Dehra Dun : The holy shrine of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, located at a height of about 13,000 ft wears a deserted look, ever since the doors of the temple closed last month. However, as many as about 15 sages and hermits took special permits to spend the six months, when the shrine re-opens again for pilgrims and tourists alike, at the heights surrounded by nothing but snow.
Although the number of sages and hermits who have taken special permission this year to stay back in Badrinath is less than half of what it was during the earlier years, but one wonders what will keep them surviving in temperatures where the chill effect could go down to as much as minus 70 degrees C during the peak winter period.
And to cap it most the sages and hermits who have decided to stay back are reported to have put up in caves and other abodes in the higher reaches of the temple town, devoid of electricity and other benefits of the material world. With no help and medical aid what so ever, as they will remain cut off from the rest of the world, it is said that the time is spent in prayer and meditation.
According to information gathered, quite a few of the sages and hermits who are staying back claim that their age is anywhere between 200 to 300 years. Though there is no material proof of their ages, but the recall incidents that occurred two centuries before and earlier, to which they claim that they were witnesses.
With no fires burning to keep the chill off in their caves and other abodes popular belief is that the high degree that these sages and hermits have reached in meditation sees them through the icy-cold winter months as they have reached a stage where their bodies are almost immune to the cold and they can survive on thin air that they breathe.
In fact many people claim that there is one Swami Sadanand, who has reached a stage where he just materializes to the place he wants to be in and then disappears to return to his place of abode, the location of which is not known. Asserting that that he is 500 years old, locals claim that he comes for a bath and the kund and then dematerializes again.
Those who claim to have seen him coming for his early morning bath at about 4 a m swear that he does not come walking, but just materializes at the kund at the appropriate hour. After his dip in the kund, they claim that he dematerializes again and just disappears apparently to return to the place in the upper reaches that has made his abode, which remains out of reach.
Though many doubt the existence of Swami Sadanand, but the very fact that about 15 sages and hermits have taken permission to stay back in Badrinath in the cold winter months is proof enough that they have reached an advanced stage in meditation. Perhaps scientists and doctors, who remain sceptical about such claims could probe the ages of these sages and hermits and how their system has become immune to materialistic needs and the icy chill.