Aatam Tirath

Aatam (ਆਤਮ) = one’s own soul, personal, pertaining to one’s own self…

Tirath (ਤੀਰਥ) = a sacred place, a place of pilgrimage, a holy spot, a shrine…

Combining these two terms:

Aatam Tirath (ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥ) = one’s own soul, personal, pertaining to one’s own self… + a sacred place, a place of pilgrimage, a holy spot, a shrine…

The Gurbani asserts that one knows the real Truth (ਧੁਰ-ਅੰਦਰਲੀ ਅਸਲੀਅਤ) only when one dwells in his own Aatam Tirath (ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥ), within (ਅੰਦਰਲੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ).

  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: Sachu taan paru jaaneeai jaa aatam teerathi kare nivaasu: One knows the Truth (ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ) only when he dwells in the sacred shrine of pilgrimage of his own Soul within. (sggs 468). 

But how? In other words, how can one go about making the Inner sacred shrine of his own soul (ਅੰਦਰਲੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ) his abode, the place of his dwelling? The Gurbani answers as follows:

  • ਪੰਚ ਭੂ ਆਤਮਾ ਵਸਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਤਾ ਤੀਰਥ ਕਰਹਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥੨॥ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਝੀ ਕਿਛੂ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਅੰਤਿ ਗਇਆ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ ॥੩॥: Panch bhoo aatmaa vasi karahi taa tirath karahi nivaasu. ||2|| Manmukhi ih manu mughadu hai sojhee kishoo n paai. Har kaa naamu n bujhaee ant gaiaa pashutaai ||3||: If you overcome the mind (born of) five elements (material nature or Maya), then you will come to have a home at the true place of pilgrimage-Aatmaan (soul). ||2|| This mind of the Manmukh (materialistik, 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). 

To dwell in one’s own Aatam Tirath (ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥ-ਅੰਦਰਲੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ), the requirement as indicated by the Gurbani is to overcome the mind sunk in Bikaars (passions, material nature, Maya…). Five passions are: lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride (and, of course, their countless variations). Once the five passions (along with there numerous variations) are overcome, then and only then one becomes established in his own sacred Inner Abode (Aatam Tirath -ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥ) – then it like you are dwelling at a Tirath (ਕਾਮਾਦਿਕ ਪੰਜਾਂ ਦੇ ਵੱਸ ਵਿਚ ਆਏ ਹੋਏ ਮਨ ਨੂੰ ਆਪਣੇ ਵੱਸ ਵਿਚ ਕਰ ਲਏਂ, ਤਾਂ ਤੂੰ ਤੀਰਥਾਂ ਉਤੇ ਹੀ ਨਿਵਾਸ ਕਰ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈਂ।). Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਜਾਂ ਪੰਚ ਰਾਸੀ ਤਾਂ ਤੀਰਥ ਵਾਸੀ ॥੧॥: ||1|| Jaan panch raasee taan teerath vaasee ||1||: When you conquer the five passions (ਪੰਜ ਕਾਮਾਦਿਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਰਾਸ ਕਰ ਲੈਣਾਂ, ਵੱਸ ਵਿਚ ਕਰ ਲੈਣਾਂ), then you will come to dwell at the sacred shrine of pilgrimage. ||1|| (sggs 356). 

In nutshell, to realize the Truth, one has to be established in the sacred shrine of his own soul (ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥ-ਅੰਦਰਲੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ). But, to be established in the sacred shrine of his own soul, one has to overcome his passions-Kaam, Krodh,Lobh,Moh,and Hankaar.

All this cannot be accomplished by merely visiting the external or man-made shrines or spots of pilgrimage. This is the Gurbani’s edict.

  • ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਰਮਿ ਵਿਗੂਚਹਿ ਕਿਉ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਪਾਪੈ ॥੩॥: Athsath teerath bharmi vigoochahi kiou malu dhopai paapai ||3||: Wandering to the sixty-eight shrines of pilgrimage, (Manmukh, ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ, etc.) is ruined. (By wandering to the pilgrim places) How can the filth of Paap be washed away? ||3|| (sggs 1013). 

In fact, the Gurbani tells us that this is how the one of false mind practices falsehood. Why? because it’s easier to go and visit shrines than overcoming one’s Bikaars (passions)!

  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਨੋ ਫਿਰੈ ਤਪਾ ਸਦਾਵੈ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Mann kaa jhoothaa jhoothu kamaavai. Maya no phirai tapaa sadaavai. Bharme bhoolaa sabhi teerath 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). 

The indication of the Gurbani is towards the Giaan-Teerath, which is revealed by the Satgur within. Bathing in it, the mind becomes pure.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ॥ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਈ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ॥: Antari teerathu giaanu hai satigur deeaa bujhaai. Mail gaee manu nirmalu hoaa amrit sari teerathi naai:Deep within is the sacred shrine (Teerath) of Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom…), which the Satgur has revealed. Bathing in (this sacred shrine), the pool of Amrit, filth of the mind (filth of passions, Bikaars…) is removed and it becomes pure. (sggs 587).
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