General public is recommended to go to the tirtha-sthana so that he may have some spiritual atmosphere, saintly person. If somebody thinks that tirtha-sthana means—just like this Hrishikesh—to take bath in the Ganges and go away, that is also good, but that is not the purpose.
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted February 12, 2007]

What to Look For in Holy Places

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

GangesSrila Prabhupada Yahoo! News - Mon 12 Feb 2007 - TIM SULLIVAN, Associated Press writer India's great river is awash in filth

Scientists say sewage has devastated the 1,550-mile river, which spills from a Himalayan glacier and cuts through India's plains before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. Scientists have found places near here with a fecal bacteria count nearly 4,000 times the World Health Organization standard for bathing.

"We all have faith in our rivers, we all worship them. But at the end of the day there's a reality: India's cities are growing, its population is growing, and we don't have a proper sewage strategy," said Suresh Babu, a river specialist with the Center for Science and Environment, a prominent environmental group.

The medical effects are clear: millions of cases of disease, from amebic dysentery to hepatitis. By some estimates, one person dies every minute of waterborne disease in the Ganges river basin.

In the late 1980s, the Indian government vowed to clean it, launching its Ganges Action Plan and spending $300 million since then. Its failures are famous. The federal environment minister noted recently the program had achieved very little — but said $1.5 billion more was needed.

Repeatedly, the government has left promises unfilled, including to a group of sadhus who launched an anti-pollution hunger strike during the last Allahabad festival.
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You are one of the fortunate ones
excerpt from conversation with guest and disciples, Hrishikesh, May 15, 1977
Travel Tip

The Pilgrimage has Come to You Hansadutta das

We don’t go on pilgrimage. We go on harer nama sankirtan [chanting in public: "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare"], or we go to the temple, chant Hare Krishna, or we go to read Bhagavad-gita. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. Everything is right here. Krishna has come to you. What more do you want? Why looking some other place? He’s right here. He’s as near as your tongue chanting Hare Krishna. You are there. Krishna is there. There is no need at all. And if Krishna wants, you will go on pilgrimage. You will go. No need… don’t bother about it. The pilgrimage has come to you in the form of Bhagavad-gita, the holy name, the devotees, the prasadam. It’s coming to you. Krishna is so kind. Isn’t it? more

Prabhupada: This tirtha-sthana [holy place], this is recommended. General public is recommended to go to the tirtha-sthana so that he may have some spiritual atmosphere, saintly person. If somebody thinks that tirtha-sthana means—just like this Hrishikesh—to take bath in the Ganges and go away, that is also good, but that is not the purpose. Yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhichij janeshv abhijneshu sa eva go-kharah [Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.84.13]. Yat-tirtha- buddhih salile. In every pilgrim, pilgrimage... there is Ganga, there is Yamuna. At least in India we have got so many holy places on the bank of the pious rivers. But if we take simply the advantage of the pious river, yat-tirtha-buddhih salile, but we don't care for the persons who are living there, very experienced, spiritually advanced persons, then we remain animals. "So we have gone to such holy place. I have taken bath in the Ganges and Yamuna. Bas [finished]. My business is finished." Then go to the shop, purchase some plate, toys, go back home. Sa eva go-kharah [SB 10.84.13].

Indian man (1): [speaks Hindi]

Prabhupada: Janeshu abhijneshu. Sadhu [saintly person] means one who is in the knowledge. Otherwise anyone can become a sadhu by changing the dress.

Indian man (1): [Hindi]

Prabhupada: A sadhu... The description of sadhu is given in the shastra, titikshavah karunikah... Titikshavah karunikah [tolerant and merciful]... [SB 3.25.21][1].

Tamal Krsna: Suhridah [friendly].

Prabhupada: Suhridah sarva-bhutanam [friend to all living entities]. And before that, there is... Suhridah sarva-bhutanam sadhavah sadhu-bhushanah [lives by the scriptures, adorned by all good qualities]. These are the description of sadhu. Sadhu. Titikshavah, very tolerant. For preaching work they have to meet so many obstacles, and still, they go on, titikshavah. Titiksha is the qualification of brahmana. Shamo damas titiksha. So a sadhu... Titikshavah. He has to meet so many obstacles. Just see this judgment. We have to meet so many obstacles. But we cannot give up. Despite all obstacles, we have to go on. So titikshavah karunikah, suhridah sarva-bhutanam. A sadhu is not a friend of a particular community, person or religion, no.

