International Society for Krishna Consciousness - Founder-Acharya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

All India Padayatra celebrates Janmashtami at ISKCON Noida

September 11, 2022

 

By Acarya dasa, All India Padayatra leader

The padayatris have come to Noida temple after ten years. When we were in Badrinath, our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, asked us what padayatra’s route would be from now onwards. I said we would go to Noida for the Janmashtami celebration. Maharaja was very happy and said, “Come. I am also coming.”

Wherever our Guru Maharaja goes, he tells the devotees about the glories of padayatra, including on Zoom japa sessions which he conducts daily. We reached Noida on August 16, 2022, where the devotees had arranged a grand welcome for us at the gate. A large assembly of devotees were on hand and even several Vaishnavis were there to greet Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar as sankirtan was going on.  The Noida devotees have long had a strong attraction for padayatra.

Noida temple president Vamsidhar dasa, Vedanta Caitanya dasa and Radhakunda dasa were all eagerly waiting for us with their warm hearts. When we were some kilometres from the temple, these devotees were sending us prasadam and coordinating our accommodation. A garland was offered to Srila Prabhupada and then to each padayatri and we all danced together in sankirtan to our hearts’ content.

Everyone then went to the temple for darshan of Sri Sri Radha-Govind Dev. Former padayatri Bajrangi dasa, who served with the AIP for more than ten years, was overjoyed to meet the padayatris and Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. It was a nice get-together made even more joyful as we received the news that Maharaja would arrive at Noida the next day.

The padayatris went to welcome Gurudev, who was happy to meet his disciples. He asked how we had come to Noida: “Where is the chariot? Where are Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar? How are you all? What sevas will you do?”

In the evening I personally went to meet Maharaja. He was pleased to hear the details of the Himalaya yatra and said that we should now participate in Janmashtami. Maharaja then took darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and blessed us padayatris.

Maharaja gave a special japa talk on Janmashtami morning. Just as Srila Prabhupada used to go around the place during Janmashtami, Maharaja also took a round of the temple to see how the preparations were going. He asked after our oxen and told me to decorate them and let all the devotees have their darshan, emphasizing that they are not just normal oxen but are serving Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, thus making their lives perfect.

We washed the oxen and put the shawls on them. Many people took selfies with them and they became an attraction for all. Sankirtan had been going on in the temple since morning and we also took part in that sankirtan which was followed by an abhishek. Almost ten lakh people attended the two-day festival, many taking darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and honouring prasadam. About 1000 bhogas were offered to Sri Sri Radha-Govind Dev and our Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar.

Many stalls were put up in the temple grounds and we also put up a stall about ISKCON padayatra. We showed the photos and videos of padayatra with the help of Mahatma Vidur dasa and his Namahatta’s Bhaktivruksha devotees at Noida: Akinchan Bhakta dasa and his sister and Vallabha Nimai dasa. Devotees relished the pastimes of padayatra.

On one occasion before leaving Noida, we took the ratha to Harivilas dasa and Jagannath Swami dasa’s houses. They both are long-time well-wishers of padayatra and always support us whenever we need their help. They both welcomed Their Lordships and us. Surely Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar must have blessed them for their services to padayatra.

On Janmashtami evening the Personality Development Course devotees joined us and we shared our realization of padayatra. We were asked how do we walk in padayatra, what are the obstacles we face during padayatra, how do we totally depend on the mercy of Their Lordships? The PDC youngsters and devotees were keen to hear and after hearing became excited to join padayatra. Then we had a meeting with Maharaja for one hour. He asked us how we were and if we had any problems. He shared with us the history of padayatra and how Srila Prabhupada was always happy to hear about padayatra.

 

And then Maharaja gave prasad to everyone. We were feeling blessed and filled with spiritual happiness and enthusiasm and charged up to walk again in our preaching mission and Guru Maharaja is, of course, very happy that there are now many padayatras in India.

The next day was Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day and after the morning japa talk Maharaja did mangala arti of Sri Sri Radha-Govind dev and also had darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. He then blessed everyone and left Noida. We all felt very contented having had an opportunity to celebrate Janmashtami with Guru Maharaja.

Hari Vilas prabhu was taking care of the cylinder, gas and food for the oxen during our stay at Noida. He was with us for four days and arranged our accommodation. He also pledged to send 5000-10,000 rupees every month for diesel and service of the oxen. He did a nice service and he is very loving towards Guru Maharaja. It is Maharaja’s padayatra so Hari Vilas helps us with all padayatra services.

When we were leaving Noida on August 22, we were given 51,000 rupees worth of BBT books as per Gurudev’s order. All the temple devotees came to bid us farewell, many followed us barefoot for some distance and some walked with us in padayatra.

Hare Krishna.

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