Hindu Pilgrimage

.. regarded as being dead and are a means by which to link the living to the dead.Sadhus believe experience is far more important than knowledge when assuming the role of a spiritual practitioner. Many sadhus accept disciples, regardless of caste and are expected and obligated to accept people whether they are rich, poor, powerful or powerless. So what does the sadhu give to the people? A sadhu is a diety, and the diety of the sadhu gives darsan, and the people take darsan. The worshipper cannot initiate the act of seeing, therefore, the deity enables itself to be seen in its image.

The contact between the worshipper and diety, is thus, carried out solely through the eyes.Since sadhus are able to given people darsan, it seems then, that pilgrimages in reality are unnecessary because one can attain darsan without having to incur all of the strenuous problems and hardship associated with a pilgrimage and without having to leave their place of domicile. If pilgrimages are an important necessity for Hindus to undertake, and if the darsan received from pilgrimage is far greater than that which can be obtained from a sadhu, then it deprives, and places of those Hindus that tdo not have the means and ability to go on a pilgrimage – the paralysed and physically sick, at an unfair disadvantage. Simply put, they would not be able to get as close as they could, to becoming released from the cycle of death and rebirth, as a result of not being capable of journeying on a pilgrimage which is totally unfair. Therefore, pilgrimage should not play a major role within the Hindu religion. By placing great importance and significance on pilgrimages, a bad message is transgressed to and adopted by Hindu.

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For they will believe that through physical means of travelling on a pilgrimage, they will attain additional darsan and that their sins can be completely washed away. However, if I was a Hindu who did not have the means by which to go on a pilgrimage then this would not bode well for me. I could be a Hindu who lives a saintly life, compared to a pilgrim that sins time after time, and yet receive less darsan than a pilgrim that sins to a far greater extent than i , as long as pilgrimages are regarded as being a significant aspect Hinduism. (Chaduri , N , 1979 ,p 153 ) Sadhus are essentially regarded as walking temples that are believed to carry the sacred fire within their being, and of which fire is signified as the messenger of God that depicts purity and salvation. Since sadhus are believed, by Hindus, to be walking temples, it seems that there is not really a need for pilgrimages.

Sadhus expound blessings though they have the added advantage over pilgrimages , in that they teach, advise, guide peoples’ lives, and can be turned to, in times of desparation, trouble and despair. Sadhus act as spiritual advisors, councillors, and psycho therapist, all wraped in one. On the whole, sadhus give people a sense of security in the form of offering psycholgical assurance. Pilgrimage sites may give darsan, however, they cannot speak to Hindus, or give them sound advice and which road or path in life to travel. Sadhus do a great deal more for Hindus than pilgrimages do and in actual fact pilgrimages have lead to great despair, through the rigours of journeying on pilgrimage sites, and in many cases has, as a result, led to many deaths.

Pilgrimages seem to be very detrimental to livelihood of Hindu people in comparison to the sadhus who can directly assist Hindus in the flesh – physically. On this note, I see no reason or justification to say pilgrimages are more significant thn sadhus because sadhus are temples themselves. And based on this, the Hindu religion would in no way be dramatically affected if pilrimages were emphasised less than they are today. However, because of all the activities sadhus carry out for people, it would be extremely detrimental for the Hindu religion as a whole if sadhus had no recognition because Hindus would have to deal with obstacles and problems in life without the aid of sadhus. Brahmans are attached to the locality of pilgrimage sites, who exact fees even from the poorest and receive large sums of money from the richest people.

This implies or suggests that pilgrimage sites are stamped with a scared character primarily so as to attain money. for example, the river Ganges and the city Benares occupied a position far greater than all other rivers and other sacred cities , but the brahmans became jealous of the monopoly enjoyed by those in Benares. (Narayan , K , 1989 , pp 65-68 ) What happened was that, the development of free trade in the inventing of myths for the consecration of particular places was introduced, where place after place was claimed to be sacred ground. It seems very deceitful in leading Hindus to believe many places are sacred, when they are not, just so as to attain large sums of money. It occurs to me that many pilgrimage destinations are sort of marketed if you like , in no way dissimilar to the way holiday destinations like for instance, hawaii are marketed to attract tourists and their money. CONCLUSION In conclusion, i have argued from both sides of the coin ,so-to-speak. what we know is that Hindus accord pilgrimages with great importance.

A pilgrimage is believed to be a way by which Hindus can atone for their sins and even to eradicate them. Without a doubt, millions of Hindus around the world recognise pilgrimages as being the pinacle of their religion, for they feel and believe the darsan that can be gained from journeying as a pilgrim and experiencing a pilgrimage from the holy place, or from the divine image of the deity exceeds, by far, darsan of that which can be given by holy men, such as sadhus. However, sadhus themselves are walking temples and are regarded as divine deities as well. Why go on a pilgrimage ,in the quest for darsan , which is extremely arduous , when you can remain within your place of domicile and attain darsan from a sadhu? Are we to believe then that the most prolific sinner will gain more darsan than the person who acts as, and has the heart of a saint ? Yes , we are , If we are to accept that the pilgrimage is an extremely important part of Hinduism, though, this should not be the case. Sadhus offer more in the way of giving Hindus sound advice, and generally guiding followers onto the appropriate path in life in comparison to the pilgrimage. Also , wherever there is a pilgrimage site, there is a brahman that collects offerings and sums of money from pilgrims suggesting that some or many of the sites are in a sense marketed like a holiday tour destination primarily to extract money even from the poorest of the poor. Rather , the poorest should not have to go through increased hardship by paying a collection fee just to go to a pilgrimage site, it should primarily be the rich that pay ,and what may i ask do the brahmen use the money for ,of which they collect? I suggest ,soley for themselves. BIBLIOGRPAHY 1. Aylett, L, 1992 The Hindu Experience, Hodder and Stoughton, London, pp 30 – 32 2.

Chaduri, N, 1979 Hinduism: A Religion to live by, Chatto and Windus Ltd,London, pp 150 – 173 3. Eck, D, 1985 Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, Anima Books, Pennsylvania, pp 3 – 75 4. Ganeri, A, 1995 What Do We Know About Hinduism, Hodder and Stoughton, London, pp 42 – 55 5. Klostermaier, K, 1989 A Survey of Hinduism, State University of New York,pp 311 – 315 6. Narayan, K, 1989 Storytellers, Saints and Scoundrels, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, pp 63 – 75 BY REINHARDT VAN SPRANG.