Key concepts and central
Crossing point or ford. It comes from the root Tri
which means to pass or cross over. It was first used
to refer to places where rivers could be crossed, but has been extended
to mean anything that provides an opportunity for crossing from this
world of rebirth and redeath (samsara) to the ‘other shore.’ It can
signify not only places of pilgrimage, but temples, gurus, texts, gods
and anything else that facilitates liberation.
|The power of ascetic disciple, heat. It is the power
which brought forth the universe in the Vedic creation stories (RV
10.129 and 10.190. Tapas, as a creative power can come from a variety
of different practices including; celibacy, fasting, bodily mortification,
pilgrimage, breath control, exposure to heat, and meditation. As in
the case of king Divodasa,
(or parvati) the is the way that people are able to gain recognition
and benefits from the gods
Seeing, sight or viewpoint. This concept often refers
to the interaction between a devotee and the object of his/her focus.
It is an intimate and intense interaction which is reciprocal. Not
only does one see the form (murti)
of the God (one can have darshan
of a place, a guru, an image or any other intense manifestation of
power), one is also seen.
|Horse sacrifice. This is a very difficult ritual often
performed by the rulers of ancient India. This ritual requires a year
to complete. A fine horse is selected at the beginning of the year
and then released and allowed to wander free. It is accompanied by
soldiers. Everywhere the horse goes is said to be under the jurisdiction
of the ruler. As a result, any territory that the horse wanders into
that was not previously under his jurisdiction is either required
to submit or fight. If the horse makes it through the year, it is
returned to the city where it is sacrificed in a three day ceremony.
the horse is then cut up, eaten and offered to the gods through the
|He was a saint born into a weaver
caste in Benares in the fifteenth century
claimed by Muslims and Hindu's alike. Ironically, he ridiculed religion
and felt that God could not by named or elaborated any any way.
Grace. This can refer to the grace of god through
which the devotee is liberated, as well as the offerings made during
Puja which are then returned as offerings
of God’s grace. It can include the burning of lamps, camphor, or incense.
|This is the offering of light (usually in the form
of an oil lamp to a deity (Linga image, river etc.) It can also refer
to the entire ceremony of offerings to the deity.
stories. This is a class of texts composed from as early as the fourth
century B.C. (although they may contain prior oral material) and throughout
the medieval period. They are considered Smriti
(remembered tradition) as opposed to Shruti
(Revealed tradition eg: the Veda)They are an enormous collection of
texts which include all sorts of stuff: mythology, historical records,
pilgrimage site, teachings on the dharma and liberation, cosmology,
geography, physiology and much more.
|This is the symbol of /iva.
It is an aniconic elongated cylindrical form that resembles and indeed
refers to the phallus. It is usually set in a flat oval-shaped base
that represents the union of /iva and
his partner /akti, the union of male and female
|These are the Brahmins who perform rituals for pilgrims
along the Ghats. This is also a generic name for many types of ritual
performers. They accept ritual gifts (dana)
as well as fees (Daksina) for their
|This is a ritual often performed at Kashi's
ghats during which balls of rice or other grains (Pinda) are offered
to the ancestors to help them in their journey between births.
|This is the statement of intention that accompanies
ritual acts. Many learned pilgrims will know how to perform this ritual;
however, many other pilgrims will have to hire a Panda to help them
out. A typical recitation of the Sankalpa follows a pattern similar
to the one Diana
Eck has laid out: "I, of this family and this village, am
here in Kashi in this year, in this
month, on this day, in this place, making the pilgrimage to the five
Tirthas." (P.221) If there is a
desired result (sakama) it will be stated
These are digests or medieval commentaries on
puranic literature. Four prominent
ones, Tirthavivechana Kanda, Tirtha Chintamani, Tristhalisetu and
the Tirtha Prakasha, all contain
enormous amounts of information about Kashi,
This is the name for the sets of stairs leading
down to the Ganges where pilgrims and residence perform various rituals
as well as bathe.