Day 120 | 11 May 2015 | Belagavi to Bhutramahatti | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • An interview as we walked, Muttyanatti, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sunrise while we were at Sunset avenue! -Hindalco Colony, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • A quick-read-as-I-do-our-breakfast, Yamanpur, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • A Mayflower tree in full bloom as WOH marches on, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • 'Anyone for tea', near-Yamanpur, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • An all-encompassing walk, near Honaga,-Belgavi, Karnataka
  • 'What are these people up to', a hair-stylist near Honaga, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • An impromptu Satsang, Kakati, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri Siddharama Swamy of Naganur Mutt joined the Padayatra on Day 120,-as it left Belgavi
  • 'This is a blessed child', Muttyanatti, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Unusually bad visibility as WOH crossed Belgavi City Karnataka
  • Traditional Welcome to Sri M at Yamanpur, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • 'This tea-stall could be an ad for Manav Ekta', Kakati, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • 'Cool, breezy and unlike summer'-says Sri M, Gugrenatti, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Every day is Mother's Day, Honaga, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • The exhibition of pictures narrating incidents during Swami Vivekananda's stay in Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M in lively conversation with Swami Atma Pranananda & Swami Thadroopananda, Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Swami Thadroopananda's melodious Bhajan at Sri Rama Krishna Mutt, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M just before his talk on Sri Rama Krishna at the Ashram, Belgavi, Karnataka
  • Sri M speaking on Sri Rama Krishna at the Ashram, Belgavi, Karnataka
The yatris have been staying at S.G Balekundri Institute of Technology for the last two days and tonight was the last of their stay here. Packing their bags is a daily chore that is usually avoided during their stay at a point for more than a night. Not having to do so entailed more sleep time and they were fresher in the morning on this day. After a cup of coffee, the padayatra started in complete darkness and walking through empty streets, they reached outskirts of the city.

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This morning seemed a bit unreal with everything around them shrouded in mist. The padayatra proceeded quietly on the road lined by majestic, ancient and towering oak trees. Clouds seemed to touch the ground and one could not see beyond a few feet. There was a nip in the air and it was hard to believe that the same road would see sweltering heat a few hours later. The mist lasted for quite a while; it enveloped the Yatra of Hope, even after they reached the highway. The first tea break meant sitting quietly on the pavement, in the cold mist and enjoying the warm liquid. Such an ambience naturally brings stillness to anyone. The padayatra proceeded slowly and took almost 6 hours to cover the distance of 19 kilometers to reach Bhutramahatti. Apart from the odd cluster of houses now and then, they came across Honaga, a small village, before reaching Bhutramahatti - also a small village. As the sun came up, the mist retreated and once the veils were lifted, the participants found themselves near vast farmlands on one side and cut-rock hills on the other. The terrain changed once again; the ground was rockier in nature. The road, at places, had been built by blasting through the hills, and once or twice they climbed and descended a small hillock. The service road they were walking on was clean and well maintained. At 9.00 am, after breakfast at a roadside dhaba, the sun rose higher and this meant that the heat began increasing. The walkers did not come across any large settlements today; the walk was relatively quiet and uneventful. On reaching Bhutramahatti, the tired padayatris were offered refreshments organised by the Police Department. After this, the Walk of Hope bus conveyed them back to S.G Balekundri Institute of Technology—the resting point for the day. Lunch was served soon after the arrival and the padayatris took a rest. In the evening, at around 5.00pm, the walkers gathered on the college grounds and soon after, they were taken to Ramakrishna Mission in the Walk of Hope bus. The Ramakrishna Mission is within a fort and the bus stopped outside the fort. Therefore, the padayatris had to walk some distance. As soon as they reached the destination, by 5.30 pm or so, it started raining heavily. With an hour or so on their hands, some of them sat quietly, a few chatted away and some browsed through the bookstore. Soon, there were bhajans followed by Aarti and then, Sri M held a Satsang on 'Sri Ramakrishna, the spiritual scientist'. Swami Vivekananda visited and stayed in Bealgavi in 1892, for 13 days. The first few days, he stayed in the house of an eminent lawyer of the city. The lawyer quickly realized that he had a great person residing at his home and informed this to all the important people of the city. Soon people thronged to see the Swami. One of these persons invited Swamiji to stay in his bungalow, which was in the fort and it was here that he stayed for 9 days. Swami Vivekananda had many talks with him and these have been recorded. Later, the Ramakrishna Mission of Belgaum was developed on the land around this bungalow. Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission in the year 1897. The inspiration behind the mission came from one,whom Swami Vivekananda called “AvataraVarishtaya”—Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, “the aim of the Sangha is to preach those truths which Sri Ramakrishna has, for the good of humanity, preached and demonstrated by practical application in his own life, and to help others to put these truths into practice in their lives for their temporal, mental and spiritual advancement." It was for “Atmano Mokshartham Jagat Hithaya”, the Liberation of the Self and for the Good of the World. Ramakrishna Maths and Ramakrishna Mission together are referred to as the Ramakrisna Order. The Math and the Mission take up charitable and philanthropic activities; the former lays more emphasis on spiritual development of the people and the latter gives priority to welfare work in nearby communities. People trickled in despite the heavy rains and by the time the Satsang started, there were around 250 people in the spacious auditorium. The Satsang lasted around 45 minutes with the rain pitter-pattering gently in the background. Sri M started his address thus: “Akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāram vyāptam yena carācaram| Tatpadam darśitam yena 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 GururDevo 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.” “First of all, this talk is going to be in English. I do not like sitting with my back towards Thakur, Swamiji and Sharda Devi but there is no other way. I thank Swami Atmapoornananda, the secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission here and also Swami Tatvanandaji who has been kindly taking us around since yesterday, to show us all the places that Swamiji visited and stayed in Belgaum.” “So, dear friends, I selected the topic yesterday and after selecting it, I began to wonder if I am qualified enough to talk on this topic. Before I begin, let me mention that when Nitin introduced me as a disciple of Maheshwarnath Babaji and Sri Guru Babaji, he forgot to mention that I also got initiation from the Ramakrishna Mission, from Swami Tapasyananda. Of course, in the mission, Thakur is the only Guru but according to me whoever initiates you becomes your Guru.” “I had known Swami Tapasyananda since the days of my high school and Thakur, I had known in my mind. So, it is indeed a great privilege for me to sit here. The subject of this Satsanga is ‘Sri Ramakrishna, the spiritual scientist’.Of course, the subject is an interesting one.” “Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa had no education in the conventional sense of the word. In fact, he was admitted to a school in the village of Kamarpukur. After a couple of years, he left the school saying that ‘this school in which teachers educate how to gather money and food is not my cup of tea’ and he walked out of the school. This is diametrically opposite of what we do in our lives today.” “Then, his first experience, which we may call a spiritual experience, happened in a very unique way. It did not happen when he was sitting in a temple and meditating or when he was reading the scriptures. It happened when, as a young boy of 7 or 8, he was walking along the paddy fields with a small bag around his neck, in which there was what you call 'kurmuras' – what one eats as a young boy.” “He was a young boy. So, he was going about happily having left the school. We wonder why we are inside,while sitting in the classroom and looking out; but he was free. So, walking along the paddy field eating those eatables from a small bag, suddenly he looked up and saw dark clouds gather. The sky was dark and a flock of white cranes suddenly flew across. He was not doing japa, he was not sitting in a temple. This was an open paddy field and he was looking up at the sky. And then, he saw the white cranes fly across the dark clouds, the wondrous contrast of nature. He said 'haa' and fell down. I don't know exactly what words he said but he fell down, and he was in a trance for sometime. That was perhaps the first spiritual experience. So, this was thebeginning, the first experience.” “After some time, someone woke him up and took him back. Afterwards, he always used to describe it as a blissful experience, when he saw that contrast. We can't say that he worked hard for many years and got it. He was, from childhood, attuned to this. Later on, he himself put in a lot of effort to stabilize himself in it. My theory is that he was not an ordinary man. Anyway!” “Then, there were many other instances in his life. When he was very young, as was the practice in those days, they got him married. And, since the bride was really young, she used to live in her parent's house and he used to live in another house. She lived in a village called Jairambati which was very far.” “Many years passed by. Rani Rasmani decided to build a temple dedicated to Bhadrkali, on the banks of the Ganga. So, finally when the temple was inaugurated, she could not find a priest to take care of the temple. The reason was that she came from the fishermen's community and the orthodox Brahmins decided that they would not do pooja at her temple.” “Finally, Sri Ramakrishna's brother became the priest at the Kali temple and Sri Ramakrishna took care of Krishna; one can see this small Krishna temple on one side of Dakshineshwar temple complex. There is a story, which we will come to later. Finally, as a priest of th Kali temple, his spiritual experiments began and it was so intense that an ordinary man would have died because it was a strong sadhana. First, he started doing pooja reluctantly for Bhadrakali. By this time, he had already got initiated into the mantras required for Bhadrakali worship. Then, gradually, it became a love affair between him and the Mother Goddess, an affair in which he was a child and she was a mother. Finally, it came to the stage where someone discovered him sitting in the temple, taking flowers in his hands and instead of offering these to the mother, he put these on his own head.” “Dakshineshwar is situated on the banks of the Hooghly River; and lots of travelers pass by that way. From some of them, he learnt that to realize the Truth, which he called the Mother, one has to be very humble and consider oneself as the smallest of the small. So, he even started cleaning the footsteps leading to the Dakshineshwar temple with his own hair. He had matted hair; he was seen cleaning the temple steps with his own hair. And, day and night, forgetting to eat, forgetting to sleep, his only call was – Mother ‘reveal yourself’.” “This went on for quite some time. He did not care for anything. In fact, they were ready to hire another priest for the