Journey inside and out
The ancient traditions of Yoga and Tantra remind us that the journey of self exploration is within. At the same time, it will be observed that external events can be a trigger for our inner search as well, as a reflection of both its depth and direction. The ancients recommended the sacred journey or pilgrimage and identified specific epicenters of energy. On a pilgrimage, one makes a spiritual affirmation and proceeds with full faith in the guiding wisdom of the oft unseen but ever present divine hand.
A Yatra or Pilgrimage offers the spiritual aspirant an opportunity to explore ashrams, temples, and caves held sacred by the ancients, to be affirmed in our own time through our own experience.
Kailash, Tibet and Amarnath in the Kashmir Himalayas
My experiences at these two great Pilgrimage destinations are described in another part of this blog. Each is an experience of a life time
Once every 12 years, holy men and women from throughout the Himalayas, India and the world converge for the celebrated spiritual fair for which there is no peer. (Kumbha Mela). What a fabulous time to the almost endless paths of mystics, swamis, sadhus, and holy persons.
Jotir Lingam Temples
From ancient times, there are 12 great Shiva temples, renown above all others, where Shiva has manifested without external actions from humanity, Thus, they are referred to as Self manifested. These well known temples are listed below. I have had the grace to worship Shiva in all of these temples. There are simply no words to describe them. Perhaps someday, Ill try anyway. Shivas power is so tangible in each of them.
- Somnath in Gujarat.
- Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh.
- Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
- Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh.
- Kedarnath in Uttrakhand.
- Bhimashankar at Pune in Maharashtra.
- Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
- Tryambakeshwar at Nashik in Maharashtra.
- Baidyanath Temple in Deoghar Dist of Jharkhand
- Aundha Nagnath in Hingoli, Maharashtra
- Rameshwar at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu
- Ghrishneshwar at Verul near Ellora Aurangabad, in Maharashtra
52 Shakti Peeths
In ancient times, the marriage of Shiva and his lovely Sati was celebrated by the forces of light. Sati had aspired to marry Shiva but her father, Daksha, the king of Devaloka, forbade it. When Sati married Shiva against his will he was furious. Thus, when he organized a great fire ceremony (yajna), he deliberately did not invite Shiva. Sati was distraught when she heard about it but Shiva advised her not to go, but out of attachment to the social etiquette, she did. Daksha ignored her, mocking and ridiculing Shiva in front of the guests. Overcome with the illusion of shame, both for herself and for Shiva, she jumped into the flames of the yajna and perished. When Yogi Shiva heard about it, he became emotionally turbulent. In his monumental grief, he lifted her half-burned body in his arms and began wandering aimlessly through the either. Puja, meditation and sadhana could not be done due to the disturbance in the universal web of consciousness, into which Shiva is so fully integrated. Following the principle of “out of sight – out of mind”, Vishnu agreed to follow Shiva and gradually dismember Sati’s body with his alchemical discus. At the locations where her body parts fell, Shakti temples sprang up to become fifty-two in number, each with a unique and powerful energy. Most of these temples are located in India’s northeast region. There are 5 in Bangaladesh, 3 in Pakistan, 1 in Sri Lanka, and 1 in Tibet. The remainder are in India. I have been blessed to worship in all the Indian Shakti Peeths, except for four, and I feel that each experience has brought me closer to the Divine. If you can only visit one, try to visit Kamakya, where the Yoni of Sati fell to the earth. It has been considered the most important since the ancient emergence of Kaula Marg Tantra.
Other Important Sites
I have visited many other power sites as well, such as the eight power centers (ashta-peetam) where Babaji and Mataji have manifested in the physical plane, and where the energy is amazing for those in alignment with the great Kriya Masters. There are also the 18 siddha shrines, where the celebrated yoga siddhas attained their celestial states of consciousness, the 5 element Shiva Temples, and the 108 Vishnu Temples.
Several articles on these Pilgrimages can be found on the pages of this blog. May they inspire many souls.
Swami Ayyappa Giri
Note- Yogini Ashram guides those who are dedicated to Babaji and his Kriya Tantra Yoga.