Settled within the freezing area of Siachen Glacier, the OP Baba Shrine stands as a witness to courage, sacrifice, and unwavering faith. The shrine is dedicated to a soldier named Om Prakash, affectionately known as OP Baba. OP Baba has captured the hearts and minds of Indian Army soldiers stationed there. As tales of his bravery and supernatural intervention spread, faith in OP Baba has grown, leading to the construction of a temple in his honor.
Who is OP Baba?
In the late 1980s, as tensions escalated on Siachen Glacier, a soldier named Om Prakash, affectionately known as OP Baba, was sent on a patrol mission to Malaun Post within the Bila Complex of the Northern Glacier. It was here that he displayed remarkable courage, single-handedly resisting an enemy attack and ensuring the safety of his fellow soldiers. However, OP Baba never returned from his mission, and his fate remains covered in mystery to this day. Despite exhaustive search efforts, his body was never found, leaving his fellow soldiers in respect of his great courage and sacrifice. His story spread like wildfire, and he became an emblem of heroism and protection among the troops.
Dreams and Forewarnings: The Supernatural Connection
After OP Baba’s disappearance, an interesting phenomenon unfolded among the soldiers stationed on Siachen Glacier. Many claimed to have received warnings and premonitions in their dreams, foretelling impending dangers on the glacier. These vivid dreams, attributed to OP Baba’s spiritual presence, served as a strange forewarning system for the troops, enabling them to better protect themselves against potential hazards. The belief in OP Baba’s watchful eye and divine intervention grew stronger with each reported instance of these supernatural encounters.
The Construction of the Shrine
Recognizing the impact of OP Baba’s legend, a shrine was constructed in 1996 at the Siachen Base Camp, near the snout of the glacier. It served as a place of solace and spiritual devotion for the soldiers enduring the harsh conditions of Siachen. Over time, the shrine underwent renovations, expanding its significance and welcoming individuals from all faiths. In 2003, it was officially renamed “OP Baba Sarva Dharma Sthal,” emphasizing its inclusive nature and reflecting the secular traditions of the Indian Army.
The Significance of the Shrine
The OP Baba Shrine holds huge importance for the soldiers deployed on Siachen Glacier. The prayers are offered to various deities in the shrine after formally reporting to OP Baba. Before boarding on missions, soldiers gather at the shrine to invoke OP Baba’s blessings, seeking his guidance and protection. The shrine has become a symbol of unity, fostering solidarity and mutual respect among soldiers from diverse religious backgrounds. The essence of OP Baba’s teachings and the ethos surrounding the shrine can be encapsulated in the principle of “Nishwarth Seva” or selfless service.
Embracing Sacrifice and Discipline: Troops’ Beliefs and Practices
The devotion to OP Baba extends beyond prayers and rituals. Soldiers on Siachen Glacier adhere to various self-imposed restrictions, signifying their commitment and respect for OP Baba’s divine presence. During their three-month tenure on the glacier, troops voluntarily abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and non-vegetarian food. These sacrifices are seen as acts of discipline, purification, and gratitude toward OP Baba’s guardianship. By embracing these practices, soldiers demonstrate their unwavering commitment to their mission and their reverence for the guardian spirit of Siachen.