By Acarya Dasa
Our pāda-yātrā party travelled through the state of Kerala for five months starting from April 5th in Trivandrum and then to Kasaragod by September 21st. Kerala is inhabited by people who are mostly of Christian and Muslim faith, despite this we continued on. There were a few obstacles but they were easily overcome by the mercy of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar. Many Vaishanavas helped us during our stay in Kerala and it is through their efforts that we were able to hold many preaching programs and distribute lots of books. This is a dedication to those devotees who assisted us it is also a summary of our journey through this state of India.
Breaking language barriers
We experienced many problems with language because no one spoke Hindi, the main languages are Malayalam or English which, none of our pāda-yātris could speak or understand. Thankfully there was always at least one local devotee who would join us for a few days to make the pāda-yātrā announcements. Satyamegha Dasa from Kottiyam helped us a great deal by recording, in the local language, the announcements we usually make after we have saṅkīrtana and ārati. It worked every well, whenever we played the announcement people would come and take darśana. We also relied on the recording whenever we were not accompanied by a local devotee. He also made two posters stating the glories of Bhagavad-Gita and listing the price. While circumambulating the pāda-yātrā cart people would read the poster and purchase a Bhagavad-Gita or give donations and if they did not have money they would donate rice or wheat. He translated a few sentences for us to speak during the saṅkīrtana too, such as: “The most merciful Lord has come to your door, take darśana. The All India Padayatra walks all over India spreading the mercy of Lord Caitanya who is Lord Krishna Himself, who has appeared in Kaliyuga.”
Trivandrum | Jagadsakshi Dasa & Pesal Gopal Dasa
In Trivandrum we had a lot of assistance from Jagadsakshi Dasa and Pesal Gopal Dasa. Pesal Gopal Dasa the leader of the local Nama-hatta spent almost a month with us and travelled with us in and around Trivandrum. He assisted with the advance party services and informed all the devotee leaders that we were coming to their towns. So, when we arrived they were ready to welcome us and serve Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar with all their hearts.
We met Yasoda Dasi in a small village near Trivandram 15 years ago when she served pāda-yātrā. She always prayed for the success of the ‘All India Padayatra’ and when we visited her this time she helped us again. She was very happy with our preaching mission.
Cochin | Gopal Guru Dasa
Our journey to Cochin was made easier with the help of Gopal Guru Dasa. The Cochin coast is significant for devotees because it was there that Srila Prabupada’s volumes of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam arrived from Bombay. These books were then loaded onto the ship before Srila Prabhupada left to America. We distributed books in Cochin but quickly ran out, luckily Gopal Guru Dasa helped us to procure more books. Books are the basis and saṅkīrtana becomes powerful when book distribution goes on. Thanks to the support of Gopal Guru Dasa we could do both in Cochin.
Guruvayur | Mehatal Gopal Dasa & the Guruvayur team
We were all touched and overwhelmed by Mehatal Gopal Dasa. He had served Rupa Raghunath Maharaj when he was travelling with us. One day he said to me, “Whenever someone is not well please let me know. I will be pleased to come and serve.” He loves to serve devotees. Just as in Maharastra, Pandharpur is famous similarly in Kerala, Guruvayur is famous. There we were supported by Balaram Dasa, Ashokatma Dasa and Gopibhava Dasa. They assisted us with all our programs and when one of our bulls became ill they all helped us to get him well. The temple president of ISKCON Guruvayur, Lohidas Dasa invited us to the temple as well.
Kannur | Caitanya Rasamrita Dasa & Mr Haradev
We celebrated Janmastami in Kannur. The program was sponsored by Caitanya Rasamrita Dasa, disciple of Jayapataka Maharaj. He also helped us to find accommodation and he arranged fodder for the bulls. Caitanya Rasamrita Dasa assisted us for our almost month long stay in the Kannur district. He not only informed everyone in the nearby towns and villages of our arrival but in addition he asked everyone to make arrangements for our stay there too.
While in Kannur it had begun to rain for several days and dry accommodation was difficult to find. I contacted our friend, Mr. Haradev who works and lives in Muscat, Oman. I told him that pāda-yātrā would be coming to his hometown and if he could arrange some accommodation for us. He said he was very busy and could not assist. We had already planned our schedule and had to move on, but before we could there was more rain and we arrived at the village a day late. Then I received a message from Mr. Haradev saying that he and his family would be travelling to India that night. When we reached the village he was there to welcome us with ārati and garlands. He made all the arrangements for our accommodation, prasādam, the bulls and he gave us a donation. He came with us to all the programs we had in the area which included saṅkīrtana and book distribution.
Calicut | Shyam Caitanya Dasa
In Calicut Shyam Caitanya Dasa helped us with book distribution. He took us to different areas in the city where we had various programs and distributed books.
Vijaymukunda Dasa from Kozhikode joined us on padayatra for two months. He did all the announcements, joined the saṅkīrtana and distributed books.
Malappuram | Uma Mataji
When we arrived in Malappuram we met Uma Mataji and her husband, a disciple of Radhanath Maharaj. She is actually aspiring for Lokanath Maharaj as her Guru. She heard about the glories of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar and the ‘All India Padayatra’ and had a strong desire for us to visit her town. The town is mostly inhabited by Muslims but we went anyway and had a grand saṅkīrtana program there. One of our pāda-yātris fell ill with dengue fever and was initially admitted in hospital. Uma Mataji, who is a doctor, later took him in and along with her husband took care of the pāda-yātri for 10 days. Her husband also accompanied us on pāda-yātrā for two days.
Kasaragod | Dr Ranjeet & Santana Sankirtana Dasa
We met Dr. Ranjeet at Kasaragod. He was very happy to have the darśana of our Lordships. Lokanath Swami, our spiritual father is very caring and he is always providing us with guidance and advice on our diets and summer protection on pāda-yātrā. So, when he instructed us to drink only filtered water when travelling we followed strictly and bought water daily. Maharaj advised that if we drank the local tap water it may affect our health since water quality changes from place to place. Dr. Ranjeet noticed us buying filtered water and decided to sponsor us a water filter. Now we don’t have to purchase water anymore. Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar will surely bless him. Sanatan Sankirtan Dasa is a Nama-Hatta leader in Kasaragod. He enthusiastically participated in all the programs we held there. He also instructed all the local ISKCON leaders to help us whenever we travelled to their areas for saṅkīrtana.
Trissur | Rajendra Dasa
We met Rajendra Dasa at Trissur when Bhakti Vinod Maharaj was travelling with us. He was very inspired by Maharaj. Wherever we went in Trissur, Rajendra Dasa helped us especially with all our programs.
Kuttipuram | Rasanidhi Dasa
Some of us stayed in Kuttipuram while others travelled to Pandharpur for Lokanath Swami’s Vyasa Puja. This is when we met Rasanidhi Dasa, he took care of the pāda-yātris that remained in Kuttipuram. He sorted out all our accommodation arrangements and the bulls.
Payyanur | Sri Krishna Yadav Dasa
Sri Krishna Yadav Dasa is originally from Maharastra but now lives in Payyanur. He served at the ISKCON Aravade Temple some time ago. Aravade is a small village in the Sangli district, it is a very special place for us because it is the birth place Lokanath Maharaj. When he received news that we would be in Payyanur he invited us to his house. He has a large house and so he arranged for our accommodation as well as for Bhaktivinod Maharaj. He also sponsored the bulls fodder.
Kerala’s special mercy
We received special mercy in Kerala when our pāda-yātrā grew by three more devotees. Patitpavan Jagannath Dasa, Vijaymukund Dasa and Bhakta Brajesh joined us. We were also fortunate to have celebrated Janmastami twice in one year because in Kerala people celebrated on September 12th. Due to all the help we received from the Vaishnavas our visit to Kerala was successful. May Lord Gauranga shower them with His blessings.
The All India Padayatra Book Score
All made possible by the mercy of our Lordships, Srila Prabhupada, Gurudev and the above mentioned Vaishnavas.
Jai Nitai Gaurasundar ki! Jai!