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Kailash Mansarovar: Mountain trek or religious pilgrimage

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By Akash Shukla

 The idea of a trek has a sense of achievement but the idea of a pilgrimage is to subdue self.

Dominating with a 21778 ft high presence, the herculean but majestic Mount Kailash is any day more than just a mountain. It’s a legend. It’s a revelation. It’s an epiphany.

It’s not a sojourn but a journey that occurs both within and outside. Amazingly situated in the Himalayan range of the remote South Western corner of Tibet, Kailash is not only one of the highest spots of the world but a very significant seat of spirituality in the world.

It’s a source of four mighty rivers of Asia— Sutlej, Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra. From different religions across the world, millions of people revere this seat of spirituality.

Kailash important for Hindus, Jains & Budddists

Hinduism: According to the Hindu faith, lord Shiva, the destroyer of illusion and ignorance, rests at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailash. Here, he sits in a state of perennial meditation along with his wife Parvati. He is not just the ultimate ascetic but also the divine master of Tantra.

In accordance with the Hindu belief, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar. It is a combination of words, namely, ‘Manas’ (mind) and ‘Sarovar’ (lake).

One description in Vishnu Purana about the mountain states that its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli.

It is a pillar of the world and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus.

Jainism: In Jainism, Kailash is relished as Meru Parvat or Sumeru. Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva, attained nirvana.

Buddhism: Tantric Buddhists believe that Mount Kailash is dwelling of Buddha Demchok (also known as Chakrasamvara). He represents supreme bliss.

Above everything, the journey to Kailash Mansarovar is a life-changing experience for countless pilgrims who undertake it every year; it teaches them a sense of self like nothing else can.

A sojourner who chooses to be at this roof of the world might feel that the journey is arduous but on the way, it becomes a rewarding one.

Tears in heaven

After the political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimage to the legendary abode of Lord Shiva was stopped in 1954 till 1978. Since then, only a limited number of Indian pilgrims are granted permission. Under the eyes of Chinese and Indian governments, either by a lengthy trek over the Himalayan terrain or journey from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Lhasa, the journey takes four night stops.

Despite minimal infrastructure, modest guest houses are available for foreign pilgrims while Tibetan pilgrims generally sleep in their own tents.

Kailash: A beginning with no end

Every single traveler of this incredible journey undergoes a humbling and enlightening transformation, which cannot be described, but can only be felt in first person presence…

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Spiritual Ideas Sore At The World Hindu Congress

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new -- when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

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Hinduism
Government invites entries for first National CSR Awards VOA

At its best, speeches at the recently concluded World Hindu Congress echoed the soaring spiritual ideals evoked by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago 125 years ago.

Even Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsangchanalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), focused essentially on the need for unity and patience among Hindus while fighting obstacles, of which, he said, there would be many. The burden of excavating implied accusations in Bhagwat’s speech fell to his critics.

At the plenary session, the moderator requested speakers to address issues of conflict without naming the speakers or their organisations in the interest of harmony. Other speakers sought to unite the followers of all the great religions that took birth in India — Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Some of the speakers from Bhagwat to Swami Swaroopananda of the Chinmaya Mission, framed the issues before Hinduism in a moral paradigm. Ashwin Adhin, the Vice President of the Republic of Suriname, began his speech in chaste Hindi, later quoting cognitive scientist George Lakoff: “Facts matter immensely. But to be meaningful they have to be framed in terms of their moral importance.”

Hinduism
Buddhism relates sins to the characteristics one adopts. Pixabay

The dissonances, between the spiritual and the mundane, were to emerge later on the fringes of the seminars which were part of the Congress. Many of the delegates appropriated to themselves the mantle of a culture besieged by proselytising faiths. There were speakers who urged Hindus to have more children to combat their ‘dwindling population’. Posters warned Hindus of the dangers from ‘love jihad’ (Muslim men ‘enticing’ Hindu women).

In one of the sessions on the media, filmmaker Amit Khanna noted that religion had always played a prominent part in Indian cinema, starting with the earliest mythologicals. “Raja Harishchandra”, the first silent film, he said, was made by Dadasaheb Phalke in 1913. He sought to reassure the audience on the future of Hinduism. “Over 80 percent of Indians are Hindus,” he said adding: “Hinduism has survived many upheavals for thousands of years. Hinduism has never been endangered.”

Other speakers, lacking spiritual and academic pedigrees, drew on an arsenal of simulated anguish and simmering indignation.

The nuances of history pass lightly over the ferociously devout and it took little effort to pander to an aggravated sense of historical aggrievement.

Hinduism
Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. Wikimedia Commons

At one of the debates, the mere mention of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, elicited sniggers and boos. The speaker hinted at ‘Nehruvian socialism’ which had made the Indian economy a non-starter. He concluded with a coup de grace, to a standing ovation: “Nehru did not like anything Indian.”

The poet Rabindranath Tagore, who composed the Indian national anthem, had spoken of his vision of a country where the “clear stream of reason had not lost its way”. At some of the discussions, even the most indulgent observer would have been hard put to discern the stream of reason.

The image of a once great civilisation suppressed by a century of British rule and repeated plunder by invaders captured the imagination of many in the audience. Hanging above it all, like a disembodied spirit, was the so-called malfeasance of Nehru, the leader who had won the trust of Hindus only to betray them in the vilest manner.

These tortured souls would have been well advised to adopt a more holistic approach to Hinduism, and history, looking no further than Swami Vivekananda, who once said: “The singleness of attachment (Nishtha) to a loved object, without which no genuine love can grow, is very often also the cause of denunciation of everything else.”

Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Historians have informed us that Nehru preferred his father’s intellect over his mother’s tradition but he was never contemptuous of religion. While he undoubtedly felt that organised religion had its flaws, he opined that it supplied a deeply felt inner need of human nature while also giving a set of values to human life.

In private conversations some delegates spoke of how their America-born children had helped persuade them to drop their pathological aversion to gays and lesbians. Despite their acute wariness of perceived cultural subjugation, the irony was obviously lost on them that Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code,(which criminalises gay sex) recently overturned by the Indian Supreme Court, is a hangover from the Victorian British era-embodied in the Buggery Act of 1533.

In the face of the upcoming elections in the US, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi’s decision to speak at the conference was a political risk. With a newly energised political Left, even the perception of being linked with “fascist” or sectarian forces could be political suicide in the critical November elections. Despite vociferous appeals to disassociate himself from the Congress, Krishnamoorthi chose to attend.

“I decided I had to be here because I wanted to reaffirm the highest and only form of Hinduism that I have ever known and been taught — namely one that welcomes all people, embraces all people, and accepts all people, regardless of their faith. I reject all other forms. In short, I reaffirm the teaching of Swami Vivekananda,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Given the almost pervasive abhorrence of anything remotely Nehruvian among a section of the delegates, it was a revelation to hear the opinion of Dattatrey Hosable, the joint general secretary and second-in-command in the RSS hierarchy. Speaking on the promise of a newly-resurgent India, Hosable said in an interview to Mayank Chhaya, a local journalist-author-filmmaker: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new — when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

Also Read: Triple Talaq Now Banned in India

The quote is from Nehru’s famous Tryst with Destiny speech delivered to the Indian Constituent Assembly on the midnight of August 14, 1947 — proof, if any is needed, that the force of Nehru’s ideas can transcend one’s disdain of him. (IANS)