By Acarya dasa (All India Padayatra leader)

Nandu, our beloved All India Padayatra ox, left this mortal world and went back home, back to Godhead in the early morning of February 8, 2024, at Sri Pandharpur dham.

Nandu served nicely in padayatra for twelve years. He never harmed anyone and was very cooperative and loving. He looked majestic with his huge horns, but was intensely silent. Even children would come and play around him, touch him and take selfies with him. As we entered a village the residents would be mesmerized by his horns and many would follow us as far as our next destination. After his retirement from service in padayatra he was shifted to the Pandharpur goshala to spend the rest of his life peacefully in the dham.

For a few days Nandu had not been eating properly and was not particularly active, then one morning amongst devotees he left his body. Due to his service to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar he will definitely go back to Godhead, for he carried Their Lordships on his shoulders. Padayatra oxen are blessed souls. Like a great Vaishnava they retire in the dham, either Pandharpur or Vrindavan, and from there go directly back to Godhead.

The antyesti (funeral rites) was completed on the banks of the Chandrabhaga River in Pandharpur. Sankirtan was performed throughout the process and all the devotees prayed for Nandu to reach the best destination. Lokanath Maharaja always says that these oxen are not ordinary oxen, that their life is dedicated to the service of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and that this will be their last life.

When Srila Prabhupada saw padayatra’s original bullock cart it was displaying a semi-circular banner announcing the BHAKTIVEDANTA BULLOCK CART TRAVELING SANKIRTAN PARTY. Prabhupada read the sign and said jai. He then fed the bulls some grass, patted them on the cheeks and declared: “These bulls are carrying Gaura-Nitai for preaching. They will go back home, back to Godhead. They won’t have another life.”

The service of these oxen is adorable.

Nandu ki jai.