Day 118 | 9 May 2015 | Halaga to Belgaum (Belagavi) | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Groups of cyclists, martial artists & skaters lead us into the City of Belgavi, Karnataka
    1.Groups of cyclists, martial artists & skaters lead us into the City of Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M sports the skater's headgear, Belgavi, Karnataka
    2.Sir sports the skater
  • The cheery lot who made our day!!, Belgavi, Karnataka
    3. The cheery lot who made our day!!, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Whew ! a young skater after a workout, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Hearty Greetings from a fellow elder, Belgavi, Karnataka
    5.Hearty Greetings from a fellow elder, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M trying his hand at one of those fancy, glitzy cycles, Belgavi, Karnataka
    6.Sir trying his hand at one of those fancy, glitzy cycles, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • A martial arts display at Sri M's behest, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Welcome on arrival in Belgavi, Karnataka
    7.Welcome on arrival in Belgavi, Karnataka)
  • The Padayatris enter Belgavi to the beat of thundering drums, Belgavi, Karnataka
    8.The Padayatris enter Belgavi to the beat of thundering drums, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Through the streets of Belgavi City, Karnataka
    9.Through the streets of Belgavi City, Karnataka)
  • Adieu to the cyclists who accompanied us on Day 118, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • On arrival at the halting point, Sri Naganur-Swamy Mutt, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M addresses students of the SG Balekundri Institute of Technology, Belgavi, Karnataka
    12.Sir addresses students of the SG Balekundri Institute of Technology, Belgavi, Karnataka)
  • Sri M addresses the gathering on the occasion of the release of Sri Ajay Kumar Singh's book, Belgavi, Karnataka
    13.Sir addresses the gathering on the occasion of the release of Sri Ajay Kumar Singh
  • Walk-of-Hope-in-Karnataka-9-May-2015-3
Leaving Halaga at 6.00 am, the padayatris took leave from Gopal Jinagouda Bharatesh Hospital—their halt for the last two days. Before departure, at least 170 children from various schools of the Sports Federation of Belgaum joined the padayatris. There were young cyclists, very young skaters and, also some who demonstrated their skills in martial arts. They walked, cycled and skated slowly, leading the procession for some time. The amateur skaters struggled to go at a slow pace and a few skidded as well. The more senior students were in the outer file to guard the younger ones. Some of the parents of these young ‘escorts’ of the padayatra joined in the spirit of participation and others to watch over their children on motorbikes, scooters and in cars. Every few hundred meters, they would stop their automobiles and wait for their children to come closer and drive off a few hundred meters again, adding colour and vigour to the procession. So, for a while, it was a rathayatra and a padayatra! The younger children and the ones on skates left after a few kilometers while those walking and a little older stayed on with the yatra till they reached the city. Sri M interacted with them and posed for photographs, sporting a skater’s headgear and with a racing bicycle.

