Day 103 | 24 April 2015 | Anagodu to Davangere | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Face to face with innocence, at Averegere, Davengere
  • At an exhibition of the late Chindodo Leela's photograhs, Averegere
    2
  • A pat on the cheek for a cute, lil' admirer at Averegere, Davengere
    3
  • A floral welcome as the Walk enters Davangere city
    4
  • Rare silhouette of Sri M at Anagodu
    5
  • Walking beside the lush green paddy fields at Kalapanahalli, Davangere
    6
  • 7
  • At yesteryear theater personality Chindodi Leela's Memorial, Davengere
  • "Look. we have come this far."
  • "Hold it", says a young admirer at Averegere, Davangere
  • The Junior Pontiff of Muruga Mutt joins the padayatra at Davangere
  • Bunches of Indian Laburnum provide a befitting background as the padayatra reaches Davengere
  • Acknowledging the warm welcome on arrival at Davangere
After a coffee early in the morning, the walkers were transported to the Anagodu Taralabalu School so as to start the walk at the usual time of 5.30 am.

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A cool and cloudy morning cast over Anagodu. The yatris walked in the dark with torches lighting the way ahead till the sun rose. This stretch of padayatra is at variance from the completely rural areas the walkers have been traversing for the past week or so. As has been noticed in the past, the approach to a city takes on a gradual growth with more and more habitation. Breakfast was served at a half-finished yet abandoned industrial building, about 8 kilometers yet to go for Davengere. Another place they visited along the way was the Memorial – a picture exhibition of Chindodi Leela, a Kannada theatre and film personality, writer and politician belonging to this region. She headed the Karnataka Nataka Academy for more than three decades, acted in more than 250 films in most South Indian languages and was a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council. She was a Padma Shri recipient and had won many awards from the State Governments of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Walking along the service road, the padayatris walked past lush green fields of paddy near Kalpanahally.The recent rains had painted the area fresh in a translucent green. The sun, not to belie the season, turned unbearable by 9.30 am. At Avaragere, the junior pontiff of Muruga Rajendra Math, Chitradurga, joined the Walk and accompanied them to the town. Sri M was greeted by a group of about 50 people with garlands and roses, as they entered Davangere. The yatris walked 17 kilometers and touched villages like Kogganur, Mallashettihalli, Kalpanahalli and Vadinahalli on the way. Reaching Davangere around 10.30 am, they returned to their place of stay from the previous night.Davangere is the geographical centre of Karnataka state. It is generally believed the Chalukyas halted in this region to rest after long horse-rides. The place then came to be known as Devanagiri – God’s Hill that provides a place of rest for the exhausted and the thirsty. It came under the rule of Sultan Hyder Ali and he gave it as jagir to a Maratha chief named Appoji Ram, who encouraged merchants to settle there. While Appoji Ram died without heirs, the place continued to grow, favored by Tipu Sultan.It is surrounded by cotton farming areas and is known as a cotton hub. Davangere is also known for its rich culinary traditions that encompass the diversity of entire Karnataka's dishes. Notable among them is its aromatic Benne Dose—associated with the name of the city, Mandakki Puri with Mensinkai Bajji (puffed rice similar to bhelpuri with a distinct flavor and green chilli bajjis - a combination dish). The evening program started with a short walk through the town towards the Sri Kodanda Rama Devara Devasthana (temple) - for the evening public function and Satsang. There were about 300 people in attendance. Sri M planted a sapling in the grounds and the event stared with Sri Babanna, a renowned philanthropist of Davangere garlanding and welcoming Sri M. Sri M began his address with the universal prayers – “Akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāram vyāptamyena carācaram| Tatpadam darśitamyena tasmai śrī gurave namah|| (Which) pervades the entire unbroken form of the circle (of creation), moving and unmoving. To that beautiful and benevolent Guru through whom that state was revealed (to me), salutations. Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheshwara Gurur Sakshat Parabrahma Tasmai Shree Guruvey Namaha The Guru is Brahma (The creator), Lord Vishnu (The preserver, and Lord Shiva (the destroyer) To that very Guru I bow, for He is the Supreme Being, right before my eyes. Loka samasta sukhinoh bhavantu – May the entire universe be happy. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.” He continued: “Unfortunately, I cannot speak Kannada. I can understand Kannada very well but I cannot speak fluently - you will have to excuse me for that. I will speak in English and if you don't understand the words, please tune in to the heart, that is more important than listening to the words.”  “I have come here - not I but we, for, there are many of us participating in this padayatra for peace and harmony, which we call the Walk of Hope. We have come from Kanyakumari to Davangere. Yesterday was the hundred and first day and we have done about a thousand and six hundred kilometers of walking now. We have another five thousand kilometers to go; we will reach Srinagar in April of 2016.” “This is a padayatra, not a ratha-yatra; we are actually walking. I will not go into the details of the yatra because you may have seen it in the newspapers already, read the details and so on. Basically, we are walking 20 to 25 kilometers in the hot sun everyday. We are like parivrajakas—walking from one place to another, sleeping in a different place each day and going around.” “Now, this is the external padayatra but today, I want to talk about the internal padayatra. It is because of the internal journey that this outer journey is taking place. Without this inner journey, it is of no use. We have seen many outer journeys. Unless and until the mind can be purified, unless we consider this walk as a yagna through the different experiences people are having, who are experiencing living in adversities and walking in the hot sun like mad people. Unless we learn some lessons that can purify our mind, this yatra will not be a success.” “What I am trying to say is that many of you cannot walk with us externally but you can walk internally. Sitting at home, you can also walk. For us Yogis, Varanasi, Kailasha are all one. Varanasi is called Varanasi because the Ida and Pingala are joined together in the Bhru-madhya. Varuna and Asi meet here.” (Pointing to the centre of the two eyebrows). Here sits the Supreme Being.” “Now, all this inner journey and outer journey is because of a certain being or person, whatever you wantto call him. I don't think that without his blessings, this M, who is sitting before you would be capable of anything. It is the blessing of Maheswarnath Babaji, my personal guru who was a disciple of Sri Guru Babaji. At the age of 9, he put his hands on my head and those hands have stayed there, even though physically he may not be here. It is that which is taking me through all this.” “I am not responsible for all this. If there is success, it is Maheshwarnath Babaji's, if it is a failure, it is his too, and I know that he never fails. This is one thing which I have experienced living with him for many years. For him, Vedanta, Yoga, Asana, Meditation, the whole gamut was linked to daily life. Babaji told me that if you mediate for thirty years for twelve hours a day and cannot still hear the cry of a neighbour’s child, all your meditation is of no use. I learnt from such a Being, who had no banner.” “Here, we have Satsang Foundation and Manav Ekta Mission. He had nothing. He never got into a vehicle; he always walked. All he wore was a small piece of cloth. Even in Gomukh, I have seen him with only one piece of cloth. I used to sit in front of him and do my meditation, pranayama and kriya. Even today I feel that when I breathe, some breath gets into me and that breath is making me do all these things; I am not responsible directly. I am only a figure and the figure is moving around and doing various things.” “When I close my eyes, I feel empty. When I look outside, I see the same emptiness. This emptiness is not a no thing– nothingness. It is what Basavanna called Shunya. Not the Shunya of negation or nothingness, it is that when you have reduced yourself to nothing, you have so much space within that the divine can materialise. I will not go into philosophy, I would rather relate to you some stories since many of you have read the autobiography. There are certain stories that are not there in the autobiography. Instead of going into philosophies and the Karma Yoga of the Padayatra, I would go into the Bhagawatam.” “I think that is better because we learn through stories. I will tell you two stories from my life here, which you will have to wait for another year to read. But I will discuss them now because they have great relevance. They have not been published yet.” “One experience deals with human mind and it's kindness to animals. Sometimes we are kind to animals and cruel to people, other times we are kind to people and cruel to animals. All are expressions of divinity and in our love for humans, we should not forget animals and in love for animals, we should not forget humans. It's not a story but it is in a story form. It's an experience that I had with Maheshwarnath Babaji, it is not in the autobiography; it will come in the next part.” “It was Babaji’s practice to stay in Mauni Baba's cave. Mauni Baba's cave is on the other side of the Shivananda Ashram. If you cross the path, you will come to the Neelakanth Parvat. A lot of sadhus live on the side of mountain, and at the top there is a temple to Shiva. Halfway between, there is a cave called Mauni Baba's cave. If you go to that place, they will show you one cave, if you persist, they will show you another cave, if you persist even more, they will show you a third cave. There are three caves.” “So, whenever we went to Rishikesh, we – Maheshwarnath Babaji and me - used to stay in Mauni Baba's cave. Mouni Baba used to vacate the cave and go to Neelakanth; He is now no more. He used to send a Brahmachari to look after us. Some Bavajis came there once, when I say 'bavajis', I mean to say Vairagi-Sadhus. They came and complained to Babaji and said that it has become very difficult to walk in the forest because of a rogue elephant and it has already killed two or three Sadhus, by appearing suddenly in the evenings. So Babaji said, go and tell the forest department. They said, we have already told the forest department, and requested him 'aap kuch keejiye' - you do something. Babaji then said, ‘Hari Om! You all can go.’ I did not give much thought to it. Later, after I had done my Sadhana, I went to sleep. Babaji woke me up in the middle of the night and said, let's go. I said, ‘where Babaji?’. He just said – ‘let's go’.” “Just in front of the Mauni Baba's cave, there is a large rock and in front of that, there is a ravine. Babaji went and sat on that rock and I sat on the floor. It was almost a full moon day. There was full light and I was wondering now what. With Babaji, one never knew what adventure was coming up next.” “When I looked at the other side of the ravine, I saw a leopard. In those days, there used to be leopards there, now they have moved to the Rajaji wildlife sanctuary. So, a leopard passed by far away and it looked at us. You know what will happen if a leopard is looking at you. I told Babaji and Babaji said 'jaane do' - let him go, and the leopard went away. I thought Babaji would ask me to do some Kriya there. But that didn’t happen. That night, there was pure silence. You know, these wild elephants, they can be very silent. They can stand so silently, even if they are close to you. Only when they come out, will you know. Close to us, there were a lot of trees and from the middle of the trees, this rogue elephant charged. A full-grown tusker. It trumpeted loudly, coming full speed at us.” I thought this is it. There is no way I could have run and escaped. I held Babaji’s feet and closed my eyes. I thought Babaji wants me to die. After a second, I could hear the elephant’s legs slipping in the sand, like brakes. And then, there was silence. When I opened my eyes, I saw the elephant had stopped close by, and it had bent down on its knees with it’s trunk raised making one more trumpeting noise.” “I thought it was all over and then Babaji got up. I asked him, ‘Babaji where are you going. The elephant is here’. He said to the elephant in Hindi, ‘Why are you killing innocent beings, why are you killing Yogis and Sadhus. He said, 'haathi thodi na aise kartein hain?' - Elephants do not behave this way., 'shaant ho jao' - calm down.” “You can be kind to animals but being kind like this? In a situation like this, you either run or you shoot. He came back and he sat down. I said, ‘Babaji, waapas chaltein hain' - let us go back. He said, go and do Pranams to the elephant.” “At his behest, I got up, went to it and did Pranams. This experience taught me many lessons. It taught me that a Yogi has no fear of any animals, of any wild animals. Please don't imagine that you are a great Yogi and put your hand in the mouth of a tiger. Great yogis are rare. And, the communication between the animals and this great man was something extraordinary. He spoke to this animal like it was a human being. After three or four days, the Sadhus came and said, 'ab thik ho gaya, dhanyawaad ke liye aayein hain' - It has become okay now, we have come to thank you. So Babaji said 'Alak Niranjan'. This is how one Nath calls the other and you are supposed to say 'Aadesh'.” “Now, I will relate to you another incident with another great Being which has relevance here. It is not about Maheshwarnath Babaji but how he was linked with other great Beings. You all must have heard about Nithyananda Swamiji of Ganeshpuri. Two years before he passed away, when I must have been 10 or 12, I had the opportunity to have his Darshan and it happened in a very strange manner.” “It was through my father’s cousin that I met Swami Nithyananda. In fact, it was from this relative that I first heard the word 'kundalini'. He was a retired headmaster of a school, he never got married and in our community not getting married was considered a big mistake. In Hindu system of thought, if one does not get married, he is either a Brahmachari or a Sanyasi. But here, if one does not get married, they say he is not okay. He did not get