Press Statement by Swami Agnivesh , President World Council of Arya Samaj
On Amarnath Pilgrimage
New Delhi 8 Oct2011.
In view of my alleged statement in Srinagar on 17th May, 2011 about Burfani Baba (Ice Shivalinga in the Holy Amarnath Cave), I was dragged into unnecessary litigation.When asked for my comment on this year’s Amarnath pilgrimage being cut short by 15 days, I made this casual statement to a journalist on the sidelines of a Global Peace Conference at the convention centre on the Dal Lake in Srinagar.
As one, highly inspired by the teachings of Vedas and Upanishads as propounded by Maharishi Dayanand, the founder of Arya Samaj and now being the President of World Council of Arya Samaj, (a reformist movement which has been spearheading ameliorative steps and relentless crusades against blind faithism, fundamentalism, obscurantism and religious bigotry amongst the followers of difference religions and faiths in general and Hindus in particular) I hold the Amarnath Burfani Baba as a spectacular natural phenomena in the backdrop of a majestic cave at 13.500 ft. above sea level in the sublime Himalayas. No wonder that more than 5lakh Hindu pilgrims visit the cave during the month of June – July every year. Hundreds of Muslims of Kashmir facilitate this pilgrimage through organizing transport, eateries, horse and pony service, guide etc. Obviously it promotes communal harmony and National Integration.
But the unregulated and much hyped pilgrimage more than once resulted in the complete melting down of Burfani Baba. The then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir instead of taking the necessary regulatory steps, made a mockery of the whole ‘religious significance’ by transporting artificial ice in his official helicopter and installed an artificial Burfani Baba! Nearly 100 pilgrims die due to high altitude oxygen deficiency every year.
While making this off the cuff spontaneous statement one of my main intentions was to suggest some kind of control on this pilgrimage (as is the case in Gangotri or other holy pilgrimages in the Himalyas) because such enormous number of pilgrims is bound to effect the fragile natural balance of this highly sensitive eco system.
I and my colleagues in Arya Samaj and Sarva Dharma Sansad will hitherto be careful not to provoke any avoidable hostility while continuing to uphold the intellectual tradition of rational and scientific discourse on religious rituals and dogmas across the board in the letter and spirit of Art 51A of Indian Constitution enshrining Fundamental Duties of Citizens.
In fine, I want to make it absolutely clear that my statement was not made with even the slightest of intentions to hurt the religious feelings of Hindus or for that matter people of any faith who undertake a pilgrimage to the holy shrine.