Explained: The Mighty Himalayas

Explained: The Mighty Himalayas
Snow covered kailash mountain under cloudy sky during daytime

By Devakinanda ji

Ashtottaram 55

(Himalayas: The abode of snow)

The tallest mountains in the world are the Himālayās. Like the Ganga among the rivers, the Himālayas among the mountains has become an integral part of the Hindu religion, culture and ethos. Even the Ṛigveda mentions it as reflecting the greatness of God. Over the centuries, the mountain range has been all things to all beings. Its presiding deity is Himavān.

His wife is Mēnā, a daughter of the pitrudevatās or manes. Maināka (mountain) is his son. Aparṇa (Pārvati), Ekaparṇā and Ekapātalā are his daughters. These three were married to Śiva, the sages Asita and Jaigiiṣavya respectively. Mount Meru is said to be situated in the Himālayās. The Himālayās are the source of many rivers such as Bhāgīrathī (Ganga), Yamuna, Sarasvati, Viśoka and Vitasta.

They are considered as devatīrtha (divine rivers) and hence sacred. Many places of pilgrimage are situated in the Himālayan ranges, including Amaranātha, Kedāranātha, Badarīnātha, Devaprayāga, Gangotri, Yamunotri and so on. Badarikāśrama where the twin- sages Nara-Nārāyaṇa performed severe austerities is situated here. Vedavyāsa is said to have composed all his works here only. The Pāndavās passed through the Himālayās in their maha-prasṭhāna or final journey to heaven. It is the repository of many rare medicinal plants. The Rāmāyaṇa mentions the famous sanjīvanī herb which was secured by Hanumān from here.

Snow covered kailash mountain under cloudy sky during daytime

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

The Himālayan Mountains consist of parallel ranges, 2500kms (1500 miles) long and 250kms (150 miles) in width. There are 114 peaks which are over 600 meters (20,000 ft) in height. Seventy-five of them are higher than 7200 meters (24,000 ft). All these are perpetually snow-clad and shrouded in mist.

Fierce winds and avalanches are quite common. Many mountaineers attempt to climb these mountains and feel gratified, and accomplished. These mountain ranges are a God-given natural boundary for our country protecting us from the other countries which are always waiting to invade. These Himālayan Mountains are protecting us eternally, as though Lord Śhiva is sitting on Mount Kailāsa and looking after us. With such great historical significance, these mountain ranges are the beloved children of our Bhāratamāta. Our land is 'Himālaya Bhūmi'.

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