Day 104 | 25 April 2015 | Davangere to Harihar | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Filing past the Bathikere lake, Davengere, Karnataka
    1.Filing-past-the-Bathikere-lake,-Davengere,-Karnataka
  • Mini Satsang under the Peepal Tree, Dodda-Bathi, Davengere, Karnataka
    2.Mini-Satsang-under-the-Peepal-Tree,-Dodda-Bathi,-Davengere,-Karnataka
  • A lovely collection of faiths, Harihar, Karnataka
    3.A-lovely-collection-of-faiths,-Harihar,-Karnataka
  • Seeking Sri M's blessings en-route to Harihar
    4.Seeking-Sri-M
  • Warm reception at Shrine of Our Lady of Health, Harihar,-Karnataka
    5.Warm-reception-at-Shrine-of-Our-Lady-of-Health,-Harihar,-Karnataka-)
  • Inside the Shrine of Our Lady of Health, Harihar, Karnataka
    6.Inside-the-Shrine-of-Our-Lady-of-Health,-Harihar,-Karnataka
  • A pleasant walk as clouds block the fierce sun, Bathikere, Davengere
    7.A-pleasant-walk-as-clouds-block-the-fierce-sun,-Bathikere,-Davengere,-Karnataka
  • After breakfast, at Dodda Bathi, Davengere
    8.After-breakfast-at-Dodda-Bathi,-Davengere,-Karnataka
  • Day 104, the Padayatra enters Harihar, Karnataka
    9.Day-104,-the-Padayatra-enters-Harihar,-Karnataka
  • A winsome twosome watch the Padayatra in Harihar, Karnataka
    10.A-shrouded-winsome-twosome-watch-the-Padayatra-in-amusement,-Harihar,-Karnataka
  • 11.Walk-of-Hope-in-Karnataka-25-April-2015
  • Mature beyond his years, he gets it, Harihar, Karnataka
    12.Mature-beyond-his-years,-he-gets-it,-Harihar,-Karnataka
The yatris congregated at 5.30 am and started the walk on a cool morning. The rains in various parts of the state had brought down the summer temperature and the weather turned pleasant. Today’s destination point is Harihar, just about 17 kilometers from Davangere.

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Walking under the overcast grey skies with a threat of rain, the cool weather and the absence of the sun, for most of the walk, made today’s 17 kilometers seem far shorter than usual. Today’s walk was also set in more populous regions and one came across many houses and settlements with onlookers watching the padayatra with curiosity and wonder. Some of them came forward to seek Sri M’s blessings. As the walk proceeds further to the North of Karnataka, the demographics change with religious diversity also widening. It is easy to see that people from all the three major religions live together in these parts. They stopped at a Satsangi’s house on the way, where breakfast was organized. After a couple of short breaks and the customary refreshments, they reached the halting point for the day—The Shrine of Our Mother of Health—quite early. Harihar, also known as Harihara, is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Harihar,as per Hindu thought, is a deity, combining the two main Gods, Vishnu (Hari) and Siva (Hara). This place is famous for a Harihareshwara temple, which is also known as "Dakshina Kashi". The famous temple with its beautiful architecture was built in the 12th century during the times of the Hoysalas. There is a myth attached to the temple and the place. In ancient days, this place was known as 'Guharanya’ - a dense jungle and habitat of a demon Guhasura. He possessed a boon that no human or Rakshasa or God can kill him. Filled with pride and the feeling that he was immortal, he started harassing people in the region. The main deities of Vishnu and Shiva came together in a new avatara called Hari – Hara (Harihara) and killed the demonic Guhasura.  Davangere and Harihar are twin cities; Hariharon the banks of the Tungabhadra is now an industrial hub with major names like Kirloskar and Aditya Birla setting up plants here. Sadly, there being no exception to the norm in the current Industrial age, the Tungabhadra has been polluted due to the release of effluent waste from the industries set up here. The Shrine of Our Mother of Health has a very interesting story behind its inception. A Brahmin by caste, while bathing in the Tungabhadra, accidentally fell into the swelling waters. On the verge of drowning and in great fear of death, he saw the floating statue of Our Lady of Health and caught hold of it, which eventually saved his life. With gratitude, he brought the statue home. His wife and children, on touching the statue of Our Lady of Health, were miraculously and providentially healed of their diseases-tuberculosis and paralysis respectively. From then on, he dedicated himself completely to the service of Our Lady and also his house, to the glory of the Mother. Soon after his death, he was laid to rest in a place where his house existed. Later on, the house, situated on the banks of the river, was converted into a church. The people of Karnataka, irrespective of caste, language and religion, have frequented this Shrine. The church also serves as a school and has room for pilgrims passing by. Reaching the church, the yatris were assigned to rooms and halls. Men stayed in classrooms - grades UKG, LKG and grade I. Women were assigned to rooms on the third floor and men helped them to carry up their luggage. Post lunch and some rest, Sri M and many padayatris attended the Evening Mass. After the Mass, the padayatris and people from