Tuesday, July 8, 2008

HISTORY OF THE AMARNATH PILGRIMAGE

Courtesy-Pawan Durani
The separatists in Kashmir and their “secular” supporters are trying to spread the myth that the Amaranth Yatra is of a recent origin. They claim that it started only after a Muslim shepherd of Batakot, a certain Buta Malik, originally”discovered” the Amarnath cave when he lost his flock and found that it had strayed into the sacred spot some 150 years ago. There is no documentary proof of this so-called discovery, the story having probably been concocted to give credit to Muslims for having started the most popular Hindu pilgrimage of Kashmir.
There is ample and conclusive historical evidence, on the other hand, to prove that the holy cave and the ice lingam were known to the people since very ancient times and have been continuously and regularly visited by pilgrims not only from Kashmir but also from different parts of India.
While the earliest reference to Amarnath can be seen in the Nilamata Purana (v.1324), a 6th century Sanskrit text which depicts the religious and cultural life of early Kashmiris and gives Kashmir’s own creation myth, the pilgrimage to the holy cave has been described with full topographical details in the Bhringish Samhita and the Amarnatha Mahatmya, both ancient texts said to have been composed even earlier.
References to Amarnath, known have also been made in historical chronicles like the Rajatarangini and its sequels and several Western travellers’ accounts also leaving no doubt about the fact that the holy cave has been known to people for centuries. The original name of the tirtha, as given in the ancient texts, is of course Amareshwara, Amarnath being a name given later to it.
Giving the legend of the Naga Sushruvas, who in his fury burnt to ashes the kingdom of King Nara when he tried to abduct his daughter already married to a Brahmin youth, and after the carnage took his abode in the lake now known as Sheshnag (Kashmiri Sushramnag), Kalahana writes:
“The lake of dazzling whiteness [resembling] a sea of milk (Sheshnag), which he created [for himself as residence] on a far off mountain, is to the present day seen by the people on the pilgrimage to Amareshwara.”(Rajatarangini, Book I v. 267.Translation: M. A. Stein).
This makes it very clear that pilgrims continued to visit the holy Amarnath cave in the 12th century, for Kalhana wrote his chronicle in the years1148-49.
At another place in the Rajatarangini (Book II v. 138), Kalhana says that King Samdhimat Aryaraja (34 BCE-17CE) used to spend “the most delightful Kashmir summer” in worshiping a linga formed of snow “in the regions above the forests”. This too appears to be a reference to the ice linga at Amarnath. There is yet another reference to Amareshwara or Amarnath in the Rajatarangini (Book VII v.183). According to Kalhana, Queen Suryamati, the wife of King Ananta (1028-1063), “granted under her husband’s name agraharas at Amareshwara, and arranged for the consecration of trishulas, banalingas and other [sacred emblems]“.
In his Chronicle of Kashmir, a sequel to Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, Jonaraja relates that that Sultan Zainu’l-abidin (1420-1470) paid a visit to the sacred tirtha of Amarnath while constructing a canal on the left bank of the river Lidder (vv.1232-1234). The canal is now known as Shah Kol.
In the Fourth Chronicle named Rajavalipataka, which was begun by Prjayabhatta and completed by Shuka, there is a clear and detailed reference to the pilgrimage to the sacred site (v.841,vv. 847-849). According to it, in a reply to Akbar’s query about Kashmir Yusuf Khan, the Mughal governor of Kashmir at that time, described among other things the Amarnath Yatra in full detail. His description shows that the not only was the pilgrimage in vogue in Akbar’s time - Akbar annexed Kashmir in 1586 - but the phenomenon of waxing and waning of the ice linga was also well known.
Amareshwar (Amarnath) was a famous pilgrimage place in the time of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan also. In his eulogy of Shah Jahan’s father-in-law Asif Khan, titled “Asaf Vilas”, the famous Sanskrit scholar and aesthete Panditraj Jagannath makes clear mention of Amareshwara (Amarnath) while describing the Mughal garden Nishat laid out by Asif Khan. The King of gods Indra himself, he says, comes here to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva”.
As we well know Francois Bernier, a French physician accompanied Emperor Aurangzeb during his visit to Kashmir in 1663. In his book “Travels in Mughal Empire” he writes while giving an account the places he visited in Kashmir that he was “pursuing journey to a grotto full of wonderful congelations, two days journey from Sangsafed” when he “received intelligence that my Nawab felt very impatient and uneasy on account of my long absence”. The “grotto” he refers to is obviously the Amarnath cave as the editor of the second edition of the English translation of the book, Vincient A. Smith makes clear in his introduction. He writes: “The grotto full of wonderful congelations is the Amarnath cave, where blocks of ice, stalagmites formed by dripping water from the roof are worshipped by many Hindus who resort here as images of Shiva…..”
Another traveler, Vigne, in his book “Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu” writes about the pilgrimage to the sacred spot in detail, clearly mentioning that “the ceremony at the cave of Amarnath takes place on the 15th of the Hindoo month of Sawan” and that “not only Hindoos of every rank and caste can be seen collecting together and traveling up the valley of Liddar towards the celebrated cave……” Vigne visited Kashmir after his return from Ladakh in 1840-41 and published his book in 1842. His book makes it very clear that the Amarnath Yatra drew pilgrims from the whole of India in his time and was undertaken with great enthusiasm.Justify Full
Again, the great Sikh Guru Arjan Dev is said to have granted land in Amritsar for the ceremonial departure of Chari, the holy mace of Lord Shiva which marks the beginning of the Yatra to the Holy Cave. In 1819, the year in which the Afghan rule came to an end in Kashmir, Pandit Hardas Tiku “founded the Chhawni Anmarnath at Ram Bagh in Srinagar where the Sadhus from the plains assembled and where he gave them free rations for the journey, both ways from his own private resources”, as the noted Kashmiri naturalist Pandit Samsar Chand Kaul has pointed out in his booklet titled “The Mysterious cave of Amarnath”.
Not only this, Amarnath is deeply enshrined in the Kashmiri folklore also as stories like that of Soda Wony clearly show. One can, therefore, conclude without any doubt that the Amaranth Yatra has been going on continuously for centuries along the traditional route of the Lidder valley and not a century and a half affair. May be during the Afghan rule when religious persecution of the Kashmiri Hindus was at its height and they were not allowed to visit their places of worship the pilgrimage was discontinued for about fifty or sixty years and during this period the flock of some shepherd may have strayed into the holy cave, but that in no way makes it of a recent origin or a show window of so-called Kashmiriat.

