By Damodarleela dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader
On July 16 the Maharashtra Padayatra was inaugurated at Pandharpur dhama in the presence of senior Vaisnavas Akhildhara dasa, Prahlad dasa, Mohanrupa dasa, and Dasaratha dasa. Our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, is the sole inspiration behind the venture. Since Srila Prabhupada instructed him to start padayatra it has always been his heart, and whenever he hears news of any padayatra, he becomes delighted. He once said: “Ours is a preaching mission for which Prabhupada made different strategies, and padayatra is one for preaching the holy name far and wide.” Maharaja has a desire that in every state and city and wherever there is an ISKCON temple there should be padayatra, so with the vision of preaching in every village of Maharashtra this padayatra has appeared from the heart of our spiritual master.
During Maharaja’s seventieth Vyasa-puja, celebrated recently in Pandharpur dhama, there were three carts: All-India padayatra, Dehu dindi, and Alandi dindi. The Warkaris (the devotees of Lord Vitthala) were amazed to see the oxen and Their Lordships on the cart. The ox-cart and oxen are close to the hearts of farmers, and now this padayatra is on the road it will go to the villages and present programmes such as sankirtan, book distribution, Gaura arati and prasadam distribution.
Lokanath Maharaja stated: “This padayatra will be Maharashtra limited.” The All-India Padayatra has been on the road since 1984 and as it takes ten years for the padayatris to complete one round of India, it is always a long wait before they return. Maharashtra Padayatra will now fill that gap, providing every village in the state with the opportunity to serve Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and Srila Prabhupada. Maharashtra is renowned as the land of saints and the spiritually inclined people will surely welcome our padayatra. The lifestyle the padayatris follow is simple and is bound to make an impression on the villagers.
The All-India Padayatra and Maharashtra Padayatra are currently walking together, having left Pandharpur dhama heading for Satara, a district headquarters. When they reach Satara the padayatras will diverge along their respective paths, with Maharashtra Padayatra’s route taking the party from Satara to Karad, Sangli, Solapur, and Aravade, Lokanath Maharaja’s hometown. The carts and deities are of the Dehu dindi and the new oxen have been named Garud and Nandi by Maharaja, one to pull Lord Vishnu’s vehicle and the other Lord Shiva’s vehicle. At present there are twelve padayatris walking with us.
I pray to all the Vaisnavas to bless us so we can fulfil the desire of Srila Prabhupada and our spiritual master. Those who want to join and experience the bliss of padayatra, please contact us on 9049577556, 8459700164, or 7769006060.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.