By Dayal Gopal dasa, Nepal Padayatra leader
Padayatra is continuing in Nepal and we are walking on the Mahendra Highway running the length of the country from east to west, the only major highway in Nepal.
At the eastern tip of Nepal, we came to the Mechi River, a trans-boundary waterway flowing through Nepal and India. A tributary of the Mahananda River, the Mechi originates in the Mahabharat Range in Nepal, flows through Nepal, forms Nepal’s eastern border with India and then flows through the Indian state of Bihar to join the Mahananda in Kishanganj district.
Along with our cart and oxen we went for sankirtan in a market town in the border region then crossed the Mechi into Bihar before returning to Nepal to begin our padayatra journey towards the country’s western tip.
In Nepal the atmosphere recently has been completely political due to parliamentary elections, but our padayatra kept going with the Hare Krishna maha mantra playing through the cart speaker. People were surprised that padayatra operated even in times when all offices and shops were closed. They would ask, “Why are you walking?” I replied, “Our Prabhupada says that in devotional service there is no holiday.”
Once I was reading The Path of Perfection by Srila Prabhupada and in the last chapter, he presents an allegory akin to our realization in padayatra. It is said that if a man has fallen into the ocean his only hope for survival is that someone comes to pick him up, he only has to be lifted one inch above the water no doubt to feel immediate relief. Similarly, as soon as we take to Krishna consciousness we are lifted up, instantly free of anxiety. It is clearly seen in padayatra that the people in general are drowning in the ocean of distress and sorrow, but as they come in contact with padayatra and see Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, param-dayalu Nitai-Chaitanya, and the pictures displayed on the chariot of Krishna and Balaram playing the flute as They go cow herding, their faces start blooming.
Our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, has taken Srila Prabhupada’s order very seriously and started padayatra so nicely, so I can say it is an ideal preaching programme because of the many living entities who, like me, get mercy. As we walk in padayatra Prabhupada’s maha mantra is always playing through the sound system, which means we are always with Krishna. Otherwise, it is difficult to chant or remember Krishna because our minds are distracted with material thoughts, but in padayatra the maha mantra is always going on.
We have books to distribute and we are talking about Krishna and that is sadhana bhakti. Devotees often take padayatra to be a difficult task. No, it is a very simple service. We are two devotees with two bulls, we chant Krishna’s name, we preach, and Krishna sends everything we need for sankirtan. In padayatra there is zero expenditure. Padayatra is so natural people just become happy and enthusiastic. They are naturally attracted because Krishna is attractive and we feel that. We don’t have to buy anything actually. So even when our bull had a wound in his body and a devotee asked me for lakshmi to get medicine, okay I gave lakshmi but I told him to take Bhagavad-gita, distribute Bhagavad-gita, and the vet he went to saw the ratha and did not charge anything, he gave the medicine for free.
Krishna is supplying, Krishna is managing, Krishna is protecting us. Sometimes an ox is not trained so well or not so careful and an accident is about to happen, but Krishna protects. Krishna is doing everything and that is why Maharaja and Vaishnavas’ prayers along with those of their well-wishers are very powerful, and especially our dear Gurudev is always keeping us in his prayers and in his shelter so everything is very easy. In the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta there is a sloka stating that a very easy thing becomes very difficult without the mercy of Lord Chaitanya and Guru, but with that mercy difficult things become easy.
We ask all the Vaishnavas and Srila Gurudev for their mercy so that the people can serve padayatra. They are doing services, even very simple people are doing various services, so we pray to the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva for our intelligence that we also always engage in Krishna’s service, and by their mercy we will get such intelligence to not misuse the resources people are offering to Krishna and which we will use for Krishna’s pleasure. This is our prayer. People are completely frustrated with material life and they know that spirituality will bring them some solace. There is a lot of demand and we just have to supply. If ISKCON spreads in every nook and corner of villages and towns the world will be a nice place to live.
Jai Srila Prabhupada.