The word pada-yatra literally means to walk on foot. In early India people
used to travel by chariot, horseback, elephant, bullock-cart, or palanquin.
But saintly persons, having renounced such worldly comforts, would travel
by foot. Their main concern was to teach the glories of God to the
conditioned living entities and thereby deliver them from their miserable
materialistic lives. Walking was the best means of contacting the common
people and accomplishing that goal.
When Lord Chaitanya took sannyas - the renounced order of life - He
travelled throughout India on foot. First He went from Bengal to Jagannatha
Puri in Orissa and then He toured South India on foot of course.
At that South India was seriously influenced by impersonalism, and the
people in general had deviated from the path of devotion to the Lord. Love
of God is the source of real happiness, and when one abandons that loving
relationship with God, he suffers. Lord Chaitanya wanted to deliver the
conditioned souls plunged in the absolute misery of that impersonalism. In
order to reinstate them as devotees of the Lord, Sri Chaitanya went
personally to South India.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than the Supreme Personality of
God-head who appeared as a devotee to teach the science of devotion - the
only means of deliverance from material bondage. When the Lord performs
any ac-tion, its effects are wonderful; similarly, when He directs His
devotees to do anything, their result will also be wonderful. Lord
Chaitanya's deliverance of South India stands as a proof that He is the
Supreme Personality of Godhead in the guise of a devotee.
In order to understand the magnitude of Sri Chaitanya's South Indian
influence, we have to visualise the religious condition of South India at that
time. The phi-losophies of impersonalism and voidism were so prominent
that the vast major-ity of people had become atheists (impersonalism being
nothing more than cov-ered atheism). When one thinks, as the
impersonalists do, that God has no form, no qualities, no potencies and no
desires, then he effectually denies the existence of God. The voidist theory
that God is 'nothing' is an even more direct negation of His factual existence.
This kind of indirect atheism is considered to be more dangerous than atheism, because, in these system God's existence is accepted, but then
arguments are given for considering Him to be nothing. On the other hand,
in direct atheism God is considered to be non-existent. By logic and argument an atheist ca be convinced about God's existence, and converted into
a theist. When an atheist becomes a theist, then automatically he becomes a
devo-tee of the Lord by accepting as the Supreme Person. But the voidists
and imper-sonalists become God's competitors instead of becoming His
devotees. The con-cept that 'I can become God' is the most serious disease
that a living entity can suffer from. God is God under all circumstances, and
the living entities are His eternal parts and parcels, just as a king is the king
and his subjects are always his subjects. If a subject wants to take over the
throne and become king himself, then he is considered to be a rebel and that
is considered to be the most danger-ous offence. One gets the most severe
punishment for such an offence. One may say that the revolt is successful,
then the rebel becomes the king. But a living entity can never become God,
because God is always the omnipotent, omnis-cient Supreme God, so no one
can dethrone Him. He is everyone's father, and he is extremely merciful
toward all living beings. So when we make plans to take over His position,
he gives us the chance to become tiny gods. This material na-ture is the
place where we get the chance. Here we all think that we are the lords and
masters of everything, but since we are not the real lords or gods, we make a
mess out of it and suffer. The more we try to lord it over the material nature,
the more we suffer. But the Lord is our Father. He does not want us to
suffer. So He comes down to tell us to give up that futile endeavour to
become the lord and to go back to the spiritual sky by becoming His
servants. - So, South India at that time was full with people who wanted to
become God, and our Supreme Father went there as Lord Chaitanya to
deliver them from that misconception.
In South India, wherever He went, by His embrace He was empowering
who-ever He met. He asked them to chant the Holy names of the Lord, and
they in turn went to their villages and empowered others to chant the Holy
names. Thus village after village became converted to Krishna
consciousness. Then He went to a place called Kurma Ksetra and stayed in
the house of a brahmana (priest). This learned brahmana was so moved by
Lord Chaitanya that he wanted to leave home and go with Him. But the Lord
instructed him, "Don't speak like that. Better to remain at home and chant
the Holy name of Krishna always. Instruct eve-ryone to follow the orders of
Sri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
In this way become a spiritual master and try to liber-ate everyone in this
land. "If you follow this instruction, your material life will not obstruct your
spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we
will again meet here, or rather, you will never lose My company."