married because during his marriage, as he entered the Pandal, his sister in-law threw a banana skin at him for fun. He said, if this is how it is before marriage then, what will it be like after marriage? And he went back without getting married.” “He was also an expert in Kalaripayattu, the martial art of Kerala. One day, he said I will take you somewhere, to a place 60 kilometers away from a place called Punalur. He said, I am going to take you there but don't tell anybody. He said, I will take permission from your parents and tell them I am taking you to Punalur for training in Kalaripayattu. I said okay. Since he was the eldest man in the family, everyone was fine with this.” “We went by a train, bus and a car and finally after three or three and a half days, we reached Ganeshpuri, maybe it was four days. We were told that we cannot meet Swami Nithyananda as he was resting, the term used was 'he is in Kailash'. So we rested and came back. I did not know what was going on. When my uncle went, I followed. When I saw Swami Nithyananda, I got very frightened. He was saying something to himself and waving his arms. He was literally towering over me. So, I thought, where have I come?” “After a group of people approached Swami Nithyananda, my Uncle followed them. I was next, so I went to him. I was thinking about what was going to happen. Suddenly, he gave me a slap. The slap was so hard and harsh that I fell down. And, I started crying and shouting. My cheek was red. In fact, the slap was so hard that I went flying.” “I was crying and asking my uncle, why he had bought me here. He consoled me with some sweets and said it was okay. We went back to Punalur for a few days before he took me back home so nobody knew where we had gone. In those days, there were no cell phones and it was difficult tracking someone. Anyway, we came back to Trivandrum and it was forgotten completely.” “Later, in the Himalayas, I was doing various Sadhanas. One day, Babaji called me and said your Ida Nadi is blocked; you have to do some special pranayama. For three weeks, I did special pranayama and after that, I went to him for inspection. He said, breathe, then he touched me on the head and on the side of my face and said 'ho gaya' - it is done, the Ida Nadi is open. Thinking of myself as very intelligent, I said there is Ida and Pingala, and asked so 'pingala ka kya hoga' - what will happen to the Pingala?” “Babaji said, 'ek thappad se theek kar diya tha’, With one slap, it was fixed’ by Swami Nithyananda. I had never told the old incident to Babaji. In fact, I had completely forgotten it and only remembered when he told me of it. So, what I am trying to say is that these great Beings are linked to each other and these Beings may work together on a person. It is what we should remember.” “What is the basic thing we should have? We should have aspiration, real aspiration. Two, we should be ready to follow the teachings. Three, we should cultivate absolute openness of mind. Unless we reduce ourselves to zero, it is not possible to move forward on the spiritual path. The first thing to go must be the ego. We can do Kriya for a hundred years and if your ego is there, nothing will happen. There must be space, without space nothing will happen. This emptiness is so important. For emptiness, it is important that the ego goes away.” “In our last halt, when we were with Swami Shivamurthy Shivacharya of the Taralabalu Math, we wanted to hold a small private Satsang and he said, I am also coming. After the Satsang, I asked him, do you have anything to say. He told a lovely story which I remember now.” “Once, there was a very famous sculptor. He had a roaring business. Once an astrologer came to him to place an order. After coming to know he was an astrologer, he couldn’t resist and stretched his hand for a reading. The astrologer said, I am sorry to tell you that in one month you are going to die. The sculptor was perplexed, he asked the astrologer, is there any way to get over this hurdle. The astrologer said, it is easy, you create replicas of your own self, these should look very similar to you, you create some ten fifteen and you stand between those statues when Yamadoota comes looking for you. The Yamadoota who comes on a buffalo is an idiot, when he comes and doesn’t find you, he will go back.” “So, day and night, the sculptor started preparing his own statues. On the fiftieth day, the Yamadoota came and was confused. He looked around but could not find the sculptor. He was confused and went back. The sculptor went to the astrologer and thanked him saying, I will complete your order without payment. Meanwhile, the Yamadoota went to Yama and Yama asked him, why did you not bring me the sculptor? The Yamadoota told him why. Yama laughed, called him closer and whispered in his ear what to do next time.” “The astrologer warned the sculptor that the Yamadoota will come again in fifteen days and if you do the same thing, you will live. The sculptor was confident that he had passed the first time. He made a few more statues and when Yamadoota came, he went and stood among the statues. The Yamadoota did not go around looking for the sculptor. He went to the first statue, looked at it and admired it saying, ‘who is the sculptor who made such a beautiful statue?’ The sculptor forgot his act and said, ‘I made it’. The Yamadoota said,’ I have been looking for you, come with me now.’ Saying that, he took him away. This is fault of the ego!” “We can get rid of ego somehow, by practicing good things. One has to realize that one is really nothing. If one becomes famous, one thinks that I have done this, I have done that. Five people do the same thing at the same time, one succeeds. Why? Please understand this. When one has clarity about it, nothing more is required. This is so important. According to the great teachers, according to the great Yogis, also according to the teacher who taught on the battlefield, few qualities are essential. When asked by Arjuna about who is the greatest Yogi and what are the qualities, Krishna replied that one who control over his senses is the greatest Yogi. Emotions also include anger. Just like love is an emotion, a positive emotion, anger is an emotion too, a negative emotion. Very often, love breeds anger. Self-centered love always breeds anger. Suppose you say I am a fool, what happens?” “Since we have been passing through many Mathas and Ashrams in Karnataka, I have become a little familiar with the Vachanas. In one of the Vachanas, Basavanna says, I believe that anger is like a fire that will burn down your house before burning down the neighbour’s house. So, while we continue, there are certain things we have to take care of. The first is the control of our senses, getting them all together. Samyam indriyam grama…... Ashwamedha is not taking a horse and cutting its head. Ashwamedha is the control of the senses. If we do this, half of our problems will be solved.” “Two, sarvatra sama buddhayah - being able to be calm, tranquil and peaceful in the midst of all circumstances and provocations. For the great yogi, ninda and stuti - blame and praise are both equal. In fact, blame is better. If someone comes and blames you, realise where you stand. If one criticises, take itthat this is God in human form who has come to teach you something, to correct something. So, that person is coming to carry out a function essential for your growth.” “And, be equanimous in pleasure and pain. See, pleasure and pain go hand in hand. Where there is pleasure, there is pain. You go to a party in the night, you are enjoying, the dukha is there in the morning in the form of a hangover. This dukha is there in everything in life, not only in alcohol. So,the other quality of a great yogi is to find calm in the midst of circumstances.” “And, third is sarva bhuta hite ratah - one who has the welfare of all living beings in his heart. No beings are different. If I am hitting you, I am hitting myself. So, if you keep these three things in your mind, then spiritual progress is not something mysterious. It is not like there is something to be whispered in the dark of the night. Move forward, follow the teachings.” “Sometimes, there is the danger that you worship the teacher. Suppose, I am standing outside the gate and you come to me and you ask me, how do I go to Haveri? So, if I know the direction, I say this is the way. Now, what do you do? You go to Haveri. Instead, if you stand there and garland me, do aarti to me, light lamps, will you reach Haveri? You can have gratitude, which is fine. The main thing is to be grateful to the teacher. To listen and see what he says, how he lives, how to empty the ego.” “All sadhanas are meant to bring about this change in us so that we realise that the spark of Supreme All-Pervading Being which rests inside every heart. Its nature itself is happiness and bliss and if you touch that, you will not be dependent on anything. But until then, know that the other person also has the same spark in his heart. The human body is a moving temple of God;the Lord sits within. So, Manav Seva is actually serving the lord. So, if somebody bows down to me, I bow down a little more because they are also divine. If we lead a life like that, our problems will be solved.” “This message should go from this country because this country has been the center of spiritual development for thousands of years. It has professed – Loka samasta sukinoh bhavanti, which is not just my house but also that of others. What better message is there? This is all thanks to the people here and to Davangere for welcoming us. I don't have more to say because my walk is my talk. So, thank you very much.” “Om Shanti ShantiShanti.” After the Satsang and a vote of thanks, the gathering dispersed and the padayatris rested after dinner.

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