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PILGRIMAGE TO HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN

RANGE AN EXPERIENCE .
I PROSTATE TO THE DAWN/DUSK LAMP;
WHOSE LIGHT IS THE KNOWLEDGE PRINCIPAL ( SUPREME GOD )
WHICH REMOVES THE DARKNESS OF IGNORANCE
AND BY WHICH ALL CAN BE ACHIEVED . [puranas]

Geographically Himalayas are the youngest mountain ranges in the


world and they have third largest deposits of ice and snow in the world after Antarctica and Arctic. The
Indian plateau took approximately 6000 KM journey before its collision with Eurasian plateau (Asia).
Present Indian Plateau is approximately 10 million years old. The world’s major rivers like The Indus,
The Ganges ,The Tsangpo-Brahmaputra which are perennial , rise in the Himalayas.

Himalayas are the mountain range stretching from Karakoram in Pakistan to


Arunachal Pradesh in India. The ranges passes through Jammu and Kashmir(India),
Himachal Pradesh(India), Uttarkhand (India ), Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim in India, Bhutan
INDIA MAP
and ending at Arunachal Pradesh in India. We have visited Himalayan ranges from
Kashmir to Sikkim in the span of 30 years.Himalayas are snow clad mountains. HIMALAYAS
As per the Hindu mythology (In Sanskrit Hima means Snow and alaya means
Dwelling). Himalaya means “abode of snow”. Himalayas seperates Indian
subcontinent from Tibetan Plateau and are also called South Asia mountains
which also shaped the cultures of South Asia. The Himalayan peaks are sacred
to both Buddists , Hindus and jains.

The Importance of these religions and places , where these are prominent and
growth in relation to Himalayan Ranges are discussed in this paper . A brief view on these three
religions and my experience to this pilgrimage is given below .

God is Unique, Energy . Omni-Potent . Omni Present . God manifests into


different forms which led to different religions , and cults . Hinduism , Buddism ,Jainism flourished
in the Himalayan mountain region extensively.
Buddism: Siddhartha Gauthama [the prince of the
Kapilavasthu (Sakhya capital ),India in 4th to 5th B.C ] obtained
ENLIGHTENMENT in Bodh Gaya ( in present Bihar,
India ) under BODH (pippal ) tree.As ‘Buddha’ means
‘Enlightened one ‘ and used as PRAYER WHEEL
the first awakened being in an ‘ERA’ .Siddhartha was
named as ‘Gautham Buddha ‘and on his
teachings Buddism was founded . Time of his birth and
maha samadhi (death) are uncertain . Buddism
was spread from present AFGANISTHAN through the
LORD BUDDAH
BUDDHA complete Himalayan Mountain Range to China ,Far
East,Japan . Buddism main principle is ‘AHIMSA’ . The BUDDHA leads us
to the ‘ENLIGHTENMENT’ manifesting in the form of mantra ‘ OM MANI
PADME HUM ‘ . It is a six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra , where Mani means ‘ Jewel ‘
or ‘Bead ‘ , Padma means ‘Lotus Flower ‘ . It is hard to understand the mantra
and it is not easy to translate into the other languages . Dalai Lama
explained that ‘ Mantra ‘ means one can transform one’s
impure body , speech and mind into the body ,speech and
mind of Buddha . The mantra is commonly painted or
carved on rocks ,on paper , on yak sculls . The paper ,
PRAYER FLAG mantra written on it , is inserted into ‘ Prayer Wheel ‘ and
when an individual spins wheel , the effect is same as reciting the mantra .
Prayer Wheels vary in size and type . some are hand held wheels , which are made of hollow
wooden or metal cylinder attached to a handle . In the Himalayan Mountain Range one finds
the Tibetan Buddists turn the wheel while walking or resting , murmuring the mantra . All the
Buddist monastaries have bucket sized prayer wheels lined upon wooden racks along walking
paths encircling main shrine . People commonly find the prayer flags , which are made of cotton
cloth in white ,blue ,red ,yellow and green with mantras and prayers written on them , in the
mountain ranges .

