The Wonderful Pilgrimage of Remembrance

सब राज़ी खुशी हैं? (“Is everyone happy?”) यह भी कोई पूछने की बात है? (“Is this even something to ask?”) Accha! बाबा याद हैं?

Baba talks about us being on a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of remembrance. The word itself is not new to us – most of us have been on at least one on the path of devotion. But the one we are on now is a “wonderful” pilgrimage.

Typically, a pilgrimage is defined as a journey or search of great spiritual significance. It usually comprises of a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs or faith. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed,” or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites are usually commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.

And so we see pilgrims prepare in advance for such a journey. In most religions, pilgrims follow a strict code of conduct aimed toward “cleansing” themselves a few weeks in advance of their departure. They believe that these few weeks of following a vegetarian, non-alcohol diet and a celibate lifestyle “purifies” them enough to please the deity they are about to visit while also helping them get into the devotional frame of mind- in some cases building up a religious fervor through the journey. Having completed the visit, they then return home with a feeling of accomplishment, back to their regular “pre-cleanse” routine until it’s time for the next trip!

So what is it that draws people on these pilgrimages sometimes to places far flung and extremely hard to get to? In many cases, devotees even spend a good portion of their lifetime savings to make just one such trip! Sometimes, it is the hope to be healed- of sorrow, of pain or to have very fundamental questions such as “Who am I” and “Why am I here?” answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit such as purification of the soul. But underlying all of these is the hope that something magical or powerful will take place that will leave the soul cured, satisfied and light.

While these are all great reasons to go on a pilgrimage for, it seems hard to believe that I will find the answers to fundamental questions of my existence or be liberated from sorrow by going to a shrine! Why is it that we quickly lose the feeling of “purity” and “accomplishment” after our pilgrimages?

Instead it would seem that I would be better served to look inward in order to understand who I am and what it is that is causing me sorrow so I can address it adequately. And yes, just as there is a “guide” on the devotional pilgrimages, an inward journey also requires a guide. Having lost my way through the cycle of birth and death, I look to the only One that remains free from this cycle – the Supreme Soul, the ever Knowledgeful One, to be my Guide. He is our Spiritual Father, the only One that can liberate us from sorrow, the Ocean of Love and Bliss. And no, He does not require His children to make the treacherous trek to a remote shrine; He instead comes to where His children are, to where they need Him. That’s more typical of what one would expect from a Father, isn’t it?

On this journey, He reminds me of not just the fact that I am a soul, an eternal peaceful being but also that I am full of divine virtues. He teaches me how to become an embodiment of these virtues by helping me emerge them from the deep recesses that I’ve buried them in over time. He gives me multi-million fold help by reminding me that I have become pure and divine innumerable times before and therefore I will be victorious again. He teaches me about Him and how to understand Him and says simply, “Remember Me! Know that you are just like Me!” My Guide becomes a reference for who I really am and now all I need to do is identify the gaps between where I am now and who I really am and close them. And as it turns out, this is the real “cleansing” process and as I go through it, I am purified in the true sense – in my thoughts, words and actions. I realize that in fact these very gaps were the cause of my sorrow, my pain and as I close each one, I feel the sorrow reducing and a sense of empowerment fill the soul. Unlike a trip to the shrine or a dip in the Ganges, this pilgrimage of remembrance of the Supreme Father is also the only way to absolve me of the burden of my past sins. As this burden reduces, the soul starts to feel light and is able to take flight – a flight of joy, of happiness, of love. And the only currencies I need to get on this journey are humility and if I don’t already have it, a love for silence and for contemplation.

Here, I take a different kind of trip – a trip through all my births, all 84 of them, and understand that in fact I am already on a journey but it’s just that half way through, I lost control of it and veered off in the wrong direction.  And now I have my Guide who holds my hand at every step, offers me Guidance to face every challenge, to overcome every situation so I am back in charge of my own destiny. He cheers me onward and fills me with courage and self-esteem. When you think about it, that is the definition of a true guide, isn’t it? One who actually understands what is good for me and ensures that I am headed in the right direction?

And what’s best, I do all that travel for FREE and while fulfilling my responsibilities, living in my home. It is a journey that I am on till my last breath. There is no “return” back to the old, sorrowful world from which I started but instead I return back to my true home, to the world of peace, the soul completely transformed to my original, pure, divine self.

That is a true pilgrimage! Truly wonderful!

याद किया दिल ने कहाँ हो तुम
झूमती बहार है कहाँ हो तुम
प्यार से पुकार लो जहाँ हो तुम

खो रहे हो आज किस खयाल में
दिल फँसा है बेबसी के जाल में
मतलबी जहां मेहरबान हो तुम
याद किया दिल ने कहाँ हो तुम
प्यार से पुकार लो जहाँ हो तुम

रात ढल चुकी है सुबह हो गई
मैं तुम्हारी याद लेके खो गयी
मेरी लिए दास्तान हो तुम
याद किया दिल ने कहाँ हो तुम
प्यार से पुकार लो जहाँ हो तुम

तुम हमारी ज़िंदगी के बाग हो
तुम हमारी राह के चिराग हो
मेरे लिये आसमान हो तुम
याद किया दिल ने कहाँ हो तुम
प्यार से पुकार लो जहाँ हो तुम

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