(I also) go to bathe (ਤੀਰਥ ਉਤੇ ਇਸਨਾਨ) at sacred shrines of
pilgrimage (but, for me) the Lord's Name is the
pilgrimage. To Reflect on the Shabad (contemplation,
Shabad-Vichaar: ਸਬਦ ਨੂੰ ਵਿਚਾਰ-ਮੰਡਲ ਵਿਚ ਟਿਕਾਣਾ, etc.)
is the pilgrimage (for me, because of this) Spiritual
Wisdom (Aatamic-Giaan) arises within me (sggs 687).

Vultures roam around flying high over the planes, mountains, forests and water. However, there eyes are always fixed on the charnel-pits: depositories of the dead animals or bones. Similarly, the mind gripped by the Mayaic Budhi fly high like a vulture and wander around in directions.

As indicated in the Gurbani (SGGS), under the spell of ignorance or foolishness, many of us travel thousands of miles and climb high mountains to visit the so called sacred shrines of pilgrimage and bathe in their waters. But the eyes of our vulture like minds always remain fixed on corruption and falsehood — lust, greed, anger, emotional attachment, pride, stubborn-mindedness, enviousness, and so on.

  • ਮਃ ੧ ॥ ਨਾਵਣ ਚਲੇ ਤੀਰਥੀ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੈ ਤਨਿ ਚੋਰ ॥ ਇਕੁ ਭਾਉ ਲਥੀ ਨਾਤਿਆ ਦੁਇ ਭਾ ਚੜੀਅਸੁ ਹੋਰ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਧੋਤੀ ਤੂਮੜੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਿਸੁ ਨਿਕੋਰ ॥ ਸਾਧ ਭਲੇ ਅਣਨਾਤਿਆ ਚੋਰ ਸਿ ਚੋਰਾ ਚੋਰ ॥੨॥: M: 1|| Naawan chale teerthee man khote tan chor. Ik bhaaou lathee naatiaa dui bhaa chreeus hor. Baahar dhotee tumree andar vis nikor. Saadh bhale annaatiaa chor si choraa chor ||2||: M: 1. Men of evil mind and thievish bodies (body ocupied with thieves like lust, anger, greed, etc.), go to bathe at the pilgrim places. The one part of their body filth (external filth) is washed off by bathing, but they accumulate twice as much of mental filth (pride, etc.). Like a gourd, they may be washed off on the outside, but on the inside, they are still filled with poison (of egoism). A saintly being is blessed, even without such bathing (at pilgrim places - ਤੀਰਥਾਂ ਤੇ), while a thief is a thief, no matter how much he bathes (at pilgrim places - ਤੀਰਥਾਂ ਤੇ) ||2|| (sggs 789).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਤੀਣੇ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਅਯਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਪੂਜਹੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਏਕੁ ਹੀ ਦੇਵਾ ॥ ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਂਡੁਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਜੈਸੇ ਮੇਂਡੁਕ ਤੈਸੇ ਓਇ ਨਰ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੋਨੀ ਆਵਹਿ ॥੨॥: Antar mail je teerath naavai tis baikunth naa jaanaa ...: With filth within (ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਦੀ ਮੈਲ), even if one bathes at sacred places of pilgrimage, still, he does not go to heaven. Nothing is gained by trying to please others (seeing you bathing at sacred places people may think you are Bhagat, religious, etc., but) — the Lord cannot be fooled (for He is knower of all the hearts). ||1|| Worship the One Divine Lord. The true cleansing bath is Gur-Sevaa (through Shabad-Vichaar). ||1||Pause|| If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing (always remains in water)? As is the frog, so is that mortal; (without the Lord's Naam, Giaan...) he is reincarnated, over and over again ||2|| (sggs 484).
Who are these people engaged in such worthless show of external religion and spirituality; and why they do it? Does the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) approve of it? If not, then what's the True pilgrimage as seen by the Gurbani? In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the following:
  • The Gurbani Rejects Pilgrimage: It is totally anti-Gurmat practice
  • The Pujaaree Group And Rituals
  • The Manmukh And Pilgrimage
  • The True Pilgrimage
The Gurbani Rejects Pilgrimage: It is totally anti-Gurmat practice

Yes, religious pilgrimages (Yaatraa or Dhaam-Yaatraa, etc.) to the so called sacred shrines is absolutely against the Teaching of the Gurbani (Gurmat).

This practice is being carried on and promoted by those Sikhs who are students and followers of the greedy and crafty Brahmin. Otherwise, why would they be acting against the Gurmat (Aatam Giaan of the Gurbani)?

