Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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Swami Vivekananda in Kashmir

By Rakesh Kumar Pandit

As the grateful nation celebrated the year 2013 as the 150th birth anniversary year of Swami Vivekananda and on 12th January 2014, the grateful nation will celebrate 151th birth anniversary of this Prophet of Modern India. I take this opportunity to highlight some of the important events of his Kashmir visit. During his stay in Kashmir Swami Vivekananda was in a different world altogether. He was deeply touched by the beauty of Kashmir. Swami Vivekananda visited Kashmir twice and it was on 10th September 1897, when the lotus feet of this great saint touched the beautiful and pious land of Rishis, once called as Reshver. His first visit of Kashmir was short and was not so eventful although he visited some of the places of religious and historic importance. People from all spheres of life like Sadhus, Kashmiri Pandits, students, officials went to meet him. The second visit of Swami Vivekanand to Kashmir valley was more eventful. This time a party of Europians was accompanying him. Prominent among them was Sister Nivedita (Margret Noble). He stayed in Kashmir from about mid of June 1898 to the mid of September 1898. During this stay he visited the places of religious and historical importance like Shankaracharya Hill, Hari Parvat, Martand (Matan or Bhawan), Panderthan (Pandresthan, Place of Pandavas), temples of Avantipora, Bijbehara, Moghul Gardens of Nishat and Shalimar . But the focus of this article is his visits to shrines of Shri Amarnath Ji Cave and Mata Kheer Bhawani in Tulmulla. The visits of Shri Amarnath and Mata Kheer Bhawani proved to be very unique and the visions he had at both the places remained always with him. Such was the spiritual experience of Swami Vivekananda at these places that it is very difficult to put that into words but can only be felt from the actual words of Swami Vivekananda. It also reflects the essence of both these energy centres charged with God’s presence in the vale of Kashmir.

Swami Vivekananda had great fascination for God Shiva during his childhood. As he grew older his love for Shiva, the God of monks and yogis deepened. Now in the Himalayas, the abode of God Shiva, the thought of God Shiva was uppermost in the Swami Vivekananda’s mind. It was at Achabal in Anantnag on July 25, 1898 that Swami Vivekananda expressed his intention to visit Amarnath and Sister Nivedita was allowed to join him. On 27 July, 1898 they left for the pilgrimage. Enroute they camped at various places like Phahalgam, Chandanwari, Wavjan. On August 1st, after crossing Sheshnag, Mahagunus top they reached Panchtarni (Place of five streams). On August 2, they reached the Shri Amarnath Ji Cave. When Swami Vivekananda reached the cave he was full with emotion and devotion. Swami Vivekananda entered the shrine nude except his loin-cloth and prostrated before the God-Shiva in the form of Ice-Lingam. An exalting spiritual experience came to him of which he didn’t spoke much in detail but only said, “I thought the Ice-Lingam was Shiva Himself.” When he entered the cave and came face to face with the God-Shiva, Swami Vivekananda had never felt such spiritual exaltation in visiting a holy place as in Amarnath Ji. Afterwards he also said to Sister Nivedita that the God Shiva appeared before him and granted him the grace of Amarnath, means not to die till he himself a the consent. On the journey back Swami Vivekananda and party returned to Anantnag and from there they reached on August 8, by boat to Srinagar.

Following the pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji, Swami Vivekananda’s love for the Divine Mother grew intense. At Srinagar he worshipped the four year daughter of his Muslim boatman ( Swami was staying in a houseboat at Srinagar) as “Goddess Uma”. When he left Kashmir, she, tiny one carried a tray of apples for him all the way to the tonga herself. On September 30, Swami Vivekananda left for Mata Kheer Bhawani at Tulmulla, leaving strict instructions to his party not to follow him. He stayed there almost for a week. He daily performed Havan there, and worshipped the Mother with offerings of Kheer. Every morning he worshipped a Brahmin Pandit’s little daughter as “Uma Kumari.” One day at Kheer Bhawani while worshipping, the thought of the ruination and desecration of the temple by the Muslim invaders left him distressed at heart. He thought that Mother has been manifesting Her presence here for untold years, “How could the people have permitted such sacrilege without offering resistance.

If I had been here then, I would never have allowed such a thing. I would have laid down my life to protect the Mother.” Thereupon he heard the voice of the Mother Goddess saying, “What if unbelievers should enter My temple and defile My image? What is that to you? Do you protect Me, or do I protect you? Another day, in course of his worship, another thought flashed through the Swami Vivekananda’s mind that he should try to build a new temple in the place of a present dilapidated one. He even thought of trying to raise funds for this. At once the Divine Mother said to him, “My child, If I so wish I can have innumerable temples and monastic centres. I can even this moment raise a seven-storied golden temple on this very spot.” Referring to these experiences after his return, he said to his disciples, “All my patriotism is gone. Everything is gone. Now it is only Mother! Mother! I have been very wrong. I am only a little child.” Since I heard that divine voice, I have ceased making any more plans. Let these things be as Mother wishes.” It is often said that the vision at Tulmulla made him realize, what he is and for what he is in this world? Ramakrishna Parmahansa his Guru had once prophesied during a discourse with his close disciples that when Vivekananda realize who he is, he will not like to live anymore in this world and would depart from it. On July 4, 1902 Swami Vivekananda at the age of 39 years, 5 months and 24 days left his mortal cage, to reunite with the Supreme Energy of this Cosmos, thereby fulfilling his own prophecy, ” I shall not live to be forty years old.”

(The writer is Assistant Professor of Physics at GDC- Bhaderwah).

(Opinions expressed in write-ups/articles/Letters are the sole responsibility of the authors and they may not represent the

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