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Tirath /ਤੀਰਥਿ

Discussion in 'Spiritual Articles' started by vsgrewal48895, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. vsgrewal48895

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    Mar 12, 2009
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    TIRATH /ਤੀਰਥਿ



    A pilgrimage is simply a sacred journey to a sacred place by a pilgrim. A tirath, on the other hand, is indelibly associated with a body of beliefs in the merit-giving efficacy of austerities, rituals, vows, purifications, and other practices. However, not all pilgrimages are tiraths even if, all tiraths are pilgrimages. A tirath, according to Sabd Guru is an outer sacred journey whose beliefs and practices distract the seeker from the inner sacred journey. It is, therefore, empty of any utility, unless the pilgrim enters into a special experiential relationship with the sacred site for further spiritual growth.

    ਜਪੁ ਤਪੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਰਾ ਸਭਿ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮੰਨੀਐ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

    Jap Tap Sabh Kich Maneai Avar Kara Sabh Baad. Nānak mani­ā mannī­ai bujẖī­ai gur parsāḏ.

    Meditation, austerity and everything come through belief in the Akal Purkh's Name. All other actions are useless. Believe in the One who is worth believing in, and realized through Guru's Grace says Nanak -----Guru Angad, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 954-6



    Because a pilgrimage is only an outwardly sacred journey, it is by itself empty. But such an outer journey can guide the seeker to the inner sacred journey. If it does so, it is of some utility. If it fails to do so, it is vacuous and useless. It is the internal pilgrimage of the self, which is the spiritual path to the truth, says Guru Nanak in Asa Di Var:

    ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਨੋ ਪੁਛਿ ਕੈ ਬਹਿ ਰਹੈ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥

    Sacẖ ṯāʼn par jāṇī¬ai jā āṯam ṯirath karė nivās. Saṯgurū no pucẖẖ kai bahi rahai karė nivās.

    One who knows the Truth, does so only after he dwells in the sacred shrine of pilgrimage of his own consciousness. He sits and receives instruction from the True Guru, and lives in accordance with Its Will. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGE, Page, 468-12

    Guru Arjan ponders on the ego of the individuals visiting pilgrimage places;

    ਤੀਰਥਿ ਜਾਉ ਤ ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ॥ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੂਛਉ ਤ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਾਤੇ ॥ਸੋ ਅਸਥਾਨੁ ਬਤਾਵਹੁ ਮੀਤਾ ॥ਜਾ ਕੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨੀਤਾ ॥ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਬੇਦ ਪਾਪ ਪੁੰਨ ਵੀਚਾਰ ॥ਨਰਕਿ ਸੁਰਗਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਅਉਤਾਰ ॥ਗਿਰਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਚਿੰਤ ਉਦਾਸ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਜੀਅ ਕਉ ਜੰਜਾਰ ॥ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਇਆ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੀ ਤਿਨਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਈਐ ॥ਇਹੁ ਅਸਥਾਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇ ਪਾਈਐ ॥

    Ŧirath jā¬o ṯa ha¬o ha¬o karṯė. Pandiṯ pūcẖẖa¬o ṯa mā¬i¬ā rāṯė. So asthān baṯāvhu mīṯā. Jā kai har har kīrṯan nīṯā. Sāsṯar bėḏ pāp punn vīcẖār. Narak surag fir fir a¬uṯār. Girsaṯ meh cẖinṯ uḏās ahaʼnkār. Karam karaṯ jī¬a ka¬o janjār. Parabẖ kirpā ṯė man vas ā¬i¬ā. Nānak gurmukẖ ṯarī ṯin mā¬i¬ā. Sāḏẖsang har kīrṯan gā¬ī¬ai. Ih asthān gurū ṯė pā¬ī¬ai.

