Jainism is founded on the belief of needing to achieve liberation as a soul.
This is done by achieving “Moksha” or liberation as described in the Sanskrit. Those who can do this can free themselves from the karmic bond and move on as a soul while those who don’t are trapped until they make changes. Due to this concept, the Jain Pilgrimage plays a major role in the path to liberation.
Here is more on the Jain Pilgrimage or “Tirtha” in Jainism.
Where Are These Pilgrimage Sites?
Tirthas or Jain Pilgrimage sites are spread across the nation of India.
They are present in few parts of Kansas City and all parts of India for believers of Jainism. For example, a person can find tirthas in South India (Gummileru, Humbaj, or Shravanabelagola). Believers are told where these sites are and each one has a religious context to it based on history.
These sites are named Tirtha because it stands for “a shallow body of water.”
Other examples of Tirthas in India include Jain Pilgrimage sites located in Ashtapada, Taxila, Pundravardhana, Siddhayatan, Muktagiri, and Mahudi to name a few. Overall, there are a combined 26 locations both in India and overseas.
Types of Tirthas
Not only are there Tirthas across India and the planet, but there are also various types of Tirthas a believer can go to in his lifetime.
Let’s take a look at what these types are.
Starting with Atishayakshetras, these are Tirthas where divine events have taken place over the course of Jain history. Some of the sites include Ladnu and Shravanabelagola. The divine events taken place at these sites are written in religious texts illustrating their importance.
Moving onto Puranakshetras, these are Tirthas or pilgrimage sites where great men from Jain culture have lived such as Rajgir and Ayodhya to name a few. These are religious figures who have a prominent role in the religious texts and are looked up to by believers.
With Siddhakshetras, these are Tirthas where Tirthankaras have attained liberation or Moksha. Some of these sites include Champapuri, Ashtapada Hill, and Pawapuri.
The final type of Tirtha comes in the form of Gyanakshetra. These Tirthas are where acharyas were set up (centers of learning). These were places where Jainism is or was taught making them the educational backbone of the religion. An example of this type would be Shravanabelagola.
If you would like to learn more about the Tirtha, please watch the following video: