Pilgrimage Defined

In media, we often come across commercials/advertisements about this Teerath Yaatraa or that Teerath Yaatraa (ਤੀਰਥ-ਯਾਤਰਾ – pilgrimage). What is the true Pilgrimage according to the Gurbani?

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, 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||  (sggs 789).
  • 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 (sggs 662).
  • ਕੋਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨ ਇਸਨਾਨਾ ਇਸੁ ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥: Koti tirath majan isnaanaa is kal mahi mail bhreejai (sggs 747).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਜੀਉ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵੈ ਦਿਸੰਤਰ ਲੋਇ ॥: Jis jiou antar mailaa hoi. Tirath bhavai disantar loi (sggs 1169).
  • ਨ੍ਹਾਤ ਫਿਰਿਓ ਲੀਏ ਸਾਤ ਸਮੁਦ੍ਰਨਿ ਲੋਕ ਗਯੋ ਪਰਲੋਕ ਗਵਾਇਓ ॥: Naat phirio leee saat samundaran lok gayo parlok gavaaio (Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Savaiye 9).

As indicated in the Gurbani, the Manmukh (materialistic, self-willed, denier of truthful living…) person is a “stupid” being. He is unaware of the Essence of the Absolute Reality ever present within his body just as the deer is unaware of the presence of musk within his body. On the other hand, the True and the Wise (Gurmukhs) ones do not care for pilgrimage since they are Pure inside. To the contrary, the Manmukh filled with the poisonous lava of ego-sense (Haumai) inside repeatedly visits such places.

  • 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 ta tirath karahi nivaas. ||2||Manmukhi ih mann mughad hai sojhee kishoo na paai. Har kaa naam n bujhaee NT Gaiaa pashutaai ||3|| (sggs 491).

As time and again revealed in the Gurbani, visiting all sorts of shrines (pilgrimage: Teerath-Yaatraa, ਤੀਰਥ -ਇਸਨਾਨ, ਤੀਰਥ-ਯਾਤਰਾ, etc.) 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, God is not pleased (or Realized) by them at all.

This brings us to the following question: According to the Gurbani, what is the true pilgrimage and bathing?

As defined in the Gurbani, the true pilgrimage is none other than the unbroken meditation (Japa or Naam-Simran), coupled with the true love and complete involvement of the mind.

The Gurbani defines the true “Teerath” (the shrine of pilgrimage) as follows:

  • ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸਿਆ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Tirath hamraa Hari ko Naam. Gur updesiaa tatt giaan ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 1142).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: Teerath naavan jaaou teerath naam hai … (sggs 687).
  • ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥: Aath pahar simarahu prabh Naam. Anik tirath majan isnaan (sggs 184).
  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: Sach taa par jaaneeai jaa atam tirath kare nivaas (sggs 468).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਮਜਨੁ ਨਾਈ ॥: Tirath athsath majan naaee (sggs 1263).
  • ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰੂ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਉਗੋ ॥੩॥: Tirath dekhi n jal mahi paisaou jeea jant n sataavaougo. Athsath tirath Guru dikhaae ghat hee bheetar nhaaougo ||3 (sggs 973).

Thus, all pilgrimages are in the Naam (Gur-Shabad, Aatm-Giaa, …), through which – by becoming the Gurmukh – one realizes the “sixty-eight” places of pilgrimage within his own Heart.

  • ਸਚਾ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ॥ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਤਿਤੁ ਨਾਤੈ ਮਲੁ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚਾ ਹੈ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਨਾ ਮਲੁ ਲਗੈ ਨ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਸਚੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਚੀ ਸਾਲਾਹ ਪੂਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਏ ॥੫॥: Sachaa teerath jit satt sari naavan gurmukhi aap bujhaaey… (sggs 753).
Pilgrimage Defined was last modified: December 13th, 2011 by T. Singh
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Filed Under: Gurbani, Pilgrimage, Ablutions
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1 comment Leave a comment

  1. Harbans Lal

    well said, thank you for this enlightenment. I hope I clergy learn from it and do not permit unSikh rituals to faten their pockets.

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