    Although they make journeys to sacred shrines, I see these mortals acting in ego. If I examine the Pundits, I find them tainted by Maya. Show me that place, O friend, where the Kirtan of the Akal Purkh's Praises are forever sung. The Shaastras and the Vedas speak of sin and virtue; they say that mortals are reincarnated into heaven and hell, over and over again. In the householder's life, there is anxiety, and in the life of the renunciate, there is egotism. Performance of religious rituals may only result in the entanglement of the conscience. By God's Grace, the mind is brought under control. O Nanak, the Guru willed crosses over the ocean of Maya. In the Company of the holy, one should sing the Kirtan of the It's Praises. This place is found through the Guru. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 385

    ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਰਮ ਰਤ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਭਾਰੁ ਅਫਾਰ ॥ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਜਉ ਨਾਮ ਸਿਉ ਤਉ ਏਊ ਕਰਮ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥

    Ha¬o ha¬o karṯė karam raṯ ṯā ko bẖār afār. Parīṯ nahī ja¬o nām si¬o ṯa¬o ė¬ū karam bikār.

    Acting in egotism, selfishness and conceit, the lovers of rituals carry the unbearable load. When there is no love for the Naam, then these rituals are corrupt. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 252-2

    Guru Nanak further clarifies in Raag Gauri that the Akal Purkh, one is looking for, is Itself in the self.

    ਜੈ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਤਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਜਾਹੀ॥ਰਤਨ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਮਾਹੀ॥ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ॥ਭੀਤਰਿ ਹੋਦੀ ਵਸਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ॥

    Jai KaarN Tat Tirath Jaahee, Ratan Pdaarath Ghat Hee Maahee, Parh Parh Pundit Baad VakhaNai, Bheetar Hodee Vasat Na JaaNai.

    One may journey to sacred shrines and holy rivers for his/her own sake, however, the priceless jewel is within your own heart. The Pundits, the religious scholars, read and read endlessly; they stir up arguments and controversies. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 152-5 & 6

    Sikh pilgrimage does raise some questions?

    1. Should Sikhs go on a pilgrimage?

    2. Is there pilgrimage in Sikhism?

    3. Is there any spiritual benefit from it?

    The following hymns answer the above questions.

    ਪਾਪ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੰਚਾਂ ਕੇ ਬਸਿ ਰੇ ॥ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਹਹਿ ਸਭਿ ਉਤਰੇ ॥

    Paap Karahi PanchaaN Kay Bas Ray, Tirath Naa-ay Kaheh Sabh Utray.

    They commit sins, under the influence of the five thieves. They bathe at sacred shrines, and claim that everything has been washed off. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1348-8

    ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥

    Soochay Ayhi Na Aakhee-ahi Bahan Je Pindaa Dho-ay, Soochay Say-ee Nankaa Jin Man Vasi-aa So-ay.

    They are not called pure, who sit down after merely washing their bodies. Only they are pure, O Nanak, within whose minds the Akal Purkh abides -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 472-9

    ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਝੂਠੇ ਪੈਜ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਫੈਲੁ ॥ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਜੇ ਨਾਵਹਿ ਉਤਰੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਟੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਗੁਦੜੁ ਤੇ ਭਲੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥
    Andrahu Jhoothay Paij Baahar Dunee-aa Andar Fail, Athsath Tirath Jay Naaveh Utrai Naahee Mail, Jinh Pat Andar Baahar Gudarh Tay Bhalay Sansaar.

    Those who are false within, and honorable on the outside, are very common in this world. Even though they may bathe at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, their filth still does not depart. Those having silk on the inside and rag on the outside, are the good ones in this world. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 473-15

    Although a distinction is seldom made, a religion has both a normative and an operative aspect. Normative beliefs and practices are those prescribed by scripture. In contrast, operative beliefs and practices are those actually held and followed by adherents of the religion. The former are implicitly written within the “Sabd Guru” and are known through Its study with understanding and reflection. Operative beliefs are explicit within the religious community and can only be known through observation. Although the two are complementary, studies of religion generally emphasize the former. There can, of course, be substantial variation between what a scripture of that faith says about what people should do and what they actually do.

    In the Sabad Guru, which is the core of the Sikh spiritual path for the attainment of liberation; pilgrimage, visiting a tirath, is given no value. It is explicit on this point: pilgrimages to sacred places are of no use without true devotion to God, and for that one need not go to sacred places. The Gurus' position on tirath in their compositions is the authoritative position within Sikh tradition. It is easy to conclude in answer to the first question that there is no doctrine of pilgrimage in Sikhism. Sikh Gurus taught outer sacred journeys are futile if there are not simultaneously inner journeys. Inner journeys can be made anywhere since their source, God, is everywhere as well as in oneself. And yet, in the Sikh community, pilgrimage is popular.

    Consequently, the conflict between normative and operative has remained largely unresolved. The conclusion drawn here is that sacred journeys are attractive because sacred places offer the tangible possibility of an encounter with sacred ideals.

    Nanak knew the true sacred place to be inward. He prescribed meditation and devotional love for God as a replacement for pilgrimage. His position on pilgrimage is stated clearly in his own japji Sahib. The Guru's teachings about pilgrimage, tirath, appear at four places within its thirty-eight stanzas.

    ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਾ ਜੇ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਭਾਣੇ ਕਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਰੀ ॥

    Tirath Naavaa Jay Tis Bhavaa ViN BhaaNay Ke Naa-ey Karee.

    I would bathe at places of pilgrimage if it were pleasing to God. If it is not pleasing to God, then what is the use? ------Japji, 2-11

    ਸੁਣਿਐ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਕਾ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ SuNiaa Athsath Ka Isnaan.

    Listening to the True Name of Akal Purkh is equivalent to bathing at the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage. -----Japji, 3-1

    Guru Nanak's understanding of the value of pilgrimage was made explicit when he wrote,

    ਤੀਰਥੁ ਤਪੁ ਦਇਆ ਦਤੁ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਪਾਵੈ ਤਿਲ ਕਾ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ ॥

    Tirath Tap Daya Dat Daan, Jay Ko Pavai Til Ka Maan, SuNiaa Maniaa Man Keetaa Bhaou, Antargat Tirath Mal Naaou.

    Pilgrimages, austere discipline, compassion and charity, these by themselves, bring not even an iota of merit. Listening to the Naam, and believing it with love and humility in your mind, cleans yourself, at the sacred shrine deep within. -----Japji, 4-14 & 15

    Finally, he described the myriad forms designed by God and sustained by God's will that sing God's praise.

    ਗਾਵਨਿ ਰਤਨ ਉਪਾਏ ਤੇਰੇ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਲੇ ॥

    Gaavan Ratan Oupaa-ay Tayray Athsath Tirath Naalay.

    Jewels created by You, together with the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage made sacred by You, sing Your praise. -----Japji, 6-10

    Guru Nanak "Invariably attached no importance to pilgrimage, "The true tirath is in the Naam and Sabd," "There is no tirath like the Guru," and "The object of pilgrimage is within oneself" Succeeding Sikh Gurus continued to discourage ritualism, the worship of images and natural objects, and visits to waters, tombs, and temples considered sacred by people of the other faiths.

    ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਸ ਪੁਰਬ ਸਦਾ ਦਸਾਹਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਵਾਕੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਸਦਾ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਨਿਤ ਸਾਚੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਮਜਨਾ ॥

    Tirath Navan Jaa-ou Tirath Naam Hai, Tirath Sabd Bichar Antar Gian Hai, Gur Gian Saacha, Thaan Tirath Das Purab Sada Dasaahra, Gur Vaak Nirmal Sada Chanan Nit Saach Tirath Majna.

