Teerath Yaatraa – Pilgrimage

First thing first, Teerath Yaatraa (also spelt Tirath or Tirth Yatra – ਤੀਰਥ ਯਾਤਰਾ ) is strongly repudiated in the Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS).

Defying the Gurmat, the crafty and illiterate paid clergy has converted Gurdwaras into so called Teerath!

Baabaa Nanak strongly urges us NOT to waste our time and money visiting any of the so called Teerath. Because, these are NOT the Sikhi’s real Teerath Asthaan (places of pilgrimage).

  • 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).
  • ਅਨੇਕ ਤੀਰਥ ਜੇ ਜਤਨ ਕਰੈ ਤਾ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: Although one may visit or bathe at many so called Teerath (places of pilgrimage), still, his ego (and related faults or Bikaar) never departs. (sggs 491).
  • 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).
  • ਬਾਹਰੁ ਧੋਇ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਦੁਇ ਠਉਰ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਖੋਏ ॥: (A Person who) washes outwardly but keeps his mind filthy (with Bikaar -lust, anger, greed, etc.); he loses both present and future. (sggs 381).

Because, the mind can ONLY be cleansed with the Naam (Giaan or Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…) – internal cleanliness at the Giaan-Teerath!

  • ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Our intellect or Wisdom is full of cheap / bad / inferior thoughts. It can only be cleansed (internal cleanliness) by the Love of the Divine Naam (i.e., this thinking of superstitions, delusions, hypocrisies, ਮੰਨਮੱਤੀ, ਅੰਨਮੱਤੀ, ਮੂੜਮੱਤੀ ਸੋਚ or thinking can be removed from the mind only with the Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom). (sggs 4).

The Gurbani says the external Teerath are traps to enslave human minds

Bhagat Kabeer Ji tells us that there is a trap to catch elephants, a trap to catch monkeys, a trap to catch parrots, and so on. Similarly, Bhagat Kabeer Ji warns us that there is are traps to catch the crazy human minds. These traps include many Teerath locations, many gods, and so on.

  • ਨਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਘਨੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਪੂਜਨ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਵ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੪॥੧॥੬॥੫੭॥: O crazy mind! There are so many places of pilgrimage in which to bathe, and so many gods to worship. Says Kabeer! O crazy mind, there is no liberation like this; only by serving Hari (Mool, Truth, Wisdom…) will you find liberation (from doubt, Maya…). ||4||1||6||57|| (sggs 335).

Now, according to the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, what is considered the True Teerath Or Place Of Pilgrimage in Sikhi?

According to the Gurbani — not according to the fool-o-sophy or the paid clergy — the true Teerath in the Gurmat is said to be the Naam.

  • 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; ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦਾ ਇਹ ਨਿਚੋੜ – ਗਿਆਨ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1142).
  • 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).
  • ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥: Throughout the eight watches of the day (i.e., always), remember the Naam (i.e., Giaan or Wisdom…). In it are the many sacred shrines of pilgrimage and cleansing baths. (sggs 184).

Where is this Teerath of the Gurbani located?

Baabaa Nanak made it very clear in the outset of the SGGS that this Teerath is located within. And we must go within and cleanse ourselves in this Inner Teerath.

  • ਸੁਣਿਆ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ ॥: (A person who by connecting his consciousness to Naam) listens to it,  believes it, and loves it in his mind, (know that,  that person) has thoroughly bathed in the Teerath within (i.e., he has cleansed his mind by linking with the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom). (sggs 4).
  • ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar…) is the Teerath (because of this) Spiritual Wisdom arises within (sggs 687).

Giaan (ਗਿਆਨ) = Spiritual Knowledge, Divine Wisdom, Brahm-Giaan, Aatam-Giaan, Naam, Shabad…
Teerath (ਤੀਰਥ) = A place or shrine of pilgrimage…

  • 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).

Then why do many (educated and uneducated alike) wander around at the external places called Teerath?

Again, according to the Gurbani, these people are Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree, ridden by doubt (ਭਰਮਾ ਦੇ ਪੱਟੇ ਹੋਏ), corrupt minded, ridden by Haumai (egoistic), greedy (who have reduced the Gurbani to a mere mundane business), Karamkaandee, those ignorant of the Gurbani’s true Giaan or Wisdom…

  • ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Deluded by doubt (he) visits all Teerath (external shrines of pilgrimage). (sggs 948).
  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਨੋ ਫਿਰੈ ਤਪਾ ਸਦਾਵੈ ॥ ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: The man of false mind practices falsehood. He runs after Maya, and yet pretends to be Tapaa (a devotee, a hermit, a recluse, etc.)… (sggs 1142).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਜੀਉ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵੈ ਦਿਸੰਤਰ ਲੋਇ ॥: 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).

Although ladles (ਕੜਛੀਆ) cruise through all sorts of food, but they do not know the relish of food – they just remain empty of it! Similarly, those who wander at the external Teerath have no clue as to what the Gur-Shabad (SGGS) is saying.

It’s the mind’s hunger for Maya that makes many roam around; for Maya itself is “Dolanee” like wind (“ਡੋਲਨੀ”-that wavers, roams, wanders, ਜੋ ਟਿਕਦੀ ਨਹੀ…).

How can we all realize the Teerath within as commanded by the SGGS?

Again, according to the Gurbani, the True Teerath within can be realized through the Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan) cultivated through the earnest Shabad-Vichhar.

  • ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar…) is the Teerath (because of this) Spiritual Wisdom arises within (sggs 687).
  • ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੋਵਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਮਜਨੁ ਅਪਰੰਪਰਾ ॥: The Gurdev (Giaan or Wisdom) is the (true) Teerath, the ‘Sarovar’ or pool of Amrit; the bath of the Guru’s wisdom (-water) is superior (to the bath of all other pilgrimages). (sggs 262).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ॥ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਈ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ॥: Deep within is the sacred shrine (Teerath) of Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom…), which the Satigur has revealed. Bathing in (this Teerath), the pool of Amrit, filth of the mind (filth of Bikaars…) is removed and it becomes pure. (sggs 587).

Thus, we are time and again reminded by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS that all pilgrimages or Teerath are in the Naam (Gur-Shabad, Hukam, Wisdom of the Gurbani…), through which one by becoming the Gurmukh realizes the ‘sixty-eight’ places of pilgrimage within his own Heart — Aatam-Teerath.

  • 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).
  • 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).
  • ਪੰਚ ਭੂ ਆਤਮਾ ਵਸਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਤਾ ਤੀਰਥ ਕਰਹਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥੨॥: 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||  (sggs 491).

This little story attributed to Bhagat Kabeer Sahib highlights the emptiness of Teerath Yaatraa and bathing therein.

It goes something like this: A disciple of Bhagat Kabeer Sahib asked his permission for visiting pilgrim places and taking ritual bath in their so-called holy rivers and ponds (Srovars). Kabeer gave his disciple a gourd and asked: “Please bathe this gourd wherever you bathe”. The disciple did exactly that — wherever he bathed in the so-called holy waters of Teerath places, he also bathed the gourd. Upon his returning from the pilgrimage, he gave the gourd back to Bhagat Kabeer Sahib. In turn, Kabeer Sahib handed it over to the cook in charge of the kitchen with the following instructions: “Please cook this gourd and serve it with the next meal to all devotees”. So he did. However, as we know that the gourd is poisonously bitter, no one could eat it. Kabeer wanted to make the point to his deluded and immature student that, as the gourd did not shed its bitterness by bathing at all of the so-called holy places, similarly, the mental filth cannot be washed off by any type of external ablution. This is the Gurbani’s edict. The outer mind is like an oily rag, which can only be cleansed with the Water of the Divine Naam within — the Inner bodily Pool or “Sarovar“.

  • 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॥: (People 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 bodily filth (external filth) is washed off by bathing, but they accumulate twice as much (of mental filth – pride, ego…). (It’s like a gourd) a gourd may be washed off on the outside, but on the inside, it remains filled with poison (i.e., bitterness…). Pious or virtuous beings are blessed, even without such bathing (at pilgrim places – ਤੀਰਥਾਂ ਤੇ), while thieves remain thieves, no matter how much they bathe (at pilgrim places – ਤੀਰਥਾਂ ਤੇ) ||2|| (sggs 789).
  • ਬਹੁ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਤੋ ਲਵਿਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖ ਕੀਆ ਦੇਹੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੀਆ ॥…: The more one wanders at Teerath the more one talks uselessly (in ego, he goes around telling others that he has visited this Teerath or that Teerath). The more one wears religious robes, the more pain he causes his body. (sggs 467).
  • ਅਸਮਾਨ ਮ੍ਯ੍ਯਿਾਨੇ ਲਹੰਗ ਦਰੀਆ ਗੁਸਲ ਕਰਦਨ ਬੂਦ ॥: In the mind, a stream flows (i.e., the stream of Wisdom, Virtues, Amrit, Truth, Universal Energy…); take your bath in it. (sggs 727).
  • ਊਹਾਂ ਤਉ ਜਾਈਐ ਜਉ ਈਹਾਂ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥ : (Bhagat Rama Nand Ji proclaims:) I would need go there (i.e., pilgrim places) only if the Divine (Rabb) were not here (within me). ||2|| (sggs 1195).
In nutshell:
For a real Sikh, Gurmat is the Giaan Teerath (ਗਿਆਨ ਤੀਰਥ)!
Thus, Teerath in Sikhi = GUR-SHABAD!
Thus, Shabad-Vichaar in Sikhi =  the pilgrimage (Gurmukh lifestyle).

48 comments

  1. One should give consideration to a Quote from Gurbaanee as
    “NA TU AAWE VUS TIRATH NAAHIYE
    NA TU AAWE VUS DHARTI DHAIYE”…..SGGS ji

  2. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog Bhai Sahib Ji! Thank you for taking the time.

    The Gurbani speaks for itself. It is what it is. Please have a careful read of all the verses quoted in the posts. They are simple, straightforward, and self-explanatory.
    Here are more:
    • ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਰਤਨਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਮਾਣਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: (sggs 1346).
    • ਕਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਸਵਾਰੇ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਵਸੈ ਮੁਰਾਰੇ ॥ (sggs 1059).
    • ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੋਟੁ ਗੜੁ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਲਾਲ ਜਵੇਹਰੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪੜੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਅਤਿ ਸੋਹਣਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦਿੜੁ ॥ (sggs 952).
    • ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸੋਈ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਥਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਾਤਾ ॥ ਮਾਨਸ ਦੇਹ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਭੁ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਖੋਜੀਐ ਘਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਧਾਤਾ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰ ਕੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਤਾ ॥ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਈ ॥੧੨॥ (sggs 953).

    The Gurbani is full of many more related verses, but all cannot be given from a space point of view.
    • ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੩॥ (sggs 909).

  3. So as per GURBANI .Visting Holy places like HArmandir Sahib and taking Holy Dip will be of no significance if it does help in your spritual progress

  4. Trilochan singh ji,,,

    Following is how I understand Gurbani Vyakaran.

    word “Gurmukh” with sihari is still a single-male-noun but Sihari represents a Preposition (Sambandhak) here means relationship between the words “Gur” and “mukh”
    Therefore we don’t see any “Aunkarr” under “Gur” R either.
    Sihari here represents a Preposition (Sambandhak), so it does 2 things.

    1. It steals the “Aunkarr” from under “Gur” R.
    2. It changes the meaning of the word to ” Guru de Mukh taun”

    And this word will still be pronounced as “Gurmukh” and not “Gurmukhi”.

  5. Parkash singh ji,,,
    I can see that word “Gurmat” is used with sihari and therefore you are pronouning this as
    “Gurmatee”.
    BUT This word will still be pronounced as “Gurmat” only.
    Why?
    ‘Cause “Gurmat” word here is a feminine word ” Guru di matt” and therefore SIHARI is used here to represent this word as feminine but the pronounciation will still be “Gurmat” and not “Gurmatee”.

  6. Parkash singh ji,,,,,,,,,word “shabad” here is used as a metaphor and does not point to any ONE particular word in SGGS ji AS most of the people out there are searching for and completely lost.
    ‘Shabad” simply means spiritual wisdom, Gurmat chanan, Akal ustat, Akal katha, Gurmat Giaan.
    You can treat Entire SGGS ji as “SHABAD”.

  7. Veer Tirlochan Singh ji,
    We all are Sikh of our GuROO (SGGS ji) .It is the duty of every Sikh to share the messages from Gurbaanee in Gurmati way. I appreciate your positive involvement in this interaction.Thanks for this.

  8. Veer jio,
    Both forms of Gurmukh (Mukta -Rahit) and with sihari to the last letter appear in Siri Guru Granth Sahib ji. Mukta Rahit word is Plural-Male-Noun and with sihari it becomes transitive verb (sakarmak kiria) i.e. Akal Purakh’s updesh. It is good to learn from each other, and I believe a ‘Sikh’ is always a learner. I am in a learning process, I would be happy to rectify my own mistakes.

  9. IT IS A MOST BOOMING BUSINESS NO TAXES NO TENSION.

    And a business of NO LOSS, I might add!
    Those who have made Dharma and the Gurbani a business (ਧੰਧਾ), for them this is a booming business indeed.
    The Gurbani puts tremendous emphasis on self-development. But, at the same time, the Gurbani also fearlessly and vigorously tackles the disarrayed system, at every level of the society and beings. The entire Gurbani attests to this fact.
    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio.

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