After praising God and Guru Tulasidas explains the greatest of pilgrimages, which is none other than surrounding ourselves around saintly beings. For me this not only means the Guru, but the satsang and community of beings who live in love and devotion to Shri Rama and work for the upliftment of the needy.
3. The Greatest Pilgrimage
Having paying respects to my Guru I proceed forth towards the story of Rama, through which it’s telling gifts liberation from all attachments. I touch the feet of pious Brahmana’s, they are able to lead us from ignorance to truth and they to me are like Gods on Earth.
My heart pours unconditional love to all good people, they are the embodiments of virtue which this world so badly needs. These holy beings are like a moving prayaga (a most sacred pilgrimage), and coming into contact with them brings happiness and contentment. In this moving prayaga, devotion to Rama is like Ganga, the most sacred of rivers. The Knowledge of Brahman, the all-pervading supreme reality is like the river Saraswati. The discussions of these holy beings on Karma-Yoga, acting and living selflessly in the world are like the sacred river Yamuna. In this way fortunate beings receive the blessings of these sacred three rivers through coming into contact with great saints, they wash away all of the impurities of this age of ignorance. The faith of these great beings is like an immortal banyan tree, and their virtuous acts are like a beautiful royal court. This moving pilgrimage is open to all to visit, at any time, at any place. It calms the mind and for those who approach with reverence, all suffering is destroyed. This most sacred of holy destinations is in truth beyond any description for it is spiritual in nature, but the beauty and splendour rewards those with eyes to see instantly.
Those who hear the glories of this sacred pilgrimage in the form of a gathering of holy beings treasure it whole-heartedly plunging into the sacred waters with their minds absorbed in devotion achieving life’s true purpose.
The rewards of plunging into these sacred waters are felt immediately, caterpillars become butterflies and herons become swans. This is no mere miracle, contact with the saintly is not a secret. Valmiki the hunter became the greatest of poets, Narada muni was a simple servant, the sage Agastya born of a pitcher, and all achieved the highest wisdom through communion with the saints. Indeed, anything good that has been achieved in this world, whether wisdom, prosperity, welfare all are results from association with good people. There is no other way, neither in this world or in the Vedas, the highest knowledge is not possible without communion with the saintly, and this communion is only possible through the Rama’s grace.
Contact with these high beings is the root of all happiness, it is the highest goal amongst endeavours.