the locality, numbering about 250 to 300, gathered in the open church ground for the evening Satsang. Father Santosh welcomed the gathering and quoted from Bible verses that touched on the message of Walk of Hope. After this, Father Stanley D. Souza welcomed Sri M and requested him to address the gathering. Sri M began his address thus,  Om, Sarve bhavantu sukhinah Sarve santu niraamayaah Sarve bhadraani pashyantu Maa kashchit dukha bhaagbhavet May all be prosperous and happy May all be free from illness May all see what is spiritually uplifting May no one suffer Loka samastu sukinoh bhavantu – May the entire universe be happy. “Thank you, Father Stanley D. Souza, the parish priest of the church for welcoming us. I don't know Kannada, so I will speak in English. I can speak Malayalam but then, nobody will understand that. Coming here, I met Father Santosh - a priest so young that I had to ask him his age. I thank you and all the people here and all friends from Davangere and Harihar who have been so encouraging and have treated us like old friends”. “The Service that was held before this has taken the wind off my sails, so I don't know what to say. It was a very affectionate and a very spiritually fulfilling Mass; thank you for that too, Father. Now, I want to greet every one of you here with my Namaskaaras, my Salaams and my good evenings. I don't want to say too much about the Walk, there is literature out there.” “But, this much I would like to say. We started from Kanyakumari on 12th, January 2015 because Kanyakumari is a Sangama of three great oceans. Also, Swami Vivekananda, after swimming across the sea, went to the rock, sat there and meditated to decide the course of his action. The result was the Ramakrishna Mission, which we see all over the world today. He was also a champion of communal harmony. Third, the place from where we started is called Zero Point, it is the land's end, after that there is only the sea. We said, it is ideal to start from here by dissolving our egos with the ocean and becoming Zero. This is a Walk of Hope and only God knows what will happen.”  “We should start by emptying ourselves; emptying ourselves of all thoughts, of all pretences, false and mistaken deeds which we may have committed in our lives - although, in some philosophical and mystical literature, shunya is given the status of the Supreme Being himself. Now, we are on our way. We have covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala and we are now in Karnataka. Almost, in 20 days, perhaps will pass Karnataka and enter Maharashtra.” “We have gone to temples, to mutts, to churches. You know, in Kerala there are hundreds of churches and we have not missed a single one. All places have welcomed us with so much of joy. I think my hope will be fulfilled at some point. I think we have not been allowed to pass in front of any temple without being pulled inside. People wait outside with garlands and pull us in. We have gone to Darghas, we have gone to Mosques, we have gone to the Synagogue. There is not a single place of religious worship we have not gone to.” “It is so for this simple reason that we are walking, not only me, I am only a person walking in front. Even in front of me, there are persons holding the banner of Walk of Hope. Jocularly, I call them 'Banner-jis' because they are holding the banner, although they are not Bengalis. I am grateful to all those who have been walking with me, trusting a man who is mad enough to walk 7500 kilometers in the hot sun. It shows you have some faith in me”. “We have, till now, covered some 1600 kilometers. We have about 6000 odd kilometers to go. Passing through many states, the message is very simple but often we forget it. Yesterday, I talked about the Vachanas of Basavanna, about Gita, about Vedanta. There is something I may call the Christian Vedanta, which is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We, in this country, consider him a great being who walked on this earth and spread the teachings of love and compassion.” “If you read the Bible, Jesus himself says he is a parivrajaka. Atleast, we have a place to sleep, people are providing us that. Here is a man who says, 'the foxes have dens and the snakes have holes and the son of man knows not where to lay his head'. When someone asked Swami Vivekananda if he would consider Jesus to be the Son of God, he repeated that in India, he would have been an Avatar. So, Jesus was a pure-hearted being, calling people together and spreading the message of love.” “Just now, Father Santosh said 'bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them that despitefully use you'. Again, to use a Biblical reference, we are the salt of the earth; if the salt loses it’s flavour, what shall be used to provide the taste? You know how insipid it is to eat food without salt. If we ourselves lose our innate essence – the saltiness, where shall we be used, which dish will take the salt?” “While we know that we all belong to God, we should not forget this fact that we are all human beings brought into the world with great pain and affection. It is only the mother who gives birth to the child, bringing out the child with pain but showering it with affection. Men