By Nikhil Dixit
All Glories To Srila Prabhupada,
All Glories to Pada Yatra project,
All Glories to Srila Gurudeva,
Pada Yatra is one of the divine project of Iskcon. Which is running under the guidance of HH Lokanath Swami Maharaj. All of us have heard several times about pada yatra project, even BTG releases articles in relation to pada yatra. Since I have joined Iskcon, I also heard a lot about the pada yatris. How they are living the austere life and distributing causeless mercy of Lord Gauranaga in every town and villages of India. Since beginning of my spiritual journey I was very curious to take darshan of Pada yatra and willing to serve them to my capacity. Recently when I was in Pandharpur attending HH Lokanath Swami Maharaj vyasapuja festival, there I saw different pictures of padayatris at Himalayas. These pictures were so courageous that you could not stop yourself willing to be a part of this group. It was also announced that they distributed thousands of Srila prabhupada books on hills. It was also enthralling hearing adventurous stories from padayatris. We met HG Akhildhar prabhu who is Srila Prabhupada disciple and serving pada yatra since long. Along with him there were several devotees from different part of the world. Pada yatris spoke their offerings to Gurumaharaj and Maharaj also appreciated them for their untiring contribution to this loving project Pada Yatra.
On 04.08.2012 Saturday while entering in the Noida temple premises I saw the bullock cart standing, immediately I recognized the bullock cart and immediately paid my complete dandavat to them. This wonderful big cart was carrying attractive deities of Srila Prabhupada and Gaura Nitai with wonderful wooden carved alter. When I entered in the temple hall, I saw the temple hall was more crowded with several devotees in comparison to other weekends. Usually on every Saturday we have youth program and one of us lead the kirtan but this Saturday was special for everyone as pada Yatra devotees were leading the gaura aarti. I paid my Obeisances to the lordships and joined the sankirtan. It was really so ecstatic that everybody in the temple hall was flying and dancing like anything. I was playing kartal but I was feeling like flying in the sky too. Soon I gave kartal to someone else and joined the Noida youth devotees in dancing. We literally did wild dance and we all were sweating badly. Those moments were so ecstatic and divine that we were just feeling like we are in the spiritual sky without any anxiety and miseries. Now a days We hardly find any temple with peace and happiness. People go to temple, follow some rituals and come back. By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada we have got the real temples all over the world where we can understand the importance of having temples in our society. In last 4 - 5 years of experience I have realized that whosoever visit Iskcon temple anywhere on the globe feel the presence of god and attain the eternal bliss and happiness, which is the actual purpose of opening the temples. Finally the kirtan was over and we all shouted saying Pada Yatri Bhakta Vrinda ki jai !! Afterwards, HG Maluram prabhu gave the evening lecture. I met HG Bajarangi Prabhu who shared with us the organism of pada yatra.
For the pleasure of my spiritual master I just want to share the information I got from pada yatris about this travelling preaching party. I hope this information will increase your knowledge and interest to take darshan of this divine troop. Around 15(even more) devotees carry with them one tractor with two trolleys one for luggage along with the sufficient stock of Srila Prabhupada books, grains etc and one is the travelling kitchen for cooking. They have 4 bulls with them Nandgopal, Balram, Narsimha and vaman. Also they have one or two motor bikes. Before pada Yatra reaches to any village or town the two devotees approach the village leaders and authority through bikes for arranging accommodation, programs etc. The whole troop rest in the village and does harinam sankirtan with small deities of Gaura Nitai, they distribute khichdi prasadam, SP books and also shows Iskcon worldwide videos on projector. It is like the complete package of spiritual entertainment delivered at their home. HG Bajrangi prabhu was sharing that how people feel very blissful and happy after their programs, they also invite them for their next visit. This is how they continue their journey totally depending upon the mercy of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. Somewhere the situation is favorable and sometimes they really go through the hardships. But they are continued since last 27 years. They have travelled 1 lakh 50 thousand kms since 1984. They have completed 5 rounds of India till date.
I was very much excited to see the 4 bulls which were named above. These fours bulls were resting in the green area next to the temple premises. I took along with me few devotees and we went to see the bulls. They were really huge and gigantic. I never saw such big bulls in my life before. Neither anyone else saw them before. One devotee introduced them to us by telling us their names and qualities. He also shared one pastime of pada yatra and I would like to share this enlightening past time with everyone.
Once the pada Yatra was crossing Faridabad region(Haryana, India). Near Faridabad there was one village where they rested for a night which is called Taudu village near sona. They stayed in a place called Agarwal Dharamshalla and their bulls were resting nearby. The devotees asked the owner of dharamshalla about the security for bulls and he assured of taking care of them for whole night. The devotees took rest and they had no idea that in the morning they will not find one of their bull. When devotees were preparing for Mangla Aarti one devotee found that the bull called Balaram was not at his place. They asked the owner and security guards and they said may be you did not tide him tightly and he got free in the night , please check he must be roaming nearby only. All the devotees searched for Balaram but they could not find him anywhere, finally they reported this to the leaders of the village. This village is actually very known for stealing gold, mobile, cars etc in that region. The devotees also reported in the police station. By 7am this news was spread to other near villages as well. The leaders of villages gathered by 9am and they asked everybody to gathered in the big ground for speech by some respected big leaders of different villages. As everybody was irritated by such theft they finally took this matter as a chance to wipe out this crime from their village. The leaders started giving very strong speech to awake the souls. They were feeling ashamed that the robbers are now stealing the bulls which are serving the humanity across India. We were just known across few villages but now we would be known across the world due to this crime of stealing bull. These bulls are not an ordinary, they belong to Iskcon which is international society. The speakers were trying to awake their inner self so that they may take some action against this issue. These leaders literally encouraged everybody to stand and fight against these criminals who are doing such thing. Gradually all neighbor villages came in front to join them. By noon this news was really the hottest news in the area that people were ready to jam the main highways, burning tubes & tiers etc. They really became very angry and the leaders declared market close until they find Balaram. The devotees did fasting that day and also asked HG Jananivas prabhu in Mayapur to offer prayers to Lord Narsimha Deva for Balaram protection. Iskcon bull missing news was spread very quickly around the village and everyone was really supporting the leaders to find this bull. There were also few opposition people who were blaming devotees that they are looking for gold from the villagers and that is why they have hide the bull somewhere. This fight continued and the devotees kept praying and even they spoke to guru maharaj for the same. They were fasting and continuously doing kirtan for Balaram ‚Äôs protection.
Late evening they got the information that Balaram is found in the near village called Huindoal. They have found him in one of the slaughter house in Huindoal. Balaram was very afraid and not willing to move so they requested devotees to go and bring him back. Finally before 9pm they got their Balaram back. They found him with injuries on his mouth and back. Also his legs were injured. The police reported that the robbers sold him to the one slaughter house and they were just about to throw him into the hot oil to get his skin. Police rescued Balaram somehow and gave him back to the loving and caring hands of devotees. Finally devotees led the harinam sankirtan and distributed prasadam and continued their journey.
Pada Yatra devotees enlightened us with several past times. The association with these devotees have really inspired me to fight with the several obstacles I face in my devotional life. They are the real missionaries who are taking the order of their spiritual masters dedicatedly and serving the humanity across the globe.
I request you all to take darshan of pada Yatra and feel the bliss that they are spreading all over India.
Please forgive me if I may have committed any offense while writing this article.
Srila Prabhupada Sankirtan Pada Yatra Ki Jai Jai Jai !!!!