By Scott Paradis / The Daily Press Local News - Friday, June 22, 2007 @ 10:00
Bhaktimarga Swami’s faded salmon-pink robes clash with the light-green shrubs and dark evergreen trees to his side. His brown Crocs are almost camouflaged in the dirt along the highway’s shoulder. Swami, a 54-year-old Hare Krishna monk from Toronto, started walking from Victoria, B.C., and on Thursday he found himself on Highway 101 between Timmins and South Porcupine, still heading west. When Swami finishes his walk in Newfoundland, it will become the third cross-Canada trek that he has completed on foot. Altogether, his legs have racked up more than 13,000 km. “Every day it is a great adventure,” Swami said as he took a break down a trail away from the highway. “You see a lot of wildlife and learn a lot about the different (features) of mother nature.” Swami isn’t walking across Canada for any particular cause. He isn’t collecting money for a non-profit organization, nor is he promoting awareness for a specific political issue. Instead, in a way that wasn’t intended to echo the hollywood splash of Forest Gump’s famous run, the monk is simply walking for walking’s sake. “Your body is half made of leg, so you have to ask yourself, do we utilize them enough?” he asked. The short answer is no, he added. Swarmi hopes that by walking across Canada more people will think about walking themselves. But a walk across Canada has its share of challenges. In Northern Ontario he has faced two completely different sets of challenges. The first was in May, when unseasonably cold weather brought snow. Later, came blackflies. “It’s an exercise in toughness,” he said about every challenge he faces. “It’s a good thing to go through.” The monk walks about 45 to 50 kilometres a day. His days start around 3 a.m. so he can beat the heat. Sometimes he will do additional walking into the evening hours when temperatures begin to cool. Swami has visited Timmins before, but never during his cross-country walks. Every time Swami does walk, he finds a new route. Instead of walking straight across the country he said he “zig-zags” in an effort to see more towns and cities.
Bonding with the North
őíy Cochrane Times Post
Friday June 29, 2007
Making a journey across Canada on foot may not be something you would attempt but recently, Bhaktimarga Swami a Hare Krishna Monk passed through Cochrane on a journey across Canada heading for the East coast. During an interview he gave his reasons for this, his third walk across our country. ‚ÄúI have been inspired by the people and the northern route is less travelled and I must say a much friendlier route. This is a pilgrimage walk which allows me to connect with the spiritual side of life. The people inspire me and I hope that I inspire them,‚ÄĚ he said. Bhaktimarga Swam was born in Chatham and adopted an Eastern order of monastic life in 1973. He was a fine arts Swami attending Cambrian and has put that to good use working with youth groups and drama yoga. Now, at the age of 54 making his third walk he said, ‚ÄúI have a passion for nature‚Äôs aesthetics and also for the great workout it gives me. Swami came fully garbed in a peach coloured robe. ‚ÄúI guess some people find my clothes interesting. Robes are the traditional garb of a monk. I became a monk in the Hare Krishna movement back in 73. I admit that being a monk is not everyone‚Äôs calling, but it is mine.‚ÄĚ
Along with him on his travels is Doug, the one who makes all of the arrangements for a stay in motel or camping. Jyovany also travels with him and is an excellent cook. Remember, monks are vegetarians. Anxious to see a bear on his travels, Northern Ontario answered his wishes when just on the other side of Hearst, a bear wandered out onto the road behind him. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not sure what he would have done if a truck had not come along and scared him off.‚ÄĚ As for the people along the way many have provided shelter, a meal and asked many questions. One of the most asked questions are the beads he carries in a small sack. ‚ÄúThey are Japa beads. They are made from wood from sacred Tulasi wood. There are 108 beads and are used in repetitive questions like please allow me to engage in some service.‚ÄĚ Now with the summer heat his journey only allows him to travel 40 to 45 km a day commencing at 3:00 a.m. At the end of the day, walking the road while meditating and communicating with other travelers is an attempt at seeking inspiration, and he feels that if people did more walking, less squawking, the world have less rat race-ism.