Pilgrimage Tours of India II
In India we find the oldest continually
operating pilgrimage tradition in the entire world.The practise of pilgrimage
is so deeply embedded in its culture and the number of pilgrimage sites is so
large that the entire sub-contienent may be regarded as one grand sacred space.
The most sacred sities in India are known as tirathas
(fords) between this world of ordinary experience and the divine realm of brahman(the
godhead). They are often places of natural beauty, manifesting the power of the
gods, and are usually found far from human dwellings-- in the depths of
forests, at the tops of mountains or in the most inaccessible caves.
The sites themselves, whether they be
temples, rivers, or natural lingas are believed to possess sacred power (shakti)
which may be absorbed by the visiting devotee. Many pilgrims set out ona tour
of specific sities. Like, Buddhists travel round the ganges basin, where the
historical Buddha lived, visiting the places associated with his life and
death. Followers of Krishna, may make the round of areas associated with this
God, like mathura region. Similarliy Shiva worshippers, travel to Himalayan
settings of shaivite myth, or tour the sacred jyotirlinga sities etc.
Looking deeper into this matter, let us
take a pilgrimage tour of India --