Swami Amarnathji Yatra: A glimpse into a supreme journey of faith

0
amarnath
Source: PIB

By Sunil Koul

Swami Amarnathji Yatra is the most hallowed Hindu pilgrimage of Northern India in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The pilgrimage attracts lakhs of devotees annually from various parts of the country in the month of Shravan (July-August) to pay their respectful obeisance to Lord Shiva, which is in the form of ice-lingam formed naturally of an ice-stalagmite in the cave at Swami Amarnathji in South Kashmir. The Amarnathji is considered to be one of the most revered Hindu Dhams and the holy cave to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Since the Yatra assumes colossal importance nationwide, it is imperative upon every devotee to have a cursory knowledge about the history of the Yatra. It includes the knowhow of various religious places situated en-route to Holy Cave through Baltal and Pahalgam routes.

It is worthwhile to mention here that quite a few across the country know about another pilgrimage of Lord Shiva in the same district of Anantnag popularly known as Chotta Amarnathji situated in a hamlet of “Thajwar” about seven kilometers from Bijbehara town. There is a cave of Lord Shiva on the hilltop thronged by the pilgrims on the day of Shrawan Purnima, coinciding with the day on which the two-month long annual Swami Amarnathji Yatra concludes.

The Legend

It is believed that a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik was given a sack of coal by a sage. After reaching home, Malik discovered that the sack in fact contained gold. He was elated and straightway rushed back to the sage to express his gratitude. Instead, he saw a miracle and could not believe his eyes to find out a cave there. Since then, the Holy Cave has become a place for the annual pilgrimage.

A legend has it that in this very cave Lord Shiva recounted to Mata Parvati, the secret of creation of the whole universe and the ways of emancipation of the mankind. A pair of doves overheard this conversation and since then became immortal. The pair of doves has made the cave their eternal abode and could be seen by the pilgrims in the Holy Cave.

The Baltal route

The shortest route to perform the mountainous pilgrimage of Swami Amarnathji is taken through the Baltal in Ganderbal district of the Kashmir valley. Bethel is about sixty kilometers away from the summer capital of the state via Srinagar and about fifteen kilometers from the famous tourist destination Sonamarg. From Baltal, one has to traverse through narrow terrain along steep cliffs till the confluence of streams at Sangam. Moving forward, pilgrims are required to travel on the slippery track over primitive glaciers for about three kilometers before reaching to the Holy cave of Swami Amarnathji.  It has been by and large seen that the weather on this route remains inclement and torrential rains lash over the area frequently posing enormous inconvenience to the devotees. Unflinching faith shields the visiting pilgrims from inhospitable weather conditions while taking this route that is less preferred. The majority opt for the Pahalgam track. The Baltal Route gives an opportunity to pay obeisance at Holy spring of Mata Khir Bhawani temples located in Ganderbal district. It is believed that the color of the spring changes if any untoward incident is about to happen as a premonition of an impending doom. The recent impending indication was seen last year in the month of June 2014 when the color of the spring had changed to red and thereafter floods ravaged the Kashmir valley in the first week of September 2014.

The Pahalgam route

While taking the route via Pahalgam, pilgrims can have an opportunity to visit the Raghunath temple as well as the renowned Sun Temple at Martand located in the district Anantnag. World famous hill station Pahalgam is the base camp of the yatra that is about 100 kilometres away from Srinagar. From here, the pilgrims have the option to travel either by road or on- foot. Pilgrims make it a point to visit the Lord Shiva temple situated on the embankment of the famous Lidder RiverOne more ancient temple of Lord Shiva called Mamal Temple is situated on the hilltop across the Lidder River and is also worth a visit. Pahalgam town enveloped in the snow-clad mountains and the dense cover of forests is a treat to the eyes. It is believed that Lord Shiva left his ride, Nandi – the bull at Pahalgam and proceeded towards the Holy cave. The place was known by the name of Bel Gaon and with the passage of time is being known as Pahalgam.

