Bitter gourds and The Meaning of Pilgrimage!

12 jyotirlinga

Picture shows 12 Great Shiva Shrines around India.

Article Written by London swaminathan

Date: 6 November 2015

Post No:2306

Time uploaded in London :– 10-06   AM

(Thanks  for the pictures) 


There was a great saint named Tukaram. He was a votary of God’s name. Once people from his village decided to go on a long pilgrimage and they requested Tukaram also to follow them. Tukaram expressed his inability, but requested them to be kind enough to take with them to all the places they visited some bitter gourds that he would give them. He wished that the bitter gourds should be given a dip in all the holy waters where they took bath and also have them taken to all the temples they visited.

Not caring to know the significance of what the saint said, the villagers took the bitter gourds from him and carried all along the pilgrimage, obeying the instructions of the saint in regard to dipping them in the holy waters and taking them to the temples.

bitter gourd

In a few months, the party returned from the pilgrimage and handed the bitter gourds back to Tukaram. Tukaram was happy and invited all the members of the party to a feast next day to celebrate the successful completion of their pilgrimage. Tukaram made a special dish out of the bitter gourds which he had sent on the pilgrimage. They were served with various preparations and they started eating. When they tasted the gourd dish, they all remarked it was bitter and asked Tukaram why he served it. Tukaram, as if greatly surprised, asked them how it could be bitter when it was made out of the gourds that had gone on the pilgrimage. It was no doubt bitter when he handed them over to the pilgrims before the pilgrimage, but he wondered why it had not lost its bitterness in spite of pilgrimage. This was a great lesson to all the pilgrims.

There are so many who go on pilgrimage and return as bitter before. But if you go on a pilgrimage as urged by God within, and continuously remember Him all through the pilgrimage and see only purity and goodness of God everywhere, you will achieve purity. Such a pilgrimage will surely beneficial to you.

ashta vinayak

Picture shows Eight famous Ganesh shrines in Maharashtra.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa on Pilgrimages

As cows, after eating their fill, lie down quietly at a place and chew the cud, so after visiting a sacred spot or a place of pilgrimage, you must take hold of the holy thoughts that arose in the mind while there, sit down in a solitary corner and think of them till you are immersed in them you must not devote yourself to the pursuit of the senses driving away the higher ideas from your mind immediately after you leave the holy places.


Travel in all the four quarters of the earth, yet you will find nothing (no true religion) anywhere. Whatever there is, is only here (i.e. in one’s own heart).


The milk of the cow in reality pervades the whole body of the animal through its blood, but you cannot milk it by squeezing the eras or the horns; you can get the milk only from the teats. Similarly God pervades the universe everywhere, but you cannot see Him everywhere. He manifests Himself more readily in sacred temples which are full of the spirit of devotion diffused by the lives and spiritual practices of the devotees of former times.


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