The padayatris set out on their day’s mission at 6.00 am, as the January sun spread its characteristic orangeade across the eastern skies. They left Kristu Jyothis Animation Centre, Kottiyam and reached Juma Masjid, Thattamalain in an hour. Sri M spent a few minutes in prayer and contemplation at the mosque. After another 40 minutes of walking, the walkers visited the Koonambayikulam Devi Temple. The deity here is Bhadrakali, a popular form of Goddess Kali who preserves and upholds the good.
Leaving the temple, about 9 kilometers from the starting point and close to Kolloorvila Juma Masjid, the group had its breakfast stop. Resuming the walk, the group reached Sree Puthiyakavu Bhagavathy Temple at 9.50 am, where a grand reception awaited them. The group visited the temple and Sri M again spent some time in prayers for peace and harmony at the temple. Sree Puthiyakavu Bhagavathy Temple, about 200 years old, features Goddess Mahakali as its diety.
The padayatris then retraced their steps and visited the Kolloorvilla Juma Masjid, Pallimukku, where Sri M sat in prayer for a brief period. Kolloorvilla Juma Masjid, a Dargah of Kochu Thangal Uppapa (Sayyid Kochu Koya Thangal Bafaqi), is one of the oldest and biggest mosques in Kerala. Sayyid Kochu Koya Thangal Bafaqi was born in Halar town of Yemen. He was a great scholar and humanitarian who spent most of his life for the spiritual and social uplift of Kolloorvila.
The padayatris reached the halting point of the day—The Kollam Public Library—at 10.10 am. Arrangements for stay were made at the nearby International YMCA Rest House, Kollam. The group,which numbered 120 in the morning as it set out,gradually increased to 180 by the time it reached Kollam. The trend noticed is that more local people are now joining the Walk, albeit for short distances. Team Walk of Hope managed its best pace today—covering 14.5 kms from Kottiyam to Kollam in 4.10 hours, an average of 17
minutes per kilometer.
Living conditions in many of the halting places are on the spartan side—especially for people from urban areas who are used to modern conveniences. The YMCA dormitory had a tin roof and the heat in the men’s living quarters was indeed a challenge. Notwithstanding these difficulties, there is a growing sense of ‘sharing’ and ‘camaraderie’. Small things usually taken for granted have now become a luxury. To cite an instance, there is only one plug point in the living quarters to charge mobile phones, tablets and other personal gadgets. Everyone is grateful for multi-plugs that some of the padayatris have brought along, with their foresight being amply appreciated by those in need!
It is generally observed that people in rural areas have more natural and spontaneous responses to the objectives of the Walk, in comparison to people in urban areas who seem to lack this spontaneity as they go about their daily business in a more mechanical fashion.
After lunch and rest, the padayatris gathered at Sopanam Auditorium, The Kollam Public library at 5.30 pm for the satsang. Bhajans by a group of local singers was organized. Sri M felicitated the bhajan singers and started his address at 6.00 p.m.
He started by repeating the story of the four visually challengedmen who bicker amongst themselves based on their individual perception of how an elephant looks. Sri M said that everyone has their individual perspective and is correct in a way. But the truth may not be as it seems or as it appears from one angle. He then narrated an anecdote where nobody had heard of loudspeakers in Kanchipuram. When a local mosque procured them and started broadcasting at full volume in the wee hours of the morning, people started complaining. Finally, a disciple took the issue to the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Mutt. Pat came the reply from the holy seer, “Make use of it to strengthen your discipline”. Hence, it is essential we utilize our external circumstances to bolster our internal strength and ensure that our attention does not stray due to external noise.
Sri M stressed that one should observe discipline in one’s life and spend time in practice or ‘sadhana’ for at least 10 to 15 minutes, every day. Even the realized ones need some practice. The mind is like a vessel: if not cleaned frequently, on a daily basis, it gathers dirt. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa learnt this wisdom from one of his teachers, Totapuri.
A purified mind is tranquil. A tranquil mind has access to infinite energy. If not, nature possesses ‘safety valves’ that prevent impure minds from harnessing these energies.
He adds that one should not limit oneself. He drew attention to current Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, a man of humble beginnings but who has now risen to great heights. He also gave the example of Jesus. He stated that we are all fragments of the Supreme and the Supreme soul is present within all of us. It is a very simple concept that has been complicated by religions all over the world. He explained this complication in a lighter vein, with an observation from his visit to the Indian Institute of Management. The modus operandi was to take ‘street-smart’ knowledge that even a tea-vendor uses in his daily business, complicate it and then teach it to the students. This now becomes ‘valued business knowledge’. In the same way, religions have complicated the simple and natural truth.
Sri M concluded his satsang on this note. Dinner was served at 8.00 pm and the padayatris retired for the night.