As part of the year-long celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, the BAPS Satsang Activities Central Office organized a six-day padyatra (pilgrimage by foot) from Shastriji Maharaj’s birthplace in Mahelav to his memorial shrine (Yagnapurush Smruti Mandir) in Sarangpur in which 29 sadhus and 300 selected devotees from Gujarat and Maharashtra participated.
Pujya Mahant Swami flagged off this special pilgrimage at 3.00 p.m. on 5 November from Mahelav. The pilgrims walked 150 km, reaching Sarangpur on 10 November, where the padyatra concluded in the presence of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami.
The pilgrims walked about 30 km a day in two sessions: from 5.30 to 10.00 a.m. and 3.00 to 6.30 p.m. Before starting in the morning, everyone would gather in front of Thakorji’s Rath and sing the arti. While walking, the pilgrims would listen to the dhun, bhajans and discourses of Swamishri and sadguru sadhus being relayed from the PA system. Also, they had all been given a mala sanctified by Swamishri, which they continually turned. In fact, many experienced that by turning the mala and praying when physically tired they were rejuvenated with the energy to continue. In this way, they walked while engaged in devotion and as a result the atmosphere was spiritually charged. At night, the pilgrims participated in the arti and a short assembly. Hence, the padyatra could more appropriately be termed as a ‘bhakti yatra’ – a pilgrimage of devotion.
Throughout the entire padyatra, Dharmatilak Swami and Kalyandarshan Swami pulled Thakorji’s Rath. Some of the youths walked barefoot throughout the padyatra and some consumed only liquids for the duration of the pilgrimage.
On route, the pilgrims passed many villages and towns, including Palol, Indranaj, Vataman, Moti Boru, Pachchham, Dhandhuka, Polarpur, Godhavata, and others where they were warmly welcomed and honoured by local devotees and well-wishers.
In Sarangpur, the pilgrims were greeted and honoured with great fanfare by Kothari Jnaneshwar Swami, Narayanmuni Swami, Aksharcharan Swami, and other sadhus and devotees. Then, after performing pradakshina of the Yagnapurush Smruti Mandir and offering prostrations, the pilgrims had darshan inside the shrine. Thereafter, they pledged all the merits of the pilgrimage for the good health and long life of guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Following this, a special assembly was held in which the pilgrim sadhus and devotees shared their experiences of the pilgrimage.
Later, Swamishri, with a specially prepared padyatra ID card around his neck and waving a chhadi, gave darshan to and blessed all the pilgrims. He sanctified the group photos, which were later presented to all the pilgrims, and cast his gaze upon the decorated chariot housing the murtis of Thakorji which had accompanied the pilgrims throughout the padyatra.
The memorable darshan of Swamishri concluded the historic padyatra.
A support team of 60 sadhus and volunteers accompanied the pilgrims, ensuring that the necessary arrangements were available during the padyatra.