An image of The Amarnath Cave and the Lingam as it is ordinarily.
Do we consider ourselves deuteragonists? Second most important in the Great Drama of Life? Or are we pretending to be so, out of ignorance? Or merely acting out our misconceptions? Or waiting for the veil of illusion to lift and expose that which lay behind was in fact a mirror of what lay hidden inside, Pure, Timeless, Intelligence, Deathless, Beingless, All Knowing…
In an unprecedented first, the Shiv Lingam at the holy cave of Amarnath in Kashmir has melted completely (completely in the title meant to emphasise ‘total dissolution’.. without an iota of doubt) creating a wave of disappointment in the lakh or so pilgrims gathered in Pahalgam en route Amarnath. July 1st, the first day of the pilgrimage and there was no lingam in the cave, as validated by the shrine authorities.
Does this mean therefore that Lord Shiva has deserted his abode?
The Shiv lingam is a natural ice stalagmite that waxes in the period between July to September in the holy months of Shravan and wanes thereafter. It is believed that Shiva Baba narrated the story of eternal life and immortality to Ma Parvati in that cave . The Shiv Lingam which formed naturally for thousands of years then grew to be known as one of the three abodes of Lord Shiva.
The visual of thousands of devotees expressing anguish over a melted Lingam and evincing sentiments such as ‘ What purpose will our visit serve now?” or ” If He is not going to be there then we are as if betrayed” gets one thinking real hard as to the purpose of the yatra ( pilgrimage) in the first place. Was it to see first hand a phenomenon of nature? Does the Lingam signify the truth of a living God as Shiva is believed to be? Does the melting down mean he has fled? If Shiva lives only in the Amarnath Lingam, does that mean therefore that the hundreds of Shaivite Temples spread across the length and breadth of India are but empty shrines? What is the underlying meaning behind a pilgrimage?
Well..definitely not a Nature trek!
While the cause attributed to the melting has been the regular advent of helicopters in the three helipads catering to the elitist niche of pilgrims who can for a mere Rs. 5’000 get to the shrine which otherwise is an arduous trek, global warming is rumored to be another.
Not a great believer in the ‘manifest’ that is ‘Aakar” but rather in the ‘unmanifest’ or ‘Nirakaar’ makes one proclaim that the presence of the Shiv Lingam has little to do with proof of Lord Shivas presence there. Subsequently the absence/ melting of the Ligam logically, is scant reason to express massive disappointment. The omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Almighty behooves no proof. Tangible expressions do not necessarily validate Spiritual benevolence!
I have often thought pensively on the reason behind the holiest of shrines always being on the apex of a hill, mountain. The journey if arduous and long, intensifies the purpose, magnifies the longing and purifies ones intention. So much so that eventually, the Self has been elevated to a degree of cleansing that makes for a receptive medium.. If the insides are full of hatred, envy, anger, despair, ire, there is little that can be received. Only an empty receptacle can be replenished with blessings and energy. The Journey therefore is meant to be slow, determined and resolute, painstaking as if to test the mental and emotional strength of the pilgrim as also to scale his faith and belief!
I read this in utter astonishment. It as if condoned the above, if one cared enough to read the underlying meaning , as one ought to read scriptures.
In preparation to that He left His Nandi ( The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon) . 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 Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ) . At Panjtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being . He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world , Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance . After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa .
Is the melting therefore a subtle manner of letting us know that Lord Shiva would rather have his pilgrims on foot or atleast try to be there with the aid of their own physical capacity rather than adopting a short cut route via helicopters?..Notice that He discarded Nandi the bull , (His mode of transport), The moon from his hairs and snakes, (bodily decorations, adornments, indicating austere clothing) his son Ganesha, (indicating earthly connections or emotional bonds, and finally all proof of bonds) That one would think is the mental preparation needed for a purposeful pilgrimage.
If only the legends of the Gods were imbibed devoid of blind faith and scrutinised for deeper hidden truths they embodied!
Finally, knowledge of the Self through whatever means suited is the purpose not just of spirituality but also of ones birth. Bhole nath or the eternal life energy within us has never been disconnected to have to find Him atop moutains. But reaching the apex of personal purification is the only roadblock which keeps Him from us.
Om namoh Shivay!