Padayatra in India
On September 2, 1984, devotees launched Padayatra at Dwaraka Dhama, India‘s westernmost point. Since then it has been traveling all over the country, covering about 48,000 kilometers while distributing books and pamphlets in 10 languages. The Padayatra has successfully introduced or revived the chanting of the Hare Krishna rnaha-niantra in thousands of villages throughout 19 of India‘s 25 states.
Over the years Padayatra had been trying to visit the 108 Divya Desams (Vishnu temples). About ninety percent of them are scattered throughout Tamil Nadu, so during this third visit to the state, the devotees made an effort to go to as many as possible. Of these 108 temples, only 106 are on this planet. The 107th is in the Causal Ocean, where Maha Vishnu resides, and the 108th is in Vaikunthaloka. To date, Padayatra has visited 105 temples. In 1997, padayatris are hoping to go to Muktinath and have darshan of Mukti Narayana, number 106.
Padayatra returned to Rameswaram and Sri Rangam, and passing through the state of Karnataka, the devotees visited Melkote and Humpi, Hanuman‘s birthplace. Padayatra then continued to Maharashtra. At the small village of Aravade (His Holiness Lokanath Swami‘s native place) the padayatris held a five-day Janmastami festival. A few weeks later, on Radhastami 1994, Padayatra celebrated it‘s 10th anniversary on the road. The celebration took place at ISKCON Pandharpur on the banks of the Chandrabhaga River. Under a Pipal tree, just outside the ISKCON temple are the footprints of Lord Chaitanya which were installed by Lokanath Swami during Padayatra‘s first visit there.
Padayatra circumambulated India 3 times in 12 years, attended 3 Kumbha Melas and inaugurated Vraja-Mandala Parikrama and Navadvipa-Mandala Parikrama.
Srila Prabhupada performed Padayatra (pilgrimage by foot) a few times during his life and also gave instructions to various devotees to organize this kind of a preaching program. In 1952-53, when he was still known as Abhay, he organized the “League of Devotees” in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh (Northern India). He was urging the Jhansi residents to participate actively in this international preaching organization, quoting Lord Caitanya who said the residents of Bharata-varsa (India) had a special responsibility to distribute God consciousness throughout the world. Nourished by the books of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was very eager to ignite a spiritual revolution throughout the world.