Sunday December 17, 2017

Why Chaar Dham Yatra is a true test of every Hindu’s quest towards spiritual enlightenment

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yamunotri

By Rituparna Chakrobarty

Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, collectively called the Char Dham-the four abodes of god, are the places which every Hindu associates with his/her spiritual quest.

These four destinations symbolize the  three most important sects of Hinduism- Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. The Chaar Dham Yatra was started by Adi Shankrachyra about 1000 years ago.

According to the pilgrims the journey not only washes away all the sins one  incurs in life but also sets the soul on the path to salvation.

The origins of Char Dham Yatra are very ambiguous, as almost every Hindu myth and belief is connected to it.

 Yamunotri

According to the Hindu mythology, Yamuna is the sister of Yama, the God of death and Yamunotri is the place from where Yamuna originates. It is also the hermitage of the revered sage Asit Muni.

Yamunotri is famous for its thermal spring and glaciers. Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri, is located at Kalind mountain at the height of 4421meters above sea level.

Magnificient Gangotri Temple

 Gangotri

Gangotri is the place of origin of holy river Ganga. It lies close to the holy rock or ‘Bhagirath shila’, where the King Bhagirath worshipped lord Shiva, to bring down Goddess Ganga from the heaven to earth in the form of river.

The Gangotri temple was built by emperor Amar Singh Thapa in about 18th century. The temple is located amidst a pleasant surrounding of deodar and pines. The shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3048mts.

Badrinath_Temple_1-640x360

Badrinath

Badrinath also has a historical significance because the temple was set up by Adi Shankarachrya in the ninth century. It is also known as Badrinarayan temple.  After seeking knowledge of Vedas he came to Badrinath and settled with his disciples there. The location with its overwhelming  natural beauty, is very peaceful and serene. Maha Vishnu is the presiding deity. At present it is located in the Chamoli district.

 

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Kedarnath

Kedarnath temple is one of the most important destination in Char Dham yatra. It is the worshipping place of Lord Shiva and is believed to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is situated near the Mandakini river (Ganga).

According to the temple priests the temple was founded in the 9th century by Adi shankarachrya, though the topic has remained a subject of debate between the Hindu priest  and scientist. According to the scientists the temple remained buried in glaciers for more than 400 years. They prove this by resorting to the marks of glaciers visible outside the temple building.

For its extreme climatic conditions the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshya Tritriya) to Karthik purnima (November).

Kedarnath tragedy

The flood in June 2013 affected the Kedarnath the most although somehow it did not cause any harm to the temple, which was miraculous. The surrounding premises and the other buildings in the market area were wiped out by the floods. The disaster caused a great loss to human life and property. Though the state and central government were quick to take necessary action for its rehabilitation, there is still a long way to go.

 

 

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Cleaning of Ganga is not impossible, but it is very difficult.

The holy river is also one of the most polluted river

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Ganga in Haridwar
A pile of garbage lies on the riverbank along the Ganges riverfront known as "Har ki Pauri," the most sacred spot in the Hindu holy town of Haridwar where devotees throng. VOA

– Saket Suman

About five years ago, when Financial Times journalist and author Victor Mallet began living in Delhi, he was shocked to discover that the Yamuna — “this beautiful river of Indian legend and art” — was chocked with untreated sewage and industrial waste after it had passed through the city on its way to Mathura, Agra and on to join the Ganga at Allahabad He wondered “how a river so sacred to so many Indians could also be so polluted and neglected” and then set out to record the plight of the Ganga.

His exhaustive journey led him to various key locations on the river, including its source at Gaumukh and Sagar Island and the Sunderbans at its mouth in the Bay of Bengal. This culminated in the publication of “River of Life, River of Death” (Oxford University Press/Rs 550/316 pages).

“My conclusion is that it is not impossible (to clean the Ganga) — but it is very difficult. Narendra Modi is the latest of several Indian prime ministers to announce plans to rescue the Ganga — in fact, I would say he has been the most fervent — but like his predecessors, he has struggled to implement these plans despite the availability of funds from India itself and from international donors such as the World Bank and Japan.

“Clearly, the Ganga has enormous problems of physical pollution from sewage, industrial toxins and pesticide run-off. Too much of the water is diverted for irrigation in the dry season, which can leave parts of the river without water before the monsoon. But with political will and public support — I don’t think anyone in India objects to saving the river — it can be done,” Mallet told IANS in an email interview from Hong Kong.

