Padayatra UK 2019 – The Canterbury Tale
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Dayal Mora das: O hail to thee, lover of a tale from Canterbury. Hark! Lend thine ears! Listen to a tall tale that was many times told. A tale of war and peace, of crime and punishment and of a midsummer night’s dream.
Many a pilgrim has walked the road to Canterbury to visit the shrine of the Saint and Archbishop Thomas Becket. Even before Becket made his early exit, long before Brexit, he was the talk of the town for defying the crown. He is no less famous after over 800 years has passed.
Interestingly enough, The Canterbury Tales are a collection of stories told by a gallery of characters who would perhaps never otherwise meet, other than by being on the same pilgrimage to Canterbury. Sounds familiar.
May Saint Thomas Becket rest in peace! Indeed, our dear Henry II of England walked his Pilgrimage for Peace, barefooted, all the way from London to Canterbury in penance after calling for someone to rid him of Becket, the turbulent priest. Of course he claims he didn’t want the man killed! Good one Henry!
That’s the material world for you: one minute you’re the kings best mate and living the life of Riley, the next minute he’s sending four bloodthirsty knights to have you stabbed up at the altar in the cathedral during your worship. Apparently the blighters slashed him so hard that one of the swords broke. The truth seems like a dangerous thing to stick to.
We are very fortunate to be representatives of the absolute truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, hallowed be His Name. Thanks to Prabhupada we have something to live for and something to die for in this overrated world. An alternative way to live aside from this wicked and bloodthirsty society. Even at the threat of being struck down by materialistic men we stand firm on our principles, forgive the ignorant and yield not to temptation. Since Krishna has promised to deliver us from all evil, we have nothing to fear in this fight for peace.
Aren’t we all pilgrims on our way back to Godhead? Thomas was slain due to his stubborn refusal to listen to the king who wanted him to go against spiritual authority. Just as it was then it is still true today that the leaders of society are actually misleaders of men, misleading us into a misnomer, a mistake. The result is a bloody mess. Here was our humble attempt to help mitigate the nightmare of modern society.
Padyatra UK 2019, aka the ‘Pilgrimage for Peace’, has for a fourth successive year once again swept through the Kent countryside, going from village to village and town to town spreading the holy names of the Lord all around. Starting in the bleakish Town of Ashford, Kent, and finishing in merry Margate, we traversed an epic 50 golden miles in recognition of 50 golden years since the installation of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara.
Srila Prabhupada said that this movement is a declaration of war against maya. In order for the Pilgrimage for Peace to have effect, some surrendered soldiers were required to fight the good fight.
With a 50 strong team consisting of the best of the best padyatra devotees money can buy, all noble chivalrous knights of the absolute truth, much auspiciousness pervaded the atmosphere as we marched into Canterbury high street on day 4 of the 9 day pilgrimage.
We met the Sheriff of Canterbury at high noon outside the cathedral gates for a showdown. Mercilessly and with great coolness we gave her both barrels, filling her ears with the Holy Name. The devotees of the Lord became overjoyed to hear her chant Hare Krishna, as well as the representative from the cathedral, canon Mary, who joined in the brawl. Seems like Hare Krishna is becoming popular again. No need to retreat into our polo shirts, shorts and fashionable hairstyles just yet gentlemen. Stand on the battlefield and fight!
Another interesting connection is that Lord Balaram, that great wielder of the club, went on pilgrimage all over India as penance for His killing of a brahmana. It just so happened that we were in Canterbury, that great place of pilgrimage, on the day of His appearance. We celebrated a ‘Full Moon Festival’ in Dane John Gardens which is a beautiful park a mere stones throw from the cathedral gates. With the Sheriff and Lord Mayor in attendance we performed kirtan, drama, magic and distributed prasadam. The Varuni was plentiful as every person was plied with that sacred peace making beverage to their full satisfaction. About 100 members of the general public joined in the festival thanks to some snazzy facebook promotion by the local leader Mantra Caitanya Prabhu.
What have we learned from the experience? Well, the problem with old King Henry II was that he couldn’t adapt to a spiritual relationship with saintly Becket. Being unable to tolerate due to his addition to sense gratification, his envious materialistic mind naturally decided to eliminate the opposition before any serious disturbance was caused to his mundane pleasures, his power and influence.
Our pilgrimage on the other hand created an ideal situation for the devotees of all categories to become close friends through service and sacrifice. From all different backgrounds and interests, the padyatra devotees all testified on the last night, before the camp fire on the beach at Joss Bay, just how the sweetness and ecstasy of an austere life on the open road with our two esteemed and noble bullocks is unparalleled. By putting our material desires to the side for a while and together enthusiastically doing something positive for the world, there is no likelihood of enmity and envy manifesting. It is impossible to describe here the bliss of padyatra, it is something which can only be experienced by those fortunate few who know how to taste it.
Thank you Srila Prabhupada!
All glories to Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara on They’re 50th anniversary!