Guiding Light: The power of pilgrimage

Thousands of spiritually accomplished saints, sadhakas and masters have walked the breadth and length of our country, oftentimes establishing peethas and mathas, which became centres of knowledge and learning. This is where pilgrimages stand apart, giving us a glimpse, and in some cases, a direct experience of the knowledge and energy deposited in these centres and temples.

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Saturday, May 21, 2022, 04:13 AM IST
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Adi Shankara established mathas in the four corners of the country, the first of them being the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, where the presiding goddess is Sharadamba, who is a form of Devi Saraswati. |

In our quest for spiritual progress, we indulge in a number of processes, be they yoga or mantra chanting or reading texts. Each of these seek to transcend our physical boundaries, increase our spiritual quotient and condition our bodies and minds to be more receptive to the grace that is available to all of us.

However, most of these methods rely solely on our individual sadhna, and can oftentimes take a significant amount of time to have a spiritual experience. Thousands of spiritually accomplished saints, sadhakas and masters have walked the breadth and length of our country, oftentimes establishing peethas and mathas, which became centres of knowledge and learning. This is where pilgrimages stand apart, giving us a glimpse, and in some cases, a direct experience of the knowledge and energy deposited in these centres and temples.

Adi Shankara established mathas in the four corners of the country, the first of them being the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, where the presiding goddess is Sharadamba, who is a form of Devi Saraswati. Even today, children come to this temple to start their journey of learning, as they write their first alphabets during the Vidyarambham ceremony. Located on the banks of the auspicious Tunga, this holiest of holy places can till today give the earnest seeker an experience of Adi Shankara’s presence over a millennium ago.

Our country is also replete with energy centres like the Jyotirlingas or the Shakti Peethas, which have swayambhu, or naturally occurring forms of Gods and Goddesses. We also have a great tradition of Rishis, who once walked our hallowed lands and established temples where they oftentimes deposited their entire energy from life times of penance. One such place is the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram. Legend has it that Rishi Patanjali, who is today well known throughout the world for giving us the science of Yoga, himself established this Shiva Linga, along with another great, Rishi Vyaghrapada.

Temples in Bharatavarsha have been more than places of worship, they have been centres of learning, spiritual experiences, and enlightenment. Many of us have spent time diving inwards, pursuing meditation or other spiritual practices during the lockdown. Now, as the world opens up, consider embarking on a pilgrimage with the new you that you may have met during months of solitary quarantine, and it may just open up a new spiritual dimension for you!

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