By Vishnu Swamy Dasa
The Telangana, India pāda-yātrā, started on December 6th, 2012 and by November 1st, 2015 had completed a full tour of the Indian State. The pāda-yātrā travelled 4,500 kilometres to all 10 of the state’s districts and all 500 villages and towns. Since then, Telangana has increased in size to 31 districts. This year we started walking on January 22nd from the Gaura Gram Ashram near Yadagirihutta in the Yadadri Bhongri district. Thus far, we have visited 150 villages and towns in the districts of Janagam, Warangal, Mahabubad, Khammam, Suryapeta and Nalgonda and walked 1000 kilometres. We have also distributed 12 Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam sets, 2000 big books, 1200 medium books and 20,000 small books this year. Our pāda-yātrā has new bulls, but we are still travelling with our original team. We had started with just two members, Srinivasa Sevananda and myself; a month later Ramanuja Dasa joined.
Gaura Purnima celebrations
In the second week of March we reached Danthalapally, the village where I grew up. A grand reception was organized to welcome our pāda-yātrā. We stayed and celebrated Gaura Purnima in the village with 100 people participating in the festival. We also performed beautiful saṅkīrtana and distributed prasādam. Later on we travelled to the village of Bodlada where we did a program at a school there; Manudas Dasa the temple president of the Vancouver, Canada ISKCON Temple also joined us.
The Narsampeta Orphanage
We spent a week from April 7th to April 13th at the Narsampeta Orphanage. During that week the students of the ashram participated in our daily programs which included japa and Bhagavat katha. They really enjoyed it. A devotee named Dr. Ramana kindly sponsored 20 Bhagavada-Gitas for the older children.
The pāda-yātrā paused for a week or so for us to attend the vysa-puja celebrations of Bhakti Vikas Swami on May 20th in Mayapur. We stored the pāda-yātrā cart at the Khammam Sri Venkateswara Goshala. On May 28th we started walking again from Khammam.
Ram Das’ birthplace
We then travelled to the historical place of Nelakondapally, birth place of Ramadasa who built the Badrachala Ramalyam in Nizam in the 17th century. While there we stayed in the house he built.
Later, we travelled to Suryapeta, a new district headquarters. We reached Bhonagiri on July 25th. There was a big saṅkīrtana and pāda-yātrā event there organised by my Guru, Bhakti Vikas Swami and the Salem temple president Gokulchandra Dasa. Other local leaders and bhaktas also participated. We were fortunate to have one more devotee join us, our team now consists of four people.
Celebrations and difficult situations
After stopping to celebrate Janmastami and Radhastami we began walking from the ‘Gaura Gram farm’ on September 8th. This time many villagers participated in the saṅkīrtana, attracted by the sounds of the mridanga and kartals; even small children enjoyed it and swayed their hands and heads in tune with the kīrtana. We were now travelling further into the interior of Telangana to places such as Motakondur and Valigonda Mandal.
We experienced difficulty in one village that we stopped at. Some drunken people harassed us and claimed that our pāda-yātrā bulls belonged to them. It’s very hard to spread the Holy Names in the age of Kaliyuga.
We are now on our way to Chowtuppal and urban Hyderabad. Book distribution has been poor on this leg of our journey with only a few small books being distributed moderately. There is also some difficulty with the rain. Our pāda-yātrā party is currently in the village of Shaligowraram in the Nalgonda district of Telangana.