Mayapur-Ganga Sagara Jal Yatra
Reported by ila devi dasi
After successful completion of a “Jal Yatra” (Water Pilgrimage) from Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh to Mayapur in West Bengal – a full 1800 kilometres on the sacred rivers Yamuna and Ganga – the team of devotees are now attempting to complete the journey all the way down to the sea.
On the morning of Tuesday, 25 March, the team leader, Parasuram Prabhu, guided the re-assembly of the “Jaladuta” (a wooden raft on inflatable balloons with one sail, approximately 3m x 6m long). Pieces of the raft had been left in Mayapur last year September, after the first journey. By two o’clock in the afternoon all was ready – the raft, a few pots, clothing, a box of small books for distribution, and last but not the least, the Presiding Traveling Deities, SriSri Nitai-Gaurasundara and Nrsimhadeva. These lotus-eyed Deities have been all over the world, from the highest places in the Himalayas to the Dead Sea which is below sea-level.
What is the Krishna Conscious reason for their journey? According to Parasuram Prabhu, it is a great preaching experience to travel along the Ganga, one meets so many sadhus and favourable Bengali people who are eager to chant, and the austere and dangerous journey allows one to experience full surrender and dependence on Krishna.
His Holiness Mahavishnu Swami who also accompanied the first journey, once again agreed to go on board with his accordion and non-stop preaching and harinam, continuing his bold preaching from the battlefields of DR Congo in central Africa.
“I then passed alone through many forests of rushes, bamboo, reeds, sharp grass, weeds and caves, which were very difficult to go through alone. I visited deep, dark and dangerously fearful forests, which were the play yards of snakes, owls and jackals.”
PURPORT BY SRILA PRABHUPADA:
It is the duty of a mendicant (parivrajakacarya) to experience all varieties of God’s creation by traveling alone through all forests, hills, towns, villages, etc., to gain faith in God and strength of mind as well as to enlighten the inhabitants with the message of God. A sannyasi is duty-bound to take all these risks without fear, and the most typical sannyasi of the present age is Lord Caitanya, who traveled in the same manner through the central Indian jungles, enlightening even the tigers, bears, snakes, deer, elephants and many other jungle animals.
The Mayapur Nagar Sankirtan Department accompanied the crew to the banks of the Ganga to bid farewell. Mahavishnu Swami lead the kirtana and briefly addressed the crowd in a light-hearted and adventurous mood:
“We are continuing our journey, and will end at Ganga Sagara Mela, later we may go on by sea on to Jagannath Puri, and from there to Rameshvaram in the south, then across the Arabian Sea and finally all the way to New York, in the footsteps of our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who kindly taught us to be free from material miseries by full surrender to Krishna……” he said.
“Right now we will visit many Holy places along the way, such as Panihati, Isvara Puri’s Appearance Place and others, and then do many programs in Calcutta before continuing to Ganga Sagara, where the Ganges flows into the Bay of Bengal” he continued.
Devotees looked on with mixed feelings of encouragement, joy, skepticism and feelings of separation as the five crew members boarded the small raft and floated off in the hot sun with Maharaja playing sweetly on his accordion. It will not be an easy journey – closer to the sea side the river becomes really wild and difficult to navigate as the tide rises, parts of the journey will be along forest areas where tigers still live, and the last part of the journey also includes the famous and vicious flesh-eating Bay of Bengal piranhas in the river!
We all pray that Mother Ganga will safely carry these devotees along on their journey, which is also a journey in glorification of this great and sacred river.
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