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Padayatra India Returns to Dwaraka
By Sankirtan dasa (LOK)

Padayatra India Returns to Dwaraka
Click here for photos.

Padayatra India started on Radhastami 1984 from Dwaraka. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, devotees walked from Dwaraka to Mayapur. After reaching Mayapur in 1986, they decided to keep on walking and returned to Dwaraka in 1988. From there the walking continued with a new circle around India. By Janmastami 2002, they will have completed the fourth circle and returned Dwaraka.

After Padayatra returned to Dwaraka for the first time, in 1988, a majestic gate 60 feet high was built to commemorate that return (see photo). Whoever arrives at Dwaraka-Dham to have Darshan of Lord Dwarakadish (see photo) goes through the gate. Meanwhile, ISKCON has also gotten its own property, located very close to the temple of the Lord (see photo).

From village to village, town to town, for the last 18 years, the devotees from Padayatra India have walked more then 90,000 km (22 times the distance from New York to Los Angeles).

At the time of the first return of Padayatra in 1988, the whole town of Dwaraka turned up to welcome the Padayatries back. This time the return may turn out to be less of an event; nevertheless, the glories of the walking party are ever increasing.

What is the aim of all that walking? Orrisa-born Padayatra leader Istadeva dasa says, "Simply walking to visit tirthas (holy places) is definitely an act of great piety, but we walk to spread the mission of our acaryas. That, we do by the distribution of books."

Ten out of twenty devotees on Padayatra are distributing books. At present, in the state of Gujarat, not less then 80 Bhagavad-gitas and Srimad Bhagavatams and over a hundred smaller books find the hands of interested readers every day (see photos). Furthermore, every evening the villagers take part in the aratika and kirtana, watch a film about the activities of devotees worldwide, and partake in eating prasadam.

Foreign devotees who stay on Padayatra are few. However, to join Padayatra even for a short time is a great boost to one's spiritual life. Simple living and dependence on the Lord's mercy is experienced on a daily basis. Joining the Padayatra is ideal for unmarried male devotees. As such they can immediately experience detachment from worldly life. And there is suitable service engagement in book distribution and Harinama. For eating and sleeping one also need not worry. Devotees cook for themselves. Schools, temples, private homes, and whatever else there is serve as resting places.

After visiting Dwaraka, Padayatra will head towards Rajasthan and Punjab and then will go into the Himalayas. The goal is to be in Hardwar by March 2004 for the Arda (six-year) Kumbha Mela.

For any inquiries regarding Padayatra, please contact: H.H.Lokanath Swami (Lokanath.Swami@pamho.net) or Sankirtana dasa (Sankirtana.lok@pamho.net).

© CHAKRA 11 August 2002

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