Power Place: Jog Falls
In the Heruka and Vajrayogini tantras, it is mentioned that there are 24 holy places that are empowered with the energy of Heruka and Vajrayogini. Within these 24 power places, a very powerful deity that is worldly in aspect and samsaric in nature abides there in the past.
Therefore, many people worshiped and adulated this deity, and they also made a lot of offerings to him. When they did that, many people got their wishes granted but as a repercussion, their desire and attachment grew because this deity was very attached and desirous. He abides in the god realm but on earth, he has 24 power places where his energy is very potent. So great temples in ancient times were built and dedicated to him in these 24 places, and people would go there to worship and make direct contact with him.
Therefore, Buddha Heruka understood the disbenefit of the so-called ‘blessings’ of this deity, and he found that it was time to overcome this deity’s energy and transform it into something more positive. So, Heruka blessed this deity and sent him to Kechara Paradise. Heruka also took over the 24 holy places and they became the 24 holy places of Heruka and Vajrayogini along with their entourage. So, these 24 holy places are very alive, potent and very blessed because Vajrayogini and Heruka’s energy abide there. Consequently, it is recommended for anyone visiting those places to study the Dharma, meditate and practice any of the tantras there.
If you practice the Heruka and Vajrayogini tantras, these places would be very powerful to help us gain higher insight and realization. One of these 24 power places is called Jog Falls in the Karnataka state of South India. This is in the same state where Gaden and Drepung monasteries are, and it is about 3 to 5 hour drive, depending on how fast you drive because the paved road is rudimentary. You have to go through a winding and remote road in order to get there.
Back in 1993, I went with a few of my monk assistants, students and friends over to Jog Falls from Gaden Monastery and our plan was to spend a day having picnic with the monks and to do some rituals and pujas associated with Vajrayogini and also to do a tsog offering. So, it was a splendid day because it was a pleasant drive to Jog Falls and the driver that was hired to take us there knew the roads well. When we arrived, we checked into a simple hotel, which had simple rooms and beds. Nevertheless, we were happy with that and we stayed there for two days instead.
Jog Falls is a massive set of waterfalls with a lake at the bottom with rocks surrounding it. You can swim in the lake. It is a popular place for local Indian tourists, and it is very beautiful especially in the summer. So, we went there, we went swimming and we swam across the lake, which is quite broad and big. We swam to the waterfall and went behind the waterfall and swam back. After that, we had our meals and the most exciting part was when we set up and had our puja there.
We were able to do a very good puja and generated a good motivation there with good prayers. It was wonderful. So, I am sharing about this place in South India and if you are ever in the area, it is recommended to visit Jog Falls. In fact, I have heard that many monks go there to do prayers and rituals.
What Makes a Place Holy?
- A place can be holy because of a man or lady had done intensive meditations and generated higher insight and developed higher states of mind such as love, compassion and Bodhicitta in an area, cave, house or a particular place. So, the generation of this higher state of mind infuses the place to become holy and imprints the place with its energies. So when people go there, they feel at peace, happy, become healed and they can actually feel the energy blessing them.
- A holy or sacred place can become holy and sacred because someone had a pure vision of a holy being such as a Buddha, mahasiddha, daka, dakini and so forth. For example, if someone had a pure vision of Lama Tsongkhapa in that place and he had spoken to them or had given them a Dharma discourse or composed texts or given them a special transmission, then that place becomes infused with Lama Tsongkhapa’s energy. Then the place becomes infused with the energy of the teaching that was given. So that infusion makes the place holy. When we do meditations or study there, it has special blessings.
- Another reason a place can become holy is when it has sacred beings abiding there apart from the ordinary people abiding and travelling in the same area. For example, it could be a place where Bodhisattvas converged in the past. It could also be a place where the nagas had kept the teachings of the Buddha. It could be a place where supernatural beings have engaged in positive activities and infused the area with good energies. Examples of such holy places is where the Buddha was born – Lumbini, where the Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma – Sarnath Park in Varanasi, where the Buddha became enlightened – Bodhgaya, where the Buddha had entered parinirvana – Kushinagar. These are the places that are holy because a Buddha had appeared there, a Buddha had performed Dharma activities and Dharma works or a Buddha had done works that benefited others. It is because the Buddha had been to those places, they had become infused with very powerful energies. So, these are some ways that a place can become very powerful and energised.
