By Damodarleela dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader
On January 25, 2021, padayatra reached Kaneri, a village in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. Our senior God-brother, Brajkishor dasa, has been performing sankirtan in Kolhapur for twenty-one years and is in charge of that service there. A few years ago, when the All-India Padayatra was in Kolhapur, the padayatris intended going to his place but for some reason that did not happen. Since then, Brajkishor has had a longing that padayatra should come to his house, so as we reached Kaneri performing sankirtan, by the Lord’s arrangement we stopped at one place and the house near that place was his house. Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, ki jai.
Though Brajkishor was not home at the time, the Lord visited his house. When our advance party came, we had no idea he was staying in Kaneri. He had built a big house and thought that if devotees don’t stay there, what is the use of such a place? We were unable to get accommodation in the village because people had stayed in the temple and stolen the deities, so we stayed at his house and performed kirtan and Gaura-arati there. Thus, the Lord fulfilled Brajkishor’s desire and he was very happy to receive us and Their Lordships. He and several devotees also participated in nagar sankirtan.
A grand sankirtan at Gokul Shirgaon
The next day was Sunday, so the padayatris along with Brajkishor and his sankirtan team went to the Sri Krishna temple at the nearby village of Gokul Shirgaon where there is a self-manifested deity of Lord Krishna. Many devotees from Kolhapur joined us in the village and everyone had darshan at the temple followed by a grand nagar sankirtan, after which we all honoured prasadam.
A day at Kaneri Math
We spent time at the historical grounds of Kaneri Math, going to its ancient Shiva temple where the padayatris had darshan of Lord Shiva, as well as the Siddhagiri Gramjivan Museum that depicts gram jivan (self-sufficient village life) in Maharashtra before the Mughal invasion in the form of lifelike cement sculptures. We saw several sculptures related to padayatra, like nailing the oxen’s hooves and bullock carts.
Krishna Bhakta dasa visits padayatra
When we were in Aravade for the festival on Radha-Gopal’s birthday we met Krishna Bhakta dasa, our senior God-brother and advisor since the inception of the Maharashtra Padayatra, who told us he would soon come to see us on the road. A few days ago, he called to say he was coming and we were glad to hear the news. We were at Brajkishor’s house in Kaneri and when Krishna Bhakta arrived, we all honoured the large Marathi puran poli prasadam that had been prepared for us. Having asked after our wellbeing Krishna Bhakta then dedicated time with us discussing padayatra’s route, instructing us to celebrate Gaura-purnima at ISKCON Pandharpur, and inviting us for the installation of the Radha-Damodar deities at ISKCON’s Solapur temple. He also mentioned that at Solapur we would get utsava deities for padayatra and have their pranpratista and archanam. That would add stars to our padayatra, enabling us to go for house programmes and celebrate festivals, as well as have abhishek and worship.