By Ramdarbar dasa, preacher at Kasegaon
The ISKCON Pandharpur devotees recently held a one-day padayatra from Kasegaon village to Pandharpur dhama.
Once when our spiritual master Lokanath Maharaja was at the Jagannatha temple in Pandharpur dhama he expressed his desire that we should have a one-day padayatra. Since then I have always contemplated bringing Maharaja’s suggestion to fruition. Then my godbrother Sravan Bhakti dasa shared his thoughts with me saying, “We should organize a one-day padayatra before the Vyasapuja of Guurdev, as an offering to him. This will please Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev also.” His words hit my heart and I thought it was high time we got going.
I said to Sravan Bhakti, “I am preaching in some villages around Pandharpur, so why don’t we have padayatra from Kasegaon to Pandharpur? I regularly visit and have programmes in that village.” We settled on the route and then had a preparatory meeting with the devotees in the village, Pandharitirtha dasa, Ananada dhama dasa, and Madhukar Aba Patil, and some villagers along with the sarpanch, an elected village decision-maker.
The annual dindis have also started, when devotees of Lord Vitthala (known as Warkaris) from different parts of Maharashtra walk towards Pandharpur dhama to reach there on Ashadi Ekadasi, the most auspicious day for Warkaris. Taking the same mood, we thought we should also pull devotees to Pandharpur dhama on the auspicious Nirjala Ekadasi, so June 12 was decided as the date for our one-day padayatra. The padayatris would reach Pandharpur on the eve of Nirjala Ekadasi, take darsana of Sri Sri Radha-Pandharinatha and rest on that day, then the next day attend mangala arati, complete chanting and go for darshan of Sri Sri Vitthala-Rukmini. Thus, the padayatris can be in the dhama on ekadasi and collect spiritual wealth. Evening time was selected for the walk due to the rising temperature. The news of our padayatra was then spread to nearby villages so that as many devotees as possible could participate.
We were very lucky to be able to include Prahlad Vatsal dasa and Damodharlila dasa, All-India padayatris who were in Pandharpur for the preparations of the upcoming Maharashtra padayatra. Everything was under their guidance and our team moved to Kasegaon early on padayatra morning with the deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. The villagers welcomed us and honoured us with garlands and prasadam. Then we all decorated the palanquin in which we were to carry Their Lordships. As announced, the devotees assembled at Maruti temple near the bus stop. At 5pm after arati of Their Lordships the padayatra started and marched towards Pandharpur. About eighty devotees were walking including children and matajis. Everyone in the padayatra was eager to serve and was full of enthusiasm. Little Vaishnavis were happily holding the banner and walking ahead. The All-India padayatris gave more power to our padayatra, their roaring sankirtan attracting many on the way. Sravan Bhakti led the kirtan and helped us in all the services. He was like an elder brother resolving all the doubts.
After walking about 7km we stopped at a Hanumanji temple and took rest. After drinking water there was katha on the glories of the holy name. Then we again started walking. As we were entering the outskirts of Pandharpur more devotes from the temple joined us. Our godbrother Krishna Bhakta dasa also joined us and lead the kirtan. Walking and singing we reached Hare Krsna land at 7pm.
We all walked about 15km in padayatra. As the procession reached the Sri Sri Radha-Pandharinatha temple everyone welcomed us with sankirtan. We then entered the temple for darshan of Sri Sri Radha-Pandharinatha and after some rest all the padayatris honoured prasadam.
It’s all due to the inspiration of our spiritual master that we could accomplish this padayatra. I would first thank him for inspiring us and blessing us.
Then special thanks go to Prahlad Vatsal and Damodharlila whose presence was at the heart of our walk. Their guidance was very important. Also, thanks to Krishna Bhakta for gracing our padayatra. And thanks also to the sankirtan team, which kept us walking so many kilometres without getting tired.
Finally, thanks to the padayatris who walked with us. Without their presence padayatra would not have been possible.
Jai Srila Prabhupada.