Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

The difference between living in the Dham and pilgrimage

Sign in to follow this  


The trouble taken to visit various holy places is just the wandering of the mind, an error. All success comes from Govinda’s lotus feet. With firm faith, letting go of vanity and envy, always worship him and no other. (Prema-bhakti-candrikā 17)

tīrtha-yātrā pariśrama, kebala manera bhrama,
sarba-siddhi gobinda-caraṇa |

sudṛḍha biśvāsa kari, mada mātsarya parihari,
sadā kara ananya-bhajana || 

Exclusive Bhajana

Sudhā-kaṇikā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Srila Thakur Mahashay is instructing us to give up the mind-agitating endeavor of traveling to various holy places and instead to settle peacefully in a līlā-dhāma like Sri Vrindavan to perform exclusive bhajana in the association of devotees. tīrtha-yātrā pariśrama, kebala manera bhrama, sarba-siddhi gobinda-caraṇa. Here, it should be understood that tīrtha-yātrā means pilgrimages to holy places other than abodes of the Lord such as Sri Vrindavan, Nabadwip, Nilachala and so on that are favorable to one’s mood of worship. The reason is that among the sixty-four limbs of bhajana, there are five limbs that have been mentioned as extremely powerful sādhanas, and living in Vraja is one of them. In Sri Caitanya-Caritāmṛta, we find,

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgabata-śrabaṇa | mathurā-bāsa, śrī-mūrtir śraddhāya sebana ||
sakala sādhana śreṣṭha ei pañca aṅga | kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pāṅcera alpa saṅga ||

Associating with sādhus, chanting the names of the Lord, hearing Srimad-Bhāgavatam, living in Mathura and serving the Deity form with faith: these five limbs of sādhana are the best of all. Even a little contact with them produces love for Krishna. (2.22.128-129)

The purport is that a rāgānugā-sādhaka who desires prema at Sri Bhagavān’s lotus feet should take shelter of Sri Vrindavan, Nabadwip, Nilachala or other dhāma that is favorable to his mood of worship or which stimulates that mood. There, he shall always be engaged in internal bhajana such as hearing, chanting, remembering and so on in the association of great devotees who have a similar mood. He should not accept the trouble of traveling to and from various other holy places. This unnecessary travel causes the mind to be distracted and creates obstacles in one’s internal bhajana of remembrance and contemplation.

In the Vaishnava-toṣaṇī commentary to Lord Brahma’s prayers (jñāne prayāsam udapāsya, etc.. Bhāg. 10.14.3), it is written, sthāne satāṁ nivāsa evāvyagratayā sthitāḥ, na tu tīrtha-paryaṭanādi kleśān kurvantaḥ. “Rather than accepting the troubles of touring various holy places, one should spend his life in Vaishnava bhajana, staying peacefully in adhāma such as Sri Vrindavan, hearing hari-kathā in the association of the great souls who naturally reside there.”


Picture of Ranbari Krishnadas in the temple.

In the matter of bhajana-sādhana, the realizations of great devotees, like the words of śāstra, are one type of pramāṇa or source of evidence. When Siddha Krishnadas Babaji Maharaji of Ranvari, who lived in Vraja Dham, desired to visit the four dhams, Sri Radharani came to him in a dream and forbade him to do so. Thinking it to be only a dream, he traveled to the four dhāmas and in Dwaraka he had Vaishnava symbols called tapta-mudrā branded on his body. He returned to Vraja and that night Srimati Radharani again appeared in his dream and gave an order. She told him that since he had accepted the tapta-mudrā while in Dwaraka, he was now in Satyabhama’s group. Therefore, he should leave Vraja and go to Dwaraka. Then Bābā realized that his previous dream had been true, and being extremely repentant, he asked some other siddha mahātmās if there was a way he could expiate his sins. When no one was able to prescribe any atonement that would supersede Sri Radharani’s direct order, Baba’s body began to burn like dry wood in separation from Radha and was soon reduced to ashes. Through her own people, Radharani has given the instruction to the rāgānugīya-sādhakas that abandoning Vraja Dham, which is favorable to their mood of worship, and going to another dhāma will be antagonistic to the bhāva of a vraja-rasa-sādhaka.

Srila Thakur Mahashay says, tīrtha-yātrā pariśrama, kebala manera bhrama, or that it is nothing more than a delusion. If a sādhaka who desires bhakti thinks that by traveling to various holy places he will attain success in bhakti, this is a type of delusion for him. By traveling to different holy places, he will not be able to perform with firm faith the limbs of internal bhajana, such as hearing, chanting and remembering Sri Hari, that lead one to prema. By going here and there, he will associate with many different kinds of people and his mind will inevitably be agitated. By no longer running about from place to place and instead residing calmly in a prema-dhāma such as Sri Vrindavan, the sādhaka can faithfully perform bhajana to Sri Govinda’s lotus feet with his body, mind and words and be blessed with prema. For this reason, it has been said, sarba-siddhi gobinda-caraṇa. “All success lies at the lotus feet of Sri Govinda.”

