By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
On July 1 the All-India Padayatra reached Sanwara village in southern Rajasthan, the largest state in India. Sanwara is only about 25km north of Sirohi city, the district administrative headquarters, but the roads in the area are in such bad condition the oxen could not walk properly. At one point our ox Vijay picked up an injury to his leg which then troubled him.
That evening Vijay was sitting quietly and as we checked his condition, we found he had a fever. We called for a veterinarian who gave him pain killers and antibiotics. He then seemed much better, which greatly relieved us. However, for some days he had not been eating properly due to a gastric disorder and earlier that day he had eaten too many grains that were not digested. During the night his stomach became bloated. When I was called to see him at 2am he was lying down in a very weak condition. We sent for a vet again but it was too late and we served him until he left his body on the morning of July 2.
The oxen play a vital role in our padayatra. They carry Their Lordships’ chariot on their shoulders so we take great care of them, as they are a part of our family. We feed them, take them for bathing as soon as we get near a large body of water, and we constantly check their bodies for any injury. Vijay was a very obedient and humble ox. He never hurt anybody and would always be ready to get yoked to the chariot. His horns were majestic and whenever we entered a village people would follow us just looking at Vijay and taking selfies with him. His color was black and he would always appear to possess great strength. Because of his large horns he reminded us of Nandu and Kaliya who served in padayatra a few years ago but are now retired in the dhama. Sometimes a human may not get entry into the dhama after retirement, but these oxen are so fortunate that after serving Their Lordships we transfer them to Pandharpur or the Vrindavan goshala where they can spend the rest of their lives.
Our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, always says, “It’s their last birth; they will go back to Godhead by rendering service to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar.” I always remember this when I see the oxen serving so nicely in padayatra. We admire their services and all the padayatris were very close to Vijay.
We all feel separation from Vijay but also feel for his fellow oxen, as they all stayed together and served together. They were now sitting still and silent. The padayatris were morose because one of our companions had left us, but he has definitely reached his destination. And the preaching must continue, whatever happens we can’t stop. We have to move on.
All glories to Vijay.
All glories to the services he rendered in the All-India Padayatra.