Gurbani Defines True Teerath Or Place Of Pilgrimage In Sikhi

The Gurbani indicates that the external places or shrines of pilgrimage(Tirath – pronounced Teerath) have become polluted with falsehood and corruption (of Maya)! Therefore, the Gurbani tells us that undertaking pilgrimage to these so called sacred shrines is nothing but “worldly affairs”, “egotistical displays”, oblivion in “doubt”, mundane business, acts of pleasing and appeasing other people (ਦੁਨੀਆ ਨੂੰ ਹੀ ਪਤਿਆਉਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਕੰਮ), etc.!

  • ਥਾਨਸਟ ਜਗ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਹੋਏ ਡੂਬਤਾ ਇਵ ਜਗੁ ॥: The holy places of worship in the world are polluted, and so the world is drowning (sggs 662).
  • ਗੰਗਾ ਗਇਆ ਗੋਦਾਵਰੀ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੇ ਕਾਮਾ ॥: Pilgrimages to (Teerath Asthaan like Ganges, Gaya and Godawari (etc.) are merely worldly affairs (sggs 1195).
  • ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Deluded by doubt (he) visits all Teerath (external shrines of pilgrimage). (sggs 1142).
  • ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਇ ਨ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: Bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, filth (i.e., egotism, Bikaar…) is not washed off. Religious rituals (Karamkaand) are all just egotistical displays (sggs 890).
  • ਬਗਾ ਬਗੇ ਕਪੜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਮੰਝਿ ਵਸੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥ ਘੁਟਿ ਘੁਟਿ ਜੀਆ ਖਾਵਣੇ ਬਗੇ ਨਾ ਕਹੀਅਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ॥੩॥: The herons in their white feathers inhabit in places of pilgrimage. They tear apart and eat the living beings, and so they are not called white (i.e., here the Gurbani’s wink is towards people at these places of pilgrimage). ||3|| (sggs 729).

Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib’s edict is that the “Pothee-ਪੋਥੀ” (Sri Guru Granth Sahib-Adi Birh) is the Abode of “Parmesar” (the Transcendent Principle).

  • ਪੋਥੀ ਪਰਮੇਸਰ ਕਾ ਥਾਨੁ ॥: This “Pothee” (SGGS-Adi Birh) is the Abode (ਸਰੂਪ, Place, etc.) of the Transcendent Lord (i.e., Place to Realize Parmaatam). (sggs 1226).

Then, based on this “Pothee” (NOT based on fool-o-sophy), what’s the true place or shrine of pilgrimage in Skhi (Teerath-Asthaan)? Baabaa Nanak’s edict is:

  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: Go bathe at the Teerath, (and that Teerath is) the Naam-Teerath. To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar…) is the Teerath, (because of this) Spiritual Wisdom arises within (sggs 687).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਸ ਪੁਰਬ ਸਦਾ ਦਸਾਹਰਾ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is Eternal sacred shrine of pilgrimage (for me, which is equal to) the congregation of ten (Holy days or festivals for me). (sggs 687).

Now, let’s ask the Gurbani how to realize or know this Real Teerath within.

For this to happen, the Gurbani asks us to engage in Shabad-Vichaar with Heart and Soul (“ਗੁਰ ਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਹੀਅਰੈ ਬਾਸੈ”). Which in turn will give rise to the Divine Wisdom in the mind (“ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਮਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਧਰਹੁ”). When that Spiritual Knowledge becomes assimilated in daily life, there is the “Darshan” of the True Teerath within. In other words, ONLY the Shabad-Vichaar can lead us to the Gurmukh-hood and true Teerath, within.

  • ਸਚਾ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਤਿਤੁ ਨਾਤੈ ਮਲੁ ਜਾਏ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh oneself, understand as to what the True Teerath is and in which to bathe. Gur-Shabad shows the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage (within the Gur-Shabad); bathing in (this Teerath of the Gur-Shabad or Gur-Wisdom), filth is washed away (i.e., inner filth of Bikaar…). (sggs 753).

