Importance of Visiting the Holy Places

Nectar of Instruction

Continuing with our series on the Nectar of Instruction (Upadeśāmṛta), we are posting Text 9, the very important instructions given by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī on visiting the holy places of pilgrimage.

The Nectar of Instruction
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Text Nine

vaikuṇṭhāj janito varā madhu-purī tatrāpi rāsotsavād
vṛndāraṇyam udāra-pāṇi-ramaṇāt tatrāpi govardhanaḥ
rādhā-kuṇḍam ihāpi gokula-pateḥ premāmṛtāplāvanāt
kuryād asya virājato giri-taṭe sevāṁ vivekī na kaḥ

SYNONYMS

vaikuṇṭhāt—than Vaikuṇṭha, the spiritual world; janitaḥ—because of birth; varā—better; madhu-purī—the transcendental city known as Mathurā; tatra api—superior to that; rāsa-utsavāt—because of the performance of the rāsa-līlā; vṛndā-araṇyam—the forest of Vṛndāvana; udāra-pāṇi—of Lord Kṛṣṇa; ramaṇāt—because of various kinds of loving pastimes; tatra api—superior to that; govardhanaḥ—Govardhana Hill; rādhā-kuṇḍam—a place called Rādhā-kuṇḍa; iha api—superior to this; gokula-pateḥ—of Kṛṣṇa, the master of Gokula; prema-amṛta—with the nectar of divine love; āplāvanāt—because of being overflooded; kuryāt—would do; asya—of this (Rādhā-kuṇḍa); virājataḥ—situated; giri-taṭe—at the foot of Govardhana Hill; sevām—service; vivekī—who is intelligent; na—not; kaḥ—who.

TRANSLATION

The holy place known as Mathurā is spiritually superior to Vaikuṇṭha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared there. Superior to Mathurā-Purī is the transcendental forest of Vṛndāvana because of Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa-līlā pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vṛndāvana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and was the site of His various loving pastimes. And, above all, the superexcellent Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa stands supreme, for it is overflooded with the ambrosial nectarean prema of the Lord of Gokula, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Where, then, is that intelligent Person who is unwilling to serve this divine Rādhā-kuṇḍa, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana Hill?

PURPORT

The spiritual world is three fourths of the total creation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and it is the most exalted region. The spiritual world is naturally superior to the material world; however, Mathurā and the adjoining areas, although appearing in the material world, are considered superior to the spiritual world because the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself appeared at Mathurā. The interior forests of Vṛndāvana are considered superior to Mathurā because of the presence of the twelve forests (dvādaśa-vana), such as Tālavana, Madhuvana and Bahulāvana, which are famous for the various pastimes of the Lord. Thus the interior Vṛndāvana forest is considered superior to Mathurā, but superior to these forests is the divine Govardhana Hill because Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhana Hill like an umbrella, raising it with His lotuslike beautiful hand to protect His associates, the denizens of Vraja, from the torrential rains sent by the angry Indra, King of the demigods. It is also at Govardhana Hill that Kṛṣṇa tends the cows with His cowherd friends, and there also He had His rendezvous with His most beloved Śrī Rādhā and engaged in loving pastimes with Her. Rādhā-kuṇḍa, at the foot of Govardhana, is superior to all because it is there that love of Kṛṣṇa overflows. Advanced devotees prefer to reside at Rādhā-kuṇḍa because this place is the site of many memories of the eternal loving affairs between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī (rati-vilāsa).

In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā) it is stated that when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu first visited the area of Vrajabhūmi, He could not at first find the location of Rādhā-kuṇḍa. This means that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was actually searching for the exact location of Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Finally He found the holy spot, and there was a small pond there. He took His bath in that small pond and told His devotees that the actual Rādhā-kuṇḍa was situated there. Later the pond was excavated by Lord Caitanya’s devotees, headed first by the six Gosvāmīs, such as Rūpa and Raghunātha dāsa. Presently there is a large lake known as Rādhā-kuṇḍa there. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has given much stress to Rādhā-kuṇḍa because of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s desire to find it. Who, then, would give up Rādhā-kuṇḍa and try to reside elsewhere? No person with transcendental intelligence would do so. The importance of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, however, cannot be realized by other Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas, nor can persons uninterested in the devotional service of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu understand the spiritual importance and divine nature of Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Thus Rādhā-kuṇḍa is mainly worshiped by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, the followers of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

radha_kund

Everyone Follows My Path in All Respects

In picture; At the top Krishna is dancing with His purest devotees as a lover. On the lotus petals the Lord is reciprocating with His devotees as a son, as a friend and as a master. Below left, a devotee in the material world is associating with Krishna personally by painting His transcendental form. Next, an impersonalist, by his meditation, is merging with the brahmajyoti, the spiritual effulgence emanating from the Lord’s body. On the right a mystic yogi is walking on the water. On the far right a fruitive worker is receiving the fruits of his labor. (Picture and description taken from the Original 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is)

Bhagavad-gītā As It Is
By: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 4 Transcendental Knowledge

TEXT 11

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ

ye—all of them; yathā—as; mām—unto Me; prapadyante—surrender; tān—unto them; tathā—so; eva—certainly; bhajāmi—do I reward; aham—I; mama—My; vartma—path; anuvartante—do follow; manuṣyāḥ—all men; pārtha—O son of Pṛthā; sarvaśaḥ—in all respects.

TRANSLATION

All of them—as they surrender unto Me—I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā.
PURPORT

Eveyone is searching for Kṛṣṇa in the different aspects of His manifestations. Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is partially realized in His impersonal brahmajyoti effulgence and as the all-pervading Supersoul dwelling within everything, including the particles of atoms. But Kṛṣṇa is only fully realized by His pure devotees. Consequently, Kṛṣṇa is the object of everyone’s realization, and thus anyone and everyone is satisfied according to one’s desire to have Him. In the transcendental world also, Kṛṣṇa reciprocates with His pure devotees in the transcendental attitude, just as the devotee wants Him. One devotee may want Kṛṣṇa as supreme master, another as his personal friend, another as his son, and still another as his lover. Kṛṣṇa rewards all the devotees equally, according to their different intensities of love for Him. In the material world, the same reciprocations of feelings are there, and they are equally exchanged by the Lord with the different types of worshipers. The pure devotees both here and in the transcendental abode associate with Him in person and are able to render personal service to the Lord and thus derive transcendental bliss in His loving service. As for those who are impersonalists and who want to commit spiritual suicide by annihilating the individual existence of the living entity, Kṛṣṇa helps also by absorbing them into His effulgence. Such impersonalists do not agree to accept the eternal, blissful Personality of Godhead; consequently they cannot relish the bliss of transcendental personal service to the Lord, having extinguished their individuality. Some of them, who are not situated even in the impersonal existence, return to this material field to exhibit their dormant desires for activities. They are not admitted in the spiritual planets, but they are again given a chance to act on the material planets. For those who are fruitive workers, the Lord awards the desired results of their prescribed duties, as the yajñeśvara; and those who are yogīs seeking mystic powers are awarded such powers. In other words, everyone is dependant for success upon His mercy alone, and all kinds of spiritual processes are but different degrees of success on the same path. Unless, therefore, one comes to the highest perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all attempts remain imperfect, as is stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam:

akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāradhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param

“Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation, one should with all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for complete perfection, culminating in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” (Bhāg. 2.3.10)

Radha Kunda


Radha Kunda

“The holy place known as Mathura is spiritually superior to Vaikuntha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared there. Superior to Mathura-puri is the transcendental forest of Vrndavana because of Krishna’s rasa-lila pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vrndavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krishna and was the site of His various loving pastimes. And, above all, the superexcellent Sri Radha-kunda stands supreme, for it is overflooded with the ambrosial nectarean prema of the Lord of Gokula, Sri Krishna. Where, then, is that intelligent person who is unwilling to serve this divine Radha-kunda, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana Hill?”

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