Monday, May 12, 2008
Today I am taking you to a tour of one of the most beautiful, enlightening, historically important and still one of the least visited places of Vallabhacharya's 84 Baithaks (seats of Shreemad Bhagavat recital). It is called Harihar Kshetra or presently Hajipur near Patna in Bihar and is easily approachable by any transport means. The Baithak provides a reasonably good facility for vaishnavs to stay and offer their seva. One of the most delightful feature that I noticed was that, so far as I know, this is the only Baithak other than possibly the Brahmsambandh Baithak at Gokul where you have to take 'Aparas' (a bath and a state of cleanliness) by drawing water from the well with a rope and a bucket! How nice! In fact, that used to be the 'elite standard' in the past centuries. But I am perfectly comfortable with the 'Aparas' on a tap water or the shower in your bathroom, because it is the state of cleanliness - both physical and mental - which is more important than the means to achieve it. One of the main complaints I have about all the Baithakjis in general is that after taking the bath in the river, pond, tap water, shower or pot-from-well, you have to wear the 'Aparas Vastra' (clean clothes) in an area which is almost always dirty and thus you accumulate some of that dirt on your clothes before entering the seva. Anyway, the overall spiritual experience mostly outscores such shortcomings. There are some very devoted Vaishnvas in Patna who provide support to specific needs of any vaishnav visiting Hajipur Baithak. There is also the Janakpur Baithak which is kind of enshrined in a nearby place recently. So mark your calendar, next time you wanna take an excursion apart from the usual/typical places, visit Hajipur.