Showing posts with label Amarnath. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amarnath. Show all posts

Hinduism - Where Is Kashmir? Do Kashmiris Still Continue To Have A Shared History, Language, Culture, And Identity?

 Along with Jammu and Ladakh, it is one of the three different cultural zones of the contemporary Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir was formerly a princely realm controlled by Hindu Dogra monarchs who also reigned over the mostly Muslim Kashmiris and predominantly Buddhist Ladakhis.

Since India's independence in 1947, ethnic and religious divisions have been a cause of strife, particularly in Kashmir.

Pakistan sought to capture the territory by force after independence and claimed a chunk of Kashmir.

Since then, India and Pakistan have fought multiple battles over it; Pakistan claims it based on their common faith of Islam, while India claims it based on a document signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the last of the country's monarchs.

Kashmiris have been trapped in the middle of this regional conflict, and their requests for greater self-determination have mostly gone unheeded.

Tensions in Kashmir reached a peak during the widely acknowledged fraudulent state elections of 1986.

Since 1990, the tension has escalated into a full-fledged revolt, aided by secret Pakistani assistance.

During medieval times, the majority of Kashmiris converted to Islam.

Previously, the region was a Hindu cultural hotspot.

The sun temple at Martand, a temple to the deity Shiva at Pandrenthan, and the Shiva shrine at Amarnath cave, which is still a significant pilgrimage destination, are all remarkable examples of early Hindu architecture.

Kashmir is also home to a Hindu minority known as Kashmiri Pandits.

Many of them have moved south to other areas of India as a result of recent problems.

Despite their differing religious views, these two populations share a shared language and sense of Kashmiri identity and culture.

See Christine Nivin et al., India, 8th ed., Lonely Planet, 1998, for general information about Kashmir and other Indian locations.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Hinduism - What Does Himalayas Mean In Sanskrit? Why Are The Himalayas Sacred And Revered By The Hindus?

(meaning "abode of snow") Although only Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and, further east, Sikkhim have important Himalayan areas, the Himalayan range arcs over India's northern border.

The Himalayan areas in the first three states are the most important in a Hindu religious context; the mountains in these three contiguous states are all part of a larger Himalayan cultural region, which is fronted by the Shiwalik Hills.

They are revered as both the physical residence of Hindu gods (especially Shiva, who is said to reside atop Mount Kailas) and the source of holy rivers including the Ganges, Yamuna, and Indus.

The physical sufferings that these ascetics must experience in the mountains are also thought to develop spiritual force; the physical hardships that these ascetics must endure in the mountains are also believed to generate spiritual power.

The Himalayas are densely packed with sacred sites (tirthas), the most important of which are Amarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, and Nanda Devi. 

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

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Hinduism And Hindu Theology - Where Is Amarnath?


“The Undying Lord” is the literal translation of  Amarnath. A Sacred location (tirtha) and pilgrimage destination devoted to the deity Shiva in the form of Amarnath, situated high in the Kashmiri highlands the Earthly abode of the Eternal, Auspicious and Undying Lord Shiva. 

  • The site's centerpiece is a limestone cave, where melting snow trickles through limestone cracks each year, gradually forming an ice pillar. 
  • This pillar may grow to reach more than seven feet tall at its tallest point, although the height varies greatly from year to year depending on the weather. 
  • The linga, a cylindrical shape inadequately characterized as a "phallic sign," is the most popular aniconic picture of Shiva. 
  • The ice pillar in the Amarnath cave is said to be a svayambhu, or "selfmanifested," linga of Shiva, according to Hindus. 
  • These lingas are not created by humans, but rather by Shiva himself, who chooses to show himself out of love for his followers (bhakta). 
  • Because Shiva is considered to be uniquely present, every svayambhu picture is thought to be especially holy. 
  • These locations are often seen as especially effective settings for prayer and worship. 

The Amarnath cave is located in a remote location that is snowbound for the most of the year. 

  • The pilgrimage takes place in the month of Shravan (July–August), with pilgrims planning their journey to arrive on the full moon day. 
  • The pilgrimage formally starts in Shrinagar's Dashanami Sanyasi akhara, where the akhara's leader (mahant) wields a silver mace as a symbol of his power. 
  • Ascetics are granted this status because they are living representations of Shiva, who is the ultimate ascetic. 
  • The village of Pahalgam is where most pilgrims begin their trip. 
  • They trek almost thirty kilometers to Amarnath from there, traversing two mountain ranges along the route. 

Despite the fact that the area is sparsely populated for the most of the year, during the pilgrimage season, camps and shops sprout up along the road, many of which are operated by local Kashmiri Muslims for whom the trip is a significant source of income. 

  • The mahant, the local pandas (Hindu pilgrimage priests), and a handful of Muslims from a hamlet near Pahalgam divide the gifts at the shrine equally, though the state has done so since India's independence. 
  • Parts of Kashmir were a war zone in the early 1990s, with Indian government troops fighting a variety of Kashmiri Muslim factions, some of whom sought greater self-determination and others seeking union with Pakistan. 

The journey, which goes through some of the most disputed regions, has been hampered by these issues. 

  • Several assaults on pilgrims were recorded in 1994, allegedly spurred by pilgrims shouting anti-Muslim chants, and in 1995, the pilgrimage was conducted with strong security supplied by the Indian army. 
  • Although there was no political unrest during the 1996 pilgrimage, several hundred pilgrims perished from hypothermia brought on by an unseasonably warm snowfall.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.