    What good is my going to bathe at holy spots, the Divine Name is the true holy spot. The sacred shrine of pilgrimage is spiritual wisdom within, and contemplation on the Word of the Sabd. The spiritual wisdom given by the Guru is the True sacred shrine of pilgrimage where the ten festivals are always observed. The Master’s Word is the eternal light, which is equivalent to daily bathing at a holy place. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Dhanasari, AGGS, Page, 687- 14 & 16

    ਭੇਖੀ ਹਾਥ ਨ ਲਭਈ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਹੀ ਦਾਨੇ ॥ ਪੂਛਉ ਬੇਦ ਪੜੰਤਿਆ ਮੂਠੀ ਵਿਣੁ ਮਾਨੇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਸੋ ਕਰੇ ਪੂਰਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੇ ॥

    Bhaykhee Haath Na Labha-ee Tirath Nahee Daanay, Poochha-o Bayd Parhanti-aa Moothee Vin Maanay, Nanak Keemat So Karay Pooraa Gur Gi-aanay.

    Wearing religious robes, the Akal Purkh is not obtained, nor is It obtained by giving donations at sacred shrines of pilgrimage. Go and ask the readers of the Vedas. Without faith, the world is cheated. O Nanak, he alone values the jewel, which is blessed with the spiritual wisdom of the Perfect Guru. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1012-13

    ਤੀਰਥਿ ਭਰਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਪੜਿਆ ਬਾਦੁ ਬਿਬਾਦੁ ਭਇਆ ॥

    Tirath Bharmai Roag Na Chootas Parhia Baad Bibbaad Bhae-aa.

    Wandering around at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, the mortal is not cured of his disease. Reading scripture, he gets involved in useless arguments. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Bhairo, AGGS, Page, 1153-16

    ਹਰਿ ਸਰਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਜਾਣਿ ਮਨੂਆ ਨਾਇਆ ॥ Har Sar Tirath JaaN Manuaa Naaeaa.

    The Akal Purkh is my sacred shrine of pilgrimage and pool of purification; I wash my mind in It.-----Guru Amardas, Raag Malar, AGGS, Page, 1286-3

    ਜਪ ਤਪ ਤੀਰਥ ਸੰਜਮ ਕਰੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਇਆ ॥ Jap Tap Tirath Sabjam Karay Mayray Prabh Bhaeaa.

    The merits of chanting, meditation, penance, self-discipline, bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage are attained only if they pleasing to my God.-----Guru Ramdas, Raag Sarang, AGGS, Page, 1244-14

    ਜੇਤੇ ਰੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਏ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਾਏ ਘਰ ਕੋ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਇਕੁ ਤਿਲੁ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ॥

    Jaytay Ray Tirath Naa-ay Ahanbudh Mail Laa-ay Ghar Ko Thakur Ik Til Na Maanai.

    In spite of the many places of pilgrimage for people to bathe in, their minds remain stained by their stubborn ego; the Akal Purkh Master is not pleased by this at all.
    -----Guru Arjan, Raag Dhanasari, AGGS, Page, 687-3

    ਬਨੁ ਬਨੁ ਫਿਰਤੀ ਖੋਜਤੀ ਹਾਰੀ ਬਹੁ ਅਵਗਾਹਿ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਭੇਟੇ ਸਾਧ ਜਬ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥

    Ban Ban Firti Khojti Hari Boh Avgah, Nanak Bhaytay Saadh Jab Har Paaeaa Man Maaeh.

    From forest to forest, I wandered searching. I am so tired of taking baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage. O Nanak, when I met the Holy Saint, I found the Akal Purkh within my mind. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 455-12&13

    ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਅਰੁ ਦਾਨ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਮੈ ਧਰੈ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਹਫਲ ਜਾਤ ਤਿਹ ਜਿਉ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥

    Tirath Barat Ur Daan Kar Man Mai Dharai Gumaan, Nanak Nehfal Jaat Teh Jeo Kunchar Isnaan.

