Having completed the one-month Vraja Mandal Parikrama, on November 16 Maharashtra’s padayatris returned to Aravade, the birthplace of our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja. The ratha, oxen and padayatra deities Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai stayed in Aravade’s Sri Sri Radha-Gopal temple during our sojourn in Vraja, the temple devotees taking great care of all of them. It’s because of those devotees that we were able to experience the bliss of Vraja dhama and we are grateful to all of them: temple president Abiram Thakur dasa, vice-president Krishna Kishor dasa, temple commander Suddha Harinam dasa, also Haribhakta Parayan dasa and many others including Akshya Keshav dasawho dressed Their Lordships, pujari Radhacaran dasa, and Balaram Kripa dasa who served our oxen.
Our ratha was parked in the temple courtyard, and therefore all visitors first had darshan of Gaura-Nitai before they entered the temple. The devotees were happy serving Gaura-Nitai for in temples only Brahman can serve the Lord, but Guara-Nitai are so merciful They accept seva of harinama initiated devotees. It’s said that Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to a village near Aravade, so the local devotees were overjoyed that Caitanya-Nityananda came to stay in deity form for one month.
Now we have again taken up padayatra, leaving Aravade to head for Karad and then Solapur. Together with the Aravade devotees we had a grand sankirtan as we departed. Back on the road, and the first village we came to was Nimni where we held a school programme and nagar sankirtan.