While on His tour, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would spend the night at a
tem-ple or on the roadside. Whenever He accepted food from a person, He
would give him the same advice that He had given this brahmana. Thus He
would re-main in one place at night and next morning, after bathing, start
There was a brahmana named Vasudev who was a great saintly person but
who was suffering from leprosy. He came to know about Lord Chaitanya's
arrival, and in the morning he came to see the Lord at the house of Kurma.
However Lord Chaitanya had already left. The leper then fell to the ground
unconscious. Then the Lord immediately returned to that spot and embraced
Vasudev. As soon as the Lord touched him, his leprosy disappeared and his
body became very beautiful.
When king Prataparudra of Orissa heard about this wonderful pastime of the
Lord, he told his chief advisor, Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, "There is no
doubt that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise, how can
he have so much compassion of the living entities? He cured of leper, that is
not really so surprising, because yogis can also do that. But he embraced that
leper: that no one else could do."
Thus delivering all the living entities, the Lord came to Simhachalam, where
the self-manifest deity of the half-man half-lion form of the Lord called
Nrisim-hadeva is worshipped in the temple of Jiyada Nrisimha Ksetra. Lord
Chaitanya sang and danced before the deity of Lord Nrisimhadeva in great
joy. That night Lord Chaitanya told those present with Him how that deity of
Lord Nrisim-hadeva became manifest. Sitting around the Lord, all the
devotees of Lord Nri-simhadeva heard about Lord Nrisimhadeva's pastimes
with rapt attention.
On the bank of the Godavari river the Lord met Ramananda Raya, the
governor of that place and a great devotee of Lord Krishna. Sri Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu had heard about Ramananda Raya before, so He was very
happy to meet him. Ramananda Raya also became extremely joyful. He
openly admitted, "You must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
because such beauty and such qualities are not possible in an ordinary living
entity." He also became surprised upon witnessing another incident. There
were about one thousand brahmanas with Him. They were very proud of
their scholarship and at first quite cynical about Lord Chaitanya's behaviour.
But soon they began to chant the Holy names of the Lord, displaying all the
ecstatic symptoms such as shedding tears, trembling, standing of hair on the body, etc. In a fraction of a moment they all became pure devotees of the
Lord. That evening the Lord had a discussion with Ramananda Raya
concerning the ultimate goal of human life. In this most exalted
philosophical discussion the Lord explained through Ramananda Raya that
unconditional love for the Su-preme Personality of Godhead in the mood of
His eternal consort Srimati Rad-harani is the highest goal of life.
In a place called "Siddhabat" the Lord met a devotee of Lord Ramachandra.
He stayed at his house for one night, discussing about spiritual topics. At the
end of the discussion, this man began to chant the holy name of Krishna.
This was quite surprising because the man was such a dedicated devotee of
Lord Ramachandra that he never used to chant another name of the Lord but
that of Lord Ramachandra. Quoting from the scriptures, he explained the
reason: "One name of Rama is equal to a thousand names of Narayana, but
the name of Krishna is equal to three names of Rama. Although I knew this
fact, since I was a devotee of Lord Rama, I used to chant His name very
earnestly. But now, just by seeing You, I started to chant the name of
'Krishna'. That indicates that You are none other than Krishna Himself."
Through this pastime the Lord explained that Krishna is the Supreme
Personality of Godhead Himself, whereas the other forms of Godhead are
From Siddhabat Lord Chaitanya went to a place called Vriddha-kasi to see
one temple of Lord Shiva. Then He visited a nearby village where many
learned brahmanas used to reside. They were believers of different branches
of philoso-phy, and they were adverse to he path of devotion. These
brahmanas had a big debate with the Lord. At the end they were defeated
and voluntarily accepted devotional service to Krishna.
Then the Lord came to a city named Trimanda. The king of that place was
Bud-dhist, and he used to patronise many vastly learned Buddhist scholars.
They de-cided to challenge Lord Chaitanya and defeat Him. The Buddhists
are very fond of arguments, and their philosophy is solely based on
arguments. But they were defeated by Lord Chaitanya. They felt very
insulted and wanted to take revenge, so they sent a plate full of contaminated
food to Lord Chaitanya. But as they were about to offer it to Him, a huge
bird picked up the plate, scattered all the contaminated food on the heads of
those envious Buddhists and dropped the plate on the head of their leader,
Ramagiri, from great height. The rim of the plate struck Ramagiri on the
head, causing a deep cut, and he fell unconscious. The Buddhist followers of
Ramagiri began to cry, and begged Lord Chaitanya to forgive them and to
revive their spiritual master. Lord Chaitanya asked them to chant the holy
name of Krishna. Then Ramagiri also begged forgiveness and became a devotee of the Lord. All Ramagiri's followers also became devotees of
Then the Lord came to a place of pilgrimage called Vatesvar, and seeing the
de-ity of Lord Shiva there, began to sing and dance in ecstasy. That day he
fasted and spent the night in the temple. At that time a very rich man called
Tirtharama came there with two extremely beautiful prostitutes. When he
saw the beauty and renunciation of the Lord he wanted to test Him. He
instructed those two prostitutes to seduce the Lord. But the Lord was totally
unconcerned, and ad-dressed them as mothers. Then they realised their
mistake. Their hearts became purified by the fire of lamentation, and they
took shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Tirtharama's heart became purified
and he fell down at the lotus feet of the Lord begging forgiveness. He said,
"I am the most sinful demon, called Tirtharama. Please deliver me by giving
me the holy name."
The Lord then consoled him and taught him the science of renunciation.
Lord Chaitanya said, "Consider material wealth as a bunch of straw, then
only you will receive the wealth of devotional service. By the mercy of the
Lord only one can receive devotional service to the Lord. One has to have
faith in the Lord's mercy. It is unconditional, therefore it cannot be proved
by any logic or reason-ing. So what is the need of discussing so many
scriptures? Simply render devo-tional service with implicit faith."
Hearing this advice, Tirtharama developed an intense feeling of detachment
from his material possessions, and discarding his costly dress and
ornaments, he put on a loin-cloth and accepted the holy name from Lord
Lord Chaitanya stayed in Vateswar for seven days and delivered everyone
there. Then He left that place and walked twenty miles through a forest
which was in-fested with ferocious wild animals. He was constantly singing
the holy names of Lord Krishna. Hearing the sweet names of the Lord, the
dormant love of God in the hearts of the wild animals awakened and they
were delivered from their mis-erable material existence.
Crossing the forest, the Lord came to a city called Munna, where He sat
down under a tree. Millions of people came to see Him there. No one had
seen such a beautiful mendicant before. The hearts of all those who saw Him
became puri-fied. Then Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began to sing the glories
of Lord Krishna and dance in ecstasy. All the people gathered there also
started to sing and dance. Thus they got the taste of love of Godhead and
became devotees of the Lord. When the decided to leave, they brought
various foodstuffs, garments and ornaments. But the Lord asked them to
offer these things to a beggar who was sitting under a tree. The inhabitants of Munna became extremely surprised to see this compassion shown by the
Then the Lord went to Sri Rangam and stayed there for a while. Sri Rangam
is situated on the bank of the river Kaveri. There is a beautiful temple of
Lord Ranganath (Vishnu),and that is why this place is considered to be one
of the most important places in South India. In this holy place there was a
brahmana named Venkata Bhatta who recognised Sri Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu as the Su-preme Personality of Godhead. Venkata Bhatta asked
Lord Chaitanya to stay at his house during the Caturmasya (the four months
of the monsoon when the saintly persons are expected to stop Travelling and
stay in one place). The Lord accepted this invitation and stayed at Sri
Rangam for four months. Every day he used to go to the Kaveri to take bath.
Then He would go to see Lord Ranganath and sing and dance before Him.
All the residents of that holy place became ex-tremely fond of the Lord and
they became devotees of Lord Krishna. Gopal Bhatta, the son of Venkata
Bhatta, was ten years old at that time. Gopal Bhatta was so fond of the Lord
that he used to stay with Him all the time. Later Gopal Bhatta became one of
he most intimate associates of the Lord.
In Ranganatha the Lord performed many pastimes. One day He saw a
brahmana who was reading the Bhagavad-gita while sitting in the temple.