Jainsm: The origins of Jainism is obscure . Jains believe their religion to be ever
existing having no origin and end . It is occasionally forgotten by humans and
revived by the succession of thirthankaras . Ashtapad { in Sanskrit ‘ashta ‘ means
eight ‘8’ and ‘pad’ means steps } is one of the major Jain theerthas and is
ASTAPAD situated in the snow covered Himalayas which is 7km approximately away from
Manasasarover on the way to Mt .Kailash . Here Bhagavan Rishabhdev [also called Bhagavan
Adinath ] attained enlightment [nirvana ] . He was founder of the Jainism in present half-cycle of
time . His son King Bharat after Rishabdev’s salvation , established Ashdapad temple made a
palace of real gemstones with Idols [made of gemstones] of 24 thirthankaras in Ashtapad
mountains [near Mt.Kailash ]. Jainism main principle is ‘AHIMSA’ .

Hinduism : Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and it is the dominant
religion in South – East Asia , mostly in India . Hindu temples , Buddist monastaries ,Jain temples
were established in the Himalayan Mountain Range from Afganisthan to Arunachal Pradesh via
Tibet ,Nepal . According to Hinduism , God manifested into many different forms like Lord Shiva,
Lord Vishnu etc . Hindus chant different mantras using garland of beads ( Japa = mantra ,
mala=garland ). As Madhaviya Shankara Vijayam states that pre existing
Sarvajnanapeetha in Kashmir(Sharada Peetham)had four doors for scholars from
four directions,the southern door was never opened until Adi Shankara visited in
early 8th century,defeated the scholars in all the branches of Hindu
philosophy.Presently saradapeetha is also called as Saraswati temple which is
one of the Shaktipeethas of 18 maha Shaktipeethas and it is in Azad Kashmir(Pakisthan occupied
Kashmir ) .

Kashmir: The Kashmir is a historical settlements which dates back to pre-


mahabharata and part of the oldest major civilizations. As per the folk legend from Hindu
mythology,“The Kashmir” means “desiccated land” and in Sanskrit,’Ka’ means water and ‘Shimeera’
means desiccated , which was formerly a lake and was drained by Sage Kashyap, grandson of Lord
Brahma. In the Mahabharata period, kambhojas ruled Kashmir later Panchalas ruled the same. The
present day Peer Panjal range was named after Panchalas of Hindu and prefixed with a muslim word
peer in memory of a muslim Faquir.Buddism was developed in Srinagari(present Srinagar),which was
the capital of Kashmir in Mouryan period,by Mouryan emperor King
Ashoka.Buddist monks from central and east Asia used to visit The Kashmir . The
Kuchanese monk Kumarajiva(born to Indian family) had
spread buddism to China . Amarnath cave,where ice
SHANKARA HILLS Shivalingam is formed by ice stalagmite,lies in the snow
clad mountains and is about 140km from Srinagar.It is very sacred and
pilgrimage center for Hindus ,is open in the months of july and august. Adi AMARNATH LINGAM
Shankaracharya temple , also called Shankara hills, is situated on the
mountain near shrinagar.It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is named as “Jyotheshwara”temple.
VAISHNAVI MATA (Jammu): Ma Vashanividevi who is one of the 108
Shaktipeethas, is situated in Katra near Jammu.The Hindu mythology says that
52 parts of Goddess Sati fell on the earth,56 fell on the other planets.Out of
VISHNAVI MATA which the “Blessing hand” of Goddess Sati had fallen on the “planet venus”or
Shukra Graha, which was abode of Goddess Lakshmi.In early Treta Yuga The Demon Mura blessed with
boons by Lord Brahma ,was chasing Lord Vishnu onto the planet Shukra.Long time after watching the
chase, Adiparashakti(Goddess of The Universe),on the request of Goddess Lakshmi,had taken the form
of Kaali in the physical appearance of the girl with the soul of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess
Saraswati(knowledge ),named as“Kumari”. As demon was chasing Lord Vishnu , Lord Shiva shifted the
mountain from Shukra to Himalayas on earth.While chasing Lord Vishnu, Mura(the demon) was
obstructed by “Kumari” and Kumari helped Lord Vishnu to kill the demon.Hence Lord Vishnu is named
as Murari . All the three goddesses transformed into Pindies(sacred stones).

Another legend says that Goddess Lakshmi named as “Trikuta” by


sage Narada was incarnated as a daughter of Lord Ratnakara.Trikuta is also called Vaishnavi who
perfomed penance to unite with Lord Rama(Lord Rama is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu).In this
incarnation of lord Rama ,Lord should have only one wife. As Lord Rama could not marry Vaishnavi,
Lord asked her to set up an ashram in Trikuta hills of Himalayas, meditate and wait till the end of Kali
Yuga.Thus Vaishnavi shreds her physical form and transformed into the five foot rock with three heads
of pindies(sacred stones).The temple contains three idols of Maha Saraswati,Maha Lakshmi,Maha
Kaali,together they form Vaishnsvi Mata.