Halt stations (Padav) en route to Swami Amarnath Ji from Pahalgam

When the yatra proceeds from base camp Pahalgam, the first halt (Padav) is about 16 Kms away at a place known as Chandanwari. The road leading to Chandanwari is motor-able. To reach this spot, one can board the public transport available at reasonable rates fixed by the local authority. The trail runs along the Lidder River with a most fabulous and mesmerizing scenic view. It is believed that Lord Shiva massaged his forehead with sandalwood powder (Chandan) at this place hence deriving its name as Chandanwari. After reaching Chandanwari, the yatra proceeds towards Pishu Top through a very difficult and challenging track. One feels quite ecstatic to traverse this arduous track while chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’ by virtue of which this hazardous track seems quite easier. After completing this leg of the journey along the steep mountainous slope, the devotees halt to take rest to reenergise themselves.

Sheshnag is the next pit stop where the pilgrims take a dip into the Holy Spring and stay overnight. It is believed that by taking an ablution in the holy spring of Sheshnag, the sins are forgiven. It is believed that Lord Shiva dropped his Sheshnag here in the spring while proceeding towards the Holy Cave. The place is actually a lake surrounded by snow clad peaks resembling the heads of the mythical snake.

Next phase of the holy journey is a backbreaking steep zig-zag trek towards the Mahagunas Top that leaves the pilgrims breathless due to high altitude and lack of oxygen. Some pilgrims may experience nausea as well. Dry fruits, sour and sweet eatables like Lemon may prove to be helpful in such a situation. All along the route, medical facilities free of charge are available for those pilgrims who require any medical attention. Moving forward, the track descend to the meadows of Posh Pathri richly covered by wild fragrant flowers and herbs. But it is said that whosoever halts here for some time falls into a deep slumber because of this intense fragrance. So it is advised not to spend more time at this spot and proceed towards the next halt at Panjtarni. Panjtarni is enveloped by five snow-clad peaks where the pilgrims take rest and stay overnight. In the wee hours next day, the yatra proceeds towards the final destination, the Holy cave – the abode of Lord Shiva. On the way to the Holy Cave, one comes across the confluence (Sangam) of Amravati and Panjtarni streams. The pilgrims take ablution at Amravati near the Holy Cave before paying the obeisance.

The Chhadi Mubarak comprising the sadhus and the visiting pilgrims

The Chhadi Mubarak comprising of the priests and pilgrims start the on-foot journey from Dashnami Akhada at Srinagar. After performing the necessary rituals, the Chhadi Mubarak visits the famous Shankaracharaya temple and Durga Nag temple before proceeding towards the Holy Cave. During the on-foot yatra, they perform the series of religious obligations and rituals at Awantipora temple, Shiv Temple Bijbehara, Raghunath Ji temple and Martand Sun Temple at Mattan in Anantnag.  Amidst all these rituals, devotees are seen chanting hymns and Bhajans making the whole environment lively.

The Chadhi Mubarak finally perform the Darshan of Swami Amarnathji on the day of Shravan Poornima (Raksha Bandhan). This marks the concluding of the holy pilgrimage that is visited by lakhs of devotees from across the geographies. In 2014, about 3, 72,909 yatris had performed the pilgrimage.

Precautionary measures to be taken by the pilgrims during the pilgrimage

It is the pre-requisite for an intending pilgrim to adopt some precautionary measures while traversing through these tough routes. A pilgrim should keep a stick in his hand to maintain the balance and should put on the sports shoes apart from taking less baggage along in order to withstand the challenges of the track. It is also desirable to take along a first-aid kit. The selection of the clothes is crucial as one need to wear warm clothes in order to keep away any risks posed by the hostile cold weather that keeps fluctuating across the routes. The casualties of the Amarnath yatris that had taken place some years back were only because pilgrims were not equipped with adequate warm clothes.

The step-by-step procedure which the Yatris need to follow to register for the Yatra has been put on the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board’s website, www.shriamarnathjishrine.com. The website also contains the application form and state-wise list of Bank Branches with complete addresses which the Yatris can approach for registering themselves for this year’s pilgrimage.

Source:PIB

Next Story

The Prominence of Hari-Naam in Hinduism: Benefits of Chanting “Hare Krishna” Mahamantra

"Hare Krishna" is known as the "Maha-Mantra" as mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upnishad during the Bhakti-movement by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Know about the benefits of chanting it

0
Hare Krishna Text
"Hare Krishna" is perhaps the most powerful but very easy mantra that anyone can chant without restrictions.

