From the first emblem of culture, the ‘Rigveda’, based on the mantras of Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharva Veda; from the holy scriptures of Brahman Granth, Aranyaka, Upanishad and quoted through the Puranas and Mahabharata and the Ramayana; the land of India is known as the seat of culture and spirituality since ancient times.
Earth was divided into 7 islands. In the second chapter of the second part of ‘Vishnu Purana’, Parashar ji tells Shri Maitreya Muni –
जम्बूप्लक्षाद्धयौ द्वीपौ शाल्मलश्चापरो द्विज।
कुशः क्रौचस्तथा शाकः पुष्करश्चैव सप्तमः।।5।।
जम्बूद्वीपः समस्तानामेतेषां मध्यसंस्थितः।
तस्यापि मेरूमैत्रेय मध्ये कनकपर्वतः।।7।।
That is, this earth is divided into seven islands, Jambudweep , Plakshadweep , Shalmaldeep , Kushadweep , Kraunchadweep , Shakhadweep and Pushkardweep . 5 .Hey Maitreya! Jammu Boo island located in the middle of all these. In the middle of that too is the golden Sumeru mountain.
The land of India is much admired and worshiped by the Gods. Her culture is as sacred like the Ganges, in which the moon, sun, constellations, rivers, seas, mountains and lakes are not just natural resources and temples are not just places of worship but these are pilgrimages, which inspire us to work hard and attain the fruits of “Chaturvarga”, scripture, religion, purpose and salvation. It is not possible to calculate how many pilgrimages are there in this Land of the Gods. However, some world-famous ones are Dwadash Jyotilinga, Panchkashi, Panchnath, Panchsarovar, Nau Aranyak, Chaturdash Prayag, Saptkshetr, Sapt Ganga, holy rivers, 52 Shakti Peeths, 55 Shraadh (memorial) areas, Char Dham etc many such world-famous pilgrimage places exist.
In the inscription of Vikram Samvat 1384 i.e. 1327 AD for Haryana in India, ‘‘ देशोऽस्ति हरियानाख्यः पृथिव्यां स्वर्ग संनिभः। ’’ That is, there is a country called Haryana like heaven on earth, It is said.
Haryana’s Kurukshetra area finds a mention in Matrayani part of the Krishna Yajurveda. According to the information received from the Rigveda, Bharat and Purus, the main castes of the Aryans, have also been associated with this holy land. Whose amalgamation led to the emergence of a caste called Kuru. The region of Kuru means Kurukshetra. Kurukshetra is counted amongst the Saptkshetr , 52 Shakti Peeths, Sapt Saraswati and 50 Siddhakshetras.
Maharishi Balmiki has written in the Ramayana-
प्रयागादीनि तीर्थानि गङ्गाद्याः सरितस्तथा ।
नैमिशादीन्यरण्यानि कुरुक्षेत्रादिकान्यपि ।
गतानि तेन लोकेऽस्मिन्येन रामायणं श्रुतम् ।।७.१११.१२।।
Kurukshetra has been mentioned in the Narad Purana, Chapter 64, –
तं देवसेवितं देशं ब्रह्मावर्तं प्रचक्षते।।६४.६।।
That is, the place between the Devanadis, Saraswati and Drishadvati, which the gods consume, is called Brahmavarta i.e. Kurukshetra.
According to the Vamana Purana and the Mahabharata, there were seven forests on the Kurukshetra Dhara and nine rivers flowed. This holy land is spread in the Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, Jind and Panipat districts of Haryana in the periphery of 48 Kos. In this region of the Drishdwati river, lies the Phalkivan, which is now famous as Phalgu Tirtha. Phalkivan is one of India’s famous pilgrimage sites, as holy as Gaya. The Vamana Purana states that –
काम्यकं च वनं पुण्यं दितिवनं महत्।
व्यासस्य च वनं पुण्यं फलकीवनमेव च ।।
गयायां च यथा श्राद्धं पितृन्प्रीणाति नित्यशः।
तथा श्राद्धं च कर्तव्यं फल्कीवनमाश्रितैः।।४८।।
The word teertha originates from the Sanskrit Language with the verb तृ-प्लवनतरणयोः and ‘पातृतुदिवचिरिचिसिचिभ्यस्थक्’ उणादि सूत्र with ‘थक्’ suffix in conjunction.
‘तीर्यते अनेन’ means one who gets emancipation from it; In this sense, the word Teertha or Ardhaarchadi also means the word ‘Teertha’.