Being a waste of useful time and energy, religious pilgrimages (Yaatraa or Dhaam-Yaatraa, etc.) to the so called sacred shrines are not a part of the Gurmat (Teaching of the Gurbani), and, thus, they are repudiated (ਖੰਡਨ) by the Gurbani. Further, the Gurbani also rejects bathing at such places.

However, the spiritually blinds still go out of their way to visit such places anywhere in the world, and bathe at every pool (Sar or Sarovar) they can find. Even though the Gur-Shabad roars that the Lord and the true shrine of pilgrimage is within our body, but people travel in search for God at these external shrines plagued with falsehood and corruption!

  • ਕਾਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਤ ਕਾ ਢਬੁ ॥ ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥: Kaal naahee jog naahee naahee sat kaa dhab. Thaanasatt jag bharisat hoy doobahaaiv jag: No, no, this is not the time, when people know the way to Yoga and Truth. The holy places of worship in the world are polluted, and so the world is drowning (sggs 662).
  • ਕੋਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨ ਇਸਨਾਨਾ ਇਸੁ ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥: Koti tirath majan isnaanaa is kal mahi mail bhreejai: Millions of cleansing baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage only fill the mortal with the filth (of Bikaars - ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਦੀ) in Kali. (sggs 747).
  • ਜੇਤੇ ਰੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਏ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਾਏ ਘਰ ਕੋ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਇਕੁ ਤਿਲੁ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਕਦਿ ਪਾਵਉ ਸਾਧਸੰਗੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਆਨੰਦੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਜਨਿ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੈ ॥੪॥ Jete re tirath naaye ahambudhi mail laaye ...: In spite of the many places of pilgrimage for people to bathe in, their minds are still stained by their stubborn ego; God is not pleased by this at all (by bathing at pilgrim places - ਇਹਨਾਂ ਤੀਰਥ-ਇਸਨਾਨਾਂ ਨਾਲ). (This is my longing:) when will I find the Holy Company (Saadhsang)? There, I will be always in the ecstasy (ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ), and my mind will take its cleansing bath in healing ointment of spiritual wisdom (sggs 687).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਜੀਉ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵੈ ਦਿਸੰਤਰ ਲੋਇ ॥: Jis jiou antar mailaa hoi. Tirath bhavai disantar loi: If one's mind is polluted within (ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਨਾਲ), he may travel to sacred shrines of pilgrimage all over the world (still he will gain nothing) (sggs 1169).
  • ਨ੍ਹਾਤ ਫਿਰਿਓ ਲੀਏ ਸਾਤ ਸਮੁਦ੍ਰਨਿ ਲੋਕ ਗਯੋ ਪਰਲੋਕ ਗਵਾਇਓ ॥: Naat phirio leee saat samundaran lok gayo parlok gavaaio: Those who have bathed even in seven oceans (i.e., all places of pilgrimages in the entire world) would loose this world as well as the next one (Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Savaiye 9).
The Gurbani declares any religion that allows such rituals is a "useless religion". The love for the Eternal Name of God (Naam: Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge...) is the only essential and necessary thing; everything else is a Karamkaand or worldly entanglement ("Niraaphal Kaamaa"). The Gurbani also tells us that the Love of God can be attained remaining right where we are, "here and now". Perhaps we can appreciate now as to how futile it is to visit the so called sacred shrines if we have not awakened the Love for God in the inner Home (Mool)! It is repeatedly declared by the Gurbani that there is nothing out there at shrines (or anywhere else for that matter) which is not within our bosom.
