Tirtha
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Tirtha (Place of pilgrimage)
From The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section CVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Yudhishthira said: Do thou tell me, O grandsire, of that which is regarded as the foremost of all Tirthas (place of pilgrimage). Indeed, it behoveth thee to expound to me what that Tirtha is which conduces to the greatest purity.

[Note: The word ‘Tirthas’ as explained in the Santi Parva of the Mahabharata means a sacred water. There can be no Tirtha without water, be it a river, a lake, or even a well. Bhishma, however, chooses to take the word in a different sense.]

Bhishma said: Without doubt, all Tirthas are possessed of merit. Listen, however, with attention to me as I tell thee what the Tirtha, the cleanser, is of men endued with wisdom. Adhering to eternal Truth, one should bathe in the Tirtha called Manasa, which is unfathomable (for its depth), stainless, and pure, and which has Truth for its waters and the understanding for its lake.

[Note: The language is figurative. By ‘Manasa’ is not meant the trans- Himalayan Lake of that name, which to this day is regarded as highly sacred and draws numerous pilgrims from all parts of India. The word ‘Manasa’ is used here to signify the Soul. It is fathomless in consequence of nobody being able to discover its origin. It is pure and stainless by nature. It is presented here as having Truth for its waters and the Understanding for its lake. Probably, what is meant by this is that the Understanding, containing the waters of Truth, forms a part of this Tirtha as the lakes of Pushkara form a part of the Tirtha called by that name.]

The fruits in the form of cleansing, that one acquires by bathing in that Tirtha, are freedom from cupidity,