16 comments:

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

Hi Rashneek, Congratulations for creating a rift among the people of varying faiths, culture and regions. Does it matter who discoverd the cave. The point is that Kashmiri Muslims respect the religious sentiments of other faiths and whole world is witness to the fact that Kashmiris did not attack a single yatri during the protests. Kashmiris are peace loving and never communal, with some exceptions. I fail to understand how come hundered of Kashmiri pundits who did not leave the valley are not being killed by Kashmiris Muslims. The fact is that Indian Govt and United Nations gave us the right of self determination. Why is India shying away of giving this right to us (Kashmiri, Dogras and Ladakhis). If India is confident of wining, should allow then...

Alok said...

Dear Ajaz ahmed,
Point 1:May be for you " Who fould Amarnath Cave or when it was found ?" dosen't matter but us it matters, and I hope you understand.What has been clarified and corrected here are the facts with an aim to highlight misinformation campaign regarding holy amarnath shrine which some are trying to spread inorder to justify the unwanted protests for mere sake of political gains.
Point 2: Let me open your eyes ,unfortunately you have eyes that cant's see .. This is called syndrome of " Eyes or No Eyes " . You talk about hundreds of kashmiri pandits living in valley but you have become so blind that you are not able to see the 4lakh kashmiri pandits who are living in exile and for which I dont hold Pakistan or any other terrorist outfit responsible but you ( Common Kashmiri muslim ) and let me tell you kashmiri pandits did not leave the valley due to the threat of terrorist but because they had lost trust in their neighbours( Kashmiri muslims).. When selective kilings of kashmiri pandits happened you remained mum.. I ask you, Why ? Ask yourself Why ?
You ( Kashmiri Muslims )not only remained mum but infact supported the terrorists..So please stop falsely pretending "Kashmiri muslims are peace loving and never communal"

Point 3 : Regarding your point where you suggest a plebisite for Jammu & Kashmir
Let me tell you " Democracy of a country does not mean plebisite , subjects of the state have to be loyal to the sate "
Jai Hind , jai Panun Kashmir

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

Alok... As per your perspective,I have eyes which cannot see, but I am sorry to inform you that you have a heart which cannot feel. Live in Kashmir and then say India Zindabad after your loved ones are killed by Indian forces delibrately.....Bear in mind, you did not remain loyal to the country of Kashmir and became informers and agents of Indian agencies baring a few innoncent pundits.

