The Himalayas: mystic of our northern borders

Nothing sums it up better than the above quote of the essence of the Indian Hood and its identity derived from the ages of its sentinel in the north – the Himalayas. The Sentinel of North India has guided the masses of the nation from time immemorial as far as humanity can remember and has infiltrated with all its qualities into the very psyche of this subcontinent, leaving almost all aspects of his existence affected with profound effect. It was a thing of the past for the elderly to move to the far reaches of the Himalayas to seek “Van Prasta” or Sanyas after fulfilling their family duties.

The “ashram system” so deeply rooted in the Hindu community in ancient times, although not practiced nowadays, says volumes of the Himalayas casting its effect on the last leg of the journey. ‘an Indian. Ancient Indian scriptures have mentioned the great still Himalayas extensively. In the “BhagwadGeeta” Lord Krishna says: ”. In Sanskritshloka Geetaa, everything is said: “Among the wise men, I am the life, the sacrifices, I am the real estate of the Himalayas”. The apartment building here means the Himalayas cannot be moved and won too.

Historically, the Himalayas have always been India’s shield against all attackers and looters from the north. The Himalayas obtain the mythical historical links through many exploratory expeditions, especially during the British era. The world’s oldest scriptures, our Vedas, Purans, Shiv Purans and other upnishads have clearly stated the invincibility of the human soul and how it is closely related to the Himalayas. Starting from the western end of the chain, we have a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage centers like the “Shardapeeth” (now in POK), the sacred cave shrine of Amarnath dedicated to Lord Shiva, the quintessential Vaishno Devi and not forgetting the famous “Char Dham” shrines to include “Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yumnotri and Gangotri to name a few. Moving further north from these shrines in the TAR / Tibetan Autonomous Region we have the famous Kailash Mansarovar sanctum sanctum again dedicated to “Destroyer of the world” Lord Shiva Historical links to the great Himalayan region through research and exploration came to Europe during Alexander’s invasion of India around 325 BC.

After Alexander the Great came the Greeks who explored as far as Hindukush and the Pamirs. Ancient texts and other evidence suggest that the first white man set foot in explorations on May 30, 1624 to find Christians living in the Himalayas. Their route followed the Srinagar (Garhwal) -Badrinath-Mana pass and from there to the TAR / Tibetan Autonomous Region contiguous to China. The road eventually reached Leh via its tributary on the Upper Sutlej. Subsequently, there was a series of expeditions by many missionaries from the Portuguese to the Belgians in this general region. 50 years later, in October 1714, another equally intrepid expedition was to Leh via PirPanjal to Srinagar and then to Leh via the indomitable Zozi-La Pass. From there he went to Lhasa in 1716 bypassing the Siachen Glacier.

It has been suggested that the only map of the Himalayas and Tibet which had any authenticity was that which was made by the French geographer d’Anville for his Atlas of China published in 1735. However Lord Clive, before leaving India ordered the expedition by Capt James Rennel, who was the 1st Surveyor-General of Bengal and was primarily responsible for surveys and road mapping. Subsequently, after his retirement in 1777, he set out to complete the “Great Map of Hindustan” from all available resources and all previous expeditions. He had indeed clearly delimited the Himalayas and had even indicated the approximate alignment of the various glacial regions as a difficult road to avoid for any future movement towards Tibet.

The advent of the 19th century saw the two behemoths of empires, namely Tsarist Russia and Victorian England, battling their expansionist and hegemonic designs covering Central Asia as well as most of the Indian subcontinent in a long struggle known as the “Big Game”. The “Big Game” as the name suggests was a virtual shadow boxing between Saint Petersburg / Tsar Nicholas of Russia and Queen Victoria of England to gain access to the waters the Indian Ocean as well as to control the vast reserves of minerals, oil, etc. in the still unstable region of Central Asia.

The “Great Game, which began in the second decade of the 19th century, revealed surprising facets encompassing personalities, places and events which still cast a shadow over current events today. Getting back to the region itself, the Himalayan region is populated by around 52.7 million people and spans 5 countries to include Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and India. The Hindukush Range, which includes the Hinduraj Mountains in Afghanistan, is part of the larger Himalayan River System (HKH) Hindukush. The people of the Himalayas belong to distinct culturally isolated but indigenous peoples. These Hindu (Indian), Buddhist (Tibetan), Islamic (Afghanistan-Iran) and animist (Burmese-South-Asian) cultures have created here their own individual and unique place in this very diverse landscape. When it comes to religious ties, I don’t personally think any other mountain range has had a profound effect on the collective psyche of people like the Himalayas.

There are many cultural aspects of the Himalayas that still unfold today on this fascinating date for the world at large. In Jainism, Mount Ashtpad in the Himalayas is a sacred place where 1st Jain Teerahtankar Rishbhdeva reached Moksha. It is believed that after Rishbdeva reached Nirvana, his son, Emperor BhartaChakarvartin, built 3 stupas and 24 shrines of the 24 Teerathankaras with their idols dotted with gems there and named him Sinhnisndha. For Hindus, the Himalayas are personified by Himavath, the father of the goddess Parvati. The Himalayas are also considered the father of the Ganges. Two of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus are the Pashupatinath and Muktinath temple complex, also known in Nepal as Saligram, due to the presence of sacred black rocks called Saligram.

As for Buddhists, they also attach great importance to the Himalayas. ParoTakt chanting is the holy place where Buddhism started in Bhutan. The Muktinath is also a place of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists. They believe that the trees in the poplar grove came from the walking sticks of 84 ancient Indian Buddhist magicians or Mahasiddhas. They regard the Saligrams as the representatives of the Tibetan serpent deity known as Gawo-Jagpa. The diversity of the Himalayan people is evident in many ways. This is seen through their architecture, their languages ​​and dialects, their beliefs and rituals as well as their clothing.

Another example of their diversity is that hand-woven textiles feature colors and patterns unique to their ethnicity, worn by the Rai and Limbu women of Nepal. Just to give readers of this article an overview, there are countless precious metals, minerals including geothermal borax and sulfur in southeast Ladakh. In Baderwah / Kishtwar of Jammu and Kashmir there are countless sapphire / Neelum mines discovered during the reign of Maharaja Ranbirsingh which were mined by the British during their reign in India. In fact, there are even reports of gems and minerals found at Daulat Beg Oldie, the highest airfield and the current place of stalemate between India and China at LAC. Overall, the Himalayas are the repository of Indian art, culture and religion and serve as a standard bearer for our future generations to emulate the qualities so generously bestowed for centuries by this channel. of mystical mountains.

(The author is a retired colonial and can be contacted by email at: [email protected])

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