By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
Having spent six months of Covid-19 lockdown at Mahuva in Gujarat the All-India Padayatra resumed its preaching journey on October 26. When we left Mahuva about twenty local devotees walked with us for 20km singing and dancing in sankirtan. The next day we went to Ashok Yadhav prabhu’s village where we performed a programme at his house and in the village. Ashok, who chants sixteen rounds daily, bought a Srimad-Bhagavatam set from us and organized a pandal programme attended by many villagers where several books were distributed. We then went to Dongar, the village of Vidyanagar ISKCON temple commander Braja Mohan prabhu. The last time padayatra visited Dongar was in 2011 and since then four village devotees have been initiated by Gopal Krishna Maharaja and Radha Govind Maharaja. The villagers were happy to again have darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and held a grand celebration in honour of padayatra.
Obstacles add spice to our journey
At the next village we halted at a Swami Narayana temple, but as we were performing sankirtan the police arrived and stopped us. Such incidents keep occurring but do not reduce our enthusiasm. Moving on about 1km we again took up our transcendental sankirtan.
A devotee pulls the Lord to his village
The father of devotee Milan prabhu, who is currently staying at Surat, took darshan of Their Lordships as we were moving from village to village. He came to us and said, “My son is also a devotee. Please, I am requesting that you come to my village.” At his village, Trikota, we found his house was small but that he had made all the necessary arrangements for our stay. In Trikota we distributed five Srimad-Bhagavatam sets, performed grand nagar sankirtan, and distributed prasadam to the villagers. In the first fifteen days of Kartik we distributed fifty to sixty of Srila Prabhupada’s books daily.
Hats off to the services of Manish Bhai and Mahendra Bhai
The owner of the Jnana Manjari school where we stayed during lockdown, Manish Bhai, is a great devotee of the Lord. Always ready to offer his assistance during those days of crisis, he responded to our predicament by saying, “Stay here happily and keep preaching to the villagers. It’s the Lord’s plan that you have been confined here, just for our deliverance.” The Mahuva devotees and Manish Bhai fell in love with Their Lordships and Manish Bhai now calls us daily asking after our wellbeing. Mahendra Bhai also did service of providing milk and flowers for Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar throughout our stay and donated Rs 30,000 for padayatra. He caught up with us in Rajola, saying, “I have been badly missing Their Lordships and the association of all of you.” He attended the whole programme with us and upon leaving said, “Wherever you go, you transform that place into a temple. If you have any problem, please call me. I am always ready to serve.”
Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar stole their hearts
Despite the poor roads, every Sunday about fifteen devotees from Mahuva travel to attend the padayatra programme with us. After Gaura-arati they then head home. They are all new devotees and when they leave padayatra they cry, for they will be missing Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and the association of devotees. This was the special mercy of Their Lordships on the Mahuva devotees. It never happens that padayatra stays at any place for more than two days, but in Mahuva the Lord stayed for six months thus blessing them. They were totally surrendered to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and Their Lordships took away their hearts. Every week those devotees keep track of where padayatra is and whatever the distance, they join us. When leaving their hearts are heavy and their eyes are filled with tears. They say they will keep following padayatra till Dwaraka, 300km from Mahuva, to take the association of devotees.
Kartik month report of fifteen days:
Sankirtan in fourteen villages and two cities.
Deep daan done by 2500 people.
Prasadam served to 2500 people.
Six Srimad-Bhagavatam sets distributed.
Maha-Big books 450
Big books 92
Small books 782
Total books 1324