tirtha-bhutah svayam prabho
bhavat-vidhah—like you; bhagavatah—advanced devotees; tirtha-bhutah—personified holy places of pilgrimage; svayam—personally; prabho—my lord; tirthi-kurvanti—make into holy places; tirthani—all the holy places of pilgrimage; sva-antah-sthena—situated within their hearts; gada-bhrta—by Lord Visnu, who carries a club.
" 'Saints of your caliber are themselves places of pilgrimage. Because of their purity, they are constant companions of the Lord, and therefore they can purify even the places of pilgrimage.'
This verse was spoken by Maharaja Yudhisthira to Vidura in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.13.10). Vidura was returning home after visiting sacred places of pilgrimage, and Maharaja Yudhisthira was receiving his saintly uncle. In essence, Maharaja Yudhisthira was saying, "My dear Lord Vidura, you yourself are a holy place because you are an advanced devotee. People like you always carry Lord Visnu in their hearts. You can revitalize all holy places after they have been polluted by the pilgrimages of sinners."
A sinful person goes to a holy place of pilgrimage to be purified. In a holy place, there are many saintly people and temples of Lord Visnu; however, the holy place becomes infected with the sins of many visitors. When an advanced devotee goes to a holy place, he counteracts all the sins of the pilgrims. Therefore Maharaja Yudhisthira addressed Vidura in this way.
Since an advanced devotee carries Lord Visnu within his heart, he is a moving temple and a moving Visnu. An advanced devotee does not need to go to holy places, for wherever he stays is a holy place. In this connection, Narottama dasa Thakura states, tirtha-yatra parisrama, kevala manera bhrama: visiting holy places is simply another type of bewilderment. Since an advanced devotee does not need to go to a holy place, why does he go? The answer is that he goes simply to purify the place.
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