In the heart of Jammu city exist the famous


“Raghunath Temple” which was built in 19 th century by Maharaja Gulab Singh
and his son Maharaja Ranbeer Singh . Presiding deity of temple is Lord Rama
on whose name the temple is named after.It is one of the largest temple
complex in North India with seven shrines, each with its
own shikhara.The significance of the temple is the idols
RAGHUNATH TEMPLE
of planets like(surya , sukra etc), celestial bodies like
(Indra,varuna etc),important personalities like(danwantari,Charaka etc),gods
like(Shiv,Parvathi etc),Lord Satyanarayana Swamy(Skandapurane,Revakande) were LADAKH
installed.Important temples like Char Dham ,Jyotirlingas were built. Ladakh is part of Jammu and
Kashmir,whose capital is Leh.Buddism flourished here,even now ladakhis follow buddism.
Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Pradesh is also a state in Himalayas,its
capital is Shimla . This state blessed with 5 Shaktipeethas.They are
Chinatpuri temple in Una district,Chamunda,Jwala,Brijeshwari templels in
Kangra district,Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur district .Historically this part
HIMACHAL PRADESH
of the region is ruled by Gupta dynasty from 4th to 6 th century.This period is
called “Golden period of india”,and is marked by the invention and discoveries in
science,mathematics,technology,engineering,art,logic,literature,dialect,astronomy,religion,philosophy.
This period produced scholars like Kalidasa,Aryabhatta,Varahamihira,Vatsayana,Vishnu Sharma and
Amara Sinha .Amarasimha had written thesaurus in Sanskrit called Amarakosha. King Harshavardhana
ruled this region after defeating guptas in 6th century .The court poet Bana,the chineese travelller
Xuantsang,and great mathematian and astronomer Brahmagupta lived here. In this period both
Buddism and Hinduism flourished.There are many important monastaries.

DEV BHOOMI(UTTAR KHAND):Uttarkhand is called abode of gods(Dev Bhoomi).


Adi Shankaracharya had established temples in Kedarnath(Jyotirlingam) and in Badrinath,which are in
the heart of The Himalayas.The great poet Kalidasa praised The Himalayas in his great epic “Kumara
Sambhavam”.

KUMARASAMBHAVAM CANTOS 1 TO 7 BY M.R.KALE .

This sloka is FIRST SLOKA from FIRST canto and is in the first page .

ASTUTTARASYAM DISHI DEVATHABHYAM , HIMALAYONAMA NAGHADHIRAJAH,

POORVAPARAU TOYA NIDHEE VAGAAHYA, STHITHAH PRUTHIVYA IVA MAANADANDAH.

Meaning 0f sloka is; There is in the northern quarter,the deity-soul “ Lord of


mountains”(immovable),by the name “ THE HIMALAYAS”(the mountains of
snow),who stands like measuring of earth,spanning the eastern and western
oceans.”: Allasani Peddanna , one of the 8 court poets (Ashta diggajalu)
patronaged by great King Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara empire during
KEDARNATH 15th century ,described The Himalayas in his book “MANUCHARITRA” as ‘Snow
clad mountains are so beautiful that they looks like the high peaks are touching the sky’ . According to
Hindu mythological epic ‘ Mahabharatha’ , after the great ‘KURUKSHETRA’ war [ fought between
the Kauravas and Pandavas , ‘first cousins ‘ ], Pandavas want to absolve the sins of killing the
kith and kin , they left for the darshan of Lord Shiva in Mt.Kailash . Enroute Pandavas found a
place called Kashi , where Lord Shiva was hiding . Hence the name ‘ Gupta (hidden) Kashi ‘ . After
travelling for some time they reached a place called ‘ Gauri Kund ‘ ( base
camp for Kedarnath ) . According to Shivapurana (epic) Goddess Parvati
(Gauri) believed to have performed penance for her union with Lord Shiva
BADARINATH in this Himalayan region. Hence the name Gauri Kund (There are hot springs
). From there they travelled to a place called Kedar ( this region was ruled by King Kedar in
Treta Yuga ). Here Lord Shiva appeared as a Jyothir Linga from huge column of light . Hence Lord
is named as ‘KEDARESHWARA ‘ . From there Pandavas travelled to Badrinath ( Badarikashram ) ,
where sages like Nara , Narayana , Sanaka , Sanandana performed penance from the times
immemorial . Even now sadhus perform penance here . From here Pandavas travelled to
Mt.Kailash .