Indian man (1): Sarva-bhutanam.

Prabhupada: [Sarcastically:] "I am sadhu. I am the leader of the, this society. And the animal-killing is going on. I don't care for it." Suhridah sarva-bhutanam. So titikshavah karunikah suhridah sarva... These are the qualities. And ultimately, in summary, sadhu is spoken by Krishna Himself that bhajate mam ananya-bhak sadhur eva sa mantavyah: [Bg. 9.30]: "One who has no other business than to execute Krishna consciousness, he is sadhu." [Citing the objections of many Indians to his western disciples:] "Well, he is a foreigner. He is not brahmana. He is accustomed to so many habits." Sadhu is always in good habit. But due to past practice, sometimes we may see some discrepancy. You can find out some fault. But Krishna says that "Never mind there is some fault. Still, he is sadhu." "Why?" Now bhajate mam ananya-bhak: "He has taken Me as everything." So sadhu descriptions are there. Sadhavah sadhu-bhushanah. A sadhu means ultimately bhajate mam ananya-bhak. So tirtha-sthana, one should try to associate with sadhus. This is the purpose to go to the tirtha-sthana. Otherwise, if you simply go to the tirtha-sthana and take bath in the Ganges and Yamuna, and if you think, "My business is finished..." Everywhere, all tirtha-sthana... In Gaya-actually, begins from Gaya—there is Phalgu River. Then Benares, there is Ganges. Then there is Prayaga. There is also Ganges, Yamuna. Then go to Mathura, Vrindavana. Everywhere there is the sacred river. So if we simply think that going to the holy place and taking bath... In Kali-yuga it is general hobby. Dure parjakanam[?] tirtham. In Calcutta there is Ganges, but...

Indian man (1): They will come here.

Prabhupada: They will come here.

Indian man (1): Dure.

Prabhupada: Dure parjakanam[?] tirtham. If ganga-jala [Ganges water] is pure, it is pure here and there also. So Narottama dasa Thakura says, tirtha-yatra parishrama, kevala manera bhrama: "It is simply satisfying the mind." Otherwise, wherever there is Ganges, there is Yamuna, that is sacred place. Delhi also, sacred place. There is Ganga. Anyway, so, we should take advantage of the knowledge of sadhu. And that is real progress. So chatur-vidha bhajante mam sukritinah. Four kinds of men, they come to God, Krishna. God means Krishna, not ordinary... Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said,

ei rupe brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krishna-kripaya paya bhakti-lata-bija
[Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 19.151]

Krishna also says, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. To approach Krishna is not so easy thing. After many, many births... We are rotating... [break] Brahmanda... Brahma is the superintendent of this egglike anda, universe. It is all Brahma's. And there are innumerable planets. That we can see. So we are wandering in all these places, sometimes down, sometimes up, sometimes in the middle, according to our karma, in different species of life, in different planets, in different position. So we are rotating. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, "Out of these innumerable living entities who are entrapped with this brahmanda and janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi... [Bg. 13.9]." Mrityu-samsara-vartmani [Bg. 9.3]. Life after life, life after life, they are... That we do not know. This is called mrityu-samsara-vartmani. You die, accept another body, another place, another situation, another position. This is going on. Brahmanda-bhramana. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, "In this way, rotating, and in course of our rotation, if we are fortunate enough, then we come to Krishna consciousness." Ei rupe brahmanda bhramite.... Ei rupe brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan. So to come to Krishna consciousness, it is meant for persons who are very, very fortunate, kona bhagyavan. Guru-krishna-kripaya paya bhakti-lata-bija [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. When one is very much eager, serious, that "I want to see God..." Nobody's serious. But if one becomes serious, then Krishna gives him charge. He sends him to the proper guru. Krishna is there within the core of heart of everyone.

1. Titikshavah karunikah suhridah sarva-dehinam ajata-shatravah shantah sadhavah sadhu-bhushanah:

"The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime." Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.21
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