By Damodarlila dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader
Since the India-wide lockdown was announced in March 2020, the Maharashtra Padayatra has been under the shelter of the Sawantwadi ISKCON centre. The devotees here have been taking good care of us, especially temple president Vasusresta dasa. As we can’t leave the centre due to the lockdown, we have faced a shortage of grains and grocery items. After one of the morning programmes, I discussed the issue with congregation devotees Avadhut Krishna dasa and Govindananda dasa. Govindananda’s classmate is the mayor of Sawantwadi, so Govindananda invited him and his team to the centre where they all had darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. The mayor gave a donation of 50kg of rice and wheat, and five litres of oil as well as pulses. He was glad to have darshan and said, “If you need any help, please let me know and pray that the Covid-19 pandemic runs away from our country.” We gifted everyone the Bhuvaikuntha book by our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, and other small books.
The next day Sawantwadi deputy mayor Annapurna Koregaokar came for darshan. She donated 25kg of rice, 3kg of pulses and some groceries. She also provided us with hand-stitched face masks and some jackfruits for Their Lordships saying, “This is for the Lord specially from the village side.” We thanked madam by gifting her Maharaja’s Bhuvaikuntha book and Srila Prabhupada’s small books. We were happy to receive the guests and we thanked the Lord for sending us their help. But that was not the end. Ex-Sabhapati Mr Mangesh Talwanikar visited the centre and donated 25kg of rice and pulses and oil. He was also pleased to have darshan of Their Lordships.
Our morning programme is going on regularly with more chanting and more reading. Daily before chanting we read our Gurudev’s book, Japa vidhi Guru nidhi, which helps us to have more attentive and absorbed chanting. Sometimes we padayatris give class and sometimes the congregation devotees give class. In the evening daily kirtan is from 5pm to 6pm as part of the holy name global sankirtan to eradicate the virus. Then we have Bhagavat-gita class and also sing Vaishnava bhajans and read their translation.
Read Krishna, hear Krishna katha daily
One month ago, I read that Prabhupada says, “Every night before going to sleep, read Krishna book, hear Krishna katha. If you are attached to this hearing, then by reading, reading, regularly, one day when you are going to sleep remembering all these things, maybe in a dream Krishna can come. This is perfection.”
I shared a thought of reading the Krishna book daily with other padayatris and they all said haribol. Since then we read the Krishna book every evening before we sleep. The lockdown has given us more time to read the scriptures.
Fodder and shade for our oxen
Congregation devotee Devakiputra dasa has a cow at his house, so mercifully when he was ordering fodder for his cow he also ordered for our oxen. He loves our oxen and takes their darshan when he comes to the centre. He recently donated his house to the Sawantwadi centre. Four years ago, Lokanath Maharaja came here and everyone took prasad and took photos with him in the courtyard. Now in the same courtyard we tie our oxen and Devakiputra’s cow to the big tree there. Recently the cow gave birth to a calf and they named her Ganga. A special sweet made form the colostrum of the cow was offered to our Nitai-Gaurasundar.
Fresh green grass for our oxen
Namacarya dasa, an agricultural officer, stays few kilometres from the centre. Daily on his bicycle he brings green grass for our oxen. They eat dry fodder regularly now and I feed them green grass daily. Namacarya takes so much effort. The oxen enjoy the grass and Namacarya spends much time loving and caressing them.