If people who desire to obtain various results or who seek puṇya (virtue) think that by going to different holy places those objectives will be fulfilled, we say to them also that this is just a misconception. The good results from all tīrtha yātrās dwell at Sri Govinda’s lotus feet. If they give up the difficulties of going on tīrtha-yātrā and just worship Sri Govinda’s lotus feet, they can easily be blessed with an indescribable fortune much greater than what they desired. By his own virtue, compassion, Sri Krishna bestows prema-bhakti on them.

anya-kāmī kare yadi kṛṣṇera bhajana | nā māgileo kṛṣṇa tāre dena svacaraṇa ||
kṛṣṇa kahe—āmāya bhaje māge biṣaya-sukha | amṛta chāḍi biṣa māge, ei baḍa mūrkha ||
āmi bijña, ei mūrkhe biṣaya kene diba | svacaraṇāmṛta diyā biṣaya bhulāiba ||
kāma lāgi kṛṣṇa bhaje pāya kṛṣṇa-rase | kāma chāḍi dāsa haite haya abhilāṣe ||

If a person who has other desires worships Sri Krishna, even without him asking, Krishna gives him his lotus feet. Krishna says, ‘If someone worships me to obtain sense enjoyment, he gives up nectar and prays for poison. He is a big fool. Being wise, why should I give sense enjoyment to this fool? By giving him the nectar of my feet, I shall cause him to forget all about sense enjoyment.’ When someone affected by material desire worships Krishna, he gets a taste for kṛṣṇa-rasa. Then, he gives up that material desire and wants instead to be Krishna’s servant.” (CC. 2.22.37-39, 41)

Then Srila Thakur Mahashay says, sudṛḍha biśvāsa kari, mada mātsarya parihari, sadā kara ananya bhajana. Previously, all the philosophical conclusions regarding bhajana have been described. Having established firm faith in that siddhānta, the Vaishnava sādhakas must perform bhajana. The faith that brings one the eligibility (adhikāra) for bhakti-sādhanā or bhajana is born of trust. śraddhā śabde biśvāsa kahe, sudṛḍha niścaya (CC. 2.22.62). According to the words of sādhu, śāstra and guru, trust or faith is known as śraddhā. A person who has unwavering trust is the best of the faithful ones and has the highest eligibility for bhajana (uttamādhikārī).

Moreover, a bhakta performing bhajana must give up pride, envy and so on because these are extremely destructive fundamental impediments to bhakti. If one is to obtain the supreme object, arrogance, vanity and so on must absolutely be abandoned. If one considers it carefully, it is seen that we regard our material bodies as ‘I’ and that connected to them as ‘mine.’ From this, pride or vanity arises. If the truth of the matter is understood, one’s sense of being the ‘doer’ is spontaneously removed. The nature of the jīva is that he is pure spirit and is disinterested in all physical objects.

All worldly activities are accomplished by the guṇas of prakṛti: prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (Gītā 3.27). If one considers this, he will naturally seek shelter at Sri Bhagavān’s lotus feet and understand himself incapable of enjoying the things of the world. Then all pride and vanity are uprooted and one’s humility causes his own charming form to appear and illuminate his heart.

If mātsarya (envy) resides in the heart, one is deprived of the eligibility to worship Sri Bhagavān. In the beginning of Srimad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2), we see nirmatsarāṇāṁ satām. “A virtuous or noble person who is free from envy is eligible for bhāgavata-dharma.” parotkarṣāsahanaṁ mātsaryam. Mātsarya is the name of that lowly, narrow or miserly mental function whereby one is unable to tolerate the excellent qualities of another, or doesn’t approve of the other’s qualities or becomes morose when he hears of those qualities. A person affected by envy finds fault with those whose qualities are superior to his own, is challenging and arrogant toward his equals and shows contempt or scorn for those less advanced. A person free from envy shows faith and devotion toward superior persons, love and friendship toward his equals, and affection and compassion toward those less advanced.

The desire for fame or honor also arises in the heart of a person affected by envy. By the semen of the outcaste named Mātsarya (envy) in the womb of the demoness called Pratiṣṭhāśā (desire for fame), the twin daughters Hiṁsā (malice) and Asūyā (jealousy) are born. By the frenzied dance of these two, the virtuous nature of the heart is completely destroyed. Therefore, the sādhaka must always avoid pride, envy and so on. Then Srila Thakur Mahashay says, sadā kara ananya-bhajana. In his commentary on the word ananyavṛttyā in Srimad-Bhāgavatam 4.7.38, Sridhara Swami has written, ananya-vṛttyāvyabhicāriṇyā bhaktyā. “It should be understood that ananya-bhakti (exclusive devotion) means avyabhicārī-bhakti (constant devotion).” It is contrary to pure devotion to have any other desire than to serve Sri Krishna. Therefore, ananya-bhajana means giving up all desires related to the material or spiritual worlds and worshiping Sri Krishna for his happiness only. In his explanation of the word ananya-bhāk in his commentary on Bhagavad-Gītā 9.30, Srila Viśvanātha Cakravartipāda has written, ananya-bhāk matto’nya-devatāntaraṁ mad-bhakter anyat karma-jñānādikam, mat-kāmanāto’nyāṁ rājyādi-kāmanāṁ na bhajate sa sādhuḥ. “The practitioners of ananya-bhakti do not worship any devatās besides me, do not practice karma, jñāna or anything other than devotion to me, and have no place in their hearts for any other desire, such as for a kingdom and so on, than the desire to serve me. They are true sādhus.”

Later on in this book (verse 19), Srila Thakur Mahashay will also say, hṛṣīke gobinda-sebā, nā pūjiba debī debā, eita ananya-bhakti kathā. “I shall serve Sri Govinda with my senses. I shall not worship other gods or goddesses. I shall only speak of pure devotion.”


The temple of Siddha Krishnadas or Ranbari.

The above is taken from the translation of Prema-bhakti-candrikā by Hari Charan Das. The commentary is by Ananta Das Babaji, Mahanta of Radha Kund.


Sign in to follow this  


Shri KrishnaInternational Vaishnavas Portal: download Vaishnava scriptures for free, Vaishnava news, blogs, gallery, videos, bhajans, lectures, practice, instructions, holy places map, Krishna stories. Non-religious platform for glorifying the ideals of Krishna-bhakti (love to Krishna).

Chant daily with love to Shri Krishna:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare!