|Where is the need for pilgrimages? Are there set rules to be observed while undertaking them?|
A routine daily life in this humdrum world generates boredom very soon. Undertaking pilgrimages on such occasions will reinvigorate the mind, in the same way as recharging a battery that is rundown. How can a place of Pilgrimage contribute to this? No doubt, God exists everywhere, but He is Manifest more tangibly in these places of Pilgrimage even as milk is drawn through the udder, though it permeates the entire body of the cow in a subtle form.
We have hundreds of such pilgrim centers spread all over the land. Usually they are situated in a beautiful natural location like the seashore, the bank of a river, the foot or the top of a hill, in a valley or inside a forest. Very often they are associated with saints and sages or with important spiritual and religious events. Visited by millions of devout, Pilgrims over hundreds of years, they will have acquired a spiritual charge and aura, which will naturally affect those that visit them with faith and fervor. It is believed that they contribute to the lessening, if not the destruction, of our sins. That is why Pilgrimage has been advocated practically in all the religions of the world.
As regards to the rules to be observed in undertaking pilgrimages, they can be summarized as follows:
It is incumbent on the part of the pilgrims rather to think of God than paying any attention to the irregularities or corruption obtaining in the place. Though it is necessary to bring such things to the notice of the competent authorities, the chief objective of pilgrimage should not be sacrificed in the process. It is interesting to note here that the Hindu scriptures have provided for a method by which those who are unable to undertake a pilgrimage by themselves can get its merit through a substitute. Such a person who acts as a substitute is expected to give the ritual bath to an image made of kusha grass and treat it as the original person making the pilgrimage.