The people there were laughing at him because his pronunciation of the
Sanskrit words was not correct. But that brahmana did not pay any attention
to them. He was so ab-sorbed in reading that divine literature that out of
acute joy tears were streaming from his eyes and all the divine ecstatic
symptoms were manifest in his body. When he had finished reading, the
Lord asked him what realisation of that scrip-ture made him experience this
ecstasy. The brahmana replied, "I am illiterate and therefore I do not know
the meaning of the words. Sometimes I read Bhaga-vad-gita correctly and
sometimes incorrectly, but in any case I am doing this in compliance with
the orders of my spiritual master."
"Actually I only see a picture of Lord Krishna sitting on a chariot as Arjuna's
charioteer. Taking the reins in His hands, he appears very beautiful and
blackish. When I read Bhagavad-gita I see the Lord's beautiful features, and
my mind be-comes totally absorbed."
Then Lord Chaitanya replied, "Indeed, you are an authority in the reading of
the Bhagavad-gita. Whatever you know constitutes the real purport of
Bhagavad-gita." Saying that, the Lord embraced him.
Falling down at His feet, the brahmana said, "Seeing You my happiness increased unlimitedly. Therefore I can understand that You are the same Lord
Krishna." Then travelling for many miles and delivering innumerable fallen souls, the
Lord came to Kanyakumari - the southernmost tip of the Indian
Subcontinent and took bath there. Then Travelling north-west He reached
the Malabar Hills. In a place Betapani, a group of pseudo-spiritualists called
Bhattatharis used to live. They used to dress like renunciates, but cultivate
black magic, enjoy beauti-ful women and cheat people of their wealth.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was accompanied by His servant called Krishnadas,
who met the Bhattatharis there. They allured him with beautiful women.
Early in the morning Krishnadas went to their place. To find him, the Lord
went here and there and asked them, "Why are you keeping my brahmana
Hearing that, the Bhattatharis attacked the Lord with weapons in their hands.
However their fell from their hands and struck their own bodies. When some
Bhattatharis were thus cut to pieces, the others ran away to save their lives.
Thus the Lord saved His fallen servant.
When the Lord reached Trivancore, the king of that state, Rudrapati, wanted
to see Him. The king sent his men to bring the Lord to the palace. Lord
Chaitanya, however, refused to go there. The king's men tried to persuade
Him in various ways. They told Him that if He went there He would get
enormous wealth and all His desires would be fulfilled. But they did not
know who they were talking to. They returned to the king and reported him
about the young mendicant who dared to defy him. But the king did not take
any offence. Instead he went to see the Lord himself. Very humbly, leaving
his chariot and elephants behind, he came to see the Lord under a tree and
surrendered at His lotus feet.
Travelling north Lord Chaitanya came to Surat. There was a Durga temple,
and the Lord saw that one brahmana was about to sacrifice a goat to Durga.
The heart of the Lord became filled with compassion for that poor animal.
He told the brahmana, "You are sacrificing this animal just for the sake of
eating its flesh, but you are not considering what would be the reaction. This
form of Durga is all-auspicious, therefore how can she eat this inedible
stuff? King Su-ratha sacrificed a hundred thousand animals, and after his
death the departed souls of all those animals attacked him to take revenge.
Did you not read this in the Scripture? There is no mention of violence like
this in the Scripture. Actually the demons, in order to eat meat, introduced
"You can force the spirit soul out of the body, but you cannot make a spirit
soul enter into a dead body. If someone, in the name of worshipping Durga,
chops your head off, then how will you feel?" "Durga is a devotee of Lord Krishna and she never eats meat or drinks wine.
If slaughtering animals is religion, then why don't you consider a murderer a
saint? Killing an animal or a human is a great sin. If you commit this sin
your suffering will increase."
Hearing this advice from Lord Chaitanya, the brahmana refrained from
making the animal sacrifice, and worshipped the lotus feet of the Lord in
pure devotion. Many people were present there at that time, and
understanding the deep purport of the Lord's advice, they stopped animal
sacrifice from that day onwards.
Lord Chaitanya reached Dwaraka and saw the Somnath temple. From there
He went to Girna-hills, where He saw the foot-prints of Lord Krishna. Then
He went to Prabhas Tirtha where Krishna performed His disappearance
Lord Chaitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He came to
deliver the conditioned living entities. So wherever He went He delivered
innumerable living entities. How He did this will always remain a mystery,
because this wonderful act was performed by His inconceivable spiritual
energy. Therefore no material reasoning can fathom it out.
