By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
On October 24, 2020, we padayatris got the sad news that ISKCON Ahmedabad president His Grace Yasomatinandan Prabhu had left this planet. He had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and passed away due to cardiac arrest. It was a shock for all of us, as we were in Gujarat and had been looking forward to seeing him and getting his blessings. Our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, called and shared the glories of Yasomatinandan Prabhu with us, remembering how he always inspired padayatris and always instructed devotees to serve padayatra.
When we were in Ahmedabad in 2011, Yasomatinandan Prabhu had organized a welcome ceremony for padayatra. The preparations were like a big festival: garlands were offered to Their Lordships and Srila Prabhupada, and Yasomatinandan Prabhu blessed us with all his heart saying, “It’s a big tapasya of Lokanath Maharaja; he started padayatra and you all are carrying out his orders and padayatra is on the roads since so many years. It’s a great achievement. I am very sure that walking like this your one step will be on this earth and the other in the Lord’s abode. And you will all achieve the Lord’s abode.”
Yasomatinandan Prabhu arranged raja bhoga prasadam for all of us, then called me to his office and asked for all details of padayatra. I was amazed how such a big devotee could be taking care of small devotees like us. Our padayatra was in that area for about fifteen days and he helped us regarding our accommodations. He also organized huge pandal festivals wherever we went, inspiring people to buy books and chant the holy mantra. Wherever I went with the advance party, people were already aware of our arrival as he used to tell the devotees there, “Padayatra is coming; be ready to welcome them. The Lord is coming to your village and also serve the padayatris. They walk and preach, they are great tapasvis.” He liked padayatra very much and often discussed with us how the padayatra was launched in 1984 in Dwarka dhama.
We also met Yasomatinandan Prabhu on Vraja-mandala Parikrama and at Pandharpur during Maharaja’s vyasa-puja festival. Whenever he met Maharaja, he talked about the glories of padayatra and inquired where padayatra is now. He guided us about padayatra like a father would guide his children. I always felt he was a great well-wisher of the padayatris and always had a big seva bhava for padayatra.
We were due to reach Ahmedabad in a few days, but it is with a heavy heart that we will enter the city this time. Now whenever we go to Ahmedabad our journey will be incomplete as we will not get the blessings of Yasomatinandan Prabhu. The padayatris will always miss him.