    The practices such as making pilgrimages to sacred shrines, observing ritualistic fasts and making donations to charity while the minds are full of pride, O Nanak, these are useless. They are like an elephant taking a bath, and then rolling in the dust.----Guru Tegh Bahadur Slokes, AGGS, Page, 1428-18

    ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਨ ਦਇਆ ਦਮ ਸੁ ਸੰਜਮ ਨੇਮ ਅਨੇਕ ਬਿਸੇਖੇ॥ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਕਤੇਬ ਕੁਰਾਨ ਜਮੀਨ ਜਮਾਨ ਕੇ ਪੇਖੇ॥ ਪਉਨ ਅਹਾਰ ਜਤੀ ਜਤ ਧਾਰ ਸਬੈ ਸੁ ਬਿਚਾਰ ਹਜਾਰ ਕ ਦੇਖੇ॥ ਸੀ੍ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਏਕ ਰਤੀ ਬਿਨੁ ਏਕ ਨ ਲੇਖੇ॥

    Tirath Naan Daya Dam Daan So Sanjam Naym Anayk Bisaykhay, Bayd Puran Katayb Quran Jameen Jamaan Kay Paykhay, Paoun Ahaar Jati Jat Dhaar Sabai So Bichaar Hajaar K Daykhay, Sri Bhagvaan Ayk Rati Bin Ayk N Laykhay.

    Men may take baths at places of pilgrimage, exercise acts of mercy, control their passions, perform acts of charity, practise continence and perform many more special rituals;

    Men may study the Vedas, the Purans, the Holy Quran and other books of the religions of all times, countries and places; Men may live only on the air and practise continence and thousands of such other rituals and ceremonies. They are all worthless and of no account, without the meditation upon and Akal Purkh. ----- (10th Guru, Savaiye, in Doabia 1996:149)

    ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥

    Tirath Barat Naym Kee-ay Tay Sabhai Rasaatal Jaaneh.

    No matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. -----Kabir Sloke 233, AGGS, Page, 1377-3

    Guru Amardas proclaims that truth is the real pilgrimage in Raag Suhi;

    ਸਚਾ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ॥

    Suchaa Tirath Jit Sat Sar NaavaN Gurmukh Aap Bujhaa-ay.

    True is that place of pilgrimage, where one bathes in the pool of Truth, and achieves self-realization as Guru Willed and understands his own self.-----Guru Amardas, Raag Suhi, AGGS, Page, 753-15

    Truth is a comprehensive term that in all of its nuances implies accuracy and honesty. It is considered to be the supreme reality. Truth is the ultimate meaning and value of existence. The study of Truth is part of philosophy and epistemology. Falsehood is an offensive weapon, truth a defensive armor. Truth cannot be found with filthy heart.

    ਨਾਵਣ ਚਲੇ ਤੀਰਥੀ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੈ ਤਨਿ ਚੋਰ ॥

    NaavaN Chalay Tirathee Man Khotai Tan Choar.

    They go and bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, but their minds are still evil, and their bodies are thieves. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Suhi, AGGS, Page, 789-9

    ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਜੇ ਨਾਵਹਿ ਉਤਰੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੈਲੁ ॥

    Athsath Tirath Jay Naaveh Outrai Naahee Mail.

    Even though they may bathe at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, still, their filth does not depart. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 473-16

    ਨਾਵਹੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਤਿਲਕ ਚੜਾਵਹੁ ਸੁਚ ਵਿਣੁ ਸੋਚ ਨ ਹੋਈ॥

    Naavoh Dhovoh Tilkak Charhvoh Souch Vich Soach Na Ho-ee.

    You may bathe and wash, and apply a ritualistic tilak mark to your forehead, but without inner purity, there is no understanding. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 903-3

    ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮ ਲਖ ਲਖ ਹੋਮ ਜਗ ਨਈਵੇਦ ਕਰੋੜੀ॥----ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਅਚਾਰ ਚਮੋੜੀ॥

    Jap Tap Sanjam Lakh Lakh Hoam Jag Na-eevayd Krorhee---Ouper Sach Achaar Chamorhee.

