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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Mother Ganges

Some selected quotes on the river Ganges

Mother Ganges is worshiped by the water of the Ganges: a devotee takes a little water from the Ganges and offers it back to the Ganges. When the devotee takes the water, mother Ganges does not lose anything, and when the water is offered back, mother Ganges does not increase, but in this way the worshiper of the Ganges is benefited. Similarly, a devotee of the Lord offers the Lord patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyam—a leaf, flower, fruit or water—in great devotion, but everything, including the leaf, flower, fruit and water, belongs to the Lord, and therefore there is nothing to renounce or to accept. One must simply take advantage of the bhakti process because by following this process one does not lose anything but one gains the favor of the Supreme Person. (SB 9.9.12)

When there was a meeting of great sages at Naimiṣāraṇya, Sūta Gosvāmī was reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and the importance of the Ganges was stated as follows: “The waters of the Ganges are always carrying the flavor of tulasī offered at the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and as such the waters of the Ganges are ever flowing, spreading the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Wherever the waters of the Ganges are flowing, all will be sanctified, both externally and internally.” ( Nectar of Devotion Chapter 7)

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