on Sept. 29, 2011
NEW GLASGOW – Clad in a bright orange robe and wearing sneakers, a Hare Krishna monk is walking through Pictou County this weekend as part of his fourth
trip across Canada.
The Ontario-born Bhaktimarga Swami, now 53, joined the Hare Krishna in 1973 and adopted a Sanskrit name as part of his vows.
Bhaktimarga, who began his travels in Newfoundland a week ago, averages about 30 kilometres a day and camps on the side of the road, preparing his own vegetarian meals. This weekend, he plans to stay with a friend in the county and hold a ceremony welcoming a Halifax woman in to the movement before continuing on towards New Brunswick.
The trip is a pilgrimage, he says.
“The whole idea is to have a friend-raiser, not a fundraiser,” he said. “People need to take more introspective times in life, to meditate.”
As he walks, he chants a mantra for at least the first three hours of his day to help him meditate. His days usually start around 4 a.m.
He compares his trip to indigenous Canadians, who might go on spirit quests, or walks done in India.
Bhaktimarga mainly walks along old roads like Highway 4 and steers clear of main highways.
“Highway 4 is a gem road, it’s quiet and safe,” he said. “I like to take the old highways because I get the chance to meet people. You’re inspired by what you see and you inspire them.”
His trek isn’t an attempt to convert people to his beliefs, Bhaktimarga says, but is always willing to talk about his beliefs.
“If you’re committed to your beliefs, go full speed ahead with them,” he said. “If not, maybe consider something different.”
The trip normally takes about seven months to complete. Bhaktimarga is only going as far as New Brunswick before he’ll break for the winter and travel to India to complete a walk there, before resuming his trek across Canada next spring.
“This is an exercise in austerity – I take it all in, the rain, the wind, sometimes the snow, depending on the season. It toughens you up, both outside and in. It’s a case of mind over matter,” he said.
Bhaktimarga says he hopes his trip will encourage people to consider the pilgrimage lifestyle, even if it’s on a smaller scale of taking a walk in their own community and reflecting.
“Go on a long walk, carrying as little as you can and maybe depend on apple trees for sustenance,” he said. “If you chant a mantra as you do it, even better.”
For more information on Bhaktimarga Swami, visit