By Kashish Rai

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama,

Rama Rama, Hare Hare

The Srimad Bhagvad Gita, which is the sacred book of the Hindus says that Krishna and Krishna’s name is the same. So, when you chant “Hare Krishna” you gain Krishna’s consciousness inside of you, you connect with the supreme being, so you connect with the universe.

“Hare Krishna” is known as the “Maha-Mantra” as mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upnishad during the Bhakti-movement by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” is composed of three words of the supreme being~ “Hare”, “Krishna” and “Rama”.

“Hare Krishna” is perhaps the most powerful but very easy mantra that anyone can chant without restrictions. In the truest might, this maha-mantra addresses the supreme power invoking its blessings on the chanter.

Know about the Benefits of Chanting “Hari Naam” in this article!

  • Benefit 1: You Get The Control Over Your Mind

The Srimad Bhagvad Gita Says, “One must conquer the mind. Those who have, their mind then becomes their best friend. In turn, those who haven’t, their mind will become their greatest enemy”.

The Chanting of “Hare Krishna” may help you to get a hold on your mind, stopping you from becoming the slaves to unwanted desires and whimsical thoughts that your mind can meander into. You can get the utmost peace of mind.

Hare Krishna Mahamantra
The “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” is composed of three words of the supreme being~ “Hare”, “Krishna” and “Rama”.
  • Benefit 2: You Can Reach The Absolute State of Happiness

In today’s world filled up with materialistic things and miseries of life, everyone is in the search for happiness! And the chanting of “Hare Krishna” can allow us to share our contact with the god and his spirit, thus, leading us to our bliss by entering his association.

This is not material happiness, but a state of absolute happiness! This is the reason that everytime one chants “Hare Krishna” with passion, they themselves start dancing!

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Dancing
Image depicts Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dancing on tunes of “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” along with followers. Pinterest
  • Benefit 3: You Can Get Awakened To Your “True Self”

In this fast-paced world, we have become so accustomed to the material universe that we have forgotten our true self- the self of the spiritual. And when we have become so material, we have developed fears of death, old-age, and diseases.As definite beings~ we fear the loss of power, beauty, wealth, intelligence and so many other things.

When we chant Hari-Naam we get this supreme realisation that we are the pure, change-less spiritual souls which is different to the materialistic body. Hari-Naam is a pure spiritual sound vibration, and it can help us develop the consciousness to understand our ‘self’.

  • Benefit 4: You Can Change Your Negative Karmic Tendencies

The basic law of karma is equivalent to Newton’s third law of motion: “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction”.

Spiritually, it means that for every material action performed, nature forces an equivalent reaction upon the performer. We as human beings transform ourselves from one karmic destiny to another.

Chanting Hare Krishna can help us build our positive karma as chanting Krishna means that we are chanting the name with “transcendental energy” to erase all the negatives that exists within us and then Attain “Moksha” (To free ourselves of this cycle of life, we need moksha and the liberation from the endless wheel of birth and death is also known as ‘samsara’. This can only be achieved when our consciousness is completely free from material desires.)

Lord Krishna
when you chant “Hare Krishna” you gain Krishna’s consciousness inside of you, you connect with the supreme being, so you connect with the universe. Pinterest
  • Benefit 5: You Get the The Most Salient Benefit~ You Understand “The Love of God”

The most important benefit of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is to find God-realization and pure love of God.

When our consciousness becomes one with God, our positive nature is depicted in our character and behavior in the same phenomenon just as how the sun approaches the horizon, it is preceded by warmth and illumination.

ALSO READ: Dealing with Work-From-Home in a Long-Term Remote Setup

Likewise, the name of Krishna is revived in our heart, which has been missing since the start of “Kali Yuga”.

Chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra does not pertain to only recalling the name of god but it takes you on a journey of self-realisation through supreme consciousness thereby redeeming yourself from the mundane state of life.

 

 

Next Story

Yoga: A Sacred Gift, with Love from Hinduism and India to the World

Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism for centuries, it is a gift from India to the world

0
Yoga
Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism in India. Pixabay

BY Varuni Trivedi

Lord Krishna said to Arjun in the Geeta, “Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection.” Patanjali’s description of the practice of yoga after the yamas and niyamas, directs towards the pratyahara, meaning turning inward of the senses. In simple terms when one is unable to restrain the senses, they become powerless to direct their minds. No matter how well-read or wise they sound while talking, it carries little importance without the practice discipline. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ (“to yoke”) which is more literally translated as “union of the individual’s Atma or soul with Paramatma or god (the universal soul). This is often understood as a union with the divine power by the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, Yoga is what imparts an internal discipline, not only to the body but also to the mind and spirit. 

 

History of the art of Yoga

Bhagavad Gita, the holy scripture of Hindus also states the importance of yoga, “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self” it beautifully quotes. The history of Yoga is accurately is difficult to trace its has many places of obscurity and uncertainty. In those ages, texts and teaching were passed down orally. Not only was the oral transmission of sacred texts is a common occurrence but the secretive nature of its teachings was also a recurring phenomenon. Furthermore, earlier writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed, or even lost making it difficult to trace the exact time of its inception. However, experts claim that the development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, some researchers even think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old. 

The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred known to mankind, the Rig Veda. These Vedas are sacred Hindu texts and were a collection of songs, mantras, and rituals to be used by Brahmans and Vedic priests. Later on, Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishi munis who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, which contains 200 scriptures. However, to date, the most renowned Yogic scriptures where Yoga and its benefits are mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita which was composed in around 500 B.C.E. 

Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice, and development or the pre-classic, classical, post-classical, and the modern period. Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism in India for centuries.  Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raja Yoga are considered the four main yogas, but with time and development now there are many other types. 

Yoga and meditation
Yoga is more of a spiritual act and it remains a vibrant living tradition. Pixabay

 

Yoga in the modern period

Yoga is more of a spiritual act and it remains a vibrant living tradition. It is seen all across the world as a means to enlightenment for the mind and soul. In the 1800s and 1900s, yogic gurus traveled to the West, gaining attention, and followers and making Yoga more and more famous. Essentially this spread can be traced back to, 1893 when in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda left the attendees spellbound with his speech. His lectures on yoga and wellbeing were a great catalyst in spreading the word about this art. Late, in the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India as the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and other yogis became popular.

Krishnamacharya was the first to open a Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924. Sometime later in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy river Ganges, he aroused three students that continued his legacy and increased the popularity of Hatha Yoga. They were B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda himself wrote over 200 books on yoga and established nine ashrams and many yoga centers across the world, making yoga popular worldwide. In the western world, the importance of yoga and its popularity soared when Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. 

Yoga is popular in many parts of the world. Especially in the United States, yoga has become associated with the asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga, which have gained immense popularity as fitness exercises. Even though Yoga is central to Hinduism, other religions like Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, have also been greatly influenced by it throughout the world. Some of the most important Hindu texts which have laid the ground for yoga worldwide include the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

 

Yoga
The practice of Yoga asanas and meditation provides natural support to the immune system. Pixabay

Yoga and Modi

PM Modi has been a patron of yoga, practicing and propagating the idea of yoga and its importance worldwide. Recently at a yoga event called “Yoga for Peace” in Argentina’s capital Mr. Modi addressed the participants saying that the practice of Yoga connects everyone to happiness. The Prime Minister further said that if the mind is at peace, there would be peace in family, society, country, and the world as well. He went on to say that “Yoga is India’s gift to the world for health, wellness, and peace.” Yoga can be credited to connects us with wellness and happiness and bring peace of mind to many across the globe.  PM Modi further said that Yoga is bridging the vast distance between India and Argentina. It is connecting people worldwide and binding them in a positive light. PM Modi has on other occasions termed yoga as the “unifying force of the world”

Also Read: Paatal Lok and its Objectionable Motives

Yoga In the Times of Pandemic

The multiple benefits that the practice of yoga has on a person’s wellbeing are accepted all across the world. In these tough times when people are locked inside their houses as anxiety and worklessness eat them up, Yoga can be a great support. It would not only help to bring the mind at peace but also help with the body at such times when physical activity is low. Yoga could help deal with anxiety and stress which commonly surround people in a lockdown. In fact, recent studies have said that Yoga even helps in quitting smoking and other tobacco products. This can be a great time for people to quit their bad habits and turn to a path of spirituality. Yoga in every sense of the world is excellent support in these stressful times or literally every time. It brings harmony and peace not only to the mind but also to the body. 

