The significance and importance of performing Parikrama
Why should we perform parikrama?
When we do parikrama we can develop steadiness in bhakti. It is the tradition to do a sankalpa (vow) on the first day of parikrama, which means to accept some rules and regulations like to go to Mangala-arati every day, to sing specific kirtanas, to restrain from eating certain foodstuffs and to visit the places of the holy dhama like the 12 forests of Vraja-mandala or the 9 islands of Navadvipa-dham. Accepting this vow and not breaking it during the entire parikrama will help us to develop nistha (steadiness) in bhakti.
When Krsna saw how mother Yasoda was sweating when she was trying again and again to bind Him after some time Krsna’s heart melted and He allowed Himself to be bound.
In the same way when Damodara Sri Krsna sees that a devotee makes a sincere endeavor to please him by going on parikrama, walking and travelling every day, accepting voluntarily inconveniences, after some time His heart will melt and Krsna will become premadhin, bound by the love of this devotee.
All the angas of bhakti are performed during parikrama. We have the fortune to hear hari-katha for many hours a day as Srila Gurudeva tells about the pastimes of each place we visit. This is a powerful medicine, which will cure us from the disease of bodily identification and ultimately elevate us to the transcendental platform. When we can hear about Sri Krsna and His associates’ eagerness can arise in our heart to one day also become like one of them.
There is constant kirtana going on during parikrama. By this ceto-darpana-marjanam will take place in a very joyful way and before we realize it one more anartha just got lifted from our consciousness.
We have darshan of many beautiful vigraha’s, we offer arati and prayers and we do pada-sevanam, walking to the many holy places, etc. Being engaged like this the whole day in the evening we lay down happy in our bed and do smaranam, remember all the beautiful pastimes, which we heard on that day. We have sadhu-sanga and are engaged in Guru-seva and Vaisnava-seva, etc.
Shortly before Sri Krsna left this world he instructed Uddhava. Uddhava asked: “How can I quickly and easily develop Krsna-prema?” Krsna replied: “The best way to develop transcendental love is to organize festivals.” At a festival there is kirtana, hari-katha, maha-prasadam, worship of the deity, meditation, all types of services, etc. When devotees come together and are engaged in service by this Krsna is present. Krsna says: “I am not in Vaikuntha and I am not in the hearts of the yogis but where my devotees are singing my glories I am present there” (Padma Purana).
During parikrama many festivals are celebrated like Gaura-Purnima, Annakuta Mahotsava, appearance and disappearance days of our acaryas and the parikrama itself is a day-to-day festival. By this the pilgrims have the opportunity to make many profound experiences of Sri Krsna’s presence; that is very inspiring and leaves deep impressions in the heart, which will have a life transforming effect.
A living entity, which has good fortune (bhagyavan jiva), will come into contact with Sri Guru (CC Madhya-lila 19.151). This fortune is the accumulation of pious activities over many lifetimes (sukriti). During parikrama we can avail of many seva opportunities to keep our sukriti intact in order to always be blessed with sadhu-sanga.
There is a beautiful example given in Srimad-Bhagavatam of the small insect, who was trapped in a whole, being terrified by the wasp, who was flying and humming constantly in front of the insects eyes. Always meditating on the wasp this insect transformed and also became a wasp.
On parikrama we have the opportunity to be in close association with Srila Gurudeva. He is present in front of our eyes always singing and dancing in kirtana, speaking hari-katha, full of eagerness to meet a sadhu. By this he gives us a chance to become absorbed in him and gradually transform our existence from being trapped in dark ignorance to a pure level of consciousness by following his example.
It is important to perform parikrama under the guidance of a rupanuga-acarya otherwise the deep secrets of the confidential services to Radha-Krsna cannot be revealed. If this elevated Vaisnava is pleased with us he may grant us a glimpse of this secret realm. Therefore parikrama becomes truly meaningful if one is fortunate to perform it under the guidance of a personality like our dear Srila Gurudeva, who is capable of inspiring these sentiments within the heart.
When we circumambulate the holy dhama the wheel of our material existence will soon stop turning.
During a lecture in a Hindu Community Center in Spain Srila Gurudeva told: “At least one time in your life you should do parikrama!”
We know that Srila Gurudeva very much likes if we can attend parikrama every year.
Our param-gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja was performing parikrama for more than 60 years. It is one of his innermost heart’s desires that Vraja-mandala parikrama as well as Navadvipa- and Jagannatha Puri-dham parikrama should go on every year. If we attend parikrama we are sure to obtain the mercy of our guru-parampara.
It is important to understand the purpose of parikrama. Srila Gurudeva explained that one is really doing parikrama if one obtains the darshan of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in one`s heart performing different types of pastimes. Therefore on parikrama one should not have a mood of a tourist. Parikrama is a prayer, a petition to the Lord that with each step we may come one step closer to the doors of the transcendental realm to one day enter there and never come back.