TRAVEL IN VEDIC LITERATURE (Post No.4945)

TRAVEL IN VEDIC LITERATURE (Post No.4945)

 

RESEARCH ARTICLE WRITTEN by London Swaminathan 

 

Date: 24 April 2018

 

Time uploaded in London –  14-29 (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 4945

 

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Hindus know very well the benefits of travel. They have been doing the longest pilgrimages. It is a wonder of the world that they travel from one of the country to the other. Though we hear about pilgrimages to Mecca, Jerusalem, Lourdes etc for followers of other religions, Hindus started thousands of years before them. Balarama did want to be part of Mahabharata war and so he went on a long journey. Before him,  Rama travelled on foot from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to Sri Lanka in the south sea. The pilgrimage is mentioned in the Tamil epic Silappadikaram as well.

 

Another unique feature of Hindusim is they have thousands of pilgrimage centres. Every family fas a family deity and they visit the shrine from different parts of the world. Though Kasi/Varanasi/Benares is the holiest shrine for Hindus, they don’t stop there; they visit hundreds of other centres. There are 108 Vishnu shrines, 51 Goddess centres and 12 most famous Shiva shrines venerated by the Hindus for thousands of years.

Five Pandavas, particularly Arjuna travelled to far south and married a Pandya princess (Alli Rani) and he made inter galactic travel in Matari’s shuttle, according to Mahabharata.

 

From the Vedic days, we come across some statements in support of travel:

Vedas refer to the sea travel and Aswins rescue of Bhuj and others from the middle of the sea. It also mentioned 1000 oars ships.

 

Adi Shankara who lived 2000 years ago (See Kanchi Paramacharya’s dating) walked through the length and breadth of India several times and established Mutts (Religious Centres)  at five places in five different directions. Guru Nanak, Ramanuja and several saints also walked from one end of the land to the other.

 

Tamil devotional literature has several stories of kings and poets visiting Kailash in the Himalayas. Even before the foundation of Islam, Mecca has been a centre of pilgrimage to Hindus. Ancient travel records show that they boarded ships from Sri Lanka and Kerala.

 

Here are some quotations on Travel from the Vedic literature:

When Rohita, son of Harischandra left the forest and went to a village, Indra came to him in human disguise and said to him,

“There is no happiness for him who does not travel, Rohita! thus we have heard. Living in the society of men, the best man often becomes a sinner by seduction, which is best avoided by wandering (travel) to places void of human dwellings; for Indra is surely the friend of the traveller. Therefore , wander”

Rohita thinking, ‘A Brahmin told me to wander’ wandered for a second year in the forest.

Again Indra met Rohita and said, The feet of the wanderer are like the flower, his soul is growing and reaping the fruit; and all his sins are destroyed by his fatigues in wandering. Therefore, wander!

–Aitareya Brahmana 7-3-15

The fortune of him who is sitting sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves. Therefore, wander!

 

The Kali (Yuga) is lying on the ground; the Dvapara (yuga) is hovering there; the Treta (Yuga) is getting up; but the Krita (yuga) happens to walk. Therefore, wander!

 

In another translation of the same verse we find,

“ A man who sleeps is like the Kali age ( iron age); a man who awakes is like the Dvapara age (Bronze age); a man who rises is like the Treta age (silver age) and a man who travels is like the Krita age (Golden age).

 

It is interesting to note that the same terms are used in the throws of gambling dice: Krita- throw of four, being reckoned the best, Treta-  the throw of three, Dvapara – throw of two and Kali- the throw of one, worst of all.

This corresponds to the golden sayings in Tamil Proverbs

It advises Tamils to beyond the seas and bring treasures. Another proverb says If you sit and eat, even a hill of treasure will melt away. Oldest Tamil book says that a person can be separated from his wife for traveling to study, business or war.

Hindu Ascetics are advised to travel without stopping in a place for more than 24 hours. They can stay in a place for Four Months (Chatur Masya Vrata) only during rainy season.

Kalidasa’s Meghaduta is the oldest Travel Guide in the world. It describes each and every place from the centre of India to the Himalayas.

Aitareya Brahmana continues,

“The wanderer finds honey and the sweet Udumbara fruit (fig); behold the beauty of the sun, who is not wearied by his wanderings. Therefore, wander, wander!

–Aitareya Brahmana 7-3-15

 

Mahabharata on Travel,

The union with brother, mother, father and friend is like that of travellers in an inn

-Vyasa in Mbh. Shanti parva 28(41)

 

Without travelling to a foreign land, one does not obtain glory, fame, knowledge of accomplishments or anything – Kathakosa

The self-respecting person finds his own worth that he is able, worthy and can attempt and know by journeying in alien lands.

-Vishnusharma, Panchatantra, Book 1.

 

BAN ON BRAHMINS AND WOMEN!

Very interesting thing about travel is overseas  travel for Brahmins is banned by Manu Smrti and for women by the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiam.

 

So Brahmins and women should not go abroad (from India)

 

–SUBHAM–

 

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