 

Next Story

ISKCON Sues Shemaroo Ent and Comedian Surleen Kaur For Defaming Hinduism and Sanatan Dharma

A legal complaint has been lodged against Shemaroo Ent and comedian Surleen Kaur ISKCON trust for defamation

0
Rishi Muni
Rishi Munis and hinduism has been trolled for long but now ISKCON has decided to act against it. Pixabay

BY Varuni Trivedi

In a new-age trend of trolling, masqued under the name of comedy Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma, Rishi-Munis and culture are constantly abused people or organizations. These people undermine the tolerant nature of the followers of Sanatan Dharma, advocates ISKCON trust in a complaint to Mumbai police against Shemaroo Ent and comedian Surleen Kaur.

Demonising Hindutva and defaming Hindu saints and mahatmas has become the order of the day for most Web series and stand-up comedians. A knowledge of culture and scriptures in addition to lack of legal action has made them bold in this practice. However, bashing this ongoing trend ISKCON has made clear that the organization will seek to put an end to these malicious ways.

The latest example of this trend that started this fire was when, comedian Surleen Kaur defamed ISKCON and also portrayed Hindu rishi and Munis along with the age old Sanskrit language in bad light. In one of her recent acts she was quoted as saying “Beshak hum sab ISKCON waley hain, par andar sey sub harami Porn waley hain”. She went to say that, “Dhanya ho hamarey Rishi-Muni jinhoney thodi si Sanskrit use kar key apney badey badey kand chupayehai….Kamasutra”.

ISKCON
ISKCON’s complaint against Shemaroo will not be taken back says Radharamn Das. PC: Organizer

ISKCON has initiated a legal proceeding against Shemaroo Entertainment and Surleen Kaur for defaming the organization, demeaning Sanatan Dharma, and associating the followers with sick content. Radharamn Das, the Vice President & Spokesperson of Kolkata ISKCON has stated that strict legal action will be taken against them.

ISKCON, in its complaint to Mumbai police commissioner, has stated that the comedian’s act was highly objectionable and derogatory, it has caused great pain to the followers of Sanatan Dharma. Hindus and ISKCON devotees worldwide feel raged at these defamatory comments.  The video which was shared Shemaroo and all its social media platforms has caused irreparable loss to our society and sentiments, the complaint states.

The complaint mentions that “There is a growing trend in India, where Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma and our Rishi-Munis, Deities etc are being constantly abused by a group of people and organizations. They are misusing the tolerant nature of the followers of Sanatan Dharma and their abuses and language and volume of abuse has only grown louder day by day.

 

ISKCON Complaint
ISKCON Complaint against Shemaroo Ent & Comedian Surleen Kaur for defamation of Sanatan dharma. PC: Organiser

There is a hidden propaganda and conspiracy to defame Sanatan Dharma, our Rishi Munis so that the youths can be easily manipulated. Through app’s like Tik-Tok etc. the focus of the foreign power’s is to destroy the character of the masses so that country can be easily controlled & destroyed”.

Also Read: Stadia Pro Members to Get Six Bonus Games in June, Reveals Google

An F.I.R under relevant sections against Surleen Kaur and Shemaroo Entertainment limited has been requested by ISKCON to Mumbai Police. Meanwhile, Shemaroo has accepted that the act performed by Surleen Kaur was in fact found derogatory and the same has been taken down with immediate effect from all social media platforms. However, ISKCON has clearly stated they don’t accept the apology and will continue with the legal action.

Radharamn Das of ISKCON has clearly stated that they will not accept Shemaroo’s apology, “This has become a trend to demean Sanatan Dharma. No more. We will make an example out of this nonsense”, he said.