Alok said...

Ajaz ..

kashmir is an integral part of Indian and no power on earth can can seperate kashmir from india.

Let me remind you there is an elected govenment in kashmir, there are people who participate in the elections which are conducted under indian banner.

Look at the your leaders separatists , they travel with indian passports.

The food you eat is Indian.

The roads which are built and on which you walk is made from Indian Funds.

Currency you use is Indian

Omar Abdulla you leader said , that too in Indian parliament ,that he is Indian.

The computer which you are using is Indain

The webpage which you are using is Indian.

Land line and mobile phones which you are using are Indian.

Electricity which you are using is Indian.

Salt which you are Eating is Indian.

Clothes you wear are Indian.

U understand by friend How blind you are.

Go and collect water a small glass and try you drown yourself in that for your ignorance.

I know there unfortunately few people like you who suffer from the syndrome of eyes or no eyes.

Today its because of people like you, there are innnocents kashmiris suffering at the hands if Indian Forces.

But Let me remind you that those you call freedom fighters also have killed several or your own people.

Look at india in general , Its prospering in the field of IT , Infrastructure , Energy , Industry , Real estate etc exponentailly ...India will be a super power by 2020.You have become so blind that you cant see all this development.
There are more Muslims In India that in Pakistan.
There is no military in other parts of India killing muslims.
Its greatness of India that in a country where 70% of people are hindus yet they choose to make a muslim Dr A P J Kalam as their president.

Look at our cricket team ... we had a muslim captain Mh Azar. He was even my favourite. Zaher Khan , Munaf Patel , Mh Kaif , Irfan Pathan , Wasim Jafar , and many more are muslims but no distinction is made by India. This is greatness of India

India does not bias people in the name of religion.

If today India is secular ... its because the majority ( 70% Hindus ) in India wants it to be secular. You tell me if these 70% tomorrow decide India to be a hindu Nation ... Can any one stop them ... No You cant ..

Look at Pakistan ..Islamic state ..those who went to pakistan after partition are still called mujahir.
Today Pak is worse hit by its own terrorism.

Compare India and Pakistan... Where India stands and where does pakistan .. ?

Today India is veiwed with respect in the international commumnity.

I am an Indian and I speak on behalf of All Kashmiri pundits . That we are and we will always reamin Indians...

Its for you to decide on your own fait...

I pray to almighty god that to give you knowledge and make free from ignorance so that you could not only change yourself but also some of your other brothers...

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

Dear Friend, I have nothing against Indian public in general and overall I can tell u with conviction, majority of Indians are one of the nicest peoples on earth. The problem is Indian govt not the common man. Gandhi studied in London, Indians were using passport of Britishers, Indians used to go to English schools, Indians were using railways put by Britishers etc does not mean that India should not have asked for freedom. India was forced to use British facilities cause India was under occupation. Similarly Kashmiri are forced to use Indian stuff cause we are under occupation. Does not mean that if we were not part of India ,we would not have commerce with India. We will definitely have good relations with neighbours. To your point of secularims, I can tell you with great belief that Kashmiris, overall, all the most secular poeople on earth(dont quote the killing of innocent punidts or dont quote killing of innoncent Muslims in Gujrat, Mumbai, Indhore etc). However, I respecdt your decision to be with India and you should also respect the decision of Kashmiri to be Independent. At the end of the day, right to choose must be given to Dogras, Kashmiris and Ladakhis.

GS said...

