First thing first, the useless Karamkaand of Teerath Yaatraa (also spelt Tirath or Tirth Yatra – ਤੀਰਥ ਯਾਤਰਾ ) is strongly rejected in the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).
Defying the Gurmat, the self serving Pujaaree (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) etc. 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.
- 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).
- ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥: The bathing at places of pilgrimage does not remove inner impurities and does not take one to heaven. (sggs 484).
- 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).
Ina nutshell, the SGGS asserts the mind can ONLY be cleansed with the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) – internal cleanliness!
- ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ ॥ ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Water cleanses my stained physical self (external body). Soap cleanses my stained garments. (Beyond the stained physical self or the garments) my intellect is stained by vices. The cleansing of which (i.e. intellect) is by imbuing in Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (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 mental traps to catch the crazy human minds. These traps include many so called 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).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗੰਗਾ ਤੀਰ ਜੁ ਘਰੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੀਵਹਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਨੀਰੁ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਇਉ ਕਹਿ ਰਮੇ ਕਬੀਰ ॥੫੪॥: O Kabeer! If you make your home (to live) on the banks of the Ganges (i.e., at any and ALL Tirath places), and keep drinking its water, even then one cannot get rid of Bikaar without Bhagti. Kabeer remembers Naam saying or proclaiming this. (sggs 1367).
Now, what is considered the True Teerath Or Place Of Pilgrimage in Sikhi?
According to the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS — 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 ॥: I (too) go to bathe at the Teerath (place of pilgrimage); but for me Naam (Giaan, Wisdom, Virtues…) is the Teerath. To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad Vichaar…) is the Teerath, (because of this) Wisdom Awakens 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 Naam 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 of Sikhi.
- ਤੀਰਥੁ ਤਪੁ ਦਇਆ ਦਤੁ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਪਾਵੈ ਤਿਲ ਕਾ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ : The performance of rituals (Karamkaand) of pilgrimage (Teerath), penances, offerings and giving of alms (in the conduct of spirituality); earns one nothing beyond temporal praise. Listen and accept (i.e. Internalize) and BECOME (the Gurbani) with Love in the mind. This is the Inner Teerath bathing in which the mind is cleansed (of Bikaar / vices) and thus its filth is removed. (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 locations 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, ignorant of the Gurbani’s Wisdom etc.
- 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 Sikhi’s Teerath within as commanded by the SGGS?
Again, according to the SGGS, 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 (Wisdom / Virtues), 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 instructions to cook the 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…). Saadh (good human beings, Bhagats, Gurmukhs, Guru’s Satsangi Jan etc.) are good without bathing (at shrines or pilgrim places), and thieves (even after bathing at the shrines) are only thieves. ||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 Virtues, Wisdom, 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 a nutshell, Gurmat Wisdom is the Teerath (ਗਿਆਨ ਤੀਰਥ) in Baabaa Nanak’s Sikhi!
Thus, Teerath in Sikhi = GURU’S SHABAD!
Thus, Shabad-Vichaar in Sikhi = the pilgrimage.
Dear T. SIngh,
Thank you for your extensive answer!
Thanks Peter Ji for taking the time to respond!
According to Hindu belief, there are sixty-eight external places of pilgrimage (Teerath). The Hindu priest-class may have counted them and came up with this number! These so called holy places are marked on the map of India.
To arrive at the ultimate freedom, Hindu Mat requires that a person bathe at sixty-eight holy places.
So, people wander at these places in the hope of arriving at the ultimate freedom!!
However, as revealed in the Gurbani, Baabaa Nanak’s observations of these places are quite different. That is, he found these places to be corrupt.
So, the Gurbani boldly declares that Saakat (separated from their Mool, faithless, Mayadhaaree, Manmukh…) wander around at these corrupt or polluted places:
• ਸਾਕਤ ਥਾਨ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਫਿਰਾਹੀ ॥੫॥: Saakat Thaan Bhrisat phiraahee (sggs 239).
In reality places on the map are merely symbols, which represent an inner journey through which one must pass to attain Divine Virtues or Divine Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan).
The external map is a symbolic translation of man’s internal world. Everything within man is very subtle. Priest-class of all religions is known to be crafty, thus good at misleading people.
The Gurbani makes it very clear that all Teerath are located within. And we must go within and cleanse ourselves there. The article has elaborated on this.
Dear T. Singh,
I have a question about the number sixty-eight (places of pilgrimage). Where does this number originate from? What is it’s metaphorical meaning?
Thank you sister Gurpreet Ji for taking the time sharing Vichaar! We welcome you to the Gurbani Blog.
Yes, the Wisdom (Divine Knowledge, Brahm-Giaan…) of the Gurbani can completely remove the darkness of ignorance.
• ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪਲੀਤਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਹਵਾਈ ਗੋਲਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਅਗਨਿ ਸਹਜੇ ਪਰਜਾਲੀ ਏਕਹਿ ਚੋਟ ਸਿਝਾਇਆ ॥੪॥ (sggs 1161-1162).
Why do we even need to go on yathras or specific generates if Guru no is with us, and his Gurbani is within us (should we learn what Gurbani is teaching us and apply it to our lives). Guru ji says Saajanra mera Saajanra, nikat kaloriya mera Saajanra.
If we do believe that God can it be found in a certain place, that just sounds like we are saying that God is only created for a certain spot, or for a certain group of people. This is not the case at all. God created everyone equal, and gave everyone the equal opportunity to learn Gurbani. We cannot have the belief that God only resides in one place.
In Gurbani, Guru ji also states the two places Haramba and Banarse. People go to Banarse thinking that all their wrong doings will be completly be washed off, but Guru no says that is not the case. He says person with good morals, and who is a Gurmukh can go to the city of Haramba and he will stay with God, and nothing can hurt or touch him. In that sense, all the manmade ideas that we have created without logically thinking about them have kept us in darkness. That abroad of darkness can only be removed if we logically understand Gurbani.
Verr Harvinder Singh ji,
I appreciate your understanding of interpretation ofGurbaanee words as per grammatical considerations but the word for “Guru da parsaad” has to be a Noun and the word for “Guru di kirpa naal” has to be A TRANSITIVE.In this context it would be nteresting to understand the grammar of following words in Gurbaanee as
1..PRASAADi………….Matra of Sihari
2.PRASAADEE………Matra of Bihari
3…PARSAAD…….Without any matra
4…PARSAADu……With matra of Aukad with letter D
The words 3 n 4 are NOUNS whereas 1 n 2 are Trasitive
Bhul Chuk Maaf
Very well explained! Thank you Brother!
For more info on the Gurbani Grammar in general, please also see two YouTuble links in the footer of this page.
Thank you Veer Ji, Well said!
Here is one more very apt verse from the “Sukhmanee” Sahib that we read/hear too often in homes and in Gurdwaras, which essentially indicates that in the remembrance (Simran) of our Mool (Source, Jot…) is the Teerath Ishnaan!!
• ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੈ ਸਿਮਰਨਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਇਸਨਾਨੀ ॥: Prabh kai simrani teerath isnaanee (sggs 262).
Here, sihari to word “Parsaad” represents a “connection”, also called Preposition” in English.
and called ” Sambandhak” in punjabi.
A sihari with a masculine word almost always represents a connection to the word before it.
For ex. “Gur Parsaad” where “parsaad” has a sihari..means :Guru da parsaad” or “Guru di kirpa naal”
Very nice examples provided, T singh ji.
And an advanced soul can very well understand from all your above Gurbani examples,,,,that Guru ji is referring to “Dasam Dwar”
If one thinks that merely by Visiting Harimandir sahib and bathing in “sarovar” will eradicate all their sins,,,,they are just kidding themselves. They could not be any more lost.
“Mann mandar, tann ves kalandar, ghat hi tirtah navan…..Ek shabad mere pran basat hai, bahur janam naa avan”.
VEER HARVINDER SINGH Ji
I would like to refer to the contents of your message as
“‘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”.
I have written Gurmat as Gurmati not as gurmatee
and in view of above consideration what should be the pronunciation for the Word “PRASAADi” which is not a feminine ? Why this is pronounced as Prasaad only leaving the pronunciation rel;ated to matra sihari.
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