On Day 11 of the Walk of Hope, the padayatris set forth from the New Guest House, Sivagiri at 6.00 am. A kilometer into the walk, the group stopped at Nataraja Guru Ashram.
The Ashram is also the Samadhi of Nataraja Guru, a disciple of Narayana Guru and a social reformer. Born in Mysore, he graduated from the Trinity College, Ceylon, earned an MA from Presidency College, Madras and, later, attended the prestigious Sorbonne, Paris where he was awarded a D.Lit. He founded Narayana Gurukulam, a guru-disciple foundation open to all who seek the wisdom of the absolute. Nataraja Guru has translated to English & written commentaries on all of the major works of Narayana Guru. He has also written on a wide variety of subjects which include Sree Narayana Guru's biography titled ‘The Word of the Guru’, and other books like ‘An Integrated Science of the Absolute’ and ‘Independent commentary on Bhagavat Gita’.
The Ashram has a large library and the Samadhi of Nataraja Guru is in the center of the library, emphasizing the quest for knowledge. The library setting of mahogany wood with classic reading desks, books on eastern & western philosophy, anthropology, literature, poetry, spirituality—ancient yellowing books amidst new crisp ones—seems a nostalgic witness to a past era. Sri M and the walkers spent some time here in meditation and contemplation. A few members of the commune too joined in.
At 6.30 am, the padayatris left the Ashram and reached the Narayana Gurukulam, a short distance away. Nataraja Guru founded the Gurukulam in 1923 for teaching unitive understanding and universal brotherhood. Open to all who seek the wisdom of the Absolute (Brahma Vidya), the yellow fellowship is meant for lay disciples who wish to confirm to the Gurukula way of life by accepting its motto of ‘One caste or race, One religion and one God for man’.The Gurukulam now has centers throughout the world. The group had a short tea break at the Gurukulam.
Proceeding further, 8 kms from the starting point, the group also distributed Walk of Hope leaflets along the way, with information regarding time and venue of the evening satsang. Around 9.00am, breakfast was served at a Satsangi’s residence along the route. As is now the practice, Sri M was welcomed and honoured by the local community in many localities.
At 10.35 am, the group reached the culminating point for the day – Community Hall, Parippally, after walking a distance of 14.79 kms. Arrangements for the stay were made at SRT Tourist Home, about a kilometer away. Cars, organized by local volunteers, plied the padayatris to and fro between the Hall and the Tourist Home.
As the group reached early at its destination today, they utilized the extra time to walk in the town and, soon, many local people and school children, joined in. Walking in the town’s thoroughfare, the team of 100 walkers swelled to 150 in no time. Today,the group also had the experience of walking on a slightly elevated gradient for the first time—a challenge that was met with grace and will power.
After lunch and some rest, the padayatris gathered at the Community Hall for satsang. After an exquisite session of bhajans rendered by a local group, Sri M felicitated the singers who participated.
Just after 6.00 pm, Sri M started his address with an invocation from the Rig Veda – "Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti" (The truth is one, the wise call it by different names). The essence of the message was that there are many religions but only one God. He spoke about his Guru, Maheswarnath Babaji—who was like a magnet and transformed him—and, added further, that a Guru is the dispeller of darkness and ignorance.
He then dwelt upon one of his favourite analogies—explaining the nature of man’s pursuit of Truth with the story of the Kasturi Mriga (Musk Deer). Kasturi Mriga is found in the lower Himalayan forests and emits a beautiful fragrance in certain seasons. The deer goes high and low in search of the aroma, poking it’s muzzle in thorny bushes, unaware that the source of this aroma is within it’s own body. The Truth is that which brings everlasting happiness and is always present but man searches for it everywhere. The inner self (the ‘paramatma’) is the source of all happiness, and it is within us and in our reach all the time. Looking for it elsewhere, outside us, is the reason we suffer.
Sri M mentioned that the padayatris had cleaned the street leading to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. While maintaining external cleanliness is paramount, it is the cleanliness of our minds that really matters. Purifying the mind is of utmost importance.
Deviating from the trend till now, Sri M called upon stage a few padayatris, asking them to speak. They narrated to the audience their reasons for joining the Walk, their experiences so far and also their perspectives about the Walk of Hope. They expressed their heartfelt gratitude to Sri M, for his blessings and for the opportunity to participate in the padayatra for peace and harmony.
The satsang came to an end with the chanting of OM and a few minutes of meditation.
The group had dinner at 8.00 pm and retired for a well-deserved night of rest.