Some may take the recent comment by Amarnath shrine custodian, Mahant Deependra Giri as part of his tussle with the official shrine board – SASB. However it does merit some thought. Is really getting to Amarnath, by whatever means, the end? Or going through the hardship of climbing up to get to Him also part of the bigger game? Most of the Hindu shrines are only reachable after going through trecherous mountain climbs. Perhaps the idea always has been that go through the difficulty, go through the hardship and the risk, before you can get to the God, and do any kind of penance, etc.
Even going on a horse or a pony up to the cave from Pahalgam gives a sense of not doing enough for the Yatra. You see hordes of families, old, children and women, all going on the foot, and can’t help but feel guilty riding a pony. Considering this, one should/would feel very unsatisfied if one was to take a copter ride and land at 500 feet from the gufa. Or for that matter take Baltal route which some much shorter and quicker. After all the end is not paying your obeisance only; its going through the arduous yatra to do that. Is saying that one should avail of the technology also holds true in the matters of emotion and faith?
Anyhow, here is the news coverage:
Sringar: The Amarnath pilgrimage, scheduled to begin from June 18, is mired in yet another controversy.
The shrine custodian, Mahant Deependra Giri, has asserted that using the man-made Baltal route for the pilgrimage — which is significantly more convenient than the original one — goes against the Hindu scriptures. According to Giri, ancient scriptures hold the trek through Pahalgam as the only authentic route for the pilgrimage. He argues that the yatra will have no sanctity if there is no penance.
“There is no mention of Baltal in the scriptures, which means Pahalgam is the only authentic route for the pilgrimage. This is as per Hingish Sahita — the only authentic scripture which explains Amarnath pilgrimage at length and bears description of how to conduct this yatra. As far as Baltal goes, the route was thrown open by the Army,” Giri says.
At an imposing altitude of 3,888 metres, the Amarnath cave is 44.8 km from Pahalgam base camp. However, worshippers frequently use the 13-km Baltal-cave route and avail facilities like chopper services. Some say, commercialisation has ruined the true idea behind the pilgrimage.
“Every pilgrimage and every shrine has become a centre for earning money. The same holds true for Amarnath yatra, “ Hindu scholar T N Ganju laments.
Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) officials, however, say that reaching the cave is of utmost importance, and the route has no bearing on the pilgrimage.
“Suppose we have helicopters and ropeway up there, you think people will not go there? If there is modern technology, people will avail it,” defends SASB CEO Arun Kumar.