By Swami Harshananda
Himalayas literally means ‘the abode of snow’.
Significance of Himalayas
As the Gaṅgā has become an integral part of the religion, culture and ethos, the Himalayas also occupy a place of significance in it. Even the Ṛgveda mentions it as reflecting the greatness of God. Over the centuries, the mountain range has been all things to all beings.
- Badarikāśrama, where the twin-sages Nara-Nārāyaṇa performed severe austerities is situated here.
- Vedavyāsa is said to have composed all his works here.
- The Pāndavas passed through the Himālayas in their mahā-prasthāna or final journey to heaven.
- It is a repository of many rare medicinal plant. The Rāmāyana mentions the famous sañjīvanī herb which was secured by Hanumān from here.
Presiding Deity of Himalayas
Its presiding deity is Himavān. His wife is Menā, a daughter of the pitṛdevatās or manes. Maināka (mountain) is his son. Aparṇā (or Pārvatī), Ekaparṇā and Ekapāṭalā are his daughters. These three were married to Śiva, the sages Asita and Jaigīṣavya respectively.
Area and Weather
- The Himalaya mountains consist of parallel ranges, 2500 kms. (1500 miles) long and 250 kms. (150 miles) in width.
- There are 114 peaks which are over 600 meters (20,000 ft.) in height.
- Seventy-five of them are higher than 7200 meters (24,000 ft.).
- All these peaks are perpetually snow-clad and shrouded in mist.
- Fierce winds and avalanches are quite common.
Rivers from Himalayas
Mount Meru is said to be situated in the Himālayas. These mountain range is the source of many rivers such as
- Bhāgīrathī - Gaṅgā
Pilgramages in Himalayas
They are considered as ‘devatīrtha’ (divine rivers) and hence sacred. Many places of pilgrimage are situated in the Himālayan ranges. Some of them are:
- Ṛgveda 10.121.4
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore