Yatra means pilgrimage—a quest undertaken with utmost devotion in search of something sacred. Even a simple journey undertaken in the presence of an ‘enlightened master’ becomes a quest for attainment. It will be a journey of intense learning, reformation, transformation, and evolution.
Nestling in a huge cave amidst the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas at a height of 13,500 ft, 145 km north of Srinagar, the ‘Ice Lingam’ of Lord Shiva known as Shri Amarnath beckons lakhs of pilgrims year after year during the month of Shravan. The last day of darshan is Shravan Poornima. The Amarnath yatra is the journey of discovery of truth.
The Himalayas are the abode of Shiva and Shakti—the static-dynamic force behind creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. The strong, towering and silent Himalayas pulsate with this energy in every crevice, every creek, every cliff. Eons have rolled, men have come and gone, but the Himalayas have always been there forever, unshaken, still, stable, steadfast. They are a standing testimony to the existence of God.
Shri Amaranth is called the waxing-and-waning Lingam, as He grows as the moon waxes and reaches a height of 18 ft on full moon, and He becomes smaller and smaller as the moon wanes and comes down to three feet on new moon and melts completely towards Shravan Poornima. This is a powerful moment of truth—“Go beyond your senses”, Shri Amarnath tells us, “Feel Me and reach Me through your own sadhana. I am everywhere, in every nook and cranny of the universe; Vyaptam yena chara-acharam—I pervade the animate and the inanimate around you. Do not look for me in form—I am your very being, and as Guru I am in front of you as well.”
Just like the physical Ice Lingam, Lord Shiva appears and disappears to the physical eye based on the levels of devotion we emote. But in an evolved soul, Lord Shiva is permanently established as his own soul and pure self.
‘Shivaaha-te-panthaanaha’ (may your journey be auspicious) is a common blessing in Sanskrit one receives when leaving on a long journey. Ordinarily, journeys are fraught with uncertainties, ups and downs. But when the journey is undertaken with the presence of Shiva within us, it becomes a yatra—a pilgrimage which no outward circumstance can alter. When we establish the Shiva within us and take Him along with us through awareness, our life’s journey will itself become a yatra—a journey of discovery of the self. It fulfils the purpose of our existence.