Rudraprayag & Koteshwara

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Rudraprayag and Koteshwar

- written By His Holiness Maitreya Rudrabhayananda ji

Rudrprayag, 70 kilometres away from Devprayag, represents the Rudragranthi in the human body located at the Agya chakra (Third eye chakra). It is the last and the most important granthi which blocks a sadhaka from crossing the Dasham dwara or the tenth door. Also, this granthi functions as a block for the opening of the Aagya chakra. Similarly, Rudrprayag is the land where ‘Rujam Dhukham Dravyteti Rudram’ (All the sadness, worries, and tensions are removed by the name of Lord Rudra) is the ultimate truth. Rudrpayag falls on the path to Badrinath and along the way you see mighty river Alaknanda flowing and to Kedarnath alongside Mandakini. This land has been divinely blessed by saints and sages and since it is eternally the place where Lord Shiva performed penance in Saguna rupa of Rudreshwara, the place came to be known as Rudrapuri. Since it was also the land where two rivers merged, it came to be known as Rudraprayag. As we read in the earlier pages, Sage Naarada had meditated here and after pleasing Lord Shiva had received the Rudra Veena. The Rudranath Temple near the confluence is the most beautiful temple here which has the imprints of the feet of Bala Narada (Sage Narada as child) where he was blessed with the Rudra veena. The divine abode is surrounded by mountains and the temple of Rudranath is reached on foot after climbing down steep stairs. From the top the view is mesmerising and divine.

At the confluence of the two rivers, Alaknanda and Mandakini, we met Devi Purnagiri ji who is the priestess at the temple of Maa Chamunda ji near the ghat. Devi Purnagiri ji is 95 years old and has been serving the goddess from childhood. the time of our meeting with her, she was finishing the worship of Maa Alaknanda and Maa Mandakini.

Only later on was I able to ask her about Baba. She looked up to me for a moment and then a smile appeared on her face lighting it up and she asked Koteshwarawale Baba? (Baba of Koteshwara?). When I nodded in agreement, she just closed her palms and bowed down. She asked me few questions about me and it was beautiful to listen to her and see her after such a long time. She had met Baba when she was young.

Pinakadrik Baba ji had meditated at the confluence for many years before moving to the gufa (cave) near Koteshwara.

(some beautiful photos of the garbagriham, the confluence of alaknanda and mandakini are featured in the Atma sanchaya dhwani, the soul searchers magazine, july 08.)

Koteshwara is a natural cave formed in the hard face of the mountain side. It is here that Lord Shiva had meditated before moving to Kedarnath. It is situated on the banks of Alaknanda, only three kilometres from Rudraprayag. The cave contains many idols formed naturally.

Lord of the Cosmos

There are more than 1,00,00,000 Shiva lingams and due to this, the sacred place is known as Koteshwara or 1,00,00,000 Lords. Nature has a unique phenomenon in place here. Water droplets fall from the mountain on to the idols inside the cave. The place is infused with fragrance and a beautiful and mystical feeling. Lord Shiva seems to be sitting in deep meditation with the walls of the cave naturally shaped like serpents forming the jata or the matted locks of hair of the Lord.

Lord of Music

Of the many stories about this place one is very interesting. Lord Naarada was very proud of his knowledge in music and challenged everyone boasting about his knowledge in music. It was here in Koteshwara that Lord Pinaka, the ultimate controller of musical notes, threw a challenge at Naarada making him realise that his knowledge of music was not just insignificant but that he knew nothing. After this Sage Naarada discarded his body and reincarnated as a child and did rigorous practice for about 100 deva varshas (God years). Pleased with Naarada’s penance Lord Pinaka taught him the essence, beauty and depth of music and the essence of Sama Veda. It was during these lessons that 36 ragas and raginis were also born.

After gaining thorough knowledge in music and Sama veda, Naarada prayed for two boons to be granted to him – one, Lord pinaka should reside here eternally and the other, Rudra Veena. Lord Pinaka, apart from granting both the boons to his devoted shishya, gave Mahati Veena which has become Sage Naarada’s constant companion.

Another story goes like this that Devi Sati, who was reborn as Parvati, had performed rigorous penance to receive Lord Shiva as her husband again. The whole mountain is very unique as it appears to be made of ash. The belief is that during Treta Yuga, koti rakshas (1 crore demons) did penance here in order to get Moksha or liberation. Lord Pinaka, pleased with their penance, granted them Moksha. After getting the boon of Moksha, the demons wanted more and asked for immortality and Lord Shiva transformed their souls into koti lingams. He converted their bodies into ashes and merged himself with each Lingam to be named as Koteshwara.

(The entire article is from the Atma Sanchaya Dhwani, Soul Searchers magazine, July 2008 Special Guru Poornima issue)