The Walking Monk rolled into town today in the midst of one his many walks across Canada.
Bhaktimarga Swami will present a ‘Krishna Culture Festival’ at Westminster United Church with drama, music and a play Wed. July 22 at 7 p.m. Admission is pay what you can.
The Walking Monk is traveling across North America all summer with two busloads of youth from all around the world. The youth have been signing up for these excursions for many years, often following the Festival of India and performing there.
Their performances include East Indian dance, singing ancient Vedic songs and performing plays.
Bhaktimarga Swami, in between walking across many countries around the world, has been writing and directing plays worldwide for many years. The youth also take part in many outdoor activities such as white water rafting, hiking and sight seeing.
Bhaktimarga Swami’s first journey was in 1996 when he walked from Vancouver Island to Cape Spear, Newfoundland.
In between his cross Canada treks, he has also walked across Trinidad, Guyana, Mauritius, Fiji, Ireland and Israel; short walks compared to the 7,533 kms across Canada.
Wearing out about three pairs of shoes per journey, at 40 kilometres a day it takes approximately six months to walk across this beautiful country of ours.
His second cross-Canada walk was in 2003 when he traveled East to West. The third time around, he spread the walk over two summers in 2006 and 2007.
Why does the Walking Monk do these walks? Well for one thing, he loves Canada. The year 1996 would have been his spiritual teacher, A. C. Bhaktivedanta’s 100th birthday, and he was trying to think of something special he could do to show his appreciation.
He was also experiencing back problems that year and his doctor told him that he needed to walk more. So he decided to walk more, a lot more. It didn’t take long before he was hooked. Now he says, he’s a walking addict. People ask him what the cause is and he tells them, “It’s not a fundraiser, it’s a friend raiser.”
The Swami, who lives in a monastery in Toronto about half of the year, says he also walks to promote walking culture. He gets support through donations at the temple in Toronto.
Many people stop him on the side of the road and offer him water, food or donations also. Bhaktimarga Swami is a Hare Krishna monk in his early 60’s who has lived this lifestyle since 1973.
A typical walking day starts about 5 am (3-3:30 am on the really hot days to beat the heat). The Swami gets dropped off where he left off the day before and his support driver either goes back to the tent to pack up and move to the next campground where they usually set up for 2-3 days, or he will drive ahead about 10 kilometres and wait for the monk who likes to be alone for the first two hours where he meditates on his rosary-like beads.
I was his support driver in 2007. And when the Swami decided to do his fourth walk, he invited me to do it again.
Some of my responsibilities besides cooking, doing laundry and setting up and tearing down the tent included contacting the media and setting up talks at schools, libraries and yoga studios.
The Walking Monk will host Wednesday’s ‘Krishna Culture Festival’ at Westminster United Church starting at 7 p.m.