Amar Singh has also described Nipan, Aagam, Rishirjushta water and Guru as the Teerth / pilgrimage noun. As-
निपानागमयोस्तीर्थमृषिजुष्टजले गुरौ।।।अमर0 3/थान्त 93 ।।
That is, in the commentary Nipan of Amarkosh, the pilgrimage has been interpreted in the river etc. or in the reservoir and the meaning of Aagam is scripture. Vishvaprakash koshkar (lexicographer) has called scripture, yagya, field, remedy, upadhyaya, minister, avatar, sage-fed water etc. as Teerth/Pilgrimage –
अवतारर्षिजुष्टाम्भः स्त्रीरजःषु च विश्रुतम्। ( थद्विकम्, 8 )
Banabhatta writes in Kadambari –
तीर्थ सर्वविद्यावताराणाम् ।।88।।
That is, pilgrimage is also a means and treatment.
‘तीर्थ स्तरन्ति प्रवतो महीरीति, यज्ञकृतः सुकृतो येन यन्ति।’
That is, man gets shattered by the biggest calamities with the help of pilgrimages. While defining the word ‘Tirtha’, one can say –
तीर्थी कुर्वन्ति तीर्थानि।
That is, the place which cleanses the mind and soul, is the pilgrimage.
The Shraddh tradition is an important part of Indian culture. It is a symbol of respect for one’s ancestors, and is performed with great reverence. There is a tradition of performing pindadaan (Pitrikarm) on the various pilgrimages of the country.
The word Shraddha (श्राद्ध) originates from Shraddha (श्रद्धा). There is a deep connection between Shraddha (श्राद्ध) and Shraddha (श्रद्धा). Shraddha (श्रद्धा) word of derivation “Shrat” ‘श्रत्’ or “Shrad” ‘श्रद्’ words from ‘Ahg’ ‘अङ्’ suffix in conjunction, which means the ‘believer’ wisdom. ‘Satya dhiyate yasayam’ means in which truth is distinguished. As per the Chhandgyopanishad , 7/19 and 20 , two main features of reverence are mentioned – to awaken and meditate in the heart of man, the faith / believer’s intellect.
श्रद्धया इदं श्राद्धम् means that which is performed with reverence, it is Shraddha.
In Shraddh the faith of Shraddhakrta (the person who conduct shraddha) to the memorial is so great that they donate Brahmins for the welfare of the dead or ancestors.
Detailed mention is found in Vedic literature about Pitara and Shraddha. Whether it is Rigveda or Atharvaveda. For Pitriloka also it is clearly written in Vedantadarshana or in Shaddarshan that ‘those who worship get Pitriloka and Devaloka respectively’.
The Skanda Purana states that the name ‘Shraddha’ is derived because Shraddhaa is the original source in this work. This means that there is not only faith in it, but a firm belief that one has to do it. As the Vayu Purana 71th chapter –
‘श्राद्धं चैषां मनुष्यानां श्राद्धमेव प्रवर्तते।71.17।
That is, the reverence given by humans is the same Shraddha. It is further written in this regard-
‘श्राद्धानि पुष्टिकामाश्च ये करिष्यन्ति मानवाः।
तेभ्यः पुष्टि प्रजाश्चैव दास्यन्ति पितरः सदा।।31।।
That is, the ancestors who are worshiped by humans with Shraddha; Their ancestors always provide confirmation.
In Indian culture, parents are treated like deities and according to the scriptures, if the parents are happy, then all the deities are pleased by themselves. In the Brahmapurana, it is even said that a man who pays homage to ancestors pleases Brahma, Rudra, Ashwini Kumar, Surya, Agni, Vayu and humans besides his ancestors. In the Pitripaksha, shraddh is performed for the deceased parents in each family. Having said –
‘‘एकैकस्य तिलैर्मिश्रांस्त्र्रींस्त्रीन् दद्याज्जलाज्जलीन्। यावज्जीवकृतं पापं तत्क्षणादेव नश्यति।
It means , those who provide three handful (अंजुलि) of sesame-mixed water to their Manes, their sins are destroyed from the day of birth to the day of Tarpan. The sixteen days from Bhadrapada Poornima to Ashwin Krishnapaksha Amavasya are called Pitripaksha. In this context, the date on which the ancestor has died, on the same date, he is paid Shraddha in Pitripaksha. Whereas if the date of death of a person is not known, then the shraddha of any such deceased is done on Amavasya.