The important thing, he maintained, is to change mindsets and he noted in this context that it is quite common among devout Hindus to say: “Ma Ganga is so spiritually pure that nothing we throw in the river will sully her or make a difference.”

The author said that sensible holy men and environmentalists who care for the Ganga term this as nonsense — and the reason it’s not true is that the Ganga’s very spiritual power arises from its physical properties as a life-giver, as a provider of water and fertility.

“That’s why rivers have always been worshipped in ancient times, including in England. So if you destroy the river’s life-giving qualities through pollution, you destroy the source of her spiritual importance,” he added.

In the book, he also states that it is not impossible to clean the Ganges, “as river clean-ups in Europe and America have shown”.

Elaborating on this, he said: “When I was a child living in London, my mother always told me not to fall in the Thames because the river was so filthy that if I fell in I would have to go to hospital and have my stomach pumped! Yet today the Thames is clean — muddy, but virtually free of industrial pollution and untreated sewage — because successive governments and water and sanitation companies have stopped the pollution.

“The same is true of the Rhine in continental Europe and the Chicago river in the United States. The great thing about rivers is that you don’t have to scrub them clean — you just have to stop polluting them and the natural flow of the river does the rest.”

Mallet maintained that the record on the Ganga has so far been disappointing in terms of implementation, but hoped that there will be a change now that there is a new minister in charge.

“If you clean the Ganga by improving sanitation, you not only save the goddess, you also create thousands of jobs in infrastructure development, and save the lives of thousands of children who die each year because of bad water, poor hygiene and stomach bugs. Likewise, if India curbs its greenhouse gases — and this seems to be happening anyway because alternative energy such as solar power is now very competitive on price — then that will also help it to reduce the kind of air pollution that has recently been afflicting Delhi and the whole of North India,” he maintained.

Mallet went on to add that he learnt a lot about the mythology and the history of the river — and the history of India — in the course of his research for the book.

“In a way, India is so rich in civilisations and stories that you can never say you have completed your work as a researcher and writer. You can at least make a start, and also explain the contemporary political, social, religious and environmental issues that affect the river and the country as a whole,” Mallet said. (IANS)

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Sara Ali Khan will be doing Her Second Film under Anushka Sharma’s Banner

Sara Ali Khan will make her debut in Kedarnath next year and has signed her next film already.

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Actress Sara Ali Khan
Actress Sara Ali Khan. Instagram
  • According to a source After making Making her Debut in Kedarnath, Sara Ali Khan will be doing a social drama produced by Anushka Sharma and KriArj Entertainment.

Sara Ali Khan’s Debut movie Kedarnath is with Sushant Singh Rajput

Kedarnath actress Sara Ali Khan has signed her second Film which will be produced by Anushka Sharma production house, Clean State Films which Anushka co-owns with her brother Karnesh and KriArj Entertainment owned by Prerna Arora and Arjun N Kapoor.

The movie is a social Drama and makers were searching a heroin when the idea of casting Sara changed upon them. According to reports, Director of Kedarnath, Abhishek Kapoor was not in a favor of Sara’s decision of signing the second movie.But the young actress did not want to wait for so long as Kedarnath release date has been shifted to the end of next year.

However, none has made any official statement about Sara’s playing lead in the movie. KriArj Entertainment told Pinkvilla: “Yes we have had a casual meeting with Sara but there’s nothing more to add to this. Currently, we are focusing all our energies on our next release – Pari.” Pari is Anushka’s next supernatural thriller and is slated to release in February.

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Holy Hindu Shrine Gangotri Closes for Six Months

Gangotri is part of the four shrines where the 'Chaar Dhaam' annual pilgrimage takes place in the hill state of Uttarakhand that draws millions every year.

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Gangotri
Gangotri temple. Wikimedia

Dehradun, October 20, 2017 : The gates of the Gangotri shrine in Uttarakhand were closed for a six-month winter break on Friday.

Amid fanfare and chanting of vedic hymns, locals shifted a statue of the Goddess Ganga to Mukhwa where, from Saturday, puja will be performed for the next six months. Jawans of the Mahal regiment of the Army played music during the ceremony.

Gangotri is part of the four shrines where the ‘Chaar Dhaam’ annual pilgrimage takes place in the hill state of Uttarakhand that draws millions every year.

The Kedarnath and Yamunotri shrines will be closed for the winter break from Saturday. (IANS)