Administration Tramples Divinity: With Impunity || By Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

The strong winds of social media this time carried our endeavour far and wide across the globe towards restoration, protecting and preserving the sanctity and precious heritage of Purmandal-Utterbani, Kashi of Northern India. Purmandal is one of the oldest temples in Duggar Deshaalong with Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine.

However, the one and only religious site that used to be visited till recent past throughout the year was Purmandal being of an iconic status as an ancient heritage and religious site. Before the Partition, it has been one of the widely known and revered pilgrimage sites in the northern Sub- Continent. Siva the protector has this one one of his favorite abodes. Scriptures refer that Kashyap Rishi brought Devika to Prithvi Lok after  pleasing God Siva with his arduous penance. Shiva Shakti, bestows upon all its three forms, Shiv the Creator, Shakti the caring Mother and the Shav, the last and ultimate Truth.

Here, ashes get merged with the Creator. For the locals, they are generally not carried elsewhere for immersion but Maa Devika and Siva together have them in the laps. It is said that Lord Shiva himself manifested on the banks of the Devika in the form of Shiva Lingam. Hence, a great importance is attached to a bath in its water on festivals and other special sacred days for the purpose of obtaining moral cleansing.

It is this age-old belief which has rendered Devak as a sacred river to Dogras and invokes them with religiosity to bathe in its waters out of reverence  to the Shiv -Shakti and other deities.Thus they pay homage to their ancestors  as well. Rarely one finds a place which is considered sacred both by the living as well for the dead. Pilgrims  especially come here to take bath in theDevak, worship Aapshambu and earn religious merit especially on sacred days like Amavasya, Purnima etc and also during the annual melas held on Chaitre and Magh Choudas.

The local people not only immerse the ashes of the deceased here, but also bring dead bodies of their dear ones for cremation from distant places. During the Pitra Paksha (September -October) Purmandal is a sought after destination for all those who want to perform Shraddh rites of their ancestors and dead family members.

Prior to the Partition   of the Sub- Continent,from across now called Pakistan   Sanatan Dharma  followers used to make pilgrimage to this holy site on auspicious occasions.

  Sadly, the ruination of its structures , water bodies and even Maa Devika has been unmindful subject to neglect pushing it on the path of  wiping it out of its revered existence. Hardly nothing is being done to restore it nor any intention is shown towards such an effort.

There is no paucity of funds but lack of intent. Decades passed on since  the realization emerged to contain ruination due to neglect of this sacred place all along. Lack of interests, reveals there is no comprehensive integrated plan drawn for the job, just adhoc-ism prevails. left hand doesn't know what right hand does even fingers of same hand work at a cross purposes. Technically, Purmandal falls under the jurisdiction of Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority.

But the Authority has been technically divested lately of the requisite powers to perform. Its parent department is the Department of Tourism that has rendered it as a Stalking Horse to cover its  acts of omission and commission. Another mis-governance comes from the District Administration of the Samba district under whose jurisdiction this area falls. Too many cooks spoil the feast there lays its waterloo.

Social media these days has brought people closer than ever before. Just with the touch fingers the whole world lay open before us to facilitate ample options for the pros and cons of the matter. One desire to look for  the subject interested in its entire satisfaction. Nowadays mere gossips, presumptions of doctored material do not hold ground for a long time.

By its very nature, the social media findings merit to blow the matter beyond expectation like a wildfire. Desperate cries poured in numbers after the pathetic neglect of this sanctum sacrosanct has been observed far and wide extensively as said across seven seas. It resulted in opening the floodgates of quires that ushered in seeking for some clarification related to this sacred place and reason for its neglect. This made the indifference being called by a name for this unpleasant syndrome as Purmandal -Utterbani Gate after the infamous Watergate  and manyother notorious Gates that followed it..

Under the series clarification  sought one fell apart. A Latin American interested in indology asked a very simple but  soul searching query  among others that took this writer off the guard, to fumble with words  since then how and with what to respond. In search of those who claim Vedas are in their Kantha everyone was found  to be on sticky wicket like me. The quest of South American has been quite precise, that still remains unanswered.

Reminding that we claim the culture of India is considered approximately 5,000 years old,then how dare the Government allow the dry bed of the Davika Mai, the rarest of rare holyGupt Ganga that flows through Purmandal to be used as vehicular passage. Adding that it is sheer hypocrisy, for what is said is not followed. 

Showing curiosity and provoking further about the intent of those who are at the helm of the affairs, this foreigner from South America asks whether this holy river of Parvati has to be protected jealousy, restored to its pristine glory. As a divine entity to which it is referred or converted to a vehicular passage for all times  to come ignoring that She is the Goddess of purity and purification.

Legend says that Siva agreed to the desire of Devika Mais  that her status will be superior to Ganga in all respects and Devi Gangawill be treating  her as elder sister. It is said that in Kalyuga anybody taking a bath or taking a last breath on Devika river banks will attain salvation without even performing any Japa or Tapa. As per Sanatan mythology people believe bathing in the Ganges removes sins and helps in attaining moksha.

But it is believed at the same time that Devi Ganga for washing all those sins washed by the sinners will be going to her (Paarvati) every year.  Devika Waters considered as Ganga Jalgenerally taken to homes by devotees in bottles filled for use on all important occasions .

Trampling unashamedly its divinity with impunity  

 It needs no reminding that rivers are worshiped in India, a continuous source of water for drinking, washing, irrigation etc. They provide rich biodiversity, forests add to the pristine environment, river Ghats along them where one can listen to chanting. They help in inner peace  and provide a cool environment.

As it does not behave well on the part of administration to deprive the devotees of bliss that one gets from devotion and ritual  under an unpolluted environment bestowed upon by Siva. This tantamount to interface in the matters of faith guaranteed under the constitution. 

Save Devika. Save Purmandal.

Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website.)
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