HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja’s 117th Vyasa-Puja Offering to Srila Prabhupada (As Padayatra Minister)

Padayatra Worldwide
My dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept our most humble obeisances at your divine lotus feet on the occasion of your 117th avirbhava-tithi-mahotsava. All glories to the glorious Vyasa-puja occasion!
Next year, in 2014, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Padayatra, which started in India in 1984. To celebrate this event we would like to dedicate a forthcoming book on the history of padayatra, entitled The Padayatra Story, to you. And today, the day of your Vyasa-puja, I would like to share part of the introduction to this upcoming publication. Here it is, written by myself:
* * *****
It was on January 16, 1977, after the Kumbha-mela, when Srila Prabhupada traveled on the night train from Allahabad to Calcutta, that he discussed how the history of ISKCON would be written. Hari-Sauri Dasa recalls that “Srila Prabhupada, RameSvara Swami, and I were in one cabin. . . . RameSvara was particularly interested in conquering America (and the world) by spiritual culture, and Srila Prabhupada gave insights on how to run the government.”
RameSvara Swami: “Prabhupada said in this past week that in the future historians will study this period of world history, how this movement has changed the world.” (Room conversation, Bhubaneshwar, January 22, 1977)
Many books describing the beginnings of the Hare Krishna movement in several countries—including Srila Prabhupada’s eminent role—have already been published by his disciples. The Padayatra Story will also be a historical document for historians and future generations of devotee

Section One goes far back in time, describing how foot pilgrimages have been a universal and longlasting phenomenon in the Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jain traditions. This is especially so in our own Vaisnava tradition, from Ramanujacarya and Madhvacarya down to the seven-hundred-year-old Dindi Yatra in Maharashtra, still attracting close to half a million pilgrims every year.
Section Two brings us to the beginning of the sixteenth century, when Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu traveled as a padayatre for six consecutive years, walking for thousands of kilometers to spread His Sankirtana movement all over the Indian subcontinent. He was on a mission to convert the population to Vaisnavism and the chanting of the holy name, defeat all kinds of deviant philosophers, visit temples and holy places, establish Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and delivers the supreme gift of pure love of God.

Section Three is about Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya’s own senapati bhakta. Keen to kindle a global revolution in Krishna consciousness, he started the League of Devotees in Jhansi in 1953 and organized his first padayatra on a small and humble scale. Since 1965, the year he sailed to the West to propagate the mission of Sri Krishna Caitanya, the holy names and knowledge of Krishna have reached practically every country of the planet, most major cities, and multitudinous villages. Through his ISKCON institution Prabhupada executed a strategy that continued the walking-to-preach tradition and was also an innovation adapted to the needs of the modern world. Having established his mission worldwide, he gradually introduced the idea of bullock-cart Sankirtana through letters and personal instructions to his disciples. As early as 1969, Srila Prabhupada had expressed his desire that the British devotees use a bullock cart to bring the fruits and vegetables they were growing at John Lennon’s estate to the market in London, 32km away. He then became more specific about organizing padayatra, first in Bombay in 1974 and a year later in Mauritius. In 1975 he expressed his appreciation for the ISKCON Hyderabad devotees, who had introduced this style of Sankirtana around their farm and later that year walked all the way to Mayapur. The main part of this section is my meeting with Srila Prabhupada at the Lajpat Nagar temple in New Delhi in August 1976, where I received his personal instruction to use a bullock carts instead of Mercedes buses for preaching in India. The following Radhastami Prabhupada counseled our newly formed padayatra party on how to travel from village to village, insisting we preach to the millions of people living in the villages, “the great people of India.”
Section Four takes us to September 12, 1976, when Srila Prabhupada’s dream of a pan-India padayatra became a reality, the day he inaugurated the Bhaktivedanta bullock-cart traveling Sankirtana party in Vandavana dhama, with myself as leader. As we crowded into his quarters to get his encouragement, he gave us further instructions: to keep the villagers happy and busy by chanting the holy names, so they would not hanker to go to the hellish cities, and to give everyone the pure thing—Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Always down to earth, he also gave us practical advice—to camp near the well that is the heart of every Indian village, and to simply depend on Krishna. When our padayatra party met Prabhupada at the Allahabad Kumbha-mela, he gave us more encouragement and blessings, and when we reached Mayapur during the 1977 Gaura Purnima festival, he gave us a heart-warming reception, which inspired us to continue to Pure. Throughout our nine months on the road, we learned that bullock-cart Sankirtana padayatra was not only feasible but was a preaching program well adapted to the villages of India

