The Amarnath yatra (pilgrimage) is taken in the month of Sravana (July/August) and lasts 40 days. The festival at Amarnath is to celebrate the jyotirling of Maheshwara (Lord Shiva) made of ice. The shivling starts by taking form on the first day of shukla paksha (waxing moon) and reaches a full size on purnima (full moon). Henceforth it starts to wane and becomes formless on Amavasya (new moon). Age old legend says that the devotees who witness this form to formless state of the shivling obtain moksha.
Our hindu mythology is full of amazing legends that touch the deepest core of reality. On Amarnath there is one such amazing legend. There are several variations of this. However I will try to move from the circumference to the center and try and give my darshan to the jyotirlinga of infinite light present in one and all:
Parvati Maa asked the Lord for the secret to Moksha. The Lord answered back that the secret can be told in a lonely place where no jeeva could hear it. So they both set out on a holi yatra (pilgrimage) to Amarnath. Enroute to Amarnath the Lord left behind Nandi , his dearest devotee and the place where he left was called "BAILGAON" (Bail in hindi means Bull, Gaon in hindi means village). Over centuries this name was changed to the famous PAHALGAON. (a truly beautiful place nestled in the Himalayan beauty). Next, Chandra who rests on the forehead of Shiva was left behind. The place where Maheshwara left the Moon was called "CHANDANWAARI" (the place where the Moon resides). Next the duo passed a lake where the snake/serpent was released which always hangs from the Lords Neck (Bhujanga). This lake was then known to be the famous "SHESHNAAG" lake. Sheshnag means the hooded cobra. Next to be left was his son Ganesh Ji at the parbat called "MAHAGUNAS". After descending from this parbat he then discarded the 5 tattvas of nature viz. pritthvi, jala, agni, vayu and akaash. This valley of happiness in which the 5 elements were discarded later came to be known as "PANCHTARNI" (5 tattvas).
Now let us attempt to move to the center - the center of infinite reality,
Nandi the bull was the guard which stopped Ganesh Ji from entering to meet Parvati Maa (as ordered by the Lord). Ganesh Ji defeated Nandi and entered. It is the muladhara which holds the kundalini. At that state we are nothing but an animal. The muladhara is also the prithvi tattva, its color is Red and the deity is Ganesh Ji. Sadhana purifies the nadis at the grantha. The mind controls the senses, unless we leave the mind behind we cannot attain anything. The leaving of mind by Shiva at CHANDANWARI denotes the deep rooted reality that we have to go beyond the mind to reach reality. What ties the mind to the Jeeva. It is nothing but the senses and the 3 gunas. The leaving of mahagunas by the Lord with Parvati Maa on his journey to Amarnath signifies just that. The leaving of the serpent denotes the withdrawal of the lins (coils) to enable the atma to have a glimpse of parmatma (the awakening - the 1st step). And finally the leaving of the 5 tattvas is the deep rooted revelation by the lord of the raising of the kundalini from the prithvi tattva all the way upto the akaasha tattva ruled by Vishuddhi. What happens then?
All that remains is the two petals at the Ajna whose Bija is AUM. Once the energy comes in contact at the Ajna it is now ready to meet the lord. Where is the total bliss? The bliss is waiting for the merger of the mother (shakti) with its lord (shiva) in the cave of Amarnath. Isnt it? At this time the Lord takes parvati maa inside and surrounds the gufa with the fire of divine light before the merger of atma with parmatma - the nectar of immortality!!
Yes as the atma finds its final destination there is a deep rooted spanda felt where the 27 nakshatras resonate with the same frequency. What is this place? This place is nothing but the Sahasrar. The 27 then further subdivides to 8 where the vibrations release a cool drip. What is this drip? This drip is nothing but the nectar of immortality. Here parashakti is in deep contentment with parashiva. This is the highest state of niradhaara called dvadasanta.
We have come HOME. The journey and the goal are not seperate. The journey has ended in the goal.
OM Namah Shivaya
OM Tat Sat