The sacred rivers like Mandakini (which is also called AAKAASHA


GANGA),Alaknanda, Bhagirathi ,the mystic Saraswati ,Yamuna etc flows
perennially from The Himalayas .From the puranas (Shivapurana,
Skandapurana), we conclude that this region might be the birth place of Lord
BHAGIRATHI Subramanya. Puranas Say that King Baghiratha,anxious to restore his ancestors
(60 thousand sons of King Sagara) performed rigorous penance and was
granted the prize of Ganga ‘s descent from heaven . King Bhagiratha
persuaded Lord Shiva on Mt.Kailash to receive Ganga in his coils of tangled
hair ,as her turbulence could shatter the earth.As Lord Shiva releases Ganga,
she flows from the mouth of Gomukh to Gangotri (It is named as Bhagirathi
in honour of Bhagiratha who played the pivotal role of BRAHMA KAMAL
“Gangaavataranam”)and meets Alaknanda ,Mandakini,Pindar,Nandakini (Alaknanda meets Bhagirathi
in Dev prayag , Pindar in Karna Prayag,Nandakini in Nanda Prayag,Mandakini in Rudra Prayag,Dauli
ganga in Vishnu Prayag:panch’5’ Prayag:) ,flows to Rishikesh.From
there she flows as River Ganges ,travels through
Allahabad,Varanasi,Gaya , meets the ocean (Bay of Bengal) and
flows deep into Netherworld(patalam) ,saves the King Sagara’s sons.
In the Garhwal-Himalayan range lies Hemakund lake and Gurudwara
GURUDWARA,HEMA KUND
(sacred to Sikhs).Down the lake lies Valley Of Flowers ,where the
LAK
variety of flowers grows,some of which are sacred(Brahma-Kamal) and
medicinal (Brahma-Kamal,Sanjeevini herb etc) .In Mayawati near Almora
(Kumaon Himalayan range ),Swamy Vivekananda established an Advaita
ashram in 1899 .No images or idols are kept in ashram as an ashram is
dedicated to study and practice of the advaita Vedanta (Atma is Brahman and
MAYAVATHI
vice-versa) ,and the rules were set by Swami Vivekananda

PASUPATINATH KHATMANDU : Khatmandu is the land of significant


temples,of which some are Pashupatinath,Sleeping Vishnu.The temple is the oldest
Hindu temple which is on the banks of the river Bagmati,and it is one of the 275 holy abodes of Lord
Shiva on the continent.Pashupathinath means Lord Shiva is the Lord of all pashus(living and non-living
beings),and Shiva Linga is four headed which dates back to 400A.D . Near the
temple there is shaktipeet “Guhyeshwari”,which is one of the 52 shaktipeethas
spread over South Asia and is very near to Bagmati river.
Budhikanta statue (Jalakshayana Narayana) lies in reclined BUDHIKANTHA
position inside a recessed water tank (represents cosmic sea or
ocean of milk) on the twisting coils of Adiesesha (1000 headed Snake: King of
Serpent deities ) is largest and most beautiful carvings in Nepal. Boudhanath(Stupa)
BOUDHANATH
in Khatmandu is the largest stupa in the world ,dominates the Skyline. Its
construction is based on Padmasambhava buddism (Tibetan) was built just after the mahasamadhi of
Lord Buddha .Its Stupa was adorned by many kilos of gold ,and It is the largest single
Chhyorten(Buddist shrine ) in the world .

