By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
On July 25 the All-India Padayatra reached Mirgesar village in the Pali district of Rajasthan. We had no plans of going to this village but our godbrother, Akinchana Bhakta dasa, invited us. It has been his long-cherished desire since he joined ISKCON that Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, Srila Prabhupada and all the padayatris would come to his village and make it pure. After a wait of 10 years, finally Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar arrived, proving that the Lord reads the heart of His devotees.
When Akinchana Bhakta heard that padayatra was coming he was very happy and informed as many devotees as he could. Almost thirty devotees came from Udaipur to welcome the padayatris, more than ten devotees came from Noida in the Delhi National Capital Region, and devotees also came from Sumerpur, Sadi and Bali village in southern Rajasthan.
Villagers and devotees welcomed us with sankirtan at the outskirts of Mirgesar. They then took darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar and danced and sang the holy name. Walking ahead we reached the village at 11:30am, passing through a welcome gate the villagers had made. I was amazed to see the preparations. All the villagers were very happy and very eager to serve Their Lordships. As the chariot came to the gate, the matajis welcomed the padayatra oxen by putting kumkum on their foreheads and giving them jaggery to eat. Then the devotees offered garlands to Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, Srila Prabhupada and all the padayatris and performed a roaring kirtan as we entered the village. There was arati of Their Lordships in typically Rajasthani style and Akinchana Bhakta and the team offered two beautiful cloths for covering the oxen and a Rajasthani turban to me and Udaipur temple president Mayapurvasi dasa.
The residents were of the opinion this was a historic moment in their lives, with many who no longer lived in Mirgesar journeying from cities throughout Rajasthan to be a part of padayatra. At 6pm as we were preparing for nagar sankirtan everyone gathered in front of the chariot. A huge procession then passed through the village streets with Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar travelling in Their chariot and devotees and villagers singing and dancing in ecstasy. We approached Mirgesar’s renown Sri Sri Radha-Gopal temple on the banks of the Mithari river, where the beautiful more-than-500-year-old deity is served and cared for by the village matajis. As the chariot came in front of the temple it stopped and was not moving ahead. Padayatra’s utsava deities of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar were then carried for darshan of Sri Sri Radha-Gopal as the temple filled with devotees and the holy name. It was like two Lords were meeting each other. Akinchana Bhakta said, “Sri Sri Radha-Gopal were very happy by seeing so many devotees and Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar.” He also stated that Radha-Gopal had pulled Nitai-Gaurasundar to his village.
The procession continued to an open area for the evening programme. There I took stock of the nice preparations for hosting padayatra. The whole village had been involved, treating the occasion as if it was a festival day for all of them. Gaura arati was performed and the kirtan that followed was so ecstatic that everyone started dancing. I then gave a small class explaining the importance of padayatra and our preaching mission.
As per the instruction of our spiritual master, Lokanath Swami, Akinchana Bhakta requested the villagers to take a vow of chanting at least one round a day. By the mercy of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, more than thirty villagers took beads and in front of Their Lordships vowed to chant, thus getting connected with Srila Prabhupada.
Three Prabhupada-lilamrta were distributed as well as a few other books, including the Bhagavad-gita, the Ramayan and some small books. The next morning there was a beautiful mangala arati. Despite the rain and the 4:30am start many villagers attended the programme.
We stayed on for one day and as we were preparing to leave the following day the villagers were crying in separation from Their Lordships and patting the oxen with love. As we departed for our next destination all the villagers walked with us for more than 5km. They were impressed by the lifestyle of padayatris and the part they liked most was the sankirtan. All of us padayatris felt we were at home in Mirgesar. Akinchana Bhakta dasa, our godbrother, the son of the village, rightly fulfilled his duty and made the villagers fortunate. A very nice example for the society.