Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Shri Amarnath ji - the Legend & stories of Holy cave

There is famous Rig Vedic Verse that says "Ekam Sat" that is "There is one Being, the sages call Him by many names." The God (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world. This is Known as Holy Trinity: Brahma - the creator, Vishnu - the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) - the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse. "We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra), Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment, May He release me, like the cucumber from its stem, From Mortal Life, But not From Immorality." (Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12).

The Yajurveda describes Shiva as ascetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin and He carries Trishul. According to the verse Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, the life is described as having three facets - Truth (Satyam), Good (Shivam) and the Beautiful (Sundaram). Shiva is a living God. The most Sacred and ancient books of India, the Rig Veda narrates His presence in the hymns. Vedic myths, rituals and even astronomy testify to His existence from the dawn of time. The Mohanjodaro and Harrapa findings confirm Shiva worship in the ancient India. According to the older scriptures, He has three places of His residence. One is Kailash Parvat another  is Lohit Giri under which Brahamputra flows and third is Muzwan Parvat.
The Holy Cave
Amarnath Cave is named after Mount Amarnath (5,486 m), where it is located at a height of 3,886 m. Because of this height, the cave is covered with snow for most of the year. Only for a short period in summer, the entrance is accessible. The cave is an ice cave; it contains a certain amount of ice stalagmites. The Lingam forms naturally toward the end of each summer from water dripping inside the 135-foot-high grotto.
The cave is a holy place for Hindus because of its ice content. One very characteristic pillar of ice is believed to be an ice lingam, the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Two smaller ice stalagmites represent Parvati, his wife, and Ganesha, his son. The Hindu pilgrims also believe, that the height of the lingam increases and decreases with the phases of the moon.
The Legend or Puranic Tale of Shri Amarnath ji
The legend as narrated by our Puranas is that the Cave was chosen by Shiva for narrating the secrets of immortality & creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji. The story goes like this. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiva ji to let her know why and when He started wearing the beads of heads (Mund Mala). Shiva replied that “when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads.” Maa Parvati said, "My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this." Shiva replied that “it is due to Amar Katha." Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told the secret of Amar Katha. Shiva ji continued postponing it for some time. Finally on consistent pressure from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the immortal secret.
He started for some isolated place where  no living  being could hear the story as it would make him "Amar" or immortal.  He chose Amarnath Cave. On the way He left His Nandi (The Bull)  at Bail gaon (now Pahalgam). At Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes. He decided to leave his Son Shri Ganesha ji at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill). At Panchtarni, Shiva ji left the Panch bhoot (Five Elements - Earth, Water, Air, Fire & Sky) which make living being. He is the Lord of these elements and is also called "Bhootnath".  It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Shivaji and Maa Parvati did Tandav Dance. After that Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Maa Parvati.
Lord Shiva sat on the Deer Skin and meditated. He created Rudra named “Kalagni” and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living being in & around the Holy Cave, so as to  ensure that no living being could hear the Immortal Tale. After this, He closed his eyes and started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati. But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained unharmed. There are two reasons given – firstly egg is believed to be non-living and secondly it was under the Aasan of Lord Shiva – Parvati so was itself protected from every fire. The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having heard the secret of immortality (Amar Katha). Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam.
Modern Story about discovery of the Holy Cave
As per the story narrated by locals a shepherd Buta Malik discovered the cave during 12th century. Story goes that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag, to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins. This made him overwhelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint. But what he found was that the Saint had disappeared. Instead, he found the Holy Cave and Shiva Lingam there in. He announced the discovery of this to the Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage.
As per another story the ice Lingam of Amarnath Cave was first discovered before the 12th century by a Muslim shepherd named Malik while looking for a missing goat. When he entered the mammoth cave in search of his missing goat, he found a five-foot Siva Lingam naturally formed of ice. He had seen Lingams in Hindu temples before, and upon his return to Hatnam, a small town on the Anantnag - Pahalgam road, he shared his discovery with a Hindu priest. The priest, however, did not believe Malik. He challenged Malik to take him to the cave. They reached the cavern after crossing the ice-cold waters of the River Liddar, climbing through the dense forests and over the rocky terrain. The priest was amazed when he saw the six-foot ellipse. Soon word spread everywhere that a new place sacred to Lord Shiva had been found. It was named Amarnath, "The Deathless Lord."
The Ancient Epics narrate another story. The valley of Kashmir was under water, it was a big lake. Rishi Kashyap drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets. In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to The Himalayas. He was the first to have Darshan of this Holy Cave. When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva’s abode and a centre of pilgrimage. Devotees trek to the cave, in the Hindu calendar month of Shravan (July–August) where the image of Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of an Ice Stalagmite. By its side are, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha.
There are many other stories about Amarnath in our ancient literature. Kalhana's Rajatarangini reports that before the 12th century it was visited annually by many thousands of pilgrims from all parts of India.
The famous book Brangish Sanhita provides full information with regard to the origin of the pilgrimage. The book says that the chhari (holy silver mace) was given by Lord Siva to Kashyap Rishi. Siva commanded that this mace be carried to Amarnath each year. This tradition continues. The mace arrives at the full moon in Shravan. In ancient times Amritsar was the starting point. Since the 1940s, pilgrims have started from Srinagar.

No comments: