The real pilgrimage
When we talk about pilgrimage or ‘tirtha’, a picture of Chardham erupts in our mind – Dwarka, Badrinath, Rameshwaram and Puri. Newly formed pilgrimage centres are Amarnath Dham, Vaishno Devi, Tirupati, Shirdi of Sai Baba, etc. The newest pilgrimage centre is Shani Shingnapur, which is just 200 years old and emerging as a fastest pilgrimage centre kudos to devotees of Shani. A new cult of Vaishnavas are trying to create Vrindavan in Mayapur, West Bengal. Each State has its own pilgrimage centre which provides local people earnings from tourism and hospitality sector. Pilgrimage is indeed a huge industry.
The word ‘tirtha’ means you have to move physically to go somewhere to earn ‘punya’ (good deeds) at the cost of physical suffering, mental stress and economic investment and expenses. But wait my dear friend; just have a look what Krishna describes a ‘tirtha’ or pilgrimage to Yudhisthira in Ashwamedika parva in Mahabharat.
Yudhisthira asks what is true tirtha, pilgrimage? Krishna describes kshama, ‘forgiveness and reconciliation’, as the highest pilgrimage of all.
क्षमा तु परमं तीर्थं सर्वतीर्थेषु पाण्डव ।
क्षमावतामयं लोकः परश्चैव क्षमावताम् ।।
आश्वमेधिक पर्व पृ. ६३७५ *।।
Of all the places of pilgrimage, forgiveness is the highest. The one who is forgiving secures happiness in this world and in the next world, too.
क्षमा यशः क्षमा दानं क्षमा यज्ञः क्षमा दमः ।
क्षमा अहिंसा क्षमा धर्मः क्षमा चेन्द्रियनिग्रहः ।।
आश्वमेधिक पर्व पृ. ६३७५ ।।
Forgiveness is true fame. Forgiveness, true giving. Forgiveness is the true yajna. Forgiveness is the true self-control. Forgiveness is the true non-violence. Forgiveness, the true dharma. And forgiveness is the true discipline of one’s self.
क्षमा दया क्षमा यज्ञः क्षमयैव धृतं जगत् ।।
आश्वमेधिक पर्व पृ. ६३७५ ।।
Forgiveness is the true compassion. It is forgiveness that holds the world together.
(*पृ. ६३७५ means Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute’s Mahabharat version).
If you are still unclear about the concept of ‘tirtha’ then do some sins and have a holy dip in coming Mahakumbh at Prayag, Allahabad in next year. But, it is certainly a foolishness and complete idiocy that we seek solace to our sufferings and want to add good karmas by just visiting a holy place and calling it a ‘tirth yatra’. Anyway ignorance is really bliss. Enjoy Amarnath Dham Yatra despite the death of 97 pilgrims and loss of business and trade to the tune of crores of crores of rupees to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh because of Kanwariya’s Yatras.
If your religious feelings are being hurt by my harsh words then please forgive me and attain the fruit of the real pilgrimage!
© Sushil Kumar
Image Credit: B. R. Chopra’s TV serial Mahabharat.
Content Credit: The Mahabharata: An inquiry in the human condition by Chaturvedi Badrinath.