To a layman, these activities of the Lord may seem fictitious. To them, my
ear-nest request is to at least consider what 'omnipotent' actually means. If
God is all-powerful, the He can do anything according to His desire. As a
matter of fact, the appearance of the Lord as Lord Chaitanya is His most
down-to-earth appearance. In His other appearances like Lord Krishna, Lord
Rama, Lord Nri-simhadeva and others, He performed much more
supernatural and astounding pastimes.
Lord Chaitanya travelled and preached all over India and flooded the whole
country with love of Godhead. However, due to demonic influence, in
course of time people became atheistic and rejected the spiritual heritage of
India. As a result of this their suffering increased and their way to hell has
been paved. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that His teachings will
spread all over the world. At a time when much of the world looked down
on India, this prediction sounded like a poetic exaggeration. But then again,
the Lord's inconceivable po-tency can perform any wonder.
In 1965 one of the most intimate associates of the Lord, His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada went to the United States at the age
of sev-enty, without any support or shelter, to spread Lord Chaitanya's
teachings. His success is undoubtedly one of the greatest legends of today.
The spiritual movement which he started single-handedly in New York in
1966 spread all over the world in just ten years time. Thousands of people
from all over the world surrendered themselves to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and millions have become influenced by
the philosophy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Krishna which he
purely presented to the world through his books and his perfect personal
example. They also will surrender in due course of time. This world-wide
mission of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhak-tivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the
International Society for Krishna Conscious-ness, popularly known as
ISKCON, is actively propagating God consciousness all over the world. At a
time when the demoniac influence is so prevalent eve-rywhere, to preach
love of God is not so easy. But the devotees of ISKCON are pushing on with
their missionary work with absolute determination and dedica-tion. There is
no doubt that they will become successful because God is all pow-erful and
this world is His kingdom. Acting through His devotees, He will de-stroy the
demonic mentality of those who oppose His will.
This year (1986) is the year of Lord Chaitanya's 500th anniversary. To commemorate Lord Chaitanya's appearance on this earth, ISKCON has taken up
many programmes mainly intended to propagate Lord Chaitanya's mission.
One such programme is ISKCON's Padayatra.
ISKCON devotees began their Padayatra in 1984, retracing the route
travelled by Lord Chaitanya. They started from Dvaraka and have travelled
all the way to Kanyakumari. Travelling north-east, they will arrive at Sri
Mayapur Dhama, Lord Chaitanya's birthplace, during the 500th anniversary
of Lord Chaitanya's appearance which falls in March 1986. Devotees of
different countries of the world are walking 10 to 15 miles each day,
accompanied by bullock carts, prac-tically demonstrating in this troubled
age that peace and unity of people of all nations is achieved by working cooperatively in God consciousness with the common aim of pleasing the
Supreme Lord. The procession consists of hundreds of devotees, and is lead
by Lord Chaitanya and His principal associate Lord Nit-yananda in Their
deity manifestations. Thousands of local people join the pro-cession, and
thus they are reminded of Lord Chaitanya, who travelled the same path
delivering their ancestors almost 500 years ago.
Lord Chaitanya revolutionised the lives of people all over India with the
most dynamic spiritual movement. This ISKCON Padayatra is reviving that
spiritual revolution, and the people of India are responding warmly to this.
Now that many of them are utterly disillusioned by the allurements of socalled material progress, the spiritual bliss offered by Lord Chaitanya
through his sankirtana movement is becoming their real shelter.
Everyone is hankering for joy, but nothing in the material nature can offer
that. It is for this reason that all material endeavours ultimately end in acute
frustra-tion. There is no real joy or happiness in the material nature. Actual joy is a product of the spiritual nature. It is spontaneously manifest when the
living en-tity begins to love God. Therefore, when the living entities are
reminded of this simple process, response becomes natural.
Lord Chaitanya went all over India and offered this blissful life of Krishna
con-sciousness to all He met. Following in His footsteps, the ISKCON
devotees are distributing this message all over the world, and this Padayatra
will go on until everyone on this planet is totally submerged in an ocean of
bliss of love of God.