    There are millions of rituals -- recitation, penances, continence, burnt offerings and crores of oblations are there. Fasts, rules, control, activities are many but they all are like weak threads. Many are pilgrimage centers, anniversaries, and mullions of virtuous acts, charities and altruisms. Millions of kinds of worship of gods and goddesses, combinations, detractions, boons, curses are there. Many philosophies, varnas, non-varnas and many are the persons who do not bother about the unnecessary brands of lakhs of worships and oblations. Many are the forms of public behavior, virtues, renunciation, indulgence and other covering devices but all these craft-man ships remain far away from the truth, and they cannot touch it. Higher than truth is truthful living. -----Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 18, Pauri, 19

    ਅੰਤਰ ਮੈਲ ਜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਤੀਣੇ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਅਯਾਨਾ॥ ਪੂਜਹੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਏਕ ਹੀ ਦੇਵਾ॥ ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ॥

    Antar Mail Jay Tirath Naavai Tis Baikunth Na Jaana, Loak PateeNay Kachoo Na Hovai Naahee Raam Aiaana. Poojoh Raam Ayk Hee Devaa, Saacha NaavaN Gur Kee Sayva.

    With filth within the heart, even if one bathes at sacred places of pilgrimage, he still can not go to heaven. Nothing is gained by trying to please others -- the God cannot be fooled. Worship the One Divine Creator. The true cleansing bath is service to the Guru. -----Kabir, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 484-14 &15

    Here, Nanak indicates that God was the ultimate source of whatever transformative power the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage possessed. Individuals can only be blessed with contemplation and reflection on the Sabd.

    ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨੋ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਵੇਖਦਾ ਜੇਤਾ ਜਗਤੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥

    Satgur No Sabh Ko Vaykhda Jayta Jagat Sansaar, Dithai Mukat Na Hova-ee Jichar Sabd Na Karay Veechaar.

    All the living beings of the world behold the True Guru. One is not liberated by merely seeing Him, unless one contemplates and reflects on the Word of the Sabd.
    -----Guru Amardas, Raag Vadhans, AGGS, Page, 594-11

    ਸੇਵਕ ਸਿਖ ਪੂਜਣ ਸਭਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸਭਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਊਤਮ ਬਾਨੀ ॥ ਗਾਵਿਆ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨੀ ॥

    Sayvak Sikh PoojaN Sabh Aaveh Sabh Gaaveh Har Har Ootam Baanee, Gaave-aa SuNe-aa Tin Ka Har Thaa-ey Paavai Jin Sat Gur Ki Aage-aa Sat Sat Kar Maanaa.

    All the Sikhs and servants come to worship and adore You; they sing the sublime Bani of the Lord, the Master. Their singing and listening is approved by the Lord; they accept the Order of the True Guru as True, totally True. -----Guru Ramdas, Raag Dhanasari, AGGS, Page, 669-14 & 15

    By itself, the external purity that comes from bathing in water is insufficient for attaining spiritual purity:

    ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥

    Soochay Ayh Na Aakheah Behn Jo Pinda Dhoey, Soochay Sayee Nanaka Jin Man Vasiaa Soey.

    They are not called pure, who sit down after merely washing their bodies. Only they are pure, O Nanak, within whose minds the Akal Purkh abides.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 472-9 & 10


    A pilgrimage may amplify the connection felt with the Guru, with the ideal that the Guru represents and with the affirmation of the doctrine that a seeker must approach God through the Guru. Gurus regarded tirath yatra and the beliefs surrounding it as empty. They thought that such practices have no spiritual value. There is nothing wrong with bathing at a tirath per se, but the true means of spiritual attainment, love for God, need have nothing to do with sacred wells, water pools, and river crossings.

    The only value that could be attached to the outer journey is that it may guide the seeker to the inner sacred journey. To the degree it does, tirath is of some utility, otherwise it is useless.

    Virinder S. Grewal
    Williamston, MI
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  3. Amarpal

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    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Jun 11, 2004
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    Dear Khalsa Ji,

    I want to share with you my understanding of pilgrimage with all of you.

