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Visiting Holy Places: Pleasure Hunting?

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Sri Nabadwip Dham, evening class, part 6
7 November 2012, translated from Bengali


In a few days many of you are going to Vrindavan, but why are you going to Vrindavan? Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj said very strong words in this regard. He said, "Going to Vrindavan is an eye exercise." You know how you walk everywhere to get some exercise for your arms and legs, the same here... It is written here in Gaudiya Gitanjali,

তীর্থযাত্রা পরিশ্রম কেবল মনের ভ্রম,
সর্ব্বসিদ্ধি গোবিন্দচরণ

tirtha-yatra parisrama kevala manera bhrama
sarva-siddhi govinda-charana

"The trouble of visiting holy places is simply a mental delusion—all possible perfection is the feet of Govinda."

(Srila Narottam Das Thakur, "Anya-abhilasa chhadi...")

You can ask me, "Maharaj, then why are you going there, why are you taking us with you?" Do you know the answer?

When Bhagirath Maharaj wanted to bring Ganga to this earth, Ganga at first did not want to come—she refused, "I will not go there! If I go there I will go to hell!" Why did she say it? Because she thought, "All these sinners will bathe in me and I will become contaminated and enter the hellish planets." Bhagirath Maharaj reassured her, "Why? When pure devotees whose hearts are free from material desires (niskama sadhu), who are simple-hearted (niskapata sadhu), bathe in you, the Lord, who resides within the hearts of His devotees, will remove all sins from you." Then why is it said "tirtha-yatra parisrama..." (the trouble of visiting holy places is simply a mental delusion)? Because when you go to a holy place you get some pious benefit (punya), and what happens after you get that pious benefit (punya)? You go to heaven. But as we were just singing in the kirtan,

নাহি মাগি দেহসুখ বিদ্যা ধন জন ॥
নাহি মাগি স্বর্গ আর মোক্ষ নাহি মাগি ।
না করি প্রার্থনা কোন বিভূতির লাগি ॥

nahi magi deha-sukha, vidya, dhana, jana
nahi magi svarga ara moksa nahi magi
na kari prarthana kona vibhutira lagi

"I do not pray for bodily pleasure, learning, wealth, or followers. I do not pray for heaven, I do not pray for liberation, and I do not pray for any supernatural powers."

(Sri Siksastakam, 4.1-2, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

We do not want liberation. When you get liberation you become merged with the Lord. Suppose some straw is floating in the Ganga and there is a drop of dew on it. That drop of water says, "I am so small and the Ganga is so huge, she is an ocean! I too can become an ocean!" What happens then? Then, that drop of dew falls into the water—can you ever find that drop of water in it? Mukti (liberation) is also like this—you become merged with the Lord. There are five kinds of liberation—sayujya, merging with Brahman; sarupya, having the same body as the Lord; salokya, residing at the same planet as the Lord; samipya, being an associate of the Lord; sarsti, having the same opulences as the Lord. But "nahi magi svarga ara moksa nahi magi"—we do not want any heaven or liberation, we keep away from heaven.


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