Hearing is Most Important

22-Varabasi-River-Ganges-Uttar-Pradesh-India

By associating with persons for whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mukunda, is the all in all, one can hear of His powerful activities and soon come to understand them. The activities of Mukunda are so potent that simply by hearing of them one immediately associates with the Lord. For a person who constantly and very eagerly hears narrations of the Lord’s powerful activities, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead in the form of sound vibrations, enters within his heart and cleanses it of all contamination. On the other hand, although bathing in the Ganges diminishes bodily contaminations and infections, this process and the process of visiting holy places can cleanse the heart only after a long time. Therefore who is the sane man who will not associate with devotees to quickly perfect his life? (SB 5.18.11)
…Bathing in the Ganges can certainly cure one of many infectious diseases, but it cannot cleanse one’s materially attached mind, which creates all kinds of contaminations in material existence. However, one who directly associates with the Supreme Lord by hearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
…All the great ācāryas strongly recommend that people be given a chance to hear about the Supreme Lord. Then success is assured. The more we cleanse the dirt of material attachment from our hearts, the more we will be attracted by Kṛṣṇa’s name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and activities. This is the sum and substance of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. (from purport SB 5.18.11)
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The Purpose of Pilgrimages is to Remember the Lord Constantly

Indian-Railways

Whenever I plan a trip to India, it seems the first thing I do, is start looking at maps. I have always been a map person, as there is some romantic imagery for me, especially when I look at a map of India. The shape of this country has always invoked in me, a sense of spirituality and wonderment, as if the very shape of it is somehow what a spiritual holy land should look like.

There are so many ways to travel in India; on foot, by bicycle rickshaw, or the motorized “cockroach” rickshaws, by bus, by plane, or my favorite, by train.

Train in India

Actually we are planing to go to Vrndavana, but will take in some other places of interest as well. The following are some selections from Srila Prabhupada’s books which describe India, Vrndavana, and the purpose of pilgrimage etc.

The purpose of pilgrimages is to remember the Lord constantly, and therefore the Lord is known as tīrtha-kīrti. The purpose of going to a place of pilgrimage is to get the chance to glorify the Lord. Even today, although times have changed, there are still pilgrimage sites in India. For example, in Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, where we had a chance to stay, people are awake from early in the morning at 4 A.M. up until nighttime and are constantly engaged, some way or other, in chanting the holy glories of the Lord. The beauty of such a pilgrimage site is that automatically one remembers the holy glories of the Lord. His name, fame, quality, form, pastimes and entourage are all identical to the Lord, and therefore chanting the glories of the Lord invokes the personal presence of the Lord. Any time or anywhere pure devotees meet and chant the glories of the Lord, the Lord is present without any doubt. It is said by the Lord Himself that He always stays where His pure devotees chant His glories. (from purport SB 3.1.45)

Places of pilgrimage yield a special advantage for a devotee in quickly advancing his spiritual life. Lord Kṛṣṇa lives everywhere, but still it is very easy to approach Him in holy places of pilgrimage because these places are inhabited by great sages. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He lives wherever His devotees are chanting the glories of His transcendental activities. (from purport SB 4.8.42)

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Pilgrim’s Progress

Maharaja Yudhisthira in exile

This morning I was reading from the 3rd Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam about Vidura and the beginning of his journey to the great places of pilgrimage. The following is excerpted from some of my reading.

He began to travel alone, thinking only of Kṛṣṇa, through various holy places like Ayodhyā, Dvārakā and Mathurā. He traveled where the air, hill, orchard, river and lake are all pure and sinless and where the forms of the Unlimited decorate the temples. Thus he performed the pilgrim’s progress. (SB 3.1.18)

…Places of pilgrimages are meant for eradicating the sins of the pilgrims, and they are distributed all over the universe just to give facility to all concerned for attaining pure existence and God realization. One should not be satisfied, however, merely by visiting the places of pilgrimage and performing one’s prescribed duties; he should be eager to meet the great souls who are already there, engaged in the service of the Lord. In each and every place of pilgrimage, the Lord is present in His various transcendental forms.

…The first and foremost duty of a pilgrim is to satisfy the Supreme Lord Hari. While traveling as a pilgrim, one should not be worried about pleasing society. There is no need to depend on social formalities or occupation or dress. One should remain always absorbed in the function of pleasing the Lord. Thus sanctified by thought and action, one is able to realize the Supreme Lord by the process of a pilgrim’s journey.

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The Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrims Progress

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With the coming of Spring I am always inclined to travel. Spring always seems like a good season to began a journey. With this in mind, I was reading this morning from the Srimad Bhagavatam about how Vidura left the home of his brother to devote himself completely to the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

Places of pilgrimages are meant for eradicating the sins of the pilgrims, and they are distributed all over the universe just to give facility to all concerned for attaining pure existence and God realization. One should not be satisfied, however, merely by visiting the places of pilgrimage and performing one’s prescribed duties; he should be eager to meet the great souls who are already there, engaged in the service of the Lord. In each and every place of pilgrimage, the Lord is present in His various transcendental forms.

In the land of Bhāratavarṣa (India) there are many hundreds and thousands of places of pilgrimage distributed all over the country, and by traditional practice the common man visits such holy places during all seasons of the year. Some of the arcā representations of the Lord situated in different places of pilgrimage… There are millions and billions of such arcā forms of the Lord distributed all over the universe. All these arcā-mūrtis are summarized in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta in the following words:

“The Lord has so distributed Himself all over the universe just to give pleasure to the devotees, to give the common man facility to eradicate his sins, and to establish religious principles in the world.” (from purports to SB 3.1.17-18)

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