WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF PILGRIMAGE TO HOLY (SACRED) PLACES INCLUDING CHAR DHAM?
Actual Question from Aarti Vasan Salunkhe:
“Hare Krishna prabhu Ji. What is importance of visiting char Dham. Which are Char Dham places.”
India itself is a sacred country that was chosen by Krishna to take avatars. For example, Vrindavana near Delhi is the replica of actual Goloka Vrindavana. The entire Vraj mandala is considered to be very sacred.
Based on the different systems of belief, many places are considered to be sacred.
As far as CHAR DHAMS (Four sacred places) are concerned, they are considered to be the following four places:
(1) Badrinath, (2) Dwarka, (3) Puri and (4) Rameswaram.
Badrinath in Uttarakhand state is dedicated to Vishnu. Lord Badri Narayana is blessing the devotees there.
Dwaraka is the place ruled by Krishna when He descended on earth. Lord Dwarakadish is blessing from there.
Puri is a place where Lord Jagannatha is blessing the devotees.
Rameswaram is the place where Lord Shiva is blessing the devotees as Sri Ramanathaswamy in Lord Ramanathaswamy Temple.
Thus these four temples are considered as Char dhams.
What is the importance of the sacred places?
These places will have the vibrations of the respective Gods for ever.
Every devotee can feel these vibrations when they visit these places.
In addition to the above four places, there are some more sacred places in India.
Let me list a few:
In addition to Dwaraka, the Vrindavana, Mathura, Gokula, etc, ie, entire Vraj mandala is the sacred place related to Krishna who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These places are also the places where Radharani and Gopis interacted with Krishna.
Every devotee can feel the spiritual vibrations when they visit those places. The entire Vraj mandala is able to liberate the devotees from the material bondage and take him/ her to Krishna Himself.
For the followers of Lord Caitanya, Mayapur in West Bengal is an important holy place in addition to Vraj.
Also read: KRISHNA AND RADHARANI – LILAS
Kashi or Varanasi in Utter Pradesh is also an important sacred place related to Lord Shiva that is believed to give liberation. That is why, many devotees of Lord Shiva like to die in Kashi.
The Ahobila where Nava Narsimmhas are blessing the devotees is also the sacred place for Vaishnavas.
There are 108 Divya Desams all over India (denser in South India) that starts from Srirangam Renganatha Swamy, Tamil Nadu and comprises Tirumala Tirupati also are also called Sacred places to visit for Vaishnavas (particularly for SRI Vaishnavas).
Gaya in Bihar is a sacred place for performing the rituals for deceased ancestors that is believed to give liberation.
HOW THESE PLACES LIBERATE THE DEVOTEES?
It is not a magical system. When you visit these sacred places, the spiritual vibrations make drastic changes in the consciousness of the devotees. The devotees start to give more importance for spiritual thoughts and actions in their day yo day life after visiting these places. This advances further and in due course of time, the devotees start serious devotional practices in their life and hence their material attachments come down.
When they die with this spiritual consciousness, they get liberated.
Therefore, if a devotee likes to advance in their devotion to a particular form of God, he/ she should visit those places as much as possible, or atleast once in their life.
This will help them to advance in their devotion.
Hope this clears your doubts.