By Deva Sekharah Das
Everything started eight years ago when Dharma Raja Prabhu set out on a fantastic adventure with ISKCON youth groups of that time, groups of which I was a part. The experience was so positive that year after year since then ISKCON youth groups have strived to repeat the initiative and finally this intention became a reality in the summer of 2011. I was impressed with the adventure that Dharma Raja Prabhu was leading us on, walking 220km through the north of Spain, I was thoroughly inspired for later events and specially for this Padayatra, ‚ÄúThe Holy Walk‚ÄĚ Camino De Santiago.
It was thanks to the tireless coordination, hard work and effort of two great devotees, Radha Govinda Prabhu and Dharma Raja Prabhu, together with the goodwill of each and everyone of the participants who took part this year that we were able to realise this Padayatra that we called ‚ÄúThe Holy Walk‚ÄĚ.
Padayatra literally means walking journey, this seemed an apt description for the Camino De Santiago to which we added the subtitle, ‚ÄúThe Holy Walk‚ÄĚ, due to Christian and spiritual connotations in general that the Camino evokes and of course due to our own spiritual purpose as a ISKCON youth group. There are many ways to describe what this Padayatra meant for us but I can hardly come close to the reality of this magnificent experience.
At the outset everything was very austere, so much so that austerity became, our daily tonic. It is truly a challenge to mobilise forty devotees, walking some 22km daily, sleeping in tents sometimes, others in sports centres, cooking out in the open and not knowing if we would have hot water for showers and so on. All these material difficulties of the Padayatra are greatly compensated when the moment came to sit down and share Kirtan, Krishna classes or to simply partake in the elaborate menus of Prasadam that had been prepared daily by Radha Govinda Prabhu and the cooks.
The Padayatra was structured in three basic groups. One was the kitchen group formed by three devotees that would rotate. The Kirtaniya group was in charge of daily Kirtans and then there was the logistics group that would move ahead in the van establishing campsites, cooking equipment and sound.
Every day a group was established to help in the various areas such as kitchen, campsite or other activities. All the young devotees, even though many of them were not used to the austerity of such a trip, displayed great effort and put into practice the values of working together and cooperating in a common goal. The real situation in which we all somehow depended on each other, made helping one another very natural. It is clear that not all members were so spontaneous at first however as the days passed by this situation of adventure and ‚Äėsurvival‚Äô, made them see that they were part of a group that needed them. This created a very strong connection between all of us.
We had the honour of having great guests who took part as humble members of the group. One of these, the foremost, guests was Sutrakirti Prabhu. His closeness and life experiences with Srila Prabhupada brought to this Padayatra, Srila Prabhupada in person. Every day he would walk with us the full kilometres covered and never did he accept to be taken in the van as we had proposed initially. It was tiresome walking such distances and still at his age he was able and still he had energy to delight us every night and mornings with stories and pastimes of Srila Prabhupada. He undoubtedly became our heart and motivation.
We also had Yadunandana Swami, our Spanish Maharajs and Sastra personified. It was great to receive him on the last days of the Padayatra taking over from Sutrakirti Prabhu. Maharjs supplied great doses of depth and meaning to the adventure that we had embarked on and he walked with us on the last legs of the journey with great emotion, happiness and energy.
The Kirtan department was greatly covered thanks to the participation of two great Kirtaniyas who in these last years have been involved 100% in the 24 Hour Kirtans in Vrindavan with Sripad Aindra Prabhu. Amala Purana Prabhu from the United States and Radha Krishna Prabhu from Mexico. They were the principal axis of our adventure group of this Padayatra. Every day, in the afternoon and evening we had Bhajans and Kirtans in the pure style of Sripad Aindra Prabhu and Vrindaban. It was somewhat surreal and magic to have these Bhajans and Kirtans in the north of Spain (Galicia), surely the inhabitants and pilgrims had never heard anything like this in their lives. Sripad Aindra Prabhu was present when the Kirtans were performed at the hands of his Kirtaniyas who invoked the Maha Mantra with great force.
On one occasion, we were staying in a Sports centre where there were hundreds of pilgrims who, on hearing the Kirtan outside slowly began joining us, dancing and singing with much joy. And this was one of the main reasons for our journey, to share with the pilgrims the Maha Mantra. I was able to count more than 140 young people listening, singing and dancing spontaneously to the names of Krishna.
The days that we were able to have 3G connections we retransmitted the Kirtans and Bhajans live on the Internet, through the famous site of Mayapur TV, who dedicated a channel solely to us. So we had ‚Äúvirtual pilgrims‚ÄĚ also that accompanied and followed us. It was thanks to Vince Lane Prabhu in England, who was responsible for this Internet Project and who helped us technically to have this facility.
This Project had the wonderfull help of various devotees who were generous and gave donations to support the Padayatra. Some of them were Dinabandhu Prabhu, Hamsa Raja Prabhu, Vinod Prabhu, Radha Govinda Prabhu and other devotees who wish to remain anonymous.
We are collecting new donations to cover some deficits that we still have but are confident we will be able to cover in order to guarantee new Padayatras or future events. The total quantity ascends to 2.340 Euros. Please collaborate with the Padayatra within the measure of your possibilities.
Account Number : 2085 7503 6803 3013 6774
(International IBAN / BIC: ES58 2085 7503 6803 3013 6774 / CAZRES2Z)
Address : Plaza Juan Catalina 1
Titular : ASOCIACI√ďN PARA LA CONCIENCIA DE KRISHNA
Concept: ‚ÄúDonation Padayatra 2011‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúDonation The Holy Walk‚ÄĚ
We will publish shortly in www.iskcon.es photos and videos of the Padayatra.
For more information contact us at :
M +34 690 126 297
T +34 971 318 315
Deva Sekharah Das