhaiya, please come and control your Dhanno, otherwise you will not be spared.” The guide was just smiling back. Anyways my adventurous, uphill journey ended and I stepped down at the halt point. We went to the guest house, relaxed and then after half an hour, barefoot, walked towards the Kedarnath temple. That was the time of the year when all the four kapaat (doors) of the temple were closed but we somehow requested the committee and got approval to visit the God. The temperature was too low and it was chilling cold to be walking barefoot. But somehow I walked with my family and entered the temple premises. The moment I set my foot inside, I was welcomed by the fragrance of burnt camphor. The temple inside was tightly packed, crowded with devotees and very dim light. All the four doors were closed now and the aarti began. My family members had their prasada thali’s in their hands including holy water from the Ganges to pour on the Shiva linga.
I don’t know when, what and how it happened, as if I seemed to be totally lost in some other world. The next moment I found myself face-to-face with Lord Shiva , having a conversation with “HIM” with a calmn smile on my face. I felt as if I am in an unknown abode. Utopia, may be! Shiva told me the reason for his arrival. He said to me, “Come dear, let’s go from here.” To my shock and also happiness for seeing him in reality, I asked him, “Where do I have to go and why?” He smiled lovingly. ‘My dear, we have to leave this earth now.” I got a little jerk and answered back with a request too! “My dear God Shiva, I am happy to see you right in front of me, but I am sorry, I can’t go with you now. I am a teenager. I have to achieve many things in life, marry the right man, study and others. When the right time comes, I will go with you then. He smiled with a question mark on his face as if thinking something and replied back lifting his right palm up,”Tatha-astu!”
I was now very happy, excited and was smiling. Soon, the next moment I heard some faint voice in my ears,” Get up, get up.” My face was wet. They had poured the water from the Ganges on my face to wake me up. I felt lighter within myself. I slowly opened my eyes and found myself lying down on the floor with my family members around me, trying to lift me up, sprinkling water on me. Did I faint? I didn’t know! My family lifted me up saying, “How heavy you are to be lifted?”
That was when I realized and told everyone I went somewhere to wander and met Shiva. I could not believe that I fainted. Anyways, this was one of my chilling, real life, beautiful experiences I will never forget.
I met Lord Shiva!!