Pilgrim’s Progress? Steve Jobs the quasi spiritualist

In his younger days, Steve Jobs traveled to India with a friend in search of a spiritual experience, but he didn’t realize that India – or the holy tirtha – had already come to him in the person of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and the Hare Krishna movement. He had already made weekly pilgrimages to the Hare Krishna temple, and appreciated the good food (and that it was free). But Steve Jobs had other places to go in the world of expectations and disappointments, birth and death. And now he has gone to we know not where. He got hold of the bottle of Vaishnava honey, but failed to open it and taste it. Instead he licked only the outside of the bottle while keeping it securely closed. Next life, maybe he will have the good fortune to open the bottle of honey and taste its sweet flavor of devotional service to Krishna.

Trip to India as teen was a life-changer for Steve Jobs

The Economic Times – TNN – Oct 7, 2011

Steve Jobs came to India as a teenager in search of enlightenment. He returned disappointed, following a brush with lice, scabies, dysentery and a near mob thrashing after he protested at being sold watered-down buffalo milk.

But the trip did mark a turning point in his life. In his own words, it helped him realize that ” Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Karoli Baba (the guru he was seeking, who died before they could meet) put together.”

Jobs’ India connection, though, preceded his trip. As a penniless college drop-out , he would walk seven miles every Sunday to get a free meal at the Hare Krishna temple. He also retained a lifelong admiration for Mahatma Gandhi. In 1997, Apple’s ‘Think Different’ ads, which featured his personal idols, included the Mahatma. Go to story


The real point of going on pilgrimage is to meet the saintly person or the pure devotee of the Lord

In search of a saint

purport, SB 3.20.4:

Looking for a spiritual experience?

The Pilgrimage Has Come to You
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? But we have all these sentimental and traditional, pseudo-spiritual ideas: we should go to pilgrimage, we should get some holy water, and so many things. These are all useless in this day and age.

Here the words virajas tirtha-sevaya refer to Vidura, who was completely cleansed of all contamination by traveling to places of pilgrimage. In India there are hundreds of sacred places of pilgrimage, of which Prayaga, Hardwar, Vrindavana and Rameshvaram are considered principal. After leaving his home, which was full of politics and diplomacy, Vidura wanted to purify himself by traveling to all the sacred places, which are so situated that anyone who goes there automatically becomes purified. This is especially true in Vrindavana; any person may go there, and even if he is sinful he will at once contact an atmosphere of spiritual life and will automatically chant the names of Krishna and Radha. That we have actually seen and experienced. It is recommended in the shastras that after retiring from active life and accepting the vanaprastha (retired) order, one should travel everywhere to places of pilgrimage in order to purify himself. Vidura completely discharged this duty, and at last he reached Kushavarta, or Hardwar, where the sage Maitreya was sitting.

Another significant point is that one must go to sacred places not only to take bath there but to search out great sages like Maitreya and take instructions from them. If one does not do so, his traveling to places of pilgrimage is simply a waste of time. Narottama das Thakur, a great acharya of the Vaishnava sect, has, for the present, forbidden us to go to such places of pilgrimage because in this age, the times having so changed, a sincere person may have a different impression on seeing the behavior of the present residents of the pilgrimage sites. He has recommended that instead of taking the trouble to travel to such places, one should concentrate his mind on Govinda, and that will help him. Of course, to concentrate one’s mind on Govinda in any place is a path meant for those who are the most spiritually advanced; it is not for ordinary persons. Ordinary persons may still derive benefit from traveling to holy places like Prayaga, Mathura, Vrindavana and Hardwar.

It is recommended in this verse that one find a person who knows the science of God, or a tattva-vit. Tattva-vit means “one who knows the Absolute Truth.” There are many pseudotranscendentalists, even at places of pilgrimage. Such men are always present, and one has to be intelligent enough to find the actual person to be consulted; then one’s attempt to progress by traveling to different holy places will be successful. One has to be freed from all contamination, and at the same time he has to find a person who knows the science of Krishna. Krishna helps a sincere person; as stated in the Chaitanya-charitamrita, guru-krishna-prasade: by the mercy of the spiritual master and Krishna, one attains the path of salvation, devotional service. If one sincerely searches for spiritual salvation, then Krishna, being situated in everyone’s heart, gives him the intelligence to find a suitable spiritual master. By the grace of a spiritual master like Maitreya, one gets the proper instruction and advances in his spiritual life.

Krishna and the pure devotee are ultimate place of pilgrimage

excerpt from purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.6.25:

Another significant point is that Lord Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is described here as Tirthapada. Tirtha means “sanctified place,” and pada means “the lotus feet of the Lord.” People go to a sanctified place to free themselves from all sinful reactions. In other words, those who are devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, automatically become sanctified. The Lord’s lotus feet are called tirtha-pada because under their protection there are hundreds and thousands of saintly persons who sanctify the sacred places of pilgrimage. Srila Narottama das Thakur, a great acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava-sampradaya, advises us not to travel to different places of pilgrimage. Undoubtedly it is troublesome to go from one place to another, but one who is intelligent can take shelter of the lotus feet of Govinda and thereby be automatically sanctified as the result of his pilgrimage. Anyone who is fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Govinda is called tirtha-pada; he does not need to travel on various pilgrimages, for he can enjoy all the benefits of such travel simply by engaging in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord. Such a pure devotee, who has implicit faith in the lotus feet of the Lord, can create sacred places in any part of the world where he decides to remain. Tirthi-kurvanti tirthani (Bhag. 1.13.10). The places are sanctified due to the presence of pure devotees; any place automatically becomes a place of pilgrimage if either the Lord or His pure devotee remains or resides there. In other words, such a pure devotee, who is engaged one hundred percent in the service of the Lord, can remain anywhere in the universe, and that part of the universe immediately becomes a sacred place where he can peacefully render service to the Lord as the Lord desires.

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