The Journal Of Hope Archive

They reached the city of Belgaum by 9.20 a.m., walking at an easy pace. In another hour and a half, at 10.30 a.m, they reached S.G Balekundri Institute of Technology, around four kilometers from the city center. Belgaum, officially known as Belagavi is an important and historical city that serves as a transport hub between the states and also as a centre of education with many educational institutions. The present city was rebuilt in the 12th century AD. In more recent times, the city has acquired the name - "Kunda Nagari," named after Kunda, the famous ‘Mithai’ made from milk, sugar, and spices, popular here. The city is also known as the "Sugar Bowl of Karnataka" because of the abundance of sugarcane cultivation and production facilities here. Belgaum is also a foundry hub of Karnataka state, with about 200 foundries. For it’s prominence and it’s contribution, the Government of Karnataka has a proposal to make Belgaum the second capital of Karnataka, after Bengaluru. The city has its own charm and culture – falling between the commercial vibrancy of Bengaluru and the quiet and forested city of Dharwad. Gradually, the yatris have been observing the distinctive flavour of Karnataka leaning towards new characteristics as they approach the border; perhaps the change speaks of the proximity to Maharashtra. One can easily find the popular food fare of Maharashtra here – Puran Poli, Chivda and Vada Pav in the eateries. This is one of the distinctly pleasurable aspects of Walk of Hope - every fifty kilometers or so the taste of food changes and every hundred kilometers or so the cuisine itself changes. One can also see a few men with petha, a kind of turban, and women in Kasuti sarees. Outside the city, the walkers were greeted by a group of traditional drummers. This particular clan of drummers practices a rare traditional art form. These folk artists pass on their knowledge from one generation to the next with no written records and a young student has to stay with the group for many years to learn this art form. Unfortunately, this folk art nurtured for many centuries is in danger of being washed away with the waves of change. For the time being, the padayatra had the privilege of being led by a band of these drummers and people stopped to watch the procession. The crowd was around three hundred and fifty strong by the time they through the city. They reached S.G Balekundri Institute of Technology at around 11.00 a.m and were greeted by students and teachers. The Institute has been named after Shri Shivappa Gurubasappa Balekundri, a civil engineer and irrigation expert. He was the Chief Engineer and architect of Malaprabha, Ghataprabha, Alamatti and Narayanapur dams of the south, north and eastern regions of Karnataka. He is best remembered today as the second Visvesvaraya – the famous engineer of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam in Mysore (KRS). The Institute has five academic departments with qualified faculty. The sprawling campus has a lot of greenery and many open grounds; at the center is a temple, surrounded by Rudrakasha trees. Here, Sri M briefly addressed a congregation of students, teachers, a few locals and some padayatris. His address started thus “Om SahaNau-Avatu Saha Nau Bhunaktu Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih Om, May God Protect us Both (The Teacher and the Taught) May we both be Nourished May we work together with Energy and Vigour May our study be enlightening and give rise to no hostility Om, Peace, Peace, Peace 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.” “I thought that since it is a college, I will speak in English. I know Hindi but I will speak in English. As was said about Walk of Hope, I will first give you a brief introduction and then, we will discuss the reasons behind this walk, which has reached here in Belgaum, your institution. It started on 12th of January of 2015, on the birth anniversary of a great man, who travelled the length and breadth of this country. Will you guess his name? Swami Vivekananda.” “He was a great champion of communal harmony. When he started the Ramakrishna Mission, somebody asked him, what is the aim of this? What is the essence of your teaching? What is the essence of Vedanta? He said, it's very simple - all living beings are essentially divine. It ma ynot be evident sometimes but essentially, they are divine; to manifest that divinity, either through work, or through devotion, or through meditation, or through service of humanity is the essence of Vedanta. Everything else is subsidiary.” “Now, I started from there remembering this.” (Sri M shifts his physical position a bit) “I am sorry for shifting up and down, this is an old engine, so there is some wear and tear. We have done 2000 kilometers till today. This is not a ratha yatra; this is a padayatra. Swamiji said sit and speak, it is better to stand and speak because if you sit too much, it is difficult to stand up again. We have 5000 kilometers more to go. We will probably, with everything going fine, reach Srinagar, Kashmir in April 2016. If that is done, we would have completed our walk. In a few days, we are entering Maharashtra. Our friends in Maharashtra are waiting for us to come; I tell them that you have snatched the name of India for yourself, we should have called the country Maharashtra but you have called your state already that.” “Now, moving on to the aim and the genesis of why I started walking. You must remember that in essence, we are all human beings. Everyone of us was born from the womb of a woman. Has anybody fallen from the sky one day? No. Everybody was born from the womb of a woman. And only a mother knows the pain of carrying and delivering a child. Therefore, if you put all mothers together, you get Bharat Mata. At least, for us. We eat here; we are looked after here. So we bear allegiance to the mother. And, finally all of us, end in the earth. Nobody dies on Mars. Therefore, we don't even have to look at religions, we are all one.” “And, religions were made to bring humanity together. At some point, depending upon the situation, different doctrines were taught, depending upon the people. This was basically to bring people together. Therefore, if you see anybody trying to divide people, my suggestion to you young people is to run away from there. As, you have to live together not only for the oneness of this country, you also have to live together for your own goodness.” “Don't take what is not good from anybody. And, if you see that something threatens the unity of humanity, shun it. I am only suggesting. You can do what you like. Every human being has the independence to act and think. Never compromise your thinking process. This is the message of humanity which Manav Ekta Mission is putting forward.” “Now, I was looking at different religions. I have studied in the Himalayas for many years. I have lived with my master, Maheshwarnath Babaji, who of course was from the Nath Sampradaya. But he was a man who taught beyond all sampradayas. For him, life was one, humanity was one, the inner Atman of everybody was one. Therefore, he taught me to always look at human beings as one without caste, creed or religion, and ideologies. I know that there are lots of good people who don't believe in God. So what! If they are good people, they are religious.” “Please remember this. Don't let anybody mislead you. This is my teaching. When I entered Karnataka, I slowly began to understand the philosophy of Basavanna and his Vachanas. We stayed in many Mathas and we were welcomed heartily. When we departed from there, we were given the translation of Vachanas because I cannot read Kannada. Starting from Tumkur, I have been going through them. They support our view point that humanity is one.” “Follow simple matters like not causing injury to others, not lying, leading a life of straight forwardness, and above all, and think that we may not be the greatest but the lowest of the low. There are other great people who are greater than us. If we live like this and move forward, then we are actually living the philosophy of this padayatra, which is Walk of Hope. This is our hope.” “Why walk? When one walks, one actually comes across people. I have gone in a car many times across this road. I have never been to any Mathas. Why? That is so because we are always in a hurry to go somewhere. This walk is helping us reach people at the grass roots. In English, there is a statement - 'down to earth' - I think it is best demonstrated by this walk. When our feet are on the earth, we see what we normally don't see. Poor people, rich people, labourers, agricultural workers - I meet them all over the country as we walk”. “What we have found, to our satisfaction, is that everyone we meet is happy and that human beings should live together. Sometimes, we forget. Either someone persuades us for their vested interests or out of anger or out of resentment or out of competition. We begin to discriminate between this and that. If we do not allow anyone to dissuade us and stick to this understanding that we are human beings first of all and we will remain human beings forever, then the ancient statement which I started with, ‘Sarve bhavantu sukhinah - May all the world be happy’ and ‘Loka samasta sukinoh bhavantu - May the entire world be happy would come true.’ “It may not be easy. But you, the young people here, should get this into your minds, so when you grow up and become tomorrow’s citizens of this country, you will remember this. Also remember when you grow up, you will probably tell your children and grand children that there was a mad man walking in the sun, twenty to twenty five kilometers everyday, whose intention was to get people together. I am sure you will remember this at some point.” “Thank you very much. Namaskara.” Following this, the padayatris were assigned their places of rest. Barring the elderly, who were put up in rooms, other men were given lodging in a large hall. The women yatris were assigned rooms with three to four sharing a room.The campus management organized lunch and the food was enjoyed by one and all. After some rest, in the evening, the padayatris were transported in the Walk of Hope bus to a hall next to the Ashok Hospital, for a book release event. The book titled 'Allama Mattu Kabira’ (Allama and Kabir) is the Kannada version of the PhD thesis of Dr. Ajai Kumar Singh. This thesis is a comparative study of Allama Prabhu and Kabir. The thesis deals with the structure of language, meaning, influences and reverberations of the poems of the two great poet saints. Allama Prabhu was a poet-saint of 12th Century, who composed ‘Vachanas’ - the poetic expressions of Veershaiva philosophy, in Kannada language. Allama Prabhu's poetic style has been described as mystic and cryptic. He was staunchly against any form of symbolism, occult powers and their acquisition, temple