Questions

Should one go on pilgrimage or should one stay and do service in one’s area? Will that be sufficient?

Srila Rupa Goswami, one of our great spiritual masters from before (500 years ago), he listed out 64 devotional activities and of those 64 he said the last 5 are particularly important. The last 5 say:

sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
(CC Madhya 22.128)

Association of devotees; the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord; to hear Srimad Bhagavatam, scripture; to live in Mathura or some similar holy place; to serve the deity form.

The 4th activity: Living in Mathura or some similar holy place, this includes visiting holy places, like on pilgrimage. In other words, it is important to sometimes visit holy places in suitable association in a guided way. So it is not just like a holiday.

Srila Prabhupada, our founder, he said he wanted all the devotees in ISKCON every year to attend the Mayapur festival. He said he wanted ALL the devotees, EVERY year to attend that festival, in India. So one devotee approached Prabhupada and raised a question. He said “Prabhupada, if all the devotees, every year go to India, Mayapur, for this festival, it will be very expensive.”

Just imagine for argument’s sake, say there are 10 000 devotees, there are a lot more, but let us just say 10 000. For one of them to go to India, let us just say it may cost $1 000. 10 000 devotees times $1 000 would equal to $10 000 000. The devotee said, “Look, we could save $10 000 000 and we could use that money for preaching Krishna consciousness. Wouldn’t that be better?”

Srila Prabhupada said, “That is a very good idea. We can save money and use it for preaching Krishna consciousness. Then he said “I have another good idea; we can save a lot of money and use it for preaching.” “We will stop eating and can save a lot of money and use it to spread Krishna consciousness. Isn’t that a good idea?”

Well, he was being a little sarcastic. It is not a very good idea but his point in principle was:
To visit the holy places in a nice way, not just as a tourist but in a devotional spiritual mood, is a very important part of developing Krishna consciousness. It doesn’t mean we should all move to India and stay there but Prabhupada wanted us to and it is recommended to go from time to time in suitable association.

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