Thus, the Wisdom of the Gurbani has attached paramount importance to the necessity of internal cleanliness, not the external one. The Gurbani is like the Ocean, and we are told to dive deep into the Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani-Ocean. Here is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ):

  • ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ॥: (O Inaccessible and Imperceptible to the senses Prabhoo!) No one can bring You under control by bathing at Teerath (sggs 962).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸਮੁੰਦੁ ਨ ਛੋਡੀਐ ਜਉ ਅਤਿ ਖਾਰੋ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਪੋਖਰਿ ਪੋਖਰਿ ਢੂਢਤੇ ਭਲੋ ਨ ਕਹਿਹੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੫੦॥: O Kabir! Do not leave the Ocean (of the Gurbani…), though it be very saline (i.e., difficult, bitter-truth…). (Instead, if you keep) searching in ponds, no one will call you smart ||50|| (sggs 1367).
  • ਕਿਆ ਬਗੁ ਬਪੁੜਾ ਛਪੜੀ ਨਾਇ ॥ ਕੀਚੜਿ ਡੂਬੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: What can the poor crane accomplish by bathing in a small pond? (It accomplishes nothing, instead it) sinks into the mire, and its filth is not washed away (i.e., the Gurbani’s winkia towards those who, instead of bathing in the Ocean of the Gurbani, visits all sorts of places of pilgrimage. This way they end up accumulating more filth – Bikaar, etc.). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 685).

Therefore, according to the Gurbani, a Sikh is always supposed to wash off the filth of his mind through the Shabad-Vichaar (Naam, Divine Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad…).

  • ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਧੋਵਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: (Pure and unique Bhagti is) to wash the mind, and the body (i.e., senses: eyes, ears, etc.) with Shabad-Vichaar (sggs 1059).

How simple and crystal clear — the Gurbani has left no shred of doubt! Undeniably and unmistakably, Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani (Giaan) is the true Teerath in Sikhi — Giaan-Teerath.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ॥: Deep within is the Teerath of Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom…), which the Satigur has revealed (sggs 587).

On account of doubts (Bharam), however, the Gurbani says the Manmukhs (deniers of Truth…) don’t believe all this.

  • ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਰਤਨਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਮਾਣਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: This body is the “Harmandir” (Hari’s Temple, but this secret) is revealed by the Jewel of the Divine Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan, Brahm Giaan, Divine Knowledge …). The Manmukhs do not know their Mool (Origin, Source, Root…); (on account of this ignorance, they) do not believe that the “Harmandir” is within the human (body). ||2|| (sggs 1346).

What’s the result? Lets’s ask the Gurbani — according to the Gurbani, the result is that, attached to Maya, the Manmukhs wander at all of external Teerath. The Gurbani stresses that the more one wanders around at Teerath, the more “filth” (Haumai, ego, Bikaar, greed, etc.) one accumulates within!

  • ਨਾਵਣ ਚਲੇ ਤੀਰਥੀ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੈ ਤਨਿ ਚੋਰ ॥ ਇਕੁ ਭਾਉ ਲਥੀ ਨਾਤਿਆ ਦੁਇ ਭਾ ਚੜੀਅਸੁ ਹੋਰ ॥: (Men of) evil mind and thievish bodies (body occupied 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.).  (sggs 789).

As noted earlier, according to the Gurbani, the True Teerath within can only be realized through the Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan), cultivated through the Shabad-Vichaar.

  • ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸਿਆ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The Hari Naam is my Teerath. The Guru has instructed me in this True Essence of spiritual Wisdom (Aatmic-Giaan – ਗਿਆਨ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1142).

Understandably, the Gurbani’s Divine Wisdom teaches us NOT to wander around at any external places called Teerath-Asthaan.

  • ਤੀਰਥ ਦੇਖਿ ਨ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਪੈਸਉ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਨ ਸਤਾਵਉਗੋ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰੂ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਉਗੋ ॥੩॥: I neither go to see sacred shrines of pilgrimage (Teerath), nor bathe in their waters, nor bother any beings or creatures (living in those waters). The Guroo (Gur-Shabad, Gur-Wisdom…), has shown me the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage within my Heart; so I take cleansing bath there (in my own Soul – ਆਤਮ-ਤੀਰਥ ਉੱਤੇ). ||3|| (sggs 973).
  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: One knows the Truth (ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ) only when he dwells in the sacred shrine of pilgrimage of his own Soul within (sggs 468).

Now, the question is: Why then many Sikhs (educated and uneducated alike) defy the Gurbani — wander around doing exactly that, which has been time and again repudiated (Khandan) by the Gurbani?

Let’s ask the Gurbani again for the answer. The Gurbani reveals that the Manmukh people imitate others — people see, people do (“Dekhaa Dekhee”). In other words, most people behave on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process, which causes people to copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to look good (ਲੋਕਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਚੰਗਾ ਅਖਵਾਣ ਵਾਸਤੇ)!

  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸਭ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: The Manmukh (who hs no understanding of the Gurmat…) does everything seeing (other people do…), but he (himself) has no understanding (he does not understand the true way of living, ਸਹੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਜੀਊਣ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ…). (sggs 28).

Simply put: The Gurbani tells us that people do things seeing others do (e.g., seeing Pandits Sikhs do it too!). Understandably, the Gurbani says crowds and crowds of people follow the path of Pakhandvaad (the path of hypocrisy, fraud, Karamkaand, rituals, religious ceremonies, etc.).

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਹ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਗਏ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਰੀ ਬਹੀਰ ॥ ਇਕ ਅਵਘਟ ਘਾਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਹ ਚੜਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਕਬੀਰ ॥੧੬੫॥: O Kabeer! The crowds follow the path which the Pandits have taken (the path of falsehood, Pakhand, Karamkaand…). (But) There is a rugged or precipitous cliff on the way to “Raam” (Mool, Source, Truth…); Kabeer is climbing that cliff (alone!). ||165|| (sggs 1373).

So the Gurbani’s Hukam demands freezing the mind. Water stops spreading around once frozen in a block of ice. Similarly, the Gurbani says the mind stops wandering around or spreading around once frozen with the Brahm-Giaan (Spiritual Knowledge). For the Gur-Shabad is like ice (“ਹਿਵ ਸੀਤਲੁ ਸਬਦੁ”) that cools the mind with Aatam-Giaan (Wisdom or Divine Knowledge of the Gurbani…).

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਸਬਲ ਅਤਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਹਿਵ ਸੀਤਲੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਦੀਜੈ ॥: The powerful fire of Maya (desires, Bikaars…) is raging greatly within (Jeeva-individual beings); (O Raam!) Give (me) the ice-cold Gur-Shabad (so that the raging fire of Maya may be quenched). (sggs 1325).

In nutshell:
TEERATH = GUR-SHABAD!

Gurbani Defines True Teerath Or Place Of Pilgrimage In Sikhi was last modified: July 3rd, 2017 by T. Singh
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Filed Under: Gurbani, Gurmukh, Manmukh, imitation, ਦੇਖਾਦੇਖੀ, ਰੀਸਾਰੀਸੀ, Ishnan, bath, wash, Chulle, Pilgrimage, Ablutions, Tirath-Teerath
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T. Singh

T. Singh

He's not a "Giani", "Sant", "Baba", "Priest", "Parcharak", "Swami", "Teacher", “scholar”, "writer", "Mahatama", etc. He was neither born in such a family, nor lived with any, nor wants to be one of them. More about T. Singh »

There are 6 comments

  1. Prithvi Dhani

    Excellent article Mr. Singh Ji.
    I have noticed that from most of the articles that are presented online, the essence of the message is missing. We all need to really get to the spiritual definition of words like Gurmukh, Shabad, Naam, Satguru, etc.
    On the Very first page after giving us the definition of Naam, (Ikk Onkaar, SattNaam, Karta Purakh, Nirbhao Nirvair, Akaal Murat, Ajuni Swaibhang. The Jiguasu naturally asks how do I get this Naam, the answer from Gurbani comes that it’s gained from Gurr Parsaad, by HIS mercy only,
    Then how can I become capable of HIS mercy? the answer came
    JUPP….Meditate, repeat HIS name
    Who’s name?
    Aad Sach, Jugaad Sach, Hai bhi Sach, Nanak, Hosii bhi Sach
    This is how the Guru Granth Sahib’s Sabad Vichaar journey is displayed. Now in order to continue the journey one must follow the instructions given by the Gurbani, which Dhurr Ki baani, and if the very first instructions is not followed, the journey can not be started, just like a new born baby can not just start to walk, baby must first learn to crawl to strengthen the hips, then slow straight line walking steps to strengthen the knees, and then the true freedom of walking is realized.
    Same way Gurbani instructs the Jiguaasu to start with Jupp, that will lead to Simran, then that will lead to 3ed stage of Dhyaana, and then the final stage of Samaadhi.
    One must start the Jupp meditation to spiritually understand the baani, then the words of Gurbaani will speak to the Jiguaasu according to the stage of jouney the jiguaasu is at and at the same time will guide to the next step of the journey to merge into the Naam by transcending the Ego.
    GurrPita Nanak DevJi said it clearly like this: Pg 795

    Mann mandar….. tann vays kalandar…… ghatt hee tirath naavaa.
    (The Mind is the temple, the body is the cloth, the heard within is the holy shrine where the soul bathes in HIS memory)

    Ayk Sabad mayrai paraan basat hai…… baahurh janam na aavaa. ||1||
    (One Word that represents the Ultimate Creative Energy (Waheguru for the Sikhs, Aum for hindu, Allah-hu for muslims and other sacred words for other religions) has become the permanent resident of the memory, of each breath thru the journey of Jupp–Simran—Dhyaaana—Samaadhi. Now Nanak is 100% sure that he is not coming back thru another birth again. Now the bondage of duality of “time&space” has vanished.)

    Mann bayDhi-aa da-i-aal saytee mayree maa-ee.
    (Now the memory of HIM thru the meditation on the WORD has gone thru the heart like an arrow that goes into the heart and gets stuck, can not be taken back out.)

    ka-un jaanai peer paraa-ee.
    (This is the kind of pain, that can not be explained to anyone, it’s a bitter sweet pain. The Ego is dies and causes the pain in the beginning but ones it’s transcended, it becomes the sweetest pain ever experienced by the soul)

    hamm naahee…….. chint paraa-ee. ||1|| rahaa-o.
    (Now the Hamm/Ego is not there, therefor duality is not there either. Now its just the WORD,HIM,The Ultimate Creative Energy. Now all is ONE, tu, tu tu sirf tu he tu.)
    Therefor the GurrMukh is the one who has started the JUPP by placing the Guru, the sabad, the word, on in his mouth just like the master did and showed. Just like Nanak DevJi showed it to Bhai Lena.

  2. Bhai Harbans Lal

    If according to the Gurbani’s Divine Wisdom it is not advisable to wander around at any external places called Teerath-Asthaan, then will it not be wise to remove from the congregational ardas, seeking of Amritsar de isnnan.

    • Thank you Veer Ji for taking the time to respond.

      In fact there is also an another term – “Hatheean-ਹਠੀਆਂ”, which does not fit with the Gurmat Sidhaant. This term “Hatheean-ਹਠੀਆਂ”comes from “Hath-ਹਠ” (literally meaning self-will, mind’s obstinacy, stubborness of the mind, ਮਨ ਦਾ ਹਠ, ਮਨ ਦੀ ਹਠੀ ਮੱਤ, etc., which has been repeatedly repudiated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, but some how made its way into the formal Ardas we are familiar with today (which was standardized under the Singh Sabha Lehar and rolled out after the Gurdwara act of 1925…).

      Baabaa Nanak declares:

      • ਮਨਹਠਿ ਕੀਚੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਵਿਗੋਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: One who acts through mind’s obstinacy, is ultimately ruined. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 356).
      • ਹਠਿ ਨ ਪਤੀਜੈ ਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖੈ ॥: (Mool – Source) is not pleased by stubborn-mindedness, nor by various religious robes (sggs 686).
      • ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥੧॥: I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubbornness; O Nanak, I only hold tight to the Truth ||1|| (sggs 843).

  3. Prakash S Bagga

    BHAI HARBANS LAL ji,
    Your point of view in context of “seeking of Amritsar de isnnan.” is worth taking note of it . But one should understand that what is actually the reference meaning of a TIRATH and the meaning of Amritsar de isnnan.can not be equated to TIRATH ISNAAN .

    • Thank you Veer Ji for taking the time to respond.

      The Gurbani (SGGS) is NOT written at the level of body-consciousness, but at the level of the Aaatma, mind…

      Having said that, therefore, whenever there is a mention of Ishanaan in the Gurbani, it indicates Self-purification through the Inner Ishanaan — bathing in the Inner Pool (“Sarovar”) of the body filled with the Water of the Naam or Shabad (Aatam Giaan, Spiritual Knowledge, Virtues…). The purpose of which is to wash off the scum of false ego attached to the conditioned mind. In other words, cleansing of the mind is the perfect Ishanaan.

      • ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind is not cleaned (sggs 558).
      • ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੩॥: O saints, this (human) body is a pool (Srovar); (the man who stays connected to his Mool with) one-pointed consciousness or single mindedly, (it’s like he is) bathing (in this Srovar) ||13|| (sggs 909).

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