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਜਾਉ ਤ ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੂਛਉ ਤ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਾਤੇ ॥੧॥: Teerathi jaaou ta haou haou karte. Pandit pooshaou t Maya raate ||1||: If I go to places of pilgrimage, there I see people indulging in egotism ('I am religious', 'I am religious', etc.). If I inquire of scholars there, I find them to be imbued in Maya ||1|| (sggs 385).
  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਨੋ ਫਿਰੈ ਤਪਾ ਸਦਾਵੈ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Mann kaa jhoothaa jhooth kamaavai. Maya no phirai tapaa sadaavai. Bharme bhoolaa sabhi tirath gahai: The one of false mind practices falsehood. He runs after Maya, and yet pretends to be a man of disciplined meditation. Deluded by doubt, (and pretending to be a man of disciplined meditation ) he visits all the sacred shrines of pilgrimage (sggs 949).
  • ਜਾ ਮੈ ਭਜਨੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਤਿਹ ਨਰ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਰਥੁ ਖੋਇਆ ਯਹ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਕਰੈ ਬ੍ਰਤ ਫੁਨਿ ਰਾਖੈ ਨਹ ਮਨੂਆ ਬਸਿ ਜਾ ਕੋ ॥ ਨਿਹਫਲ ਧਰਮੁ ਤਾਹਿ ਤੁਮ ਮਾਨਹੁ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਹਤ ਮੈ ਯਾ ਕਉ ॥੧॥ ਜੈਸੇ ਪਾਹਨੁ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਖਿਓ ਭੇਦੈ ਨਾਹਿ ਤਿਹ ਪਾਨੀ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਤੁਮ ਤਾਹਿ ਪਛਾਨਹੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੀਨ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ॥੨॥: Jaa mai bhajan raam ko naahee ...: If one does not meditate on God Within him, that man wastes his life uselessly - keep this in mind. ||1||Pause|| He bathes at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, and adheres to fasts, but he has no control over his mind. Know that such Dharma is useless to him. I speak the Truth for his sake.  ||1|| It's like a stone, kept immersed in water; still, the water does not penetrate it. So, understand it: that mortal being who lacks devotional worship is just like that. ||2|| (sggs 831).
Rituals inflames our false ego-sense (Haumai). The only purpose of religion is to eliminate this egotism, not to increase it! Accordingly, the Gurbani's edict is not to go visiting such places; they only fills our mind with more filth of ego-sense (Haumai), thus, they become vexations to the Spirit. Therefore, in spite of such stern condemnation of pilgrimage and bathing at the so called sacred shrines, those who still go on undertaking them are essentially showing their back to the Gurmat (Aatam Giaan of the Gur-Shabad). Baabaa Nanak says:
  • ਸਗਲੇ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੰਜਮ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਬਦਿ ਵਸੇ ॥: Sagle karam dharam suchi sanjam jap tap tirath Sabadi vase (sggs 1332).
The Manmukh (the self-willed, unwise, material being ...) is likened to a gourd. As the gourd will not shed its bitterness by bathing at the so called holy places, similarly, the mental filth of a Manmukh can not be washed off by bathing at such places. This is the reason such nonsense activities are rejected in the Gurbani; because such activities are nothing but "churning of water"! If one thinks otherwise, obviously then he has no clear understanding of the Gurmat and the Lord. Because, as proclaimed by Baabaa Nanak, such person is nothing but a stubborn fanatic (ignorant being).
  • ਲਉਕੀ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਈ ॥ ਕਉਰਾਪਨੁ ਤਊ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥: Laoukee athsath teerth nhaaee. Kaouraapan taooo n jaaee ||2||: (Remember) the gourd may be washed at the sixty-eight sacred shrines, but even then, its bitterness is not removed (from inside) ||2|| (sggs 656).
  • ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਿ ਰਹੇ ॥ ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥੧॥: Mai avar giaan n dhiaan poojaa Hari Naam antari vasi rahe. Bhekh bhavnee hath n jaanaa Nanakaa sach gahi rahe ||1||: God's Name dwells deep within me, I know no other wisdom, meditation or worship. I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubbornness; O Nanak, I only hold tight to the Truth ||1|| (sggs 843).
The Pujaaree Group And Rituals

