Commodore D S Sodhi
The connect of Lord Shiva and Parvati with Jammu and Kashmir has been very well documented in many scriptures / books like Nilmata Purana, Rajatarangini and many more. Number of holy temples and other monuments stand tall commemorating their visit to the state.
A verse from the Nilamata Purana says that ‘Kashmir land is Parvati, and its king is a portion of Shiva. The historical Amarnath cave where Lord Shiva is supposed to have narrated the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Parvati is one of such holy places. Another place that is also dedicated to Lord Shiva is Jambavanta Ki Gufa (now popular by the name Peer Kho). This cave temple is believed to have gateways to other caves and shrines including Amarnath cave. This place also finds mention in various books related to the Sikh history like “Twarikh Guru Khalsa” (History of Guru Nanak Dev Ji by Giani Gian Singh). There are very important names related to this cave such as Lord Shiva, Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Jambavanti, Syamantaka (the precious diamond) etc and therefore I found it interesting to collate some details and put them in perspective. One aspect that catches the attention is that why the name peer Kho has been adopted when this cave is related to the mighty Jambvanta (Kho means Cave in the local dialect). Some historical records indicate that the temple at this cave was built during the regime of Raja Ajaib Dev for the then peer Siddha ghareeb Nath way back in 15th century.
Jambavana also called Jambavanta the king of the Rikshas was a very prominent character of Ramayan as the bear who helped Lord Rama in his fight against Ravana. Jambavan, together with Parasuram and Hanuman, is considered to be one of the few to have been present during both Ram and Krishna avatars. Said to have been present during the churning of the ocean and thus witness to the Kurma avatar, and further the Vaman avatar, Jambavan may well be the longest lived of the chiranjivis and witness to nine avatars. He was instrumental in making Hanuman realize of his immense capabilities and encouraged him to fly across the ocean to search for Sita in Lanka. As per mythology at the end of the war with Ravana, Lord Rama told his accomplices that since they had helped him in the battle against Ravana they could ask for any favour and the Lord would oblige. It is believed that Jambavanta told Lord Rama that he did not get opportunity to show his bravery and his desire to fight remained unfulfilled. At that time Lord Rama told Jambavanta that his desire would be fulfilled one day and he should go and do penance. Number of references are available that indicate that Jambavanta did meditation in a cave in Jammu called Jambavant Di Guffa told by Sri Kanchi Mahaswami etc..
The story of Syamantaka appears in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana. Two verses from the Bhagavat Purana, describe that Surya pleased with his devotee the Yadava governor, Satrajit, gave him the dazzling diamond Syamantaka as a gift. As per mythology, Lord Krishna asked him to give Symantaka jewel to king Ugrasena, however Satrajit did not agree. Later Satrajit presented Syamantaka to his brother Prasena. Prasena who wore it, while hunting in the forest was attacked by a lion. He was killed and the lion fled with the jewel. The Lion was killed by Jambavanta who took away the Jewel. Since Prasena did not return, it was rumoured that Krishna who had an eye on the Syamantaka jewel, had Prasena murdered and had stolen the jewel. Krishna, who was furious with this false allegation then, went out with other Yadavas – in search of Prasena, to establish his innocence by finding the jewel. Following the trail, Krishna happened to reach the cave of Jambhavanta. When confronted, Jambavanta started fight with Krishna. Since both of them had supernatural powers the fight continued for long (27/28 days as per Bhagavata Purana or 21 days as per Vishnu Purana). When Jambavanta fell week and exhausted, Krishna took the Avatar of Lord Rama and told Jambhavanta that he had fulfilled his wish as promised after the battle with Ravana. Jambavanta fell on his feet and not only presented him the jewel but also married his daughter Jambavanti to Krishna who then left for Dwarka. Jambavan caves are also found at a village named Ranavav 17 km from Porbandar, off Rajkot-Porbandar highway and the story of the fight between Jambavanta and Lord Krishna is also linked to this place.