Seven years later, on Radhastami 1984, ISKCON leaders inaugurated the phenomenal 7,000km walk from Dwaraka to Mayapur on the occasion of Lord Caitanya’s five-hundredth anniversary celebration. Section Five will take you on this nineteen-month journey from Gujarat to West Bengal, through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. This first grandscale ISKCON padayatra turned out to be a tremendous preaching scheme: big pandal programs every night; huge harinamas with several hundred international devotees; an elephant, a camel, and oxcarts; widespread book distribution in more than eight languages; fantastic receptions; numerous encounters with officials, VIPs, and politicians; attractive dioramas and exhibits; and reams of favorable articles in national newspapers.
In Section Six you’ll witness a padayatra explosion, with the various kinds of walks that were organized in more than a hundred countries from April 1986 to the end of 1996. During that decade the theme of all padayatras changed to that of Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial celebration, which culminated in a series of special events in 1996, including a Global Padayatra Week. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly taught that preaching is the essence and utility the principle; therefore, in addition to a bullock- or horse-drawn cart, many padayatras used motorcars, vans, motorcycles, or tractors. In Siberia the devotees combined walking with riding on trains and flying, and in the South Pacific and Indian oceans they took boats and planes from island to island. No matter what formula they adopted, devotees were getting a definite taste for this blend of intense preaching, adventure, and wholesome family fun.

Special attention is given to the few padayatras that spanned several years in different countries and continents. In 1989 Padayatra America walked from San Francisco to San Diego, the first major padayatra in the West. The following year Padayatra America walked from Boston to Miami, and then all the way to Panama through Central America, while Padayatra Europe embarked on a walk from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Moscow. We even saw the emergence of the padayatra species: ParaSurama Dasa organized more padayatras in more countries than any other devotee; and in 1996 Bhaktimarga Swami walked alone across Canada, coast to coast, from west to east. Meanwhile, Padayatra India, the mother of all padayatras, continued on a smaller scale under the leadership of Jaya Vijaya Dasa. Some of the highlights of this decade on the road were the organization of the first ISKCON Vraja Mandala Parikrama and the first Himalayan trek in 1987, followed by the first ISKCON Navadvepa Mandala Parikrama in 1990, and the inauguration of the Padayatra Gate in Dvaraka at the end of 1991. Padayatres also collected some of the holy waters from 1,008 sacred rivers for the bathing of Srila Prabhupada’s murtis on the one hundredth anniversary of his appearance in 1996.

Section Seven covers all the padayatras after 1996. Padayatra India continued with various leaders,becoming more self-sufficient through dynamic book distribution. In September 2014 it will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. Several European countries continued to organize walks, whether occasionally or regularly, and padayatra was also taken to a couple of new countries. Recognition is given here to three courageous devotees: Bhaktimarga Swami crossed Canada (alone again) two more times and also walked in several other countries, and Avadhuta Siromani Dasa and Candrabhaga Dase walked with a horse-drawn cart from the Gita-nagari farm in Pennsylvania to Ecuador in South America.

Sections Four to Seven present the highlights of these padayatras, as well as detailing the way they came together. Because all the stories could not fit in the main narrative, we created a final section called “Best Padayatra Stories.” We wanted to share with you all these tales of protection, kindness, compassion, perils, and even horror, what to speak of the miracles performed by the most magnanimous Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, traveling in Their deity forms. New chapters of the nectarean Sri Caitanya-caritamata are indeed being written every day on padayatra, one of the continuing lelas of the two Lords. On the roads of the world you can see Their handiwork as Their Sankirtana armies make inroads into Maya’s kingdom.
* * *
I hope this introduction to the book has pleased Your Divine Grace.
Your servants on padayatra.
(written by Lokanath Swami)


If you are you a Disciple/Aspiring Disciple of H.H. Lokanath Swami Maharaj and want to serve him, then you can join Lok Web Services to take care of his online presence via websites and social media. To connect with us please fill in the following form and we shall shortly revert to you. Click Here