By Liz Gould
On May 14, Bhaktimarga Swami passed through Dryden, on foot. The Hindu Monk, who is on his third walk across Canada, is not walking for money, but as a way to wind-down.
“In India, when a man is 50-60 years old, he normally does something downscale. Walking is a nice way to become inspired, as well as inspire others, ” said Swami.
Swami, formerly John Peter Vis, was born as a Catholic, and grew up on a farm in Chatham, Ontario.
In the late ’60’s, India became a very popular culture with many celebrities. During that time, Swami developed an interest in the Indian lifestyle, as well as the music.
“I became attracted to this lifestyle and enrolled as a monk in the Hare Krishna movement back in ‘73 when it was hip to be radical, daring and different,” explains Swami in his Canwalk 2006 brochure.
The first time Swami walked across the country, he started in Victoria, BC and zigzagged through Southern Ontario. Once reaching the East Coast, Swami turned around and walked back.
“It takes about six months to walk across the country,” said Swami. “I walk about 40-45 km each day.”
Depending on the season, Swami can walk eight to nine hours a day, starting at 4 a.m.
Though Swami walks most of the journey alone, a support team follows him, checking in every few hours to make sure he’s ok.
While walking, Swami carries nothing but meditation beads. Swami says a chant for each bead, 180 in total.
“The chant is a prayer. It’s my way of asking the creator to allow me to do something for him.”
Swami considers himself as a very “patriotic monk,” which is one of the reasons why he chose to walk across Canada.
“Walking is a great opportunity for me to see our country’s beautiful and diverse landscape. It’s also an opportunity for me to interact with the different cultures and the different people who live in Canada.”