    As I understand:

    Pilgrim: is a religious devotee who journeys to a shrine or sacred place. This person is Tirth-yatri

    Tirath means the sacred place or shrine of importance to a specific religion.

    Pilgrimage: means a journey undertaken to a religious person to a sacred place or a shrine. It is the English word for Tirth-Yatra.

    In any pilgrimage, there is an origin i.e. the place where the devotee lives and starts for the journey; a Yatri i.e. pilgrim; a Yatra i.e. journey and a destination i.e. the sacred place or shrine where the Yatri (pilgrim) has to reach. But he scripture that I have studied, emphasizes on Tirth-Yatra i.e. pilgrimage and not on destination. In common parlance too one refers to Tirth – Yatra and not to the destinations. My studies tell me that it is the Yatra (journey) that transforms the being of the person and not the destination. Why I say so I share with you here.

    Just think back in time, say 1500 years ago when the means of transport were minimal; means of long distance communications were not there; when India was a large number of monarchies and republics; when rule of law was none existent the justice depended on the personal disposing of some powerful individual; large distances separated villages. Imagine a person who embarks on Tirth – Yatra from Kacheepuram in Tamil Nadu to Kashi in Uttar Pradesh.

    It required an intense desire and will to take decision to under take such long arduous journey. For undertaking this journey, he had to save money out of his little income. He must progressively organize these resources over many years. All these years his desire to undertake the journey must remain alive.

    Think who could undertake such journey, mostly the elders (mostly men and lesser number of women), whose absence would not affect the earning ability of the family and may be some relatively younger attendants. Some time some youth from the joint family, who is devoted to religion may also join in this journey. They now have to wait for the total group for the Tirth – Yatra to get formed – number as you know is safety. After long years of aspiring finally the person joins the group of similar people and starts his journey in a convoy of carts pulled by animals. Slowly but surely they start moving on not well defined or prepared roads.

    For provisions they can only carry grains and other ingredients for cooking meals viz. salt, oil, Ghee etc. They carried water and fire wood to the extent they could carry and also some medicines. They had to replenish their supplies on the way where they rested in some human habitation. The availability, the nature, and the cost of these supplies varied depended on the condition that prevailed at places where they purchase. For cooking they mostly depended on fire wood they collected on there way. They had to carry some lamps lighted all the time as the source of fire to light the fire wood when they wanted to cook. For this purpose they carried Ghee and oil.

    The distances between two human habitations were large. On the way there was fear of wild animals and even thieves. Thieves could deprive all the resources of the pilgrims and leave tem to fend for themselves to fend for themselves. The wild animals could attach the pilgrims and the draught animals. Fear made the pilgrims thing of God and seek its continued protection. At some kingdoms which they had to pass through even Govt. officials and muscle-mans extracted resources from them. They were helpless. Each day of uninterrupted journey made them think of God and they collectively thanked the God and prayed for further protection. The returning conveys from Kashi told them of the undesirable events and mishaps that visited the other convoys they know of and advised them to avoid similar fate. Fear further intensified and they learnt that nothing much is in their control they are dependent on God for there well beings. Sense of Bhagti (devotion) that already existed in they found expression in Kirtan (singing collectively the devotional songs), Katha (mythological stories about the incarnation of the God) and chanting of Vedic Mantras. This intensified their links with the God. All this continued not for hours, days or weeks, it continued over months and say a year, i.e. long time to influence the person’s being.

    The convoys returning from Kashi going towards Kacheepuram were also the messengers for the pilgrims on their onward journey to send communication back to home about their wellbeing. That is how the people back home learnt the progress of their person who has gone on pilgrimage.

    This was not all. At places the person’s became sick and could not recover from sickness to continue their journey. They were left behind with their resources to return home with some returning convey or to recover and resume onward journey with some other convoy going to Kashi. Pilgrims prayed to God for protection from such happenings. The feeling of God started staying with the pilgrim all the time. This was their condition over months conveying to them that it is God who is enabling them.

