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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Prabhupada > Sahasra Tirtha Jala > Tirtha Mahatmya

Tirtha Mahatmya


by Tattvavit Dasa


Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.13.10) says:


bhavad-vidha bhagavatas

tirtha-bhutah svayam vibho

tirthi-kurvanti tirthani

svantah sthena gadabhrta


"[O Vidura,] devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. You turn all places into places of pilgrimage because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart."

Srila Prabhupada's purport reads: "The Personality of Godhead is omnipresent by His diverse potencies, just as the power of electricity is distributed everywhere within space. The Lord's omnipresence is perceived and manifested by His unalloyed devotees like Vidura, just as electricity is manifested in an electric bulb. The holy places all over the earth are meant for purifying the polluted consciousness of the human being by an atmosphere surcharged with the presence of the Lord's unalloyed devotees."Who is surcharging tirthas these days? There are not many unalloyed devotees, compared to long ago, when the Skanda Purana said that visiting holy men is the principal form of pilgrimage and that merely visiting geographical tirthas is secondary. Pilgrimage without a visit to a pure devotee is incomplete.Srila Prabhupada also explained that point {Bhag. 1. 13.1Op): "If anyone visits a holy place, he must search out the pure devotees residing in such holy places, take lessons from them, try to apply such instructions in practical life and thus gradually prepare himself for the ultimate salvation, going back to Godhead The Personality of Godhead is always with such pure devotees because of their unalloyed service, which is without any tinge of fruitive action or Utopian speculation. They are in the actual service of the Lord, specifically by


Fasting and charity are recommended.Srila Prabhupada sometimes quoted the Bhagavatam (10.84.31) verse: "In this world familiarity breeds contempt. For example, one who lives on the bank of the Ganges might travel to some other body of water to be purified." So we shouldn't underestimate sacred waters.The Padma Purana says that a person who touches the Ganga attains an eternal, spiritual form. The following incident is an example. Once, Garuda, Lord Vishnu's bird carrier, found a large snake to eat. While Garuda flew over the Ganga, the snake happened to touch the Ganga's waves with its tail and attain a four-armed Vaikuntha form. Seeing this transformation, Garuda placed that glorious personality on his back and transported him to Vaikuntha. {Madhurya Dhama)The inconceivably vast length of the Ganga is mentioned by Narada Muni: "My dear Lord Krishna, the transcendental water that washes Your lotus feet is known in the higher planetary systems as the Mandikini River, in the lower plantetary systems as the Bhogavati and in the earthly planetary system as the Ganges. This sacred, transcendental water flows throughout the entire universe, purifying wherever it goes." {Bhag. 10.70.44)The Mahabharata {Vanaparva, 82.13-17) says that while the performance of sacrifice is costly and within the reach of only the rich, a holy place can be visited by all, even the poor, and therefore excels in merit even the best of sacrifices. Indeed, Lord Balarama set the perfect example for people in general by circumambulating India in a mood of serious meditation and bathing at various holy pilgrimage sites. (B^g. 10.78.40)Lord Krishna also set an example by going to Kurukshetra to bathe in Samanta-panchaka during a solar eclipse.


On that occasion many people from all parts of Bharat-varsha went to Samanta-panchaka in order to earn pious credit (B/iag.10.82.2-10).Then the same two Personalities of Godhead, Krishna and Balarama, reappeared in Kali-yuga as Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda and taught the best sacrifice for this age of quarrel and hypocrisy: chanting Hare Krishna. Thanks to Srila Prabhupada, chanting has become known worldwide. So, now, while pilgrimage is convenient for those living near tirthas, the holy names can conveniently be chanted by all, anywhere, and therefore excel in merit even the best of pilgrimages.Srila Prabhupada's travels purified the world and the people Devotees circumambulating the 1008 sacred waters displayed in Sri Mayapur Dhama during the Hare Krishna World Convention held in late February and early March 1996.residing in it. He transformed every place he visited into a place of pilgrimage because he had no desire in life except to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What is more, on padayatra Srila Prabhupada has traveled in his murti form to many holy places in India and continues to travel and purify them.The Lord is always pleased with such a pure devotee. So it is befitting that Srila Prabhupada be honored by Sri Krishna's representatives, the sacred waters.