don't feel that, we probably stand outside watching, wondering what is happening. Therefore, the stress in many world religions is on the worship of the mother—the motherly aspect of God, which is called Shakti.” “Shakti is not brute force; it is love and the capacity to experience pain for the sake of bringing something new into this world. I think, we are in some way, going through those pains. I am not talking about the ordinary pains that we feel when we finish the walk but the pain of leaving our families. I am a married man and my children are also married. But, the pain of leaving your familiar surroundings, walking through the dust and heat, I think there is nothing like that.” “No peace can be found without carrying the cross; someone has to do it. Every time we have sorrow and pain, it is a blessing to us, to purify us and make us better human beings. While the aim of this Walk is to reach Kashmir in April 2016, there is not much use unless we do this inner journey of purifying our minds and above all, making ourselves humble. Compared to the vast universe, we are not even as big as a speck of dust and we think so much of ourselves”. “This Walk is meant to examine our ego and to see how we can do away with it. We can go to Srinagar and come back, everybody may hail it a big yatra, but if doing away with our ego is not achieved, it won’t be much use. Since we are in the Church, I again have to say that in The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, 'Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God'. He did not say, blessed are the Christians or blessed are the Muslims or blessed are the Hindus. He said blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God.” “Look at the Hindu system of thought, in which we have been born and bought up, every talk, every Satsang ends with 'Om Shanti Shanti Shanti' - peace. When you go to a temple and you worship God in whatever form, you are given 'prasadam'. Prasadam is not what you eat; in Sanskrit, it is peace. Peace in our hearts because in every living being, there is a spark of divinity.” “To quote St. Paul, 'Know ye not that you are the children of living God and the spirit of God dwells within you?'’You must be wondering if I have turned Christian. Christian means to live a life of good. Just like Catholic means 'all embracing'. People say he has catholic views; his views are all embracing. All the other views have come up because of society, to establish places of worship, which are necessary, I am not saying that. Basically, everyone of us can lead a pure life.” “This Shanti can also be found in other religions. When one Muslim meets another, what does he say? He says ‘As-Salam-Alaikum ‘ and ‘ Wa-Alaikum Salaam’, which means ‘May the peace of God be upon you’, and the reply is, 'may the same peace be upon you'. When you meet a Rabbi, he greets you with Shalom. Shalom is only the Hebrew version of Salaam. Everywhere, it is the same.” “In India, the ancient land, which is the birth place of ancient culture, religion and philosophy, the Vedas said 3000 years ago, ‘Ekam sat. Viprah bahudaa vadanti’ - There is one truth, the wise men may call it by different names. It is to say that wherever we are from, we are human beings like our neighbours and if I suffer, it is the same suffering that the neighbour suffers. There are children and fathers and mothers in other houses as there are in our house – let us be reminded of this, never to forget. Very often, there are forces that try to make us forget this and we will not let them. We have to say to those forces, 'Get thee behind me, Satan,’ and walk forward!” “This is the aim of this Walk and all the people who are walking with me, who are sitting here and not sitting here; you are as important to this Walk of Hope as Sri M who is leading it. I won't talk much because in our walk is embedded our talk. St. Francis of Assisi was asked once why he was not talking much and remaining quiet after the walk, he said, 'my walk is my talk'. So by this Walk of ours, we remind people that we are basically human beings with different beliefs.” “As the Gita says, always remember this, ‘Sarva bhuta hite rataha’. When asked by Arjuna who his greatest devotee was, Krishna said, the one who has the welfare of all living beings in his heart. So, I also pray to all of you, I ask all of you to pray for Walk of Hope if you cannot walk with me. If you can, walk with us for ten minutes, for fifteen minutes, for half an hour, for a day. Be with us in your mind so that we can achieve universal peace and harmony.” “It is important to note that this message should go from India to the whole world because it is this country that has welcomed everyone. The Jews have come, the Parsis have come, the Muslims have come, the Christians have come. In fact, there were Christians here in Kerala, before they were there in Rome. So, let us spread this message of universal peace, love and affection among us. I don't want to say anything more, I think I have summed up what I wanted to say.” “Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi” Following the Satsang, everyone turned in for the night after dinner.

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