By Ekeshwar Dasa and Sri Krsna Dev Dasa
On Nov 16th 2017, the ISKCON Pandharpur Padayatra began from Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath Temple. This padayatra will go on for 40 days in the villages around Pandharpur dhama.
The objective is multiple:
-To spread the glories of the holy names and the Lord’s pastimes.
– To make people chant the Lord’s holy names
– To distribute Srila Prabhupada books.
– To give darsana of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai to everybody wherever we go
– To distribute prasadam
We have many padayatras going on in India and also outside India. Padayatras have proved to be an excellent tool to unite, reunite, inspire, and rejuvenate devotees. All the elements for rapid spiritual advancement are magically concentrated around the padayatra traveling temple: constantly chanting the holy names, associating with sincere and advanced devotees, hearing and talking about Gaura Nitai and Radha-Krishna, living intimately with the deities, distributing books and serving in many other ways, sharing Krishna consciousness with the public, experiencing exciting adventures, taking part in many cultural festivals, subsisting on healthy and abundant prasadam, and – most importantly – receiving the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.
So early morning, on November 16th, a group of around 20 devotees assembled near the cart carrying Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada. Sri Krsna Dev Prabhu, a padayatri from All India Padayatra, is also walking with us for the entire duration of the padayata. He will be assisting the party and sharing his experiences from his time on the All India Padayatra. After the inauguration ceremony the devotees started chanting and dancing very enthusiastically, which they did all the way to the village of Gopalpur, located 2.5 km south of Pandharpur. The Gopalpur temple is on a hill called Gopalpur Hill, considered non-different from the sacred Govardhan Hill in Vrindavana. Once Lord Krishna came to visit Pandharpur along with His cows, a pastime which is still commemorated at the Vishnupad temple in Gopalpur. In this temple you can see Lord Krishna’s footprints embedded on a stone slab along with the hoof prints of His cows. Local devotees say that this place is Lord Krishna’s eternal place of lunch pastime and that this lila is taking place even today. There is also a small temple of Narada Muni which is a testimony of the great sage’ daily visit to witness Krishna taking lunch. In Gopalpur the Bhima River meets the Pushpavati River, which is non-different from the river Yamuna.
Then we walked to the village of Ekalaspur, 12 kms ahead. We reached there by afternoon, rested for some time and then had prasadam. In the evening we did sankirtan in the village, sang the Gaura arati prayers in the main square, followed by more kirtana and dancing. Afterwards we showed a video of Srila Prabhupada to the assembled villagers and Balarupa Rupa Prabhu spoke about the glories of the Holy Names and Srila Prabhupada. We then distributed khichari prasadam to all the villagers and invited them to come for mangal arati, which they call kakada arati in Marathi. On that first day we distributed 25 Bhagavad- Gitas. It was a very nice experience being totally absorbed in chanting and preaching. Throughout the day all padayatris remembered our Gurudev, Lokanath Swami Maharaja, as he is the only source of our inspiration.
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki…….jai
Srila Pabhupada ki……..Jai
Srila Gurudev ki …… .jai