The study of holy places and pilgrimages to them is treated in the Hindu tradition as a sub-field, called tirtha, of the Dharmasastra. The Trishthalisetu or "Bridge to the Three Holy Cities" of Narayana Bhatta, written in Varanasi in the 16th century A. D., is recognized as the standard and most authoritative text of the voluminous tirtha literature. After the brief introductory chapters which discuss tirthas in general, the following chapters describe the proper procedure for a pilgrimage up to the time of arrival at the tirtha. The rest of the General Section consists of detailed descriptions of the various tirtha rituals, including a number of long and complex considerations of relatively minor points of ritual. Among these rituals which are described in their order of performance, the sraddha rites clearly predominate; over one-third of the entire General Section is taken up by the discussion of tirtha sraddha and its details. The other main rituals discussed at some length are the fast, tonsure, bathing and tarpana.
At the end of the section is found the description of the rite of throwing one's parent's bones into the waters of a tirtha. This present volume consists of a critical edition of the text of the Samanyapraghattaka and an annotated translation. This text contains a wealth of information for the study of the pilgrimage tradition in Hinduism.
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