Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explains how to perceive the holy dham. (Excerpt from Sermons Volume II.)
The Eye of Faith
In an ordinary country there is a capital. The capital is where the existence and position of the king is more intense than in the general section of the country. Similarly, the Lord is everywhere, and His concentrated existence is found in the dham or the holy abode. With fully developed vision, we can feel the special characteristic of the dham. We shall find His presence everywhere, but with particular intensity in the dham. With the awakening of our real eye, we should be able to feel and appreciate according to this criterion. There is no question of a dham for those who have no eye to see. There is also a hierarchy in the dham. All are in serving attitude whether birds, beasts, worms, insects—everything—all are contributing to the Reality. Their feeling of heart, their gesture, posture or movement—everything contributes exclusively to the Pastimes of the Lord.
Dhamera svarupa, sphuribe nayane: in one song, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur aspires for that pure vision of the dham. Otherwise, it may appear quite ordinary to us, like a jungle. The purity of Ganges water is only perceived by those who have proper faith or sraddha. Otherwise to others’ eyes it is ordinary water. The same applies to the Deity, or Sri‑Murti. One may think that the Sri‑Murti of Lord Jagannath in Puri appears to be a somewhat awkward figure. His arms seem incomplete, His feet are not visible, His eyes are enormous. Yet Mahaprabhu stood before Him for hours, shedding tears. No one could move Him from that place. What did Mahaprabhu see in that figure, and what is He to our eyes? So according to the depth of vision of our inner eye we can come to that plane of the dham, the Deity, and the purifying Ganges water. Shraddhamayo ‘yam purushah (Bg. 17.3): “The nature of a person is modelled on faith.” Of what value is a mirror without an eye? In a looking‑glass we should find the reflection, but if the eye is absent, what will the subject see in the glass? So the eye to see—faith—is necessary. According to the shraddha, the specific character of the dham as distinct from all other places will come into view, disclosing its real form. Everything depends on shraddha, faith.
Faith is the only effective link. If we wish to have any link with the sun or the moon, ordinary instruments won’t do, but some plenary medium like electricity, etc., can help to connect us. We must approach via a plane similar to the object. Similarly, we can approach the infinite only with the help of shraddha. We cannot hope to have any connection with that finest plane of fundamental existence of this world with the help of the eye, nose or ear, or even by intelligence or reason. If we want to have any connection with the finest plane that is underlying this creation, it is possible only through faith.