How Do We Observe Pilgrimage?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 65


Set aside ordinary affairs, prepare inwardly, get into the spirit of pilgrimage "... a special cherished time to take problems and prayers to God." The shakti and blessings are stronger in older, powerful temples where regular worship has been conducted properly. Through pilgrimage expedite your journey to Siva. "Darshan coming from the great temples of our Gods can change the patterns of karma dating back many past lives..."

Sadhana Guide for Pilgrims

Visiting a Hindu Temple

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. This morning we're reading from Path to Siva, Lesson 65:

"How Do We Observe Pilgrimage?

"We prepare ourselves for our yearly pilgrimage inwardly and outwardly. First we have to decide where to go, how to get there and how long to be away from home. We want to choose a temple that inspires us. It could be the famed Mahakaleshwar Siva temple of Ujjain, or the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, both in the middle of large cities. Or it could be a remote place such as Rameshwaram, near the tip of South India, with its purifying wells. Or it could be a holy site that is even harder to reach, such as Mount Kailas in Nepal or the Amarnath Cave in Kashmir. We may also choose a holy place in Europe, the Americas, Malaysia or Australia. Then we make sure that our affairs will be taken care of in our absence, allowing us to concentrate on the pilgrimage. We prepare inwardly as well. Before a pilgrimage, some devotees will fast, eating just one meal a day for a week or as long as a month. Others do extra sadhanas and attend their local temple daily. All get the satguru's blessings for the journey. Once we reach the destination, we throw ourself into the worship and attend every possible puja. We meditate deeply afterwards. We put all our concerns, worries, hopes and dreams at the feet of the Deity. We go home inspired and fulfilled. This is true pilgrimage. As Hindus, we don't necessarily feel the need to take a vacation to get away from it all. We live a moderate, unhurried life and look at our pilgrimage as a special, cherished time to take problems and prayers to God. We know that the blessings received will recharge our batteries and inspire us to do even better in our daily life. On pilgrimage we hope for special moments with the Deity, even an encounter with God at the holy destination. These spiritual moments will grow within us for years to come."

And we have Gurudeva's quote:

"Different temples become famous for answering certain types of prayers, such as requests for financial help, or prayers for the right mate in marriage, prayers for healing, prayers to be entrusted with the raising of high-souled children, or help in matters of yoga, or help in inspiring bhakti and love."

When I talk about pilgrimage and explain its values, one I usually start with is that pilgrimage requires us to handle our ordinary affairs, get them taken care of, for a week or two in advance. Our normal duties aren't there. So, most people are employed these days so they have to take care of their obligations at work; housewives have to take care of the home. So, we have taken care of these in advance and therefore, we don't have to think about them. You're not supposed to be going on pilgrimage and checking our smart phone every ten minutes. Keep our normal life going. And what does that do? Well, it frees the mind.

In other words, normally, when we go to the temple we're attending the puja but we're also thinking about the obligations we have during the rest of the day or the rest of the week. They're on our mind; we haven't set them aside. We have to handle them. Those are pulling on our mind. But, on pilgrimage, we've set them aside and therefore, we're able to put more of our mental focus on the Deity and on the temple than normally. And because of that we get more benefits from it.

Going to the temple and being blessed depends a lot on what's going on in our mind, that's the point. We don't get the same blessings just cause we go to the same temple, depends what state of mind we're in. If we're distracted then we don't get the same amount of blessings we can get if we're not distracted. And life has an ability to distract us which is okay. Nothing wrong with being distracted by life but during pilgrimage we want to try and minimize that. So we really focus more on the deity and for a longer time. Ideally pilgrimage is for two weeks I'd say is a good time cause it takes us a few days to get into the spirit of it, to really adjust. And then we go along and then we start to come back to normal life afterwards.

That's taking care of our affairs; preparing inwardly. I'm always impressed by the Ayyapan pilgrim. The preparation is forty days. Pretty intense. Before they go on the pilgrimage, the Sabarimala, they have forty days of preparation that they've gone through to get into the right spirit. Which is pretty strict preparation.

We started getting so many regular pilgrims here and many of them would ask me: "How should I prepare for my pilgrimage?" that instead of trying to write to them individually and make certain suggestions we created our pilgrimage booklet. So one time booklet which includes sadhanas to do once you get here and how to prepare before you come. It's all worked out. We just say: Well here's the booklet. The point being really serious pilgrims don't start their pilgrimage the day they get on the plane they start it ahead of time and prepare. Do extra sadhanas depending on what their pilgrimage will focus on, the sadhanas could be different. For example, those going on the Innersearch to Sri Lanka it's good to read from The Guru Chronicles. You get in the spirit of the parampara, Sri Lanka in your mind. If you were going the six temple Muruga pilgrimage learn some new Muruga bhajans and focus on those every day for a while. In other words, the preparation isn't always the same. It depends on what the pilgrimage will be, what you're going to do on the pilgrimage.

Then the other point here which is the one that actually started with is choosing the temples. The temples of Hinduism aren't all of the same power. The ones that are older, if the worship has been conducted there properly, would be more powerful than the ones that are new. We can see that in Kadavul Temple, started in 1973, right? Kadavul Temple in 1973, the 27th of 18, 45 years. Well the first few years it wasn't as powerful as is now, right? Very little shakti that's present but it's built up a very strong vibration and think many Hindus that come here are amazed at how powerful the temple is in just 45 years. So imagine in 450 years, you know. Probably be a lot stronger, so worship continues as it is now.

So, regular worship for a century builds a very special power and therefore, for a pilgrimage it's, when possible, it's good to go to a... Possible means within your financial means and within your time frame to go to an older temple, powerful temple, because the blessings, the shakti will be stronger.

Interesting quote. Nice thing about having The Trilogy as a pdf file. You can search for things, you say, I know what Gurudeva said, think of a few words in it and then you try and find it, right? This one took me a while to find because I didn't exactly remember it:

"Darshan coming from the great temples of our Gods can change the patterns of karma dating back many past lives, clearing and clarifying conditions that were created hundreds of years ago and are but seeds now, waiting to manifest in the future. Through the grace of the Gods, those seeds can be removed if the manifestation in the future would not enhance the evolution of the soul."

In other words, it actually totally removes some karma. It's very hard to remove karma. It's easier to mitigate it or lessen it but to remove it totally is challenging. But this is one of the ways it can be done. Requires really a powerful blessing. A special moment at an ancient temple and certain karmas will go away; they won't manifest in the future. Which is good, right? Maybe you saved a few lives, expedited your journey to Siva. And you can see that in people if it's a major shift. They come back from pilgrimage and say, this person is significantly different. And the person, him or herself can feel it too. They kind of sit back into life in a different way, in a better way than when they left. Things have gotten better for them. Situation improves. That's the blessing of pilgrimage.

So thank you very much.

Aum Namasivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Those who are free from the past remember the future and move the forces of all three worlds for a better life for themselves and for all mankind.
—Gurudeva