- Another way a place can become infused with powerful energy like a certain forest, cemetery, lake or a certain mountain where a realized being had blessed and consecrated the place and left a Buddha, Dharma Protector, a special naga or a special being to abide in that place. So when people go there, they are blessed by these beings or these beings can be seen where people can ask questions and they can give prophesies of the future. So there are quite a few lakes in Tibet where it is infused with the lama’s energy. So when a place is infused, blessed and consecrated by the lama’s energy, then these places will bless and heal a person. You can drink the water from this place as it is blessed because it has healing properties and one can even receive visions of the future. Also a place can naturally have a powerful spiritual being abiding in it already and recognized by a seer. There are many places in Tibet, India, etc where there are mountains in which special spiritual beings abide and assist the locals in the area.
These are various ways in which a place can be consecrated and thereby becoming a sacred power place. There are more ways a certain place can become a holy place but these four methods just to name a few for now. When we do any type of spiritual activity in these places, the blessings are potent and thereby it is believed our spiritual results will be quicker and also healing of our body expedited. People often like to visit holy places like where Buddha Shakyamuni manifested His activities in the four special places of India (Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath-Varanasi and Kushinagara), Tsongkapa’s birthplace and meditation cave, Milarepa’s cave, Lake of Pelden Hlamo, Dorje Shugden’s Chapel (Trode Khangsar) in Lhasa, Jokhang where Jowo Rinpoche abides, Gaden Monastery, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Tashilunpo Monastery, Tsongkapa’s mausoleum, Pabongka Rinpoche’s Chuzang Hermitage, Kandy the tooth temple in Sri Lanka, Mt Kailash and even our root guru’s residence. For a tantric practitioner, according to Marpa the guru of Milarepa, the most holiest place is the residence of our personal guru where we can offer prostrations, butterlamps, prayers and meditations. The best is to generate bodhicitta and meditate on emptiness in these holy places. Reciting the prayers to our guru is very auspicious also to ask for higher attainments. So there are many holy places in this world and various methods they become holy.
What Do We Do at These Holy Places?
When we arrive at these holy places, it is very good to chant out scriptures, Dharma books or passages, engage in the meditation of various Dharma subjects, recite mantras, perform prostrations, contemplate on the Guru’s kindness, engage in special rituals such as tsog, recite prayers or we can simply just sit and recite healing mantras to heal our body and mind and to intoxicate ourselves with the blessings of the place. We can engage in any of these actions at these holy places.
In some of these places, there are shrines where you can make butter lamp offerings, khatas, prostrations or you can just offer garlands of flowers. So, it is very good to offer these things at these holy places. There are holy places all over the world that are infused by holy beings and the key point of a holy place is that it is infused with higher thoughts of love, compassion, selflessness, generosity, openness and tolerance. These places are also infused with the energy of beings who have generated a kind heart and a kind mind. So this is what makes a place very powerful and holy.
For us Buddhists, the holiest place in the world (there are many) is the Buddha’s place of enlightenment, which is Bodhgaya. So, Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha meditated and manifested full enlightenment and so, it would be wonderful to go to a place such as Bodhgaya where Buddha had manifested enlightenment to do prayers, circumambulations, make offerings and simply to pay homage to the Buddha.
Aside from Bodhgaya, some of the holiest places are where the Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal, where the Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma in Sarnath Park, Varanasi and also passed away into parinirvana at Kushinagar. In fact, it was recommended by the Buddha himself to visit these places after he was gone because these places are infused with powerful blessings and by going to these places, it would be equal to meeting the Buddha himself.
For more interesting information:
- 8 Holy Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites – Part 1
- 8 Holy Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites – Part 2
- David’s Pilgrimage to India
- Nepal Pilgrimage full videos
- Puja at Naropa’s Cave, Kathmandu, Nepal
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