Unseen Passage: Pilgrimages

We often make all things around us the way we want them. Even during our pilgrimages we have begun to look for whatever makes our heart happy, gives comfort to our body and peace to the mind. It is as if external solutions will fulfill our needs, and we do not want to make any special efforts even in our spiritual search. Our mind is resourceful – it works to find shortcuts in simple and easy ways.

Even pilgrimages have been converted into tourism opportunities. Instead, we must awaken our conscience and souls and understand the truth. Let us not tamper with our own nature of that of the Supreme.

All our cleverness is rendered ineffective when nature does a dance of destruction. Its fury can and will wash away all imperfections. Indian culture, based on Vedic treatises, assists in human evolution, but we are using our entire energy in distorting these traditions according to our convenience instead of making efforts to make ourselves worthy of them.

The irony is that humans are not even aware of the complacent attitude they have allowed themselves to sink in. Nature is everyone’s Amma and her fierce blows will sooner or later corner us and force us to understand this truth. Earlier, pilgrimages to places of spiritual significance were rituals that were undertaken when people became free from their worldly duties. Even now some seekers take up this pious religious journey as a path to peace and knowledge. Anyone travelling with this attitude feels and travels with only a few essential items that his body can carry. Pilgrims traditionally travelled light, on foot, eating light, dried chickpeas and fruits, or whatever was available. Pilgrims of older days did not feel the need to stay in special AC bedrooms, or travel by luxury cars or indulge themselves with delicious food and savouries.

Pilgrims traditionally moved ahead, creating a feeling of belonging towards all, conveying a message of brotherhood among all they came across whether in small caves, ashrams or local settlements. They received the blessings and congregations of yogis and mahatmas in return while conducting the dharma of their pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is like penance of sadhana to stay near nature and to experience a feeling of oneness with it, to keep the body healthy and fulfilled with the amount of food, while seeking freedom from attachments and yet remaining happy while staying away from relatives and associates.

This is how a pilgrimage should be rather than making it like a picnic by taking a large group along and living in comfort, packing in entertainment, and tampering with the environment. What is worse is giving a boost to the ego of having had a special darshan. Now, alms are distributed, charity done while they brag about their spiritual experiences!

We must embark on our spiritual journey by first understanding the grace and significance of a pilgrimage and following it up with the prescribed rules and rituals – this is what translates into the ultimate and beautiful medium of spiritual evolution. There is no justification for tampering with nature.

A pilgrimage is symbolic of contemplation and meditation and acceptance, and is a metaphor for the constant growth or movement and love for nature that we should hold in our hearts.

This is the truth!

Q. On the basis of your understanding of the above passage answer the questions that follow:

  1. How can a pilgrim keep his body healthy?
    1. By travelling light
    2. By eating small amount of food
    3. By keeping free from attachments
    4. Both 1. and 2.
  2. How do we satisfy our ego?
    1. By having a special darshan
    2. By distributing alms
    3. By Making it like a picnic
    4. Both 1. and 2.
  3. What change has taken place in our attitude towards pilgrimages?
  4. What happens when pilgrimages are turned into picnics?
  5. Why are we complacent in our spiritual efforts?
  6. How does nature respond when we try to be clever with it?
  7. In olden days with what attitude did people go on a pilgrimage?
  8. What message does the passage convey to the pilgrims?
  9. Find words from the passage which mean the same as the following:
    1. made/turned (para 3)
    2. very satisfied (para 4).


  1. Both 1. and 2.
  2. Both 1. and 2.
  3. Earlier pilgrimages were a penance to stay near nature and did not require luxury rooms and big cars to travel, now they have become more of a tourism opportunity where people go for a picnic.
  4. When pilgrimages turn into picnics, the entire significance of pilgrimage as sadhana is lost. It becomes more of a social gathering, a life of comfort and a boost to ego, where pilgrims don’t achieve spiritual upliftment.
  5. Pilgrimages are no more of travelling on foot and living in the ashrams with basic necessities, it has become a picnic with all the comfort, AC rooms, travelling by car with a large group to have all the fun and entertainment. We have distorted traditions according to our conveniences. Hence, we are complacent in our spiritual efforts.
  6. When we try to be clever with nature it does a dance of destruction. Its anger washes away all imperfections that are ruining our bodies because of the extra comfort that we are adapting our bodies to. We are not making any efforts to make our body work and adjust in adverse conditions rather making it all the more tender. Nature is just like everyone’s Amma and would act destructively by affecting our health, etc. Sooner or later nature will force us to understand this truth.
  7. In older days, pilgrimages were more of a sadhana to love people, stay close to the nature, understand it, stay healthy and eat healthy. It was also for seeking freedom from attachment. They took it as a path to peace and knowledge.
  8. (h) It conveys the message that pilgrimages are symbolic of contemplation meditation and acceptance and undertaken to understand the realities of life, to stay close to nature and should not be taken as a tourism opportunity where you gather in a large group, enjoy amongst all the luxuries and make a life rest upon only comfort.
  9. Words are:
    1. Rendered
    2. Complacent

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