What is Teerth Yaatra and its importance in sadhana?

Today we often associate Teerth Yatra with going to holy places and taking holy bath and visiting the temple. People in all religion whether Hindu, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity have the concept of teerth or the Holy Places. And with the increasing population, the teerths are also becoming very crowded and have developed into some kind of tourist place. But often we sideline the real purpose of teerth and what role they play in our sadhana. We will deal the topic from the lens of a adhyatmik sadhak and from the Dharmic perspective.

 

Why do general people go to Teerth Yatra today?

Normally people today go to teerth when their prayers are fulfilled. Usually when people worldly desires like having baby or getting the daughter or son married or when their business gets lot of profit or when one gets promotion. There are hundred of worldly desires which the mankind asks in front of God and when these desires get fulfilled they rush to teerths.

 

Another reason for attending the teerth is to do pind daana to their pitris at these holy places. Often these places are considered auspicious for doing the sixteen samskaras in Hinduism like shaving of hair (mundan) or immersing the mortal remains of the dear and loved ones. These injunctions are given in various puranas which are being followed since time immemorial. Often people associate teerth yatras with accruing punyas and atoning of the sins.

mundan samskar
Mundan in the teertha

 

Yet another set of people are there who visit these teerth from the tourist point of view. Many of the teerth are located in the scenic places on hills or the near river banks or the sea coast or lakes. So now with increasing income people are now touring these places for enjoyment. All these places have now five star hotels with bars and restaurants where people can destress themselves. The number of such people are increasing and usually people take the safe side of going to these places even if they have no belief on such things like punya and paap. Usually they think of why take chances if such a thing may be right. And above all it also breaks the monotony of life and refreshes mind and brings hapiness on face of all the family members.

 

With increasing flow of people, the whole economy of such places revolves around hotels, restaurant, site visits by tour operators, pandits offering ritual services and various handloom artisans offering their products like sarees, toys etc. The government too promotes such Teerth Yatras since they increases spending and provides employment to lot of people.

This is visible in all the teerths like varanasi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Gangotri, Gaya, Nasik, Tirupati, Kanyakumari or Rameshwaram.

 

There is nothing wrong in generating employment but we have lost the real essence of teerth by commercializing the teerths. For the adhyatmik point of view, this is a great loss.

 

What exactly is the meaning of the word ‘Teerth’ ?

 

Since the word Teerth is from Sanskrit and words in Sanskrit have multiple meaning. Teerth can mean to be :

      • A holy place- A sacred place where place has been associated with some divine event.
      • A sacred preceptor or the guru is also called as teerth. That’s why in Jainism the Jinas are called as Teerthankar.
      • Yoga – path of joining of the atman with the parmatman.
      • A passage , a way

Etymological meaning of the word teertha is: teeryate anena iti teertham samsaara saagaraat tarana upaaya bhootam

teerth meaning
Meaning of the word Teerth

So teerth is the way which helps us to cross ocean of samsara which is full of suffering, disease, death and old age.

So basically teerth is not just the place but anything which helps us to develop in adhyatma. It can be guru, place, book and yoga techniques.

In the Skanda Purana, three kinds of teerth are described:

 

      1. Sthavar Teerth- These teerth are stable teerth usually attached to places like Haridwar, Rameshwaram etc
      2. Jangam Teerth- These teerth are mobile teerth usually attached to gurus, books, rishis etc
      3. Manas Teerth- This is the mental teerth associated with advanced stages of mind in sync with absolute and sadhana.

 

How the teerth helps in our sadhana ?

 

In ancient times, when the things were not commercialized, teerths were the main places of learning and penance. Many of the teerth like in Haridwar or Vrindavan have places called Muni ki Reti which were the banks of river where the monks from all over the country would come and make their kutiya (makeshift cottages) and practiced there penance and sadhana. These places were inhabited by many great siddhas of past and have high pranic level which helped in their sadhana. The aura and calmness of the teerth stabilizes the mind to helped in meditation practices.

 

Many sadhaks have personal experience of progressing very fast in their sadhana when they practiced in these teerths. Moreover, these places were flocked by sadhaks in diffferent schools and thus that provided motivation to the sadhaks in their sadhana.

 

People have now also experience help by siddhas who have left their gross body. Mostly such siddhas reside in high in the Himalayas where there is less disturbance.

 

How can we make our teerth yatra helpful in our sadhana?

 

Though there is increasing commercialization in these teerth, we can still benefit from the high energy level at these places. For this we have to make ourselves more prepared and attune to nature.

 

Some rules which can be followed during the teerth:

 

      • Instead of covering the teerth in 3-4 days and visiting the places like a tourist, we must take out mininum 10 days for the teerth. These places are not to be visited in rush but its energy and vibes are felt when one is more calm and in present moment. In past people used to stay in Teerth for 1 month as we see in Kalp Vaas in the Kumbh Mela. This helped the body and mind to get tune to the vibes of the place.
      • The stay at the teerth should be made like retreat. This entails controlling our food by taking sattvik food and  doing fasts if the body allows. Hotel food should be avoided as we will discuss this in separate post.
      • Silence must be maintained during the teerth Yatra and meditation sittings must be done in fixed hours as scheduled. Idle gossiping and chit chatting must be avoided.
      • The place for such retreat must be searched away from the busy downtown of the teerth if one wants to keep away the commercialization of these areas.
      • The place for stay must be searches near to the nature like the river banks, or lake or near the forests.

 

 

All these rules will help in fully realizing the potential of teerth and will help in our sadhana. So next time when you go to any teerth keep these points in mind. Then only we can justify the meaning of the teerth.

 

 

 

 

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