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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xvii ] ‘Fording a crossing to the divine’: pilgrimage, an activity highly meritorious in H induism ; although not enjoined for salvation, it has become one of its most basic activities. Throughout the Indian subcontinent pilgrimages are constantly taking place on every scale, whether to local, regional or to all-India sacred sites like Kashi (Banaras), Prayag (Allahabad), Hardvar, Mathura, Ayodhya, Dvaraka in Gujarat or Conjeevaram in the south. Tirtha means a fording-place (and yatra a journey) but the term now includes all sacred sites, although the majority of major sites are associated with rivers. Each major site has its own particular speciality, usually described in texts and manuals relating to it which enumerate the particular benefits that derive from performing particular rituals at particular spots on the site at particular times. Almost invariably the pilgrim will perform a pradakshina (circumambulation) of the sacred object in a clockwise direction, and will be guided in what to do by one of the priests or other functionaries who serve the pilgrims. Some sites are particularly beneficial for removing sins, some for performing obsequies for the dead ( shraddhas ), some for achieving darshana , an experience of a deity; some, especially more regional or local sites, are famous for curing blindness or infertility or for the attainment of some other kind of worldly ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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