ONE MORE ACHIEVEMENT
ALL INDIA PADAYATRA COMPLETES THEIR ‘CHAR DHAM’ YATRA – RAMESHWARAM
January 1, 2017
By Acarya Dasa
Completion of Char Dhama yatra
Our padayatra party reached Rameshwaram on December 16th. Rameshwaram is a town in the Ramanathapuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu. The town is actually situated on Pamban island which is separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is 50 kilometers away from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. Rameshwaram is the place where Lord Rama built a bridge to cross the sea to get to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita Devi from the demon Ravana. It is one of the holiest places in India and is part of the ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage, that is, a pilgrimage of the four most revered places in India, Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri and Rameshwaram.
We thus completed our ‘Char Dham’ yatra –we had started the yatra in Dwarka on April 16th, 2011 and from there travelled to Badrinath, Jagannath Puri and now to Rameshwaram. We will soon set off again to complete another Char Dham pilgrimage while travelling around India. There were also a few padayatris who had completed their Char Dham pilgrimage, Damodarlila Dasa, Parthsakha Dasa, Abhiram Dasa and a few others by the mercy of Guru and Gauranga.
A warm welcome
The last time we were in Rameshwaram was 8 years ago; we then stayed for a few days and performed lots of sankirtana. So, when we returned after all that time, we were very happy to be received by the same residents we had preached to. They chanted, “Hare Rama, Hare Rama” and welcomed us. There is a very large temple located in the centre of the town dedicated to Lord Shiva and is visited by many people who travel from all over to take darsana there. While we were doing sankirtana, the people visiting the temple joined us, they took darsana of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundar, and after the kirtana we distributed Bhagavad-gitas to them.
We then traveled to an area in Rameshwaram inhabited by people that are mostly of the Christian faith. We were also travelling with three foreign devotees, Akhiladhara Dasa, Bhakta Daniel and Dayapara Dasa. The local residents were really happy to see these three devotees and were very receptive to the instructions they gave them. They also distributed twenty-six Bhagavad-gitas to the locals. Later, we held a lecture for the residents given by Dayapara Dasa which really inspired them.
The next day we took darsana of the different tirthas or holy places surrounding Rameshwaram such as Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town located in the south-eastern tip of the Pamban Island and is about 18 miles (29 kilometers) west of Talaimannar, Sri Lanka. The town was destroyed during the 1964 Rameshwaram cyclone and remains uninhabited. According to Ramayana, it was here where Lord Rama built a bridge to connect India and Sri Lanka so that his army could travel across the sea. Lord Rama marked the spot where the bridge would be built with one end of his bow hence the name Dhanushkodi which means ‘end of the bow’. It is also said that during the svayamvara ceremony in Janakpur where Lord Rama won Sita Devi’s hand in marriage by breaking the Shivadhanushya bow into three parts –one part of the bow fell in Dhanushkodi.
Kapi Teertham and Godhanagram
We also visited Kapi Teertham( ‘kapi’ means monkey). This was the place where Lord Rama instructed the monkeys about the war with Ravana. We then traveled to Godhanargam, also known as Malaya Parvat, doing sankirtana all the way. This place is very sacred thanks to Agastrya Rishi who preserved the foot prints of Lord Rama there. There is also a temple dedicated to ‘Sakshi Hanuman; it is built on the spot where Hanuman glorified Vibishana by performing rajya abhishek.
We then visited Sugriva Teertham, an important shrine that many devotees visit when doing pilgrimage of Rameshwaram. This place is situated along the way to Gandhamadana Parvatam. The Surgriva Teertham temple is dedicated to Sugriva, the monkey King who played an important role in Lord Rama’s war against the demon Ravana. Sugriva assisted Lord Rama to put an end to Ravana and to rescue Goddess Sita who had been captured by him.
Making the news
Thus far, we have taken darsana in the holy places of Rameshwaram, Sethubandan, Thirupullani and Divya Desam. Our next destination is Kanyakumari. While in Rameshwaram a local newspaper featured an article on the ‘All India Padayatra’ and our completion of the Char Dham yatra.
We have included a photograph of the article, below is a loose translation in English:
This yatra started its pilgrimage in Dwarka under the management of Acarya Dasa. He is travelling with a group of 20 devotees preaching Krishna Consciousness and distributing books. The group has travelled to Dwarka, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal, Andra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerela, Maharashtra and will now travel back to Dwarka.