By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
January 6, 2021, marked the start of the All-India Padayatra’s seventh chapter of its grand march around India, including the char dham yatra. Leaving in 1984 from Dwarka padayatra has continued nonstop for thirty-six years, covering all of India and completing its sixth round in Dwarka on New Year’s Day. Having enlightened Dwarkawasis with sankirtan for five days the padayatris then departed on their current tour.
The seventh whole-of-India padayatra inaugural day was a very auspicious occasion and a most memorable day in the life of a padayatri. Early that morning our spiritual master, Lokanatha Maharaja, addressed us online: “I could not come to encourage you but my heart is there in Dwarka with all of you. Today so many ISKCON padayatras are going on, but this All-India Padayatra is the mother of all other padayatras. They are doing a glorious service. This service is extremely tiring yet they have been doing it with so much continuity, this All-India Padayatra. I had carried padayatra from Vrindavan to Mayapur and from there to Puri and at this time it was offered to me. It was an instruction to me: ‘Travel with a bullock cart.’ Now this service is being continued by your cooperation – by the cooperation of these padayatris. Other padayatras are going on but this is the main padayatra, as I call it ‘the mother of all padayatras.’ We had started in 1976 but somehow it did not continue. But it was again started in 1984 from Dwarka, after which it has not stopped yet and has completed six parikramas of India. After every four to five years, it completes one round of whole India. The first round was completed in four years in 1988. There was a grand welcoming of the All-India Padayatra by the Dwarka temple and city authorities. There was a huge welcome at the main gate of Dwarka from where everyone has to pass if they want to go to the Dwarka temple. Dwarkawasis, municipality leaders, presidents, saintly people and the chiefs of temples welcomed us. Like this after every four to five years, we reach Dwarka. So now it reached Dwarka a sixth time and they’re not going to stop. A huge Padayatra Gate was erected and everyone honoured and celebrated the completion of the first round. When we started from Dwarka in 1984 the plan was to stop in Navadwip, but the praise that we got, the people connect that we got, meeting so many people and preaching to them, we could not stop so we continued and haven’t stopped yet. The feelings of padayatris were the same as we read about Mahaprabhu’s yatra in scriptures. We met so many people, they used to gather for darshans of Their Lordships, used to participate in kirtans and accept prasadam. This was an overwhelming response that we received and couldn’t stop so we continued our yatra. And we came back to Dwarka. Since then, we are always coming back to Dwarka after every few years. They have been moving around India and returning to Dwarka and now they will be starting with the seventh parikrama. Thank you.”
With the blessings of Srila Gurudev, on this special day three brahmacaris were offered saffron by Rupa Raghunath Maharaja with the names Dhanya Chaitanya, Haripad Padma, and Mohan Gopal brahmacari. After encouraging words, the inaugural ribbon was then cut by Rupa Raghunath Maharaja in the presence of senior devotees, including Chaitanya Chandra dasa and Murlimohan dasa, as well as devotees from Mahuva and Rajakot. Everyone encouraged us by chanting haribol, haribol. Then we all had a group photo taken. The oxen Jaya and Kaliya, yoked to the cart, were nicely decorated and their feet were washed as these great souls, who are also padayatris, will be carrying Their Lordships on their shoulders. We gave darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar online so that all could get Their Lordships’ mercy. With a rousing sankirtan we then walked towards our historical Padayatra Gate where the Dwarkawasis had arranged a wonderful program, with the city president and officials as chief guest. They inspired the padayatris and thanked them for doing a great service to humanity. All the padayatris were honoured by garlands and ISKCON Dwarkadhish temple president Vaishnava Seva dasa glorified the All-India Padayatra. Coconut was broken for auspiciousness and an arati of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar was performed by chief officer Chaitanya Dodiya, city officer Jyoti Ben, Mahuva Jnana manjari school owner Manish Bhai, Vitthal Bhai, Mahendra Bhai, Lord Dwarkadhish pujari Nandan Bhai, and Vaishnava Seva.
We then started a grand sankirtan as we headed towards the Dwarkadhish temple to be welcomed by Manish Bhai who had got the temple decorated with flowers. Normally no-one is allowed to stay in the temple for more than ten minutes for darshan, but we performed kirtan for one hour as more than fifty-six bhogas were offered to Lord Dwarkadhish. Finally, after the padayatris took blessings from Lord Dwarkadhish, as Srila Gurudev said we would, we turned attention to our journey and I was feeling I am in those days and history was repeating itself. Performing sankirtan we then began the seventh round of Padayatra India.
Sri Dwarkadhish Bhagavan, ki jai.
As we left Dwarka Vaishnava Seva led the kirtan with enthusiasm and padayatra headed in the direction of Khambalia, Jamanagar and Rajkot, taking up our services of book and prasadam distribution once again.
Read more: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=74515