I left off in my last post discussing how the sacred can be found anywhere. Wherever you go, there you are.” Same thing.
It is a recurring theme with me lately, it seems wherever I go, this subject seems to come up lately. At temple last Sunday we discussed the idea that you don’t have to go to a temple to commune with Divinity, and you don’t need to provide very specific foods as offerings to your Ishta-devata. You only need to offer what you are able to. You don’t need to send off to India to purchase expensive devotional paraphernalia when what you have at home will do just fine. It is what is in your heart motivating the devotional activity that matters anyway.
Which brings me to manasa-tirthas. A tirtha is a “crossing place”, a “ford” literally, and it refers to a place where divinity crosses between this world and the transcendent. There are many in India and they are pilgrimage destinations. People walk to them on foot or take a bus, and there are even virtual tours to these places online now. But to hike the entire path seems to be the most sure way toward gaining a spiritual benefit from the journey. Nevertheless, of course some folks do go both ways.
Manasa-tirtha is all about fording the river of mundane consciousness to God-consciousness, not by means of a pilgrimage but through the heart alone. Sounds like a bhakti thing but I am not sure that it is, necessarily. It just means you don’t need a temple, you don’t need japa, you don’t need to be a vegetarian and you don’t even need to meditate really. I know plenty of karma yogis who are so busy they never get to do what most people would call meditation. Though they probably are still doing it on the go. While they ford the river.
So if we don’t need to do all of these things that are so often associated with Hinduism why do we do them? All devotees, I think, need these different things at different times for different reasons, and in different combinations and amounts. The question of “why?” is not for anyone else to ask. Each of our personal journeys, our very singular tirthas, is our own.
Aum Shankaranarayana Namaha!