By Adi Guru Dasa
The devotees of ISKCON Vallabh Vidyanagar Temple successfully completed our second padayatra on September 13th. The five-day walk started on September 9th from the Sri Sri Radha Giridhari temple in Vallabh Vidyanagar in Gujarat, and ended at the Sri Ranchor Rai temple in Dakor. During his vyasa-puja celebrations in Pandhapur, Lokanath Swami had inspired us to organize regular padayatras. Later, with this is mind we approached Siddhanta Dasa, a very experienced padayatri who once served on the ‘All India Padayatra’ team and who now serves at the Vallabh Vidyanagar temple. He took charge of organizing the event –trying out various routes months before the walk before finally settling on one that would take us five days. Last year we did a three-day padayatra but this year we decided to extend this walk in honour of ‘World Holy Names Week.’ After putting together a plan we presented the idea to Sachinandana Dasa, president of the Sri Sri Radha Giridhari Temple. As soon as he approved of the walk we began to advertise it as ‘The World Holy Names Padayatra’.
First day: September 9th
On the first day we installed the Sri Sri Gaura Nitai on Their simhasana and offered Them bhoga and arati. Saccidanand Prabhu led the kirtana and with a joyful heart all the devotees started dancing as the procession was proceeding. Our team consisted of temple devotees, congregation members and ‘ISKCON Youth Forum’ students who all participated with great enthusiasm. We covered 12 kms and reached the village of Narsanda. After taking a little rest we did harinama and invited all the villagers for Gaura Arati and pravachan. When the harinama party returned to our camp so many villagers had joined our procession. At the end of the program we distributed khichari prasadam to all the villagers.
Second day : September 10th
We started the day with mangala arati at 4:30 a.m. and left the village of Narsanda at 6 a.m. Three hours later our team reached the village of Uttarsanda, where Sachinandana Dasa to give a wonderful morning class on the importance of harinama and padayatra. After the pravachan we all had breakfast and headed towards the city of Nadiad, having walked 12 kms. Later that evening we performed harinama in the market and surrounding residential areas.
Third day: September 11th
After walking 15 kilometres we reached the village of Selun. There we heard that Asit Krishna Maharaja would be joining us and would give the evening class. He joined us for our harinam after which he gave a simple but delightful class –everyone was very happy. Maharaja encouraged us very much on our mission and said that padayatra is a very important program for all of humanity.
Fourth day: September 12th Realization session
It was a very hot day as we walked 14 kilometres to the village of Lingda, and all the padayatris had become quite tired. As soon as we reached the village rain started and welcomed Sri Sri Gaura Nitai with pleasing weather, much to everyone’s relief. Like usual we performed harinama and Gaura arati.
During our walk everyone had started talking about how the next day would be, as it would be our last day on padayatra. We decided that we would hold a small isthagosthi that night to share our padayatra realizations. Everyone shared amazing insights. Two elderly matajis said that previously they could not walk long distances but, now due to the mercy of Sri Gaura Nitai, they had completed the entire padayatara. Another mataji recounted how she distributed Bhagavad-Gitas to three Muslims who promised her that they would read it daily. Another lady said that she would never forget this wonderful experience. Afterwards we were all filled with feelings of separation and we decided to sing the ‘Parama Karuna Pahui Dui Jana’ (Sri GauraNityanandaDaya) bhajana written by Locana Dasa Thakura. We were all sitting in a small room of a primary school with just one low hanging light bulb and even though we could not physically see very well at that moment our internal vision -the vision of our heart-, was clear. We all prayed together: ‘Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar, please accept us in Your eternal sankirtana yatra–we are not interested in doing any other yatra if You are not present.’
Fifth and last day: September 13th
Early that morning, right after mangala arati, we started walking towards Dakor Dham so we could reach on time to have darsana of Sri Ranchor Rai during the raj bhoga arati. At 9 am we arrived in Meethi Leemada, the place where Lord Dwarkadish had once stayed. It is said that there He touched the branch of a neem tree and that that branch had become sweet due to the Lord’s touch. We all know that neem is known for its bitter taste, but the sweetness of the Lord is such that whoever and whatever comes in contact with Him becomes sweet. There we received the balya bhoga maha-prasadam of Lord Ranchor Rai; after honouring prasadam we continued on our way ,enthusiastically performing sankirtana in the city till we reached the temple of Lord Ranchor Rai. When we reached the temple the ‘Narasimha Sankirtana’ party performed a special kirtana for the pleasure of the Lord. We also did a parikrama of the temple while chanting the holy names before taking darsana of Sri Ranchor Rai. Afterwards all the padayatris honoured the deities’ raj bhoga maha-prasdam together.
We are all very thankful to Lokanath Swami, Asit Krishna Swami and Sachinandana Dasa for inspiring and guiding us. We would also like to thank the ‘Narasimha Sankirtana’ party comprising of Prayas Dasa, Yoga Narasimha Dasa, Partha Dasa and ShyamDasa for the wonderful kirtanas they performed at every village during every evening program. Last but not least we want to thank all the devotees who participated in this padayatra.
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki Jai!
World Holy Names Week ki Jai!
Sankirtana Padayatra ki Jai!
Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!