Before the coming of Baabaa Nanak, such religious nonsense (propagated by the greedy and crafty Brahmins) in the society was on the rampant — rituals such as making pilgrimage to so called sacred shrines; bathing at the so called sacred ponds (Srovars or Sar) located at these shrines; mechanical reading of scriptures without understanding a word of them; applying the so called ceremonial religious garbs and symbols to the perishable body; worship of images and embodied beings (But-Prastee and Aadam-Prastee); performing religious Kirtan and dance for material gains; and other Karamkaand such as fasting, making vows, standing naked in the water, enduring hunger and poverty, sitting cross-legged, stubbornly practicing ritualistic postures and austerities, standing on their heads, making offerings and sacred feasts, intense meditations with the body upside-down, performing external worship services, making donations to charity in pride, performing fire sacrifices, digging wells and pools, building temples, the list goes on and on.

  • ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਇ ਨ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰੈ ਗਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਹੂਣੇ ਚਲਸਹਿ ਰੋਇ ॥੨॥: Tirath naayi na utras mail. Karam dharam sabh hayumai phail. Lok pachaarai gati nahee hoyi. Naam bihoonai  chalsahi royi: Bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, filth is not washed off. Religious rituals are all just egotistical displays. By pleasing and appeasing people, no one is saved. Without the Naam, they will depart weeping (sggs 890).
  • ਬਗਾ ਬਗੇ ਕਪੜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਮੰਝਿ ਵਸੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ ਘੁਟਿ ਘੁਟਿ ਜੀਆ ਖਾਵਣੇ ਬਗੇ ਨਾ ਕਹੀਅਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥੩॥: Baggaa bagge kaparhe tirath manjh vasanni. Ghuti ghuti jeeaa khaavne bagge n kaheeani ||3||  The herons in their white feathers dwell in the sacred shrines of pilgrimage. They tear apart and eat the living beings, and so they are not called white (ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਸਾਫ ਸੁਥਰੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਹੇ ਜਾਂਦੇ) ||3|| (sggs 729).
  • ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਦੇਸਿ ਦਿਸੰਤਰਿ ਭਵਿਐ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ॥: Yoga n des disantar bhaviai Yog n tirath naaeeai: Union with God (Yoga) is not attained by wandering through native and foreign lands or bathing at places of pilgrimage (sggs 730).
Because of such corruption, the temples were turned into the dens of mammon worshippers by the Pujaaree group (priests). Why? Like vultures, the Pujaaree group prays on simpleton's ignorance to swindle money out of them. Then came Baabaa Nanak as a Spiritual storm and totally blown away these swindlers and their nonsense rituals, beliefs, and ceremonies. How did he do that? With Spiritual Wisdom (Shabad-Giaan), he torn apart the bonds of Maya of those who applied his Teaching. Breaking the pitcher of evil passions, evil-mindedness, doubt, and duality he thus brought us freedom from the slavery of Spiritual ignorance. Baabaa Nanak reminds us:
  • ਸਾਸਤ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਚਾਰਿ ਮੁਖਾਗਰ ਬਿਚਰੇ ॥ ਤਪੇ ਤਪੀਸਰ ਜੋਗੀਆ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਗਵਨੁ ਕਰੇ ॥ ਖਟੁ ਕਰਮਾ ਤੇ ਦੁਗੁਣੇ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਤਾ ਨਾਇ ॥ ਰੰਗੁ ਨ ਲਗੀ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਤਾ ਸਰਪਰ ਨਰਕੇ ਜਾਇ ॥੫॥: Saasat Simrit bed chaar mukhaabar bichaare ... (sggs 70).
Unfortunately, we are falling back into the same dark pit of Spiritual ignorance from which Baabaa Nanak rescued us. What has gone wrong? The Tenth Master was well aware of the crookedness of this Pujaaree group. If we recall the history, for this very reason he burnt some of them alive in a well at Anand Pur Sahib and Dehra Doon. Apparently — and unfortunately — not all of them got burnt! Because, since his departure, the same old Pujaaree group has made the comeback in full swing; though in different garbs, names and forms. They have virtually confined the Sikhi to organized religious places, and they have again turned these places into the dens of mammon worshippers, corruption, worthless rituals and ceremonies.
  • ਸੰਪੈ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਚਾਕਰ ਚੋਰ ॥: Sanpai kaaran chaakar chor: For the sake of wealth, some become servants and thieves (sggs 937).
  • ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਨਿਤ ਪਰ ਦਰਬੁ ਹਿਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਚੁਰਾਇਆ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਤਿਨ ਕੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਤ ਕਰਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇਆ ॥: Bhalke uth nit pardarb hirhi Hri Naam churaya. Hari jiyu tin kee sangat mat karhu rakh lehu Hari raya: They rise early in the morning, to cheat and steal from others; they hide from God. O Dear God, let me not even associate with them; save me from them. (sggs 1244).
There are two types of ignorant people in the world: the one is illiterate ignorant, and the second one is educated ignorant. Since they both are devoid of the Intuitive Understanding (Aatma-Gian), they are relatively easy pray to the materially clever Pujaaree Group. Consequently, many of us have fallen back into the fold of same worthless nonessentials — empty rituals and ceremonies from which we were freed by Baabaa Nanak.
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਰਮੀਜੈ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਸੂਚਾ ਕਿਆ ਸੋਚ ਕਰੀਜੈ ॥: Antar mail tirath bharmeejai. Mann nahee soochaa kiaa soch kareejai: By wandering around at places of pilgrimage with filth (Bikaars) within, the mind does not become pure. There is so use of performing ritual cleansings (ਤੀਰਥ- ਇਸਨਾਨ ) (sggs 905).
The Manmukh And Pilgrimage

