In the News:
Vrindavan Gurukula Students Complete a Dandavat Parikrama

by AnandaV

Posted January 1, 2008

Last week, fifteen students from Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and International School completed a dandavat parikrama on the Vrindavan parikrama path. Rather than walking, they circumambulated Vrindavan by offering prostrations on the ground, falling like a stick (the meaning of dandavat) again and again, until the entire path was traversed.

Grade 8 students completed this difficult challenge along the 11 km path. It was not an easy task - physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It was performed as a concluding activity to their Gurukula education and in preparation for their entering High school, where more maturity and independent responsibility is needed.

On a deeper level - one that is not easily assessed or judged - the dandavat parikrama is meant to allow students time with themselves and with Krishna, an internal exchange brought about by the difficulty of the parikrama. Here these young men faced their own weakness, vunerability, and tininess, and thus gain an opportunity to experience shelter and strength from something (their resolve and mental control) and someone (the Lord) greater than themselves. They lived on the edge, away from their usual daily activities, and changed from young boys into young men.

The students spent five days on the path, staying in different ashrams each night. They kept a journal of their thoughts and in the evenings, around a campfire, they exchanged realizations with their friends and teachers.

Abhay from Switzerland wrote, "I didn't think I could do it. Every night I was exhausted, but the next day, once I started, my energy would come back. I was so happy when I was out there."

Pravesh from Nepal penned, "It was so difficult. There was dust everywhere, but I just kept chanting and pushing on. I would tell myself, 'Just get to the next rest area.'"

"I was excited to do it but found it harder than I thought. I learned humility here, down on the ground, close to the earth and the small insects. I felt myself closer to Krishna," commented Madhav from New Delhi.

When the students returned, they were bright-faced and energetic. Austerities - performing difficult acts to bring about spiritual awakening - bring results and the results could be seen in the faces of these young men. In a final ceremony, they addressed the primary school (Gurukula Grades 1-8) and shared their experiences. They were then presented with their own personal copy of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is as their guidebook to life, as well as a harinam chaddar and a Nrsimha pavitra.