    At times because reasons beyond their control the individuals lost their possessions and resources they carried from there home. They had to depend on others, even some time they had to beg to sustain themselves or work in a manner they would have never worked at home. The reduced their ego. They realized the idea of collective living; they came to learn that god is in all. As the ego diluted and got dissolved, the feeling of God being in them started dawning on them. Their being became purer and purer.

    The pilgrim reaches the destination thanking God for all it has done to help her/ him reach this place. The pilgrim knows from the depth of his heart and soul that all that happened was because of the God – she or he is a no longer the person who started from Kacheepuram on pilgrimage; her or his being is totally changed.

    The process of Yatra; the duration of Yatra; the environment that prevailed in this Yatra, all conveyed to them that ‘All that is, is because of the God’.

    Pilgrims reached Kashi with this realization on their way from Kacheepuram to Kashi. They had already attained the objective of pilgrimage - their being had already been transformed. True they took bath in the river Ganga – a symbolic act of thanks giving to the God. Water of Ganga can only contact the surface of the body, it can wash the dirt on the body, it cannot do any thing to change the being of the person; the way the Tirth – Yatra had changed.

    This is the reason why I say that Yatra to a Tirath in olden time was transforming the being of the person and the person’s presence at sacred place or shrine.

    In today’s world, the person flies from Airport closest to Kacheepuram, reaches the Airport closest to Kashi, checks in a Hotel and visits the shrine next day, have bath in Ganga and returns to Kacheepuram the same way. The real part, which is the ‘Yatra’, is missing. As I understand this is the reason why there is no scope for the person to get transformed in modern way of pilgrimage.

    To the extent I have knowledge of Sikh History ( please to not hesitate to correct me if I am wrong, I welcome that as it will educate me further), Guru Gobind Singh Ji, never visited Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar.

    I leave to the reader to decide the on the relevance of pilgrimage in the present context.

    With love and respect for all.

    Amarpal Singh
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  4. vsgrewal48895

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    Mar 12, 2009
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    Thanks Amar pal Ji.

  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    It is interesting to notice that people who left Plymouth, England and came to the Americas were also called pilgrims although they were running away from the religious repression and supression. This action of theirs confirms the values of Tirath as a journey from one place to another which is mentioned in various Gurbani tuks given by Virinder ji. Tirath is the place where one goes to find solace, personal growth which leads to freedom within.

    Amarpal ji has a point about the journey from distant places to reach the religious place of their desire with great sacrifices.

    1. But it was all done in hope of what?

    2. What was the ultimate goal then?

    3. What were they promised at the end of the rainbow?

    4. So in other words did the penance, the pain, the sacrifice of the journey itself become the Tirath?

    5. Was this some kind of masochistic narcissism which was done quite unknowingly due to the distance and the modes of travel like ox carts etc etc ?

    6. How about the Tiraths by Shias to their sacred shrines where they nail their and their childrens' heads and bleed by beating themselves by with spiked chains?

    7. Now a days people travel by air or in a/c luxury coaches to the Tiraths. So as the means of the journey have changed, how does it affect person's spirituality?

    Old people who go on Tirath to Hem Kunt Sahib hire people to carry them to the Gurdwara on the top.

    8. Now a days not so old but heavy pot bellied people hire others to do the same. So what benefits does it bring?

    I read on the other day that some people suffered heart attacks while going on foot on this yatra to Hemkunt Sahib.

    Now the above statement raises a question from what Virinder ji wrote below:

    9.Does that mean that the Normative practices in SGGS breed pragmatism where as the Operative ones which are created by others are dogmatic and promise some for some kind of miracles?

    Just thinking aloud...

    Tejwant Singh
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  6. vsgrewal48895

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    Mar 12, 2009
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    Teji Ji Well said-

    To me a tirath is of any value only when a pilgrim enters in to a special experiential relationship with the sacred site and learn from it any way for further spirirual growth. If the pilgrimage is just a show that I visited HemKunth to me it is a useless effort made in spiritual progress.



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