The Place of Pilgrimage in Buddhism

Rajni Nanda Mathew


Popularly known as tirtha-yatra, pilgrimage has been an integral part of Indian cultural traditions. From times immemorial, we hear of people visiting various tirthas (centres of pilgrimage) to convey their religious devotion. These tirthas could include the rivers like the Ganges, the Jamuna (Yamuna) the Saraswati, etc. which were accorded religious sanctity, the holy places mentioned in the holy texts like the various Puranas and the Epics, or even places associated with various Gods and Goddesses.

Pilgrimage, however, was not assigned an important place in the Hindu religion alone but found an acceptance across religions. For example, Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, in his early manhood is said to have visited several pilgrimage centres within and perhaps beyond India. Even the Muslims make pilgrimage to Mecca. In this paper we shall study about the significance attached to pilgrimage in Buddhism. We will also briefly discuss some of the sacred sites of Buddhism in early India while touching upon the role of the Mauryan king Ashoka in the spread of the faith.



Buddhism, Pilgrimage, Buddhism pilgrimage, Tirtha yatra, Tirthas, Buddhism tirtha


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