Dr Abhishek Kumar Upadhyay (Director, Chudamani Sanskrit Sansthan) | In the Sanatan tradition, Jammu and Kashmir has a special place spiritually, geographically and mythologically. This has also been the center of worship for Shiva and Shakti. This is the reason why Jammu and Kashmir are described in detail in scriptures like Sharda Desh, Uttara Path and Chhoti Kashi. Shiva means well being and Linga means symbol i.e. Shivling is the symbol of God’s well being creative power. Shiva is the symbol of zero, heaven, the infinite universe and the supreme formless man in the beginningless form.
The element devoid of sound, touch, form, taste, smell is called Shiva and the Pradhan Prakriti combined with word-touch-form-rasa-smell is called Uttam Linga. He is the origin of the world. Nature itself, taking refuge in Sadashiv, creates four-faced Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva everywhere in crores of universes. He is the only Maheshwar who creates, maintains and destroys this universe. It is Lord Shiva who is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of living beings; a detailed description is found in the verse from Srilingamahapurana (Q. 4, 35-37):
Sargasya Pratisargasya State: Karta Maheshwar: ॥
Serge Ch Rajsa Yukt: Sattvastha: Pratipalane.
Pratisarge Tamodrikt: S and Trividh: Kramat.
आदिकर्ता च भूतानां संहर्ता परिपालकः।
Similarly, the description of Amareshwar Mahadev (Amarnath) is in the form of the natural, amazing and miraculous Bhu Linga itself. In the Puranas it has been called Amaresh Tirtha, momentary Shivling and abode of liberation. It must be known that Amareshwar Mahadev is the only Ice Shivling. If we talk about the origin of the natural form of Shivling in the Amareshwar cave itself, then it is a completely spiritual and natural miracle. The size of the Shivling keeps increasing and decreasing according to the phases of the moon. Every month Shivling starts to be done from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada date and this sequence continues to grow and is visible in its full form on the full moon day. What is amazing is that no human effort is put into the construction of this Shivling, instead it becomes accessible in its natural form. According to the Archaeological Department of India, Lord Amareshwar’s cave is five thousand years old, which means it must have existed during the Mahabharata period. While writing the history of the Kashmiri dynasties, the great poet Kalhana described Amareshwar Mahadev i.e. Amarnath in a book called Rajatarangini composed in the 11th century.
Rajatarangini is called the authentic ‘History’. It is mentioned in the Amareshwar Yatra in verse 267 of the first wave of Rajatarangini that King Samdimat Shaiva of Kashmir used to go to worship the ice Shivling situated in the forests of Pahalgam. Elsewhere in the same text, the poet Kalhana addresses the Amarnath form of Lord Shiva by the name of Amareshwar. There is a clear mention about the Amarnath Yatra in the Nilamat Purana composed in the 6th century. A detailed description of the history, geography, folklore and religious rituals of Kashmir is found in this Purana. In this, the description given about Amareshwar Mahadev shows that people used to visit Amarnath in the 6th century. Amareshwar Tirtha is repeatedly mentioned in the text called Bringesh Samhita. On the way to Amareshwar cave, there is description of places like Anantanya (Anantnag), Mach Bhawan (Mattan), Ganeshbal (Ganeshpur), Mamleshwar (Mamal), Chandanwadi, Sushramnagar (Sheshnag), Panchtarangiri (Panchtarni), etc. .
In Skandapuran, while explaining the glory of various Shiva pilgrimages, the Amresh pilgrimage has been described as the seeker of all endeavors, where Mahadev named Omkar and Parvati ji named Chandika reside. It is believed that when Lord Shiva decided to narrate the immortal story to Goddess Parvati, he left all his retinue behind and headed towards Amarnath cave. The meaning is that the place where Amareshwar narrated the immortal story, that place was empty. As a result, we get the impression of Shiva Sayujya from the names of these cities till date, this is the actual proof of the immortality of that immortal story. Due to year-round snowfall in such a remote area, only ascetics and yogis are allowed to visit Amareshwar Mahadev. Darshan cannot be accessible to the general public throughout the year, that is why our sages have set a friendly date for the season. Currently, depending on time and arrangements, the yatra lasts for two months. The average period for darshan is Shravan Shukla Purnima, ie the date of Raksha Bandhan.
Due to the continuous snowfall in the cave, along with Bhu Shivling himself, Shiva family figures are also formed through the snow and seeing Shivling’s formation process of snow in the cave, people began to call them Barfani and Himani Baba. . There are some of those mythological Amar Katha secrets which along with Shivling in Amareshwar temple, Ganesha and Parvati Peeth also originated from them. There is such a legend that the Mata Sati gorge was also destroyed here. In verse 151 of chapter 12 of the Linga Purana composed in the 5th century, in praise of Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga, Amareshwar is described in a legend that in this sacred cave, Lord Shiva told Mother Parvati about the path of salvation and He was told the immortal story that gave him the element of immortality. This is the reason why this abode of Lord Shiva is also called Amareshwar Dham. Lord Shiva sacrificed all five elements to tell the story of this immortality.