The comments and arguements by you are completely illogical. The British Occupation and Indian Occupation(!) are uncomparable. First things first, India hasn't occupied Kashmir.
Second, Do not ever say that you are forced to use the Indian Facilities in Kashmir. No, you are not! If you don't want to use Indian Facilities, please leave and go to Pakistan. The land on which you live is Indian and no one absolutely no one can claim it.
Third Leave the thought of being independent. Look at some of such separatist countries, Kosovo, Republika Srpska(This is the correct Spelling). These countries were formed due to separatist activities like you people. They are formed because USA wanted Russia to weaken. These are countries formed by separating Russian Allies(Serbia and Bosnia). These are a part of politics that doenst want to see rise of a new superpower by USA. Its time we unite and help India become a Superpower to challenge USA. If tommorow Northeast wants a separate Nation Mumbai wants a separate nation, is it logical. Say tommorow After Independent Kashmir is formed , Dogras want a separate nation and Ladakhis want a separate nation will you allow them to do so. and for God's sake dont pull Dogras and Ladakhis in your separatist bullshit. I mean look at yourself. Will you be able to run a village, leave alone separate country. and you say you will have good relations with India, I can't help but laugh at your statements. What commerce will you have. You will survive only if we give you something free of cost.
and without us standing with you, how long will you stay "Independent" from Pak. The day we leave you alone, next day Pak will invade. What do you think? Pak supports your independence? Oh, Really? Then why don't they declare independence for Pak occupied Kashmir? Liars. And my brother, India is a collection of brothers with different skill sets, who together prosper the family. If every brother want's a separate house then no house will prosper, rather outsiders will invade and destroy everything.
So stop asking to respect your separitism. Kashmiri land is Inid'a and if you want you are free to go to Pak, let me see who gives you, let alone more, atleast same respect and freedom of expression as India gives you. This all you can speak and write on blog, because you are in India, try going to Pak or China, and try posting it, you will be blocked.
Think again.

GS said...

and one more thing.
We also want Article 370 to be removed. Everyone in India has a right to go and settle in Kashmir.

Anonymous said...

bingo great answer ...

Alok

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

GS.......Kashmiris have had very bad experience with India. We rejectd Pakistan and opted for India. India betrayed us by way of disrespecting the agreement.We have nothing against Indian people. Look at how Kashmiris did protests and not even a single yatri was attacked. We only want the promises to be fulfilled. Why is United Nations army in Kashmir for the last 60 yrs if Kashmir is an integral part of India. Trust me, Kashmiri pundits in Kashmir are much better than Kashmiri pundits outside Kashmir (may be not financially but satisfication is higher)...No body is killing them...

GS said...

dude,
What do you mean by sayin India Betrayed us? You think this because you believe in Propaganda done by Pakistan! I felt good you asked question that why the UN Army is still there if Kashmir is integral part of India? You know dude, when you ask this question you actually accept the fact that you are Integral part of India and thus you have gained this right of asking the question.and The UN Army is still in Kashmir because Kashmiri Muslims Supported Pakistan backed Mujahidins and kept Kashmir constantly on fire. Kashmir still burns is your own mistake and not India's. I agree there must've been some atrocities by Army in Kashmir, but those happen everywhere, where Army is deputed all 12 months. Afterall Army people are Human, they are bound to make mistakes.Even in Maharashtra sometimes we hear news of Army soldiers pushing people from train etc. The important point is why do we require army to be in Kashmir for that long. Don't you think you yourselves are at fault. Is India so fool to spend more than half of its revenues for Defense especially in Kashmir, for no reason whatsoever. IF there was no unnecessary bloodshed from Kashmiri Muslims in 1990s against pandits, and no support for Mujahidin's then Army would have been pulled long back and Valley would've been what it is called "Jannat".
Its good that you finally accepted that you had opted for India back in 1947 and to tell you the choice has been the correct one, for last 60 years we have been protecting you from Pakistan. Or just take a look at POK, how much worse lives they live.
and to remind you of something. Even in 1947 Maharaja Harisingh had this foolish wish of Independent Kashmir and India at that time respected it, but when he saw Pakistan invading he understood his mistake and opted to join Indian Federation. and then after signing, India pushed Pak armies back but UN interfered and LOC was formed keeping some part to Pakistanis and you talk about agreement? Study history before arguing. Its your good luck that you are in India. Thank God for that and don't tell me regarding no attacks on Yatris, There have been numerous attacks in the past and I see no sign of end to them until we clean all those Mujahidin camps in POK and join POK to Indian state of J&K with a fencing as an International Border with Eternal nuisance Pakistan and people like you remove all the misconceptions from you minds.

Anonymous said...

