By Loka Saranga dasa
The dream came true! On July 12 the Czech Padayatra hit the road for the twenty-seventh time. It was absolute nectar and the merciful highlight of the year. We left the comfort zone of our troubled daily lives, full of danger at every step: danger in the form of forgetting Krishna, Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, and the mercy of travelling Lords Chaitanya and Nityananda. There are no glimpses of forgetfulness during padayatra as all are protected there.
On foot with a bullock cart the padayatris wandered from town to town, village to village for almost three weeks through the country’s picturesque Vysocina region southeast of Prague. With continuous kirtan, book and maha-prasadam distribution we experienced real life – the glory of the sankirtan movement. Padayatra is a revitalizing aspect of our spiritual lives through which every one of the thirty to seventy participants could realize the power of traditional preaching. Just to walk and preach God’s glory is glorious. The immense nectar we received can hardly be described. The mercy and ecstasy were flowing as the Ganga does during a flood. We were simply swimming in blissful kirtan like gulabs floating in the sweet juice of the holy name. With every step, every village and every evening preaching programme, the nectar of the confidential service of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar thickened.
And that was not all: on padayatra 3000 of Srila Prabhupada’s books were distributed in more than twenty cities and villages and thousands of people experienced the Hare Krishna movement in depth. What mercy! Just imagine a small, sleepy village suddenly waking up to devotional service to the Lord, the residents bringing flowers for garlands, fruits and vegetables, and hay and bran for the oxen, then taking darshan of Nitai-Gaurasundar and joining the harinama. During our evening programmes they heard the philosophy, tasted delicious prasadam (fresh pakoras, raita, sweets and maha-prasadam), watched Bharatanatyam dance and a theatrical performance and joined the kirtan, and a total of 1000 children and adults took the opportunity for face painting (including tilak). Oh, what a change for the village, for every conditioned soul, and for the devotees too. Throughout the walk devotees shared the satisfaction of Nitai-Gaurasundar in their hearts, creating a fascinating atmosphere of cooperation and dedication. It was an enriching spiritual experience for the villagers when padayatra visited, and the devotees were enriched with the experience of preaching, solidarity and devotion.
Here is a short story. During the last days of padayatra we took a detour through a forest, with no living being to be seen. However, the kirtan in front of the ratha was as enthusiastic as always and I told myself that at least the trees would benefit. Suddenly a car came along, then stopped ahead of us and seemed to be waiting. As we got closer an elderly couple got out and greeted us with astonishment and folded hands. They took pictures, bought books from devotees, walked with us for a short distance and tried to sing with us. When they continued on their journey and again passed by, they waved and were obviously full of bliss. They also joined us for our programme that evening. This year, due to the restrictions resulting from the coronavirus crisis most people were similarly outgoing. Often almost all the residents of a village would come for the evening programme and then did not want to leave. They listened to the lecture carefully, happily took prasadam, and during the final kirtan – when mostly kids were dancing – some adults also danced and sang enthusiastically in front of the ratha. Many said it was their first contact with devotees.
Now we can just water our hearts with the nectar. However, there’s no need to wait for the next padayatra, the mood can be had every day by sharing the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, the holy name and prasadam. And if anyone needs a boost in their spiritual life or would like to taste real ecstasy, they can simply sign up for next year’s padayatra. There are still several spaces available.