Guru Nanak’s visit to Jambavanta Di Guffa
Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his third Udassi after having visited Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine visited this cave and interacted with the pujaris. When Guru Nanak asked them about the sound that was coming from the cave, the pujaris told him that Jambavanta was sleeping inside in deep meditation (whereas this was the sound of the flowing water). The pujaris told Guru Nanak that Jambavanta gives darshan to only few blessed ones and people used to give lot of offerings to please him. Pujaris could accordingly exercise their control over the people. On hearing this story, Guru Nanak told the Pujaris that they are actually deceiving the people and they should meditate on the True Lord. He gave them discourses and advised them not to deceive the people and destroy their faith. The Bani recited by Guru Nanak in this cave is integral part of Shri Guru Granth Sahib (Ang 903) and is as follows”:-
Jag Parabodhhehi Marree Badhhaavehi || Aasan Thiaag Kaahae Sach Paavehi || Mamathaa Mohu Kaaman Hithakaaree || Naa Aoudhhoothee Naa Sansaaree ||1|| Jogee Bais Rehahu Dhubidhhaa Dhukh Bhaagai || Ghar Ghar Maagath Laaj N Laagai ||1|| Rehaao || Gaavehi Geeth N Cheenehi Aap || Kio Laagee Nivarai Parathaap || Gur Kai Sabadh Rachai Man Bhaae || Bhikhiaa Sehaj Veechaaree Khaae ||2|| Bhasam Charraae Karehi Paakhandd || Maaeiaa Mohi Sehehi Jam Ddandd || Foottai Khaapar Bheekh N Bhaae || Bandhhan Baadhhiaa Aavai Jaae ||3|| Bindh N Raakhehi Jathee Kehaavehi || Maaee Maagath Thrai Lobhaavehi || Niradhaeiaa Nehee Joth Oujaalaa || Booddath Booddae Sarab Janjaalaa ||4|| Bhaekh Karehi Khinthhaa Bahu Thhattooaa || Jhootho Khael Khaelai Bahu Nattooaa || Anthar Agan Chinthaa Bahu Jaarae || Vin Karamaa Kaisae Outharas Paarae ||5|| Mundhraa Fattak Banaaee Kaan || Mukath Nehee Bidhiaa Bigiaan || Jihavaa Eindhree Saadh Luobhaanaa || Pasoo Bheae Nehee Mittai Neesaanaa ||6|| Thribidhh Logaa Thribidhh Jogaa || Sabadh Veechaarai Chookas Sogaa || Oojal Saach S Sabadh Hoe || Jogee Jugath veechaarae soe ||7|| Thujh Pehi No Nidhh Thoo Karanai Jog || Thhaap Outhhaapae karae So Hog || Jath Sath Sanjam Sach Sucheeth || Naanak Jogee Thribhavan Meeth ||8||2|| (SGGS Ang 903)
(Translaion as in open literature)
You preach to the world, and set up your house. Abandoning your Yogic postures, how will you find the True Lord? You are attached to possessiveness and the love of sexual pleasure. You are not a renunciate, nor a man of the world. ||1|| Yogi, remain seated, and the pain of duality will run away from you. You beg from door to door, and you don’t feel ashamed. ||1||Pause|| You sing the songs, but you do not understand your own self. How will the burning pain within be relieved? Through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad, let your mind be absorbed in the Lord’s Love, And you will intuitively experience the charity of contemplation. ||2|| You apply ashes to your body, while acting in hypocrisy. Attached to Maya, you will be beaten by Death’s heavy club. Your begging bowl is broken; it will not hold the charity of the Lord’s Love. Bound in bondage, you come and go. ||3|| You do not control your seed and semen, and yet you claim to practice abstinence. You beg from Maya, lured by the three qualities. You have no compassion; the Lord’s Light does not shine in you. You are drowned, drowned in worldly entanglements. ||4|| You wear religious robes, and your patched coat assumes many disguises. You play all sorts of false tricks, like a juggler. The fire of anxiety burns brightly within you. Without the karma of good actions, how can you cross over? ||5|| You make ear-rings of glass to wear in your ears.But liberation does not come from learning without understanding. You are lured by the tastes of the tongue and sex organs. You have become a beast; this sign cannot be erased. ||6|| The people of the world are entangled in the three modes; the Yogis are entangled in the three modes. Contemplating the Word of the Shabad, sorrows are dispelled. Through the Shabad, one becomes radiant, pure and truthful. One who contemplates the true lifestyle is a Yogi. ||7|| The nine treasures are with You, Lord; You are potent, the Cause of causes. You establish and disestablish; whatever You do, happens. One who practices celibacy, chastity, self-control, truth and pure consciousness – O Nanak, that Yogi is the friend of the three worlds. ||8||2||
(The author served in Indian Navy as Deputy Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff)
Commodore D S Sodhi