What separates fact from fiction is the availability of documentary evidence, if not documentary evidence at least a folklore which has been passed on from generations to generations. Hindus have traditional encouraged the passage on knowledge from one generation to another in the form of read, memorize and repeat. Traditional Vedic scholars who have chanted mantras on the banks of rivers will stand testimony to this practice.
But in today’s world of famed twitterati, a simple fake tweet is enough for many to rise to stardom. From being a simple movie star, they are hailed to become secular historians. We will be exposing one such story in the article that follows.
The recent attack on Amarnath Yatri’s in the in J&K’s Anantnag district has left the International community shell shocked. Several world leaders have come forward to condemn this dastardly act of terror for which the Lashkar e Taiba has staked responsibility.
Around seven pilgrims had been killed, and more than 20 pilgrims were injured in this attack. Sources say Ismail, the mastermind of this attack, is from Mirpur in Pakistan and has been indulging in bank loots for the past year to sustain the operations of the LeT along with Abu Dujana, the Lashkar head for Kashmir valley.
In India, terror attacks in Kashmir often evoke mixed responses. There is a group which vehemently opposes such acts and condemns them as Islamic Terrorism, a group which glorifies these terrorists and calls for the separation of Kashmir from India and finally a group which condemns these attacks initially but suddenly turn into terror apologists.
The third group who call themselves Liberals are probably the worst enemies which India as a Nation houses, as per my personal opinion. One such example was the recent tweet by Bollywood actress ‘Dia Mirza’.
Distortion Of History
Several historical references have been made to this character ‘Buta Malik’ as the original discoverer of the Amarnath cave, hence the yatra begun. My point here is not to authenticate this information, it may or may not be true, although several historians confess there is very little documentary evidence to prove this story.
A book titled ‘Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People: Analytical Perspective‘ by ‘Mohini Qasba Raina’ gives us a completely different version regarding the chronology of Amarnath Yatra. The author says the cave temple is reportedly 5000 years old and the manner in which the cave was discovered is exactly not known. The original name of the tirtha, as given in the ancient texts, is Amareshwara, Amarnath being a name given later to it.
Few Extracts from this book quote several documented references to this Amarnath Yatra.
1. The earliest reference for Amarnath can probably be taken from Nilamata Purana, a 6th century Sanskrit text. 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
2. Next in the order of references is the ‘RajaTarangini’ complied by Kalhana in the years 1148-49 AD, translated into English by M. A. Stein.
- As per 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)
- 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
- 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.
3. 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.
4. 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”.
5. 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 worshiped by many Hindus who resort here as images of Shiva…..”
6. 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.
7. 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”
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) April 14, 2017
With so much literary evidence documented by Hindus, Muslims and Westerners, what is the need for us to still support an unverified piece of information as the sole source of History? Is our country lacking so much in Knowledge that we need to implant a piece of history which is unverified? Is this another act by the so called ‘Terror Apologists of India’ to appease a section of the Kashmir society in the name of secularism?