The following essay addresses that of the Hindu pilgrimage as to why pilgrimage is an important aspect of Hindu religion? Firstly, the essay focusses on points which support pilgrimage as a fundamental and key aspect of the Hindu community.
Secondly, a perspective denying pilgrimages have any significant role for Hindu and their religion is discussed. It does seem though, to me, that without the aspect of pilgrimage, the Hindu religion would still function quite noramally because although the pilgrimage sites give darsan, they do not seem to be able to assist people with their day to day problems, whereas holy men do.
First though we need to know exactly what darsan means to Hindus. Darsan means seeing in Hindu religion and when people go to a temple, they say they do not go to worship but rather for darsan - they go to see the image of the deity. The pinacle act of Hindu worship, is to stand in the presence of the deity and to look upon the image with their eyes, so as to see and be seen by the deity. The deity is believed to actually be within the image, and beholding the deity image is a form of worship where through the eyes one gains blessings.
A pilgrimage is a religious journey; people undertake pilgrimages so they can worship at special places which are connected to their religion. Journeying to holy places of pilgrimage are generally carried out as acts of faith and devotion in accummulating religious merit or to atone for sins. Pilgrimages are also regarded by Hindus as a religious duty from which darsan can be attained.
There are thousands of pilgrimage sites - tirthas (sacred, fords or crossings) in India, where many places of pilgrimage are renowned for their divine images. And it is the darsan of these divine images that are sought , because the darsan is believed by Hindus to be far greater and significant than that which can be granted and given by holy men i.e. sadhus. It entails then,...