The Earth : on which edifice the habitat.
Life as a pilgrimage from birth to death has many stations. In India death is but another station and in itself does not bring final release (moksa). Final release from all conditions of existence, from all limitations, is gained through Knowledge (Brahmavidya); and Knowledge, the realisation of Supreme identity, is the means and the end itself : it gives and is release. Some attain it while alive (jlvan-mukti), others at death. To the great mass of people, who are without the faculties and training to make them fit for the realisation of the Supreme Principle by Knowledge, other roads lie open which also lead to the Centre. Pilgrimage is one; it brings joy (bhukti) and release (moksa) to those who have achieved control of their minds and of the actions of their hands and feet; who have sapience (vidya), and who have practised austerities and have a good name.
The places of pilgrimage are distributed through the entire country and are called Tirtha and Ksetra. The number of these sacred sites is large; the 'Mahabharata' speaks of hundreds of places of pilgrimage.
Tirtha is the name of a place of pilgrimage on the bank of a river, the seashore or a lake. The meaning of the word is a ford, a passage. Water, the purifying, fertilizing element being present, its current which is the river of life can be forded in inner realisation and the pilgrim can cross over to the other shore. The place of pilgrimage is the end of the journey to the Centre; but it is not itself the goal and only the means for crossing over to the Centre. For this reason the number of Tirthas and Ksetras is indefinitely large.3 For this very reason too no journey need be undertaken at all.