The Gurbani repeatedly reminds us that whosoever makes pilgrimages is none other than a Manmukh — a spiritually unwise, untrue, self-centered, materialistic, self-willed, materially corrupt being, Mayadhaaree, etc. In other words, as the Gurbani puts it, the Manmukh is a "stupid" being; for he does not understand the Gur-Shabad at all. The reason he does not understand Gur- Shabad (or Naam) is that his deluded mind is tied with the knot of false ego-sense (Haumai) and Maya. Afflicted with this grave disease, the Manmukhs stubbornly practice useless rituals and ceremonies. They wear religious robes and apply religious symbols to their bodies, which further increase their mindless pride.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਝੀ ਕਿਛੂ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਅੰਤਿ ਗਇਆ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ ॥੩॥:||2||Manmukhi ih mann mughad hai sojhee kishoo na paai. Har kaa naam n bujhaee NT Gaiaa pashutaai ||3||: This mind of the Manmukh (materialistis, self-willed, etc.) is so stupid; he does not obtain any understanding at all. he does not understand (value - ਕਦਰ - of the) God's Name; he departs repenting in the end ||3|| (sggs 491).
  • ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਕਥੇ ਸੁਣੇ ਹਾਰੇ ਮੁਨੀ ਅਨੇਕਾ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਬਹੁ ਘਣਾ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਭੇਖਾ ॥ ਸਾਚੋ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੋ ਮਨਿ ਮਾਨੈ ਏਕਾ ॥੧॥: Bed puraan kathe sunai haare munee anekaa. Athsath tirath bahu ghanaa bharmi thaake bhekhaa. Saacho saahib niramalo mani maanai ekaa ||1||: Reciting and listening to (scriptures) the Vedas, Puraanas (etc.), countless wise men have grown weary. So many in their various religious robes have grown weary, wandering to the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage (they could not please or realize God). The True Lord is Pure; He is satisfied only by the Pure mind. ||1|| (sggs 1008).
According to the Gurbani, the Manmukh being is a beast. Just as the deer is unaware of the presence of musk within his body, the Manmukh also is unaware of the Essence of the Absolute Reality ever present within his body. However, the scriptures affirm that the True and the Wise (the Gurmukhs) do not go to pilgrimages since they are pure inside. To the contrary, the Manmukh filled with the poisonous lava of ego-sense inside repeatedly visits such places.
  • ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਰਮਿ ਵਿਗੂਚਹਿ ਕਿਉ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਪਾਪੈ ॥੩॥: Athsath tirath bharmi vigoochahi kiyu mal dhopai paapai ||3||: Wandering to the eixty-eight shrines of pilgrimage, (Manmukh, ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ, etc.) is ruined. How can the filth of sin be washed away (by wandering to the pilgrim places)? ||3|| (sggs 1013).
  • ਭੇਖ ਅਨੇਕ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਬੁਝੈ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਉਪਾਵ ਦਰਗਹ ਨਹੀ ਸਿਝੈ ॥: Bhekh anek agan nahee boojhai. Koti upaav dargah nahee sijhai: Wearing various religious robes, the fire (of desire) is not extinguished; even making millions of (such) efforts, one will not be accepted in the Court of the Lord (sggs 266).
Thus, Manmukhs with their evil mind and thievish bodies, go to bathe at the pilgrim places. The outer part of their body filth does get washed off by bathing at such places, however they end up accumulating twice as much of inner or mental filth. Like gourds, they may be washed off on the outside, but on the inside, they ever remain filled with poison of falsehood. To the contrary, a Spiritual Being (the Gurmukh) is blessed even without such bathing; while a thief remains a thief, no matter how much he bathes.
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਹਾ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੈਲੁ ॥ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਵਿਆਪੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਾ ਮੂਲੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਪੂਲੁ ॥੨॥: Tirath naai kahaa suchi sail. Mann kayu viyaapai hayumai mai.Koti karam bandhan kaa mool. Hari ke bhajan bin birathaa pool ||2||: How can a stone (stone-hearted person, ਪੱਥਰ-ਦਿਲ ਮਨੁੱਖ) be purified by bathing at a sacred shrine of pilgrimage? The filth of egotism clings to the his mind (that I have bathed and/or visited this shrine or that shrine, etc.). Millions of rituals and actions (such as wandering at pilgrim places, ਤੀਰਥ-ਜਾਤ੍ਰਾ ਆਦਿਕ ਮਿਥੇ ਹੋਏ) taken are the root of (ego or Haumai's) entanglements. Without meditating on God's Name, the mortal gathers only worthless bundles of straw (ਇਹ ਮਿਥੇ ਹੋਏ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਕਰਮ ਮਨੁੱਖ ਦੇ ਸਿਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਵਿਅਰਥ ਪੰਡ ਹੀ ਹਨ) ||2|| (sggs 1149).
  • ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥: Je jaanas Brahamam karmam. Sabh Fokat nisachau karmam: If one knew the Nature of God, he would know that all of these beliefs and rituals are in vain (sggs 470).

The root cause of Manmukh's suffering is selfishness, worldly love or attachment (Mayaic lifestyle). His selfish desires originate from ignorance of his Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). Fulfillment of each desire leads to further greed, and non-fulfillment to anger. Clearly, actions performed in material bondage (Mayaic efforts) do not result in purifying the mind at all. In other words, neither selfish nor ritualistic actions are cure to man's mental diseases and resulting suffering. However, due to the perverted understanding, the Manmukh undertakes pilgrimage in futile hope to cure his suffering. This will never happen, declares the Gurbani.

Material selfishness and doubts are the sense of separateness between the parmaatam and man. The living entity separated from the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...) is called Manmukh in the Gurbani. Thus, the Manmukh and his doubts and selfishness are one and the same. He is neither interested in the Intuitive Understanding, nor devotion. As such, with his external and superficial (false) efforts, he remains engrossed in material contamination. His consciousness remains stubborn within, and his speech remains insipid. Because of his selfishness, he is unable to associate with Sat (Truth). His actions are useless like the elephant, who takes a bath and then a moment later rolls in the dust again.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਲੈ ਜਲਾਇ ॥: Manmukh karam kamaavane haumai jalai jalaai: By engaging in Manmukh activities (materiallistic, self-centered, ਮਨਮੁਖਤਾ ਵਾਲੇ ਕਰਮ, etc.), (one) only burns in Haumai (egotism) (sggs 68).
  • ਤੀਰਥ ਵਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕਰਹਿ ਉਦਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਕਥਹਿ ਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਿਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਇਆ ॥੧੩॥: Tirathvarat nem karahi udiaanaa ..: (by becoming renunciate - ਤਿਆਗੀ ਬਣ ਕੇ - some) visit sacred shrines of pilgrimage, make vows to keep fasts and live in the forest. (they) practice chastity, charity and self-discipline, and speak of spiritual wisdom. But without God's Name, how can anyone find Sukha (ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ)? Without the Satguru, doubt is not dispelled ||13|| (sggs 1043).
From ignorance comes the perception of individuality (false ego-sense). Thus, unaware of his true aim in life, the Manmukh wastes his life in addiction to enjoying the material senses. Consequently, he ends up doing everything contrary to the Dvivne Teaching of the Gurmat (Aatam Giaan). Under the spell of ignorance and delusion, he entertains the wrong notion that his material body is the real Self. This  false or mistaken identity is the seed of mental delusion, whose nature is conceptualization, which is the cause of  his sorrows and repeated pain and delusion.

In spite of the Gurbani's repeated rejection of any and all types of rituals, religious garbs, and ceremonies, the Manmukhs keep practicing them because they think the Supreme Lord is just as foolish and ignorant as they are. Being slave of their sensory apparatus, the Manmukh's emotional attachment to the sense objects makes his mental conditioning more and more dense. Such sense-blind mind is likened to a camel. For example, the camel eats thorny bushes even though it makes his mouth bleed. Similarly, the mind of a passion and ignorance-obsessed man indulges in all sorts of rituals for sense gratification even though he suffers. However, the Lord is not a toy or a plaything. As such, the Gurbani tells us the lord cannot be won over by Karamkaands or worldly entanglements (Mayaic efforts). In fact, it is the Karamkaands that have led to our separation from our Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...) in the first place! Therefore, the Gurbani affirms that, without the True Name (Giaan, Divine Knowledge...), all religious rituals and wearing are like decorations on a dead body. Without the True Name, there is nothing in this world that can render us Pure. Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਰਾਗੀ ਨਾਦੀ ਬੇਦਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਜੋਗਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੋਗੀ ਕੀਤੈ ਰੋਜਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ...॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਸੁੰਨਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਭੇੜਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਭਿੜਿ ਸੂਰ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਕੇਤੇ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਧੂੜ ॥ ਲੇਖਾ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਮਨ ਕੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੀਜੈ ਸਾਚੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੨॥ : Mahalaa 1 || Na Bheejai raagee naadee Bedi ...: Mahalaa 1. (God) is not won over by playing music, singing songs or reading (scriptures such as) the Vedas (etc.). He is not won over by Giaan (knowledge, Giaan Charchaa - ਗਿਆਨ-ਚਰਚਾ, etc.), meditation or practicing Yoga. He is not won over by feeling sad and depressed forever. He is not won over by beauty, wealth and pleasures (ਰੰਗ-ਤਮਾਛੇ ਵਿਚ ਰੁੱਝਿਆਂ). He is not won over by wandering naked or (visiting) sacred shrines. He is not won over by giving donations in charity. He is not won over by living alone in the wilderness. (God) is not won over by fighting and dying as a warrior in battle i.e., by becoming a martyr or Shaheed. He is not won over by rubbing dust (to the body - some rub ashes to the body). (one is) judged by the state of his mind. O Nanak, the Lord is won over only by His Name ||2|| (sggs 1237).
  • ਸਾਚ ਬਿਨਾ ਕਹ ਹੋਵਤ ਸੂਚਾ ॥: Saach bina kah hovat soochaa: Without the Truth, how can anyone be pure? (sggs 269).
The True Pilgrimage