worship, conventional systems and ritualistic practices to the point of being critical of even fellow Veerashaiva devotees and poets, if found indulging in these practices. Kabir was a mystic poet-saint,whose writings found a place of distinction in the Bhakti movement. As a unrelenting critic of society, Kabir's ‘Dohas’ appealed for the poor and the oppressed and were critical of hypocritical practices and austerities. Kabir composed in an earthy style, replete with surprise and inventive imagery. His Dohas resonate with praises for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience.Like many others of the oral tradition, Kabir too shared his compositions in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects, including Avadhi, Braj, and Bhojpuri. Dr. Ajai Kumar Singh, the author of the book, is a person of many distinctions. He is a retired Director-General and Inspector-General of Police (DG-IGP), Karnataka. Hailing rom Sirsaganj in Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Singh has held various posts over three long decades of service. His scholarship, apart from being evident in the mentioned thesis, also finds an expression through his compositions and publication of a few volumes of poetry. He has also translated Sri M’s autobiography into Hindi. This distinguished person has been walking as a participant of the padayatra from Kanyakumari and plans to go all the way to Kashmir. His wife, Tara Ajai Singh, who retired as Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka, too is a part of the padayatra and is walking all the way. There were around hundred and fifty people in the hall including representatives of the region. Dignitaries included Professor M.M Kalburgi, Dr K. Premakumar, the translator of the book into Kannada, Professor Siddhalinga Pattanashetty and Sri Ravi of the Dr. Basagarahalli Ramana Trust. The two hour long program, which saw speeches by these scholars, culminated in a short address by Sri M. He commenced his address thus – “Namaskaara! That is the only Kannada I know. I will speak in Hindi now. Ajai Kumar Singh called me here, asked me to preside, and I am here. Otherwise, I do not know much about these literary matters.” “Very few people know about Allama Prabhu in North India. So, the study done by Ajai Kumar Singh, in the comparison between Allama Prabhu and Kabir, is very good for North India. I have travelled a lot in the Himalayas and in other parts of north India; it’s only when I came here and visited many Veerashaivaite Maths, that I have started to know a little bit about Veerashaiva philosophy.” “Wherever we went in Karnataka, the Swamis of the Maths were very warm and they welcomed us. They said that this is good work going on. So, I think that our philosophies must be similar; otherwise, how could they welcome us. Then, in Sirigere Math, for the first time, Dr. Shivacharya of the Taralabalu Math, gave me a collection of Vachanas translated into English. It was an old translation. He gave me the book and I started reading it. I searched for Allama Prabhu on my iPad and I found out a few translations. I found out that Allama Prabhu spoke about high thoughts that one finds in Vedanta. Basavanna's vachanas, on the other hand, are very easy to understand but very difficult to practice in life. While reading Allama Prabhu's work, one has to think a lot because it has many high and great thoughts.” “I only know this much and not more. I have understood the simple things - do not steal, do not lie, do not harm another, do not commit violence towards another and the greatest thing being - consider yourself the smallest of the small. Kabir Das says the same thing. But their views are from two different places; Allama Prabhu looked from one place and Kabir looked from another. Now, it is a sangama! With this book and this translation that Premakumarji has done, I think that people of Karnataka will understand Kabir better. They will understand that many rivers that flow from four directions meet together at some place in a sangama. When we return after reaching Srinagar, I have a desire to go and visit Kudala Sangama. I have heard that Bagalkot, the Sangama of Krishna and Malaprabha, is nearby and I want to visit. But, since we are walking, I cannot go now.” “This sangama of Allama Prabhu and Kabir that has been done by my very good and old friend, Ajai Kumar Singh, is a good work. I have written this in the book before giving it to him; I have said that do more such good works so that people may come to know that the sangam is One.” “Let me conclude this talk. So, Namaskara and Thank you!” Following this, the padayatris were transported back and it was about 9.30 pm when they reached the Balekundri campus. After a late dinner, they turned in for the night at 11.00 pm. Since tomorrow is a rest day, they were not so concerned about the late hours and were generally relaxed. The day was long and tiring yet eventful.


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  1. Well Dressed Beggar says:

    ‘M’ for MasterCycle 🙂

  2. Well Dressed Beggar says:

    Jai Gurudeva… Jai Maheshwarnath… Jai Kriya Babaji…Jai Sarva Santajana…

  3. Well written.

    The pictures and the journal help me to walk the walk with Sri M in a small way. Thanks for doing this.

    The mini-profiles of the walkers (JC yesterday , Ajai Singh today) adds to the flavors of the report.

    Thanks for the seva.

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