Dr Pravin Togadia
Today, I am back from Char Dham Yatra and what I noticed in my travel at Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedar Nath and Badri Nath is the magical manifestation of eternal faith continued from ages! From old to young, men and women, kids and babies, the poor and the rich… All were ruled by the magnificence of the Faith, all got strength to conquer the bone-cracking chill and the most difficult terrain in the Himalayas only from their eternal unconditional faith!
And that’s how it should be. Whether it is Char Dham or Vaishno Devi or Amarnath or Bhagwan Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, Kashi Vishwanath or Mathura… faith is supreme. Nobody else – neither any Government nor any unfaithful—has any right to decide how and when the faithful devotees should go on their pilgrimage.
Amarnath has been the centre of such a divine faith for ages even before the 1400 year green kid was born and much before the so-called shepherd ‘discovered’ Amarnath cave! Situated in Bhairav Nath valley in ancient ‘Har Mukut’ (A Crown of Shiva) mountain range of the Himalayas at 17,000 feet height, Amarnath (Amareshwar) has been a place for regular Shiva worship from ancient times. Two months pilgrimage (now government says only one month, that too at the mercy of the Governor and the Kahmiri separatists!) was never a limit for this worship as Bhagwan Shiva’s temples and teerthas are open for all devotees 365 days, 24 hours as per Hindu Dharma. The importance of the Amarnath was so then and even now, that it was treated like ‘Kailash’ locally. In local colloquial style, they used to call it ‘Amburnath’ and in Raj Tarangini by Kalhan it is Amareshwar. (Raj Tarangini 7.183).
It is said that Bhagwan Shiv gave amrit (nectar) to the Bhagwans to make them immortal. Then with the request by all other Bhagwans, Bhagwan Shiv started to stay at that place and therefore it is Amarnath Amareshwar – immortal. Hindu months Jyeshtha, Aashadh and Shravan are the pilgrimage months for Bhagwan Shiv everywhere and also at Amarnath. This time the swayambhu Shiv appears there in the form of a snow Shivalinga and other times there is a sthan pooja (place worship).
On way to Amarnath, there used to be a big lake, named Dugdhaabdhi Dhawal (White as the ocean of milk), which was created by the Nag named Sushravas. (Raj Tarangini 1.267). Today the same is there known as Shesh Nag lake. As per Neel Mat Puran (Neel Mat 1535), on the day of Pratipada (1st day of Hindu Month) the Shivalinga looks like a small bubble of snow and it becomes over 6 to 16 feet on the Poornima (full Moon day). Then it starts becoming small and on the Amawasya (no Moon day) it becomes smaller. In ancient literature, there is a lot of description of Amarnath and many pious places en route to Amarnath. The miracle is that the snow outside the cave is flaky, whereas the snow Shivalinga inside is as hard as the rock!
There is a worship place of Ganesh at the left of the cave and Parvati and Bhairav places at the right. The Parvati place here is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and Sati’s neck has fallen there. There is a small river Amar Ganga West to the cave and the sand in it is treated by the devotees as the Bhasma of Shiv that protects devotees from the chill there. Shravan Poornima is the appearance day there and therefore Jyeshtha to Shravan end there is pilgrimage. Devotees walk and cover Srinagar, Avantipur, Brij Vihar, Anant Nag, Martand (the ancient Sun Temple), Pahalgam, Chandan Vadi, Vaav Jan, Panch Tarani, etc.
Kashmir’s King Anant’s queen Suryamati had donated lot of villages and land to Amarnath Devasthaan (Raj Tarangini 7.185). Our ancient and medieval empires from north to south and west to east recognised the importance of Hindu faith and respected the Bhagwans and their places of worship. Therefore, they helped the pilgrimages, pilgrims and the grand caves / temples stay as grand as ever.
Today, many temple trusts from Char Dham to 12 Jyotirlingas, 51 Shakti Peethas to 9 planets temples have been striving to facilitate devotees’ smooth darshans and worships by creating easy roads, dharmshalas, lodging and food facilities etc. But at Amarnath, for vote bank politics, governments are bending before Kashmiri separatists who hate Hindu devotees coming there. In fact only Hindus have the right to be there; nobody else – neither the Kashmiri separatists, nor any government.
Every time there is Amarnath Yatra, one or the excuse is given by the governments to either curtail the time span or stop the pilgrims. In 2008 Kashmiri separatists’ vicious effort of grabbing the Amarnath land was successfully failed by the alert devotees of Shiv in Jammu & Kashmir and entire Bharat with over 60 days strong agitation where many Hindus sacrificed their lives! This time too, Governments are forcing Hindus to stay off Amarnath Yatra by curtailing the time span using a few misled, ill informed so-called society leaders with vested interests.
But Hindus believe in the Faith Supreme. Those who stop any devotee of Bhagwan Shiv Amarnath, Parvati, Bhairav, Ganesh, Shesh Nag, Martand Sun and many others there, will surely face the wrath of Bhagwan Shiv’s Rudra tandav. Hindus can never tolerate their faith being suppressed to appease Kashmiri separatists. Using state power, so far hundreds of Hindus are already arrested and beaten up brutally by the J&K government. But Hindus will go there to worship Bhagwan Amarnath Shiv. Faith Supreme is immortal; not the Governments and Governors and never the Kahmiri separatists.
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)