The merit of visiting tIrtha and kShetra has been a well-documented and well-discussed topic. This practice has been often encouraged in our Mandali as well. However, one can never permit such pastimes to interfere with one’s nitya karma and japAdyanuShThAna. Unfortunately, trips of such a nature have lately turned to be mere means of mental and physical stress and hindrance to nitya karma. It is said that Paramaguru H H Sri Sri vidyAbhinava vAlukeshvara bhAratI mahAsvAmigal (mahAmahopAdhyAya hAnagal virUpAkSha shAstrigal in pUrvAshrama) never missed his sandhyAvandanam and never even offered prAyashcittArghya. He rarely traveled, and when he did, it was to shR^i~Ngeri to visit his Guru H H shrI sacchidAnanda shivAbhinava nR^isiMha bhAratI or to participate in a vidvat sadas. He took a train and adjusted his travel schedule such that he would arrive at a particular station by the time of sAyaM sandhyA. The station master, whose daughter had been cured of epilepsy from the nR^isiMha bhasma that shastrigal had given him, would wait for shastrigal at the station. As soon as the train stopped, shastrigal would follow the station master, who would have pAtras etc. placed beside a well. shastrigal would take a bath, perform sandhyA and get into the train again before it left for the next station. This incident has been recounted by several great men who were blessed to come in contact with Shastrigal. Like his own Guru, our Guru Brahmasri KPS had a similar view in this regard and attributed the highest priority to japa and saparyA over any other practices associated with shrIvidyA. This strict adherence to svadharmAnuShThAna has been visible in the lives of some great men that we have interacted with, such as Brahmasri Kamakoti Shastrigal, Brahmasri Goda Venkateshwara Shastrigal, Brahmasri Vasudev Mishraji etc.
Moreover, one should never forget to ponder over the following wise counsel that comes from bAdarAyaNa:
mAnasAni hi tIrthAni phaladAni visheShataH |
While the physical tIrthas are indeed meritorious, puNya of a much greater magnitude is attained by association with the following mAnasa tIrthas.
mano nirmalatA tIrthaM rAgAdibhiranAkulam |
satyaM tIrthaM dayA tIrthaM tIrthamindriyanigrahaH ||
gurushushrUShaNaM tIrthaM mAtR^ishushrUShaNaM tathA |
svadharmAcharaNaM tIrthaM tIrthamagnerupAsanam ||
1. A pure mind free of rAga and dveSha
4. Control over the senses
5. Serving the Guru
6. Serving the parents
7. anuShThAna of svadharma, as dictated by ones varNa and Ashrama
8. Worship of the sacred Fire
tIrtha yAtra done without chyuti to the above aspects, especially to anuShThAna of svadharma, is beneficial. The bottom line is: Don’t neglect your Japa. This would be our message to all members of Kamakoti Mandali for the New Year.
We pray to the lotus feet of bhagavatI kAmAkshI mahAbhaTTarikA and Lord mahAkAla kAmeshvara to grant us all renewed strength and enhanced determination in pursuing our upAsanA in the year ahead and bless us all with nishchalA bhakti in gurupAdukA.