As revealed by the Gurbani in the preceding verses, visiting all sorts of shrines is the false pilgrimage. Bathing in ponds, making donations or charities in ignorance, performing all sorts of ritualistic acts, and so on, is nothing but a naked show of one's false ego-sense (Haume). As declared in the Gurbani, since this sort of false activities are in the mode of ignorance, the Lord is not pleased (or Realized) by them at all.

  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਾ ਜੇ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਭਾਣੇ ਕਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਰੀ ॥: Theerath naavaa jae tis bhaavaa vin bhaanae ki naae karee: If I become pleasing to the Lord, then that is my pilgrimage and cleansing bath. Without pleasing Him, what good are ritual cleansings (ਭਾਵ, ਜੇ ਇਸ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਪਰਮਾਤਮ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਨ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ, ਤਾਂ ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ ਇਸਨਾਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਕੀ ਖੱਟਿਆ)? (sggs 2).
  • ਬਰਤ ਸੰਧਿ ਸੋਚ ਚਾਰ ॥ ਕ੍ਰਿਆ ਕੁੰਟਿ ਨਿਰਾਹਾਰ ॥ ਅਪਰਸ ਕਰਤ ਪਾਕਸਾਰ ॥ ਨਿਵਲੀ ਕਰਮ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰ ॥ ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਕਰਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਤੁਲਿ ਨ ਲਾਗੇ ॥: Brat sandhi sovh chaar. Kriaa kunt niraahaar. Apras karat paaksaar. Nivalee karam bahu bisthaar. Bhoop deep karte Hari Naam tul  na laage: (O my mind) fasts, prayers (ਸੰਧਿਆ), bodily purification (ablutions, etc.), performing Karma, wandering in four directions (ਚਾਰ ਕੁੰਟਾਂ), living without food, cooking food without touching anyone (ਬਾਹਰਲੀ ਸੁੱਚਤਾ), Nivalee Karam (ਨਿਵਲੀ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਨਾ - ਆਂਦਰਾਂ ਦਾ ਅੱਭਿਆਸ), making a similarly great show, burning incense and devotional lamps — none of these are equal to the Lord’s Name (sggs 1229).
This brings us to the following question: what is the true pilgrimage and bathing then? As asserted by the Gurbani, the true pilgrimage is none other than the unbroken Shabad-Vichaar, which leads to Aatam Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom).
  • ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸਿਆ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Tirathu hamraa Hari ko Naamu. Guri updesiaa tattu giaanu ||1||Rahaaou||: God's Name is my sacred shrine of pilgrimage. The Guru has instructed me in this True Essence of spiritual Wisdom (Aatmic-Giaan; ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦਾ ਇਹ ਨਿਚੋੜ - ਗਿਆਨ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1142).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: Teerathi naavan jaaou teerathu naamu hai ...: (I also) go to bathe (ਤੀਰਥ ਉਤੇ ਇਸਨਾਨ) at sacred shrines of pilgrimage (but, for me) the Lord's Name is the pilgrimage. To Reflect on the Shabad (contemplation, Shabad-Vichaar: ਸਬਦ ਨੂੰ ਵਿਚਾਰ-ਮੰਡਲ ਵਿਚ ਟਿਕਾਣਾ, etc.) is the pilgrimage (for me, because of this) Spiritual Wisdom (Aatamic-Giaan) arises within me (sggs 687).
  • ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥: Aath pahar simarahu prabh Naam. Anik tirath majan isnaan: Twenty-four hours a day, meditate in remembrance on God’s Name. In it are the many sacred shrines of pilgrimage and cleansing baths (sggs 184).

This leads us to yet another question: where is this true place of pilgrimage and ablution located? "Within this human body", reveals the Gurbani.

Apparently, not too many truly believe the Gurbani. Otherwise, why we should be wasting our time and energy in traveling and visiting all the external (unreal) places of pilgrimage like vultures.

It is interesting to note that, although making external pilgrimage to shrines has been repudiated by the Gur-Shabad, still it is being glorified and advertised by the Sikhs in the newspapers, magazines, Internet, other media outlets (for example, "Hemkund Yatra", and so on). Obviously, either such people have no understanding of the Gurbani, or they have no faith in it, or on account of their ignorance and selfishness (Manmukhtaa), they just don't care! Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: Sach taa par jaaneeai jaa atam tirath kare nivaas: One knows the Truth (ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ) only when he dwells in the sacred shrine of pilgrimage of his own Soul within (sggs 468).
How can we Realize the true pilgrimages within? It's very simple, indicates the Gurbani. All we have to do is join the friendship of Sat (Truth), within through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar. It is as simple as winking of an eye or crushing of a flower in the palm! It's so because Truth is very simple and open to all. It is simply loving the Self which is hidden within the body! However, it is the deluded mind that makes simple things complicated because it will read complex and far-fetched meanings in simple truth. Thus, it's the pastime of the deluded mind to look for cause for everything. People want complexity because they are not contented with simplicity. This is why so many religions and sects have come into existence with their own complex adherents and antagonists! Only spiritually awakened and mature can grasp the simple Truth in all its nakedness.
  • ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਅਨਦ ਉਪਜੇ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਬਨੀ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਉਦਮੁ ਕੀਆ ਤਾਲ ਕੇਰਾ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਉਪਮਾ ਕਿਆ ਗਨੀ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਪੁੰਨ ਕਿਰਿਆ ਮਹਾ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਾਵਨੁ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਬਦ ਅਧਾਰਾ ॥੩॥: Gun gaai Gobind anand upjai saadh sangati sangi banee ...: Singing the God's Glorious Praises, Bliss wells up within, and in the Saadh Sangat, the Holy Company, we remain (in love with the Truth). He who made the effort (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਨਾਮ-ਜਲ ਭਰਨ ਦਾ) to construct this sacred pool with the body — how can his praises be recounted? The merits of the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, charity, good deeds and immaculate lifestyle, are found in this sacred (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਨਾਮ-ਜਲ ਨਾਮ ਭਰਪੂਰ) pool within. Says Nanak! By giving the Support of the Shabad, it is the natural way of the Lord to purify sinners (sggs 784).
Transiency is the proof of unreality of this world and its objects (Maya). All the external places of pilgrimage being fleeting (Maya) will vanish one day. Therefore, it is proclaimed by the Gurbani that the Real Place of pilgrimage is within the body, the Eternal Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). All else is a passing show. Those "excellent people" who have realized the "true pilgrimage" within are truly Wise (the Gurmukh) and truely contented, immersed in the Naam or Shabad-Surti.
  • ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Sach varat santokh teerath giaan dhian isnaan. Daya devta khimaa japmaalee te manas pardhaan: The most excellent people (Pardhaan) are those persons who make truth their fasting, contentment their pilgrim-station, cognition and meditation their ablution, compassion their deity, and forgiveness their rosary (sggs 1245).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਮਜਨੁ ਨਾਈ ॥: Tirath athsath majanu naaee: Instead of bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, take your cleansing bath in the Naam (Giaan, Divine Knowledge...). (sggs 1263).
  • ਤੀਰਥ ਦੇਖਿ ਨ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਪੈਸਉ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਨ ਸਤਾਵਉਗੋ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰੂ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਉਗੋ ॥੩॥: Tirath dekhi n jal mahi paisaou jeea jant n sataavaougo. Athsath tirath Guroo dikhaae ghat hee bheetar nhaaougo ||3||: I do not go to see sacred shrines of pilgrimage, or bathe in their waters; I do not bother any beings or creatures. The Guroo has shown me the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage within my own heart (ਆਤਮ-ਤੀਰਥ), where (ਆਤਮ-ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ) I now take my cleansing bath ||3|| (sggs 973).

— T. Singh