Double Mercy; The River Ganges and the Pure Devotee

Brahmanda Ghat

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Here are two nice verses describing the glories of bathing in the river Ganges, and association with the pure devotee. How fortunate is this devotee who is helping the pure devotee Srila Prabhupada into the river.

O Sūta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use. (SB 1.1.15)

Dear Lord, Your personal associates, devotees, wander all over the world to purify even the holy places of pilgrimage. Is not such activity pleasing to those who are actually afraid of material existence? (SB 4.30.37)

…Pure devotees of the Lord are more powerful than the waters of the sacred river Ganges. One can derive spiritual benefit out of prolonged use of the Ganges waters. But one can be sanctified at once by the mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord.

full texts and purports

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto One, Chapter 1, Text 15

yat-pāda-saṁśrayāḥ sūta
munayaḥ praśamāyanāḥ
sadyaḥ punanty upaspṛṣṭāḥ
svardhuny-āpo ‘nusevayā

yat—whose; pāda—lotus feet; saṁśrayāḥ—those who have taken shelter of; sūta—O Sūta Gosvāmī; munayaḥ—great sages; praśamāyanāḥ—absorbed in devotion to the Supreme; sadyaḥ—at once; punanti—sanctify; upaspṛṣṭāḥ—simply by association; svardhunī—of the sacred Ganges; āpaḥ—water; anusevayā—bringing into use.

TRANSLATION

O Sūta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use.

PURPORT

Pure devotees of the Lord are more powerful than the waters of the sacred river Ganges. One can derive spiritual benefit out of prolonged use of the Ganges waters. But one can be sanctified at once by the mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that any person, regardless of birth as śūdra, woman, or merchant, can take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and by so doing can return to Godhead. To take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord means to take shelter of the pure devotees. The pure devotees whose only business is serving are honored by the names Prabhupāda and Viṣṇupāda, which indicate such devotees to be representatives of the lotus feet of the Lord. Anyone, therefore, who takes shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee by accepting the pure devotee as his spiritual master can be at once purified. Such devotees of the Lord are honored equally with the Lord because they are engaged in the most confidential service of the Lord, for they deliver out of the material world the fallen souls whom the Lord wants to return home, back to Godhead. Such pure devotees are better known as vicelords according to revealed scriptures. The sincere disciple of the pure devotee considers the spiritual master equal to the Lord, but always considers himself to be a humble servant of the servant of the Lord [Cc. Madhya 13.80]. This is the pure devotional path.

Also from;:

Srimad Bhagavatam
4.30.37

teṣāṁ vicaratāṁ padbhyāṁ
tīrthānāṁ pāvanecchayā
bhītasya kiṁ na roceta
tāvakānāṁ samāgamaḥ

teṣām—of them; vicaratām—who travel; padbhyām—by their feet; tīrthānām—the holy places; pāvana-icchayā—with a desire to purify; bhītasya—to the materialistic person who is always fearful; kim—why; na—not; roceta—becomes pleasing; tāvakānām—of Your devotees; samāgamaḥ—meeting.

TRANSLATION

Dear Lord, Your personal associates, devotees, wander all over the world to purify even the holy places of pilgrimage. Is not such activity pleasing to those who are actually afraid of material existence?

PURPORT

There are two kinds of devotees. One is called goṣṭhānandī and the other bhajanānandī. The word bhajanānandī refers to the devotee who does not move, but remains in one place. Such a devotee is always engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. He chants the mahā-mantra as taught by many ācāryas and sometimes goes out for preaching work. The goṣṭhānandī is one who desires to increase the number of devotees all over the world. He travels all over the world just to purify the world and the people residing in it. Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised:

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted His followers to move all over the world to preach in every town and village. In the Caitanya-sampradāya those who strictly follow the principles of Lord Caitanya must travel all over the world to preach the message of Lord Caitanya, which is the same as preaching the words of Kṛṣṇa—Bhagavad-gītā—and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The more the devotees preach the principles of kṛṣṇa-kathā, the more people throughout the world will benefit.

Devotees like the great sage Nārada, who travel all over to preach, are called goṣṭhānandī. Nārada Muni is always wandering throughout the universe just to create different types of devotees. Nārada even made a hunter a devotee. He also made Dhruva Mahārāja and Prahlāda devotees. Actually, all devotees are indebted to the great sage Nārada, for he has wandered both in heaven and in hell. A devotee of the Lord is not even afraid of hell. He goes to preach the glories of the Lord everywhere—even in hell—because there is no distinction between heaven and hell for a devotee.

nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve
na kutaścana bibhyati
svargāpavarga-narakeṣv
api tulyārtha-darśinaḥ

“A pure devotee of Nārāyaṇa is never afraid of going anywhere and everywhere. For him heaven and hell are one and the same.” (Bhāg. 6.17.28) Such devotees, wandering all over the world, deliver those who are actually afraid of this material existence. Some people are already disgusted with material existence, being confused and frustrated by material enjoyment, and some people, who are intelligent, are interested in understanding the Supreme Lord. Both may take advantage of the pure devotee who wanders throughout the world.

When a pure devotee goes to a place of pilgrimage, he desires to purify that holy place of pilgrimage. Many sinful men bathe in the holy waters of the places of pilgrimage. They take their baths in the waters of the Ganges and Yamunā at places such as Prayāga, Vṛndāvana and Mathurā. In this way the sinful men are purified, but their sinful actions and reactions remain at the holy places of pilgrimage. When a devotee comes to take his bath at those places of pilgrimage, the sinful reactions left by the sinful men are neutralized by the devotee. Tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadā-bhṛtā (Bhāg. 1.13.10). Because the devotee always carries the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, wherever he goes becomes a place of pilgrimage, a holy place for understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is therefore the duty of everyone to associate with a pure devotee and thus attain freedom from material contamination. Everyone should take advantage of the wandering devotees, whose only business is to deliver conditioned souls from the clutches of māyā.

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