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Amaresvara Tradition in Kashmir Valley

By Dr. Ramesh Kumar

Pilgrimage to the holy cave of Lord Amarnath in the upper Sindh Valley is as old as the dawn of history in Kashmir. Amaresvara tradition has remained fairly strong in Kashmir. Many Kashmiris who could not brave the arduous terrain recreated symbols of Siva Amaresvara at different places in the Valley for worship.

Amburher:

One such place has been the large village of Amburher, 4 miles to the north of Srinagar city. The village lies to the west of Zakura (old Juskapura), on the shore of Anchar lake towards Sindh Valley. The old name for Amburher is Amresvara (Rajatarangini), Amarespura (Jonaraja) and Amaresvara (Pt. Sahib Ram's Tirath Samgraha).

The village derives its name from the shrine of Siva Amresvara. In this temple Amaresvara Linga was worshipped. Sir Aurel Stein visited this place in June 1895 and found ancient slabs and sculptured fragments in and around the Ziarat of Farrukhzad Sahib. He says these remains possibly belong to this temple

The temple of Amburher is very old. In old times the pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath would start with pilgrims praying at the shrine of Siva Amresa at Amburher.

There are two types of references to Amburher in Rajatarangini. One, on Queen Suryamati's endowing the shrine of Amresa with Agraharas and a Matha in 1005-1006 AD. The second reference refers to the military operations at the village during the reign of King Sussala in 1112-1120 AD. The strategic importance of village Amburher lay in its being located on the high road connecting the Sindh Valley with the capital.

Suryamati was Queen of King Ananta (1028-1063), the last of Sahi Princes. There are two references in Rajtarangini linking her to the shrine of Amresa at Amburher:

In 7th Taranga Kalhana records "She founded two maths by the side of shrines of Vijayesa and Amaresa under the names of her brother Sillana and of her husband respectively" (verse 183) .

"She also granted under her husband's name Agraharas at Amaresvara and arranged for the consecration for Trisulas, Banalingas and other sacred emblems" (verse 185).

References to the military operations in which King Sussala was besieged by rebels are found in 8th Taranga of Rajtarangini in verses 506-590 and 1124.

Amri in Lolab Valley:

In the picturesque Lolab Valley lies the village of Sewer where many Kashmiri Pandit families lived before 1990. About 2 miles from Sewer lies the village of Afaan. This village is inhabited mostly by Kashmiris. A few Gujjar families also live here.

2 kms uphill journey through Deodar forests leads to a small meadow. In this meadow is the cave of 'Amri' (Amresvara). For entering the cave one has to descend down 20 ft over steps cut in Deodar pole. A small (10 ft x 10 ft) space down has three pathways leading from it. When one stands on the pathways on the right or left side lot of noise is heard. No noise is heard on the central pathway. There are no reliefs in the cave.

As per local lore 150 years ago a Gujjar had gone to tend his flock of sheep at the meadow. He saw a hermit (sadhu) milking goat in a coconut cup near a spring, a little away from 'Amri' cave. The small spring had a tiny tea shrub near it. The spring is no longer extant. The Gujjar was highly impressed with this scene. The hermit blessed Gujjar and asked him not to reveal what he had scene. Soon the Gujjar grew very rich. This invited jealousy from his fellow villagers, who asked him to reveal the secret of his quick affluence. The Gujjar with great reluctance revealed what he had seen at 'Amri' cave. Sometime later he had climbed on a tree. A bear emerged and tore out eyes of the Gujjar. The latter fell down from the tree and succumbed to his injuries. It is quite possible that 'Amri' cave might have been the site of holy pilgrimage in olden times.

Siva Amresvara Darsana:

Saint Mukund Ram Tikoo was spiritual guru of Pt. Krishan Joo Razdan, Kashmir's famous Leela poet. Pt. Mukand Ram had his estate in Sindh Valley. One day he had gone to Baltal area (in 1879s) in the company of his disciple, Pt. Iswar Munshi. On seeing a milky white stream, Pt. Mukund Ram asked Pt. Iswar Munshi to accompany him to trace the source of this stream. They trekked along the stream and reached the holy cave of Amarnath. This is how Baltal route was discovered . At the holy cave Saint Mukand Ram was blessed with darsana of Siva Amresvara. On his return to Srinagar Pt. Mukand Ram asked famous portrait painter, Pt. Vasudev Garyali to make painting of Siva Amresvara. What he saw at the cave he conveyed the description to the painter in 8 verses. This painting, forbidden from photography, is worshipped on the day of Sivratri (Salaam) at Muthi Jammu.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 

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