MANASASAROVER : Mt.Kailash and Manasasarover


are sacred places for Hindus ,Buddists ,Jains ,and Rigveda had also
mentioned about this (not visited,gathered the information from the friends
who visited).Swamy Pranavananda said that the lake is the holiest,most
fascinating,most inspiring,most famous of all the lakes in the world ,most
Mt. KAILASH
ancient ,any civilization had known. Skanda purana states that “There are no mountains like Mt.Kailash
and no lake like Manasasarovar in Himalaya Mountains .As the dew is dried up by the morning sun, so
are the sins of mankind dried up the by sight of Himalayas”. Pilgrimage to Mt Kailash for Hindus
,Buddists , and Ashtapaad near south face of Mt Kailash for the Jains is very sacred .Mt Kailash is
described as the centre of universe in Hindu puranas ,Buddist texts ,Astapaad in jain texts, Yungdruk
Gu Tseg (nine story swastika mountain)in Bonpa tradition ( Tibetan Buddism). For Hindus Mt.Kailash is
the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi . For Jains Mt.Kailash is the site where their first
thirthankar achieved NIRVANA (ENLIGHTENMENT). For the ancient religion of Bon(Tibetan Buddism) , it
is where the founder ‘Guru Padmasambhava ‘discended from heaven. Legend according to the Tibetan
tradition is that whenever a certain number of realized being (Buddist saints ) gather together in this
location ,Lord Gautham Buddha manifests himself there .

Manasasarovar ,largest fresh water lake in the world ,is down Mt


Kailash ,and it is almost like a circle,its circumference is (appr) 90km .As Hindu scriptures say bathing in
this lake and drinking its water cleanse all the sins .Buddists believe that this lake
MANASASAROVERR
R is same that of legendary lake ANAVATAPTA in Sanskrit and ANATOTTA in paali,
where queen Maya is believed to have conceived Lord Budda .Hindus believe
that celestial bodies (sidda,yaksha ,kinnera , kimpurasha,Gandharva ,vidyadhara
etc ):who cannot be seen by human eye : (looks like stars) floats down from sky,
take a dip in the lake and float upwords .(Mysterious lights 2012,you tube).Mt.Everest is known as
SAGARAMATA in Nepal ,and is the earth’s highest mountain .In the northern slopes of Mt.Everest Guru
Padmasambhava (lotus-born) had established a monastery in Rongchuk belongs to Tibetan Buddism.
we had a view of Mt Everest from Khatmundu flight .

SIKKIM : Kanchenjunga Himal is the range of Himalayas and located in eastern


Nepal and in Sikkim ( India).Kanchenjunga is the second highest in Nepal ,is the third highest in the
world.The local meaning of Kanchenjunga is “The five treasures of high Snow” ,which
represents the five repositories of god and they are gold, silver, gems, food
grain,religious texts .Kanchenjunga is seen from Ganktok(capital of Sikkim), Pelling
(Sikkim ),Kalimpong (West Bengal),Tiger valley :Darjilling (West Bengsl) .On the way to
Nathula Pass (silk route) a sacred lake TSomgo (12,400) and at Nathula, Baba Mandir are
visible . Major (BABA)Harbhajan Singh (Punjabi) an Indian army soldier died (at the age
BABA
of 25) in Indo-China war near Nathula Pass .He is revered by soldiers of Indian army and
built shrine in his honour,is called as Hero of Nathula .Every soldier feels that Baba’s spirit saves them,
Baba grants favours.

A Tibetan Buddist saint Padmasambhava,


also known as Guru Rinchope ,Introduced Buddism in 8th century in Sikkim .The
tallest statue of saint Padmasambhava in the world is established on
PADMASAMBHAVA
the”SANDRUPTSE HILL”(wIsh fulfilling hill) close to Namchi (Sikkim).Buddha Park in
Rabong (Sikkim) was opened in 2013 to commemorate the 2550 birth anniversary of Lord Buddha,
features 130ft tall statue of Lord Buddha as the centre piece .Inside the cylindrical complex, the life of
Buddha (from birth to Samadhi) had been painted with colours and Park is called
“THATHAGATH TSAL “. Bhutan ,Arunachal Pradesh (India){not visited ) are in
eastern end of The Himalayas .Buddism is the main religion in Bhutan .Big
monastaries had been built here around 17th century .Arunachal Pradesh means
“Land of dawn-lit mountains “,and it is the border between China and India.Legend
says that the Hindu texts “Kaliki Purana “ and “Mahabharatha “ mention the region THATHAGHAT
as “Prabhu mountains “ of puranas.

Himalayas are most important and sacred for Hindus and Buddhists,Jains .Let
us pray to the God it should remain sacred forever..

Refernces : Puranas :

My visit to most of the places :

Information from the the friends who visited the places :


Information from the e-books and wikipedias .