Ajaz ..
Point 1) What bad experience you have...?
can you share except to ur utter nonsense and lie that Indian forces are killing innocent people . Every one knows that indian army men are there to bring to task all terrorists.. Do din ke liye rasta kya band ho gaya ki sadakon par aa gaye ...
If India stops to give you fodder for one week you will starve to death ....And you talk about independence...What a joke .. When you separatists have so much prob with indian govt then why did hurriyat not oppose recently announced compensasion by home minister of india .. You want to enjoy all the benefits from India ...at the same time curse india ...this parasitic behaviour of you separatists speaks volumes about what you want and what you deserve ... Point 2 :what do you mean by "We" .. you hanful of mad separatists are not we ... "We" in J&K means Kashmiri muslims, Pandits, Dogras, muslims of jammu , ladakhis, gujars sikhs and not only separatists who can be counted on finger tips and who have no guts to prove their mandate by election and that is because they have NO MANDATE....
Point No 3: What agreement are you talking about it was Maharaja Hari Singh king of J&K who decided to be part of India so nothing doing beyond that ...
Point No 4 : " Not a single yatri attacked , we kashmiri separatists are not communal, yasin malik is next to mahatma gandhi , Separatists did not want kashmiri pandits to leave from the valley but infact as jagmaohan told them so 4 lakh kashmiri pandits decided to leave their homes, property , gardens ,land , jobs, business ,everything to go for a picnic to rest of india ...and when this was happening all the neighbours (muslims) of kashmiri pandits during the nights where shouting and crying from mosques that pandit brothers please dont go ... infact you were so stressed and saddened by that you even decided to paste letters of love that too in blood at the homes of kashmiri pandits saying Kashmir is incomplete without you ..."
I can keep on writing pages for you extreme love and affection.
Whom are you trying to fool.. and who is going to beleive your nonsense..

And I repeat try to read what ohters write .. You were not able to answer a single point what G S Wrote .. Its not necessary that you post an immediate reply ... take some time and try to think from others perspective and then try to make a judgement whats correct and whats not ...
Good Luck ..
Alok

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

Alok...When I mentioned bad experience, I was not refering only to post 1989 events but right from 1947. Below is the comments I have made some days back. I am reposting here for your refernce. Read my arguements and points...

If Kashmir is an integral part of India, how come only 45% of J&K State is under India. What has Govt of India done to rgain the other 55% of J&K? Nothing..Cause if they start doing anything, it will have to leave this 45% as well. It is like if you find two notes of Rs500
on the road and you pick up one note.When you were about to pikc up the other note, someone already picked up. Now you are happy with the one note cause you got it illegaly.Similarly,India did not do anything to regain the other half. That is because it knows if it tries any action,either polotical or millatry,there will be question mark on its claim over Kashmir. How many people in India know that United Nations Military Observers have a big office in the heart of Srinagar.They are not in Mumbai,bangalore, Delhi, Bihar. You have educate your country men that Kashmir is a disputed territory. I am not opposing any Kashmiri or Dogra be hold the opinion that Kashmir SHOULD be a part of India. But let us excercise this right of choice. If India has taken right measure to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris for the last 60 yrs, probably the chances are that India will get full control of 100% Kashmir as opposed to current 45%.(Keep in mind,arrest of Sheikh Abdullah in 1953,installation of puppet Govt in Kashmir, replacement of Prime Ministership to chief Ministership in 1964,Unilateral decission of dilution of Article 370,military rule, more than 100 thousands innocents deaths by Indian forces (My three cousins included),rapes,custodial deaths,economic degradation,infrastructure, NO POWER, Indus water treaty, only to name a few)

GS said...

You know what Ajaz,
You are a person with no good intentions and practically no thinking. You are blind folower of some separatist selfish leader who wants to fullfill his ambitions. Because all your arguements reflect your lack of study and lack of courage to answer any questions. You only seem to embrace your invalid points and try to put the same in different ways in every comment. and not a single time have you tried to answer the questions raised by us.
Go to some library, study and then come for a debate with us. Till you form your own opinions. Dont speak other's words.

Anonymous said...

Yes ajaz GS has pointed out correctly. Even I told you earlier also .It seems that you try to run away from questions. May be because you have no answers ,, No problem in that, it happens especially when you are arguing for a wrong cause.
Why dont you take help of some of your separatists brothers .. I know it will be an uphill task to to find people in the valley among your friends who have similar ideas and a potential to debate ..
ALOK

Anonymous said...

Спасибо понравилось ! Thanks !

Anonymous said...

Пасибо за материалы! :)
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