Tirtha

Definition - What does Tirtha mean?

Tirtha is a Sanskrit word with multiple meanings – “channel,” “sacred place,” “sacred object,” “river crossing” and “passage” – to name just a few. In Hinduism and Jainism, it is a sacred location associated with a deity or saint, or a sacred text or person.

In Hinduism, the term most often refers to pilgrimage sites connected to sacred water; hence, the definition of tirtha as "river ford." A temple, holy mountain or residence of a sage may also be referred to as a tirtha.

Yogapedia explains Tirtha

On a metaphorical level, a tirtha represents a sacred state of mind and the divine guidance for the crossing from the earthly world to a higher state of being. It is a pathway to self-realization and bliss.

According to the "Skanda Purana," there are three types of tirthas:

  • Movable tirthas, like the abode of a guru or sadhu
  • Immovable locations, like the holy mountains, rivers and temples
  • A mental or spiritual place such as truth, kindness and compassion
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