By Dhirnayak dasa (Leader Bengal – Orissa Padayatra)
It has been a long-cherished desire of our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, that a padayatra should happen in each state of India. Srila Prabhupada had also written to Nityananda from Mayapur on March 16, 1977. “Here in India our Lokanath Maharaja has successfully organized such a programme and it is a great success. He has travelled all over India and everywhere they distribute books, prasadam and perform kirtan, village to village. Each night they stop at a different village. We can introduce many millions of such carts all over the world.” It was Srila Prabhupada’s desire to see carts all over India and Lokanath Maharaja has been inspiring everyone to start padayatras. The Bengal-Orissa Padayatra would be one of them.
Our senior godbrother Istadev dasa, who served in the All-India Padayatra for eight years and now stays in Mayapur, shared the thought of a Bengal padayatra with Srila Gurudev who blessed him to make preparations. The chariot, which took six months to construct, was made under the meticulous guidance of the AIP’s Partha Sakha dasa. The tractor and trolley were brought from Kanpur and four Kankrej breed oxen were brought from Gujarat, Srila Gurudev naming them after the four Kumaras: Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanat and Sanandana. At first Istadev thought that as the padayatra was starting from Sri Dhama Mayapur we should name the Lordships Sri Sri Nitai-Mayapur dhama, but Maharaja said all padayatra deities should have the names Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar.
Istadev invited Jayapataka Maharaja, Bhakti Purusottam Maharaja, Bhakti Vighnavinasa Narasimha Maharaja and other senior devotees like Prabhupada disciple Bhima dasa to the inauguration. Bhima came to Mayapur from Juhu a few days before the September 14th event, saying it was Radharani’s desire that he should attend. It had now been raining heavily nonstop for two or three days and we were scared that if it continued Jayapataka Maharaja might not be able to attend. As we headed to the Radha-Madhav temple campus in the rain for the 5:30pm ceremony we were praying to Srimati Radharani, and just as we arrived the rain stopped for ninety minutes and in that time the inauguration took place.
Jai Srimati Radharani, ki jai.
All the guests spoke about padayatra’s glories and Jayapataka Maharaja touched the coconut and a devotee broke it on his behalf. Bhakti Vighnavinasa Narasimha Maharaja then performed arati of Their Lordships and lastly Istadev announced padayatra officially inaugurated. Our twelve padayatris then performed sankirtan in Sri Dhama Mayapur joined by the Mayapur devotees. Later that evening we performed Gaura arati in Ganga Nagar where we stayed overnight.
The next day we performed sankirtan at Yogapitha, the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Srinivas Angan and then went to Chaitanya matha where we had darshan of Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda before staying at Rajapur Jagannath. The following day we headed for Krishna Nagar and thus our journey will continue. We all need the blessings of all Vaishnavas and acaryas so we can serve in padayatra and keep spreading the holy name wherever we go. When I asked Lokanath Maharaja to join the padayatra he blessed me and said, “Yes, you can go. As you know Bengali you can serve there nicely.”
All glories to Srila Gurudev. Without his mercy we can’t do anything.