pooja. He was so absorbed in this sadhana, in this loving relationship with his Mother. Sometimes he would take food in his hand and hold her chin and try to feed her and ask, 'Why is she not eating?'” “Then, one day, he said, ‘I have worked very hard, I have surrendered myself, and enough is enough’. Believe me this was very scientifically done with complete attention in a very unique way, as a scientist would do. That is why I call him a scientist. He was open to studying anything, which would contribute to understanding the Truth, which he called the Mother. And then, one day, he said that enough is enough, maybe in this life this body is not fit enough to find the Truth. He thought that maybe in another body, he would find the Truth. Healso thought, without finding the Truth, this body was useless.” “So, he jumped up and picked up a sword. You know, Kali temples always have swords. Mother Goddess is described in the Tantra Marg as, 'one who has a garland of heads around her neck'. It is said here that anyone who is not ready to add another head to that garland should not worship Kali and, if you are ready to add your head to that, then it is possible that you understand a little bit of the mystery of the Mother. He took the sword and was on the verge of killing himself and, then he got his first vision—his second experience.” “The sword fell from his hand and he saw light everywhere. Believe me, at first he did not see Mother in any form, he saw Her in the form of Light, which expanded and blew him and there was only pure Light and nothing else. Moments later, the face of the Mother he worshipped appeared. She said, ‘Stay, there is time’. That was his second experience.” “The first experience was on the field, watching the white cranes against the black clouds, the second was while he was worshipping. Then, it became such an intimate relationship that he used to see the Mother everywhere. Sometimes, he saw Her as all-pervading, sometimes he saw Her as actually walking and talking and going up to Nahabhat and looking at the moon.” “But his experiment did not stop there. He was a person - I am not saying man - he was a person, a Being, who came to show that all paths lead to the goal. While this was the first, he was ready to experiment whenever the opportunity was provided. Just as other people look at how to make a career, how to make money. He often said,‘You shed jugfull of tears for money and gold, how many tears have you shed for God? How many of you do that?’” “As I said, Dakshineshwar was on the way to Ganga-Sagar. Many people went that way, and on their way, they came down to the temple and even took food. In the same manner, came Bhairavi Brahmani, who was a Vaishnava Bhairiva Tantrini. It was Bhairavi Brahmani who taught him many of the inner practices. People say that she was a disciple of the great Trailanga Swami of Benares.” “She saw this young man sitting on the banks of the river with an already glowing face. She went upto him and said, ‘I have something to teach you, are you ready?’ He said ‘yes’. He was always ready for this learning.” “In fact, somebody said that in one lifetime a normal person can do only one type of sadhana to attain one goal. Here was someone who went through many paths. So she started teaching him and she lived there for many years. It was during this time, while she was there, that she gathered a group of scholars to find out, to declare that he was not an ordinary man, but he was an ‘Avatar.’” “Scholars were called from all over India and, for three days, discussions went on under the auspices of Brahmani. Some people said yes, some people said no. Finally, it stuck them that they had not asked the person they were discussing. So, they called him, they called Gadadhar Chattopadhyay and asked him what he thought of it. Unfortunately, at that time, his arm was in a sling, for he had broken his arm while taking out something to wash. So, he came and they asked him that ‘They say you are an Avatar, what do you say?’” “He said, ‘I do not know the Shastras and all that but if I am an Avatar, this is the first time that there is an Avatar with a broken hand’. What I am trying to say is that in the case of a normal human being, if three people tell him that he is an avatar, he immediately believes it, and he advertises himself before other men. There are many Avatars nowadays!” “So, he studied from Bharavi. In this regard, I want to say that at no point in his life was Sri Ramakrishna interested in siddhis, this power or that power. His only concern was to purify the mind and reach the Supreme.There is a story that might be appropriate here. The story is that many years later, another disciple of Bhairavi Brahmini, I think his name was Sri Datta, came to Ramakrishna and said, ‘In the years that I have not seen you, I have developed a power by which a light can come out of my forehead.’ Sri Ramakrishna, in his childlike innocence said, very well. One day, they were walking in the dark from the temple, and Ramakrishna went to the forest to answer his call of nature. The story goes that Sri Datta 'switched on’ the light and lit the way. As soon as Ramakrishna saw this, he said,’This is not good for you; from now on, this won't work.’ This means that he had the capacity to do anything but he was not caught by the lure of Siddhis.” “It is important for those who do Sadhana to know this. Otherwise, people do Sadhana for ten days and want to float in the air, touch the roof and come down. This is not Sadhana; this is not spiritual life. Then, after that, whoever, whichever sadhu came, he studied from them. One Vairagi Sadhu came, who used to carry Ram-lalla whom he treated like a dear child - he fed it, bathed it and put it to sleep. After he had stayed at Dakshineshwar a while, he came crying to Ramakrishna and said, ‘What is this, now Rama-lalla does not want to go, he is saying he wants to stay with you’.” “So, from Shakta to Vaishnava to Rama-lalla, he went into every aspect of spiritual life; which is why it is said that as a scientist, he experimented with everything. He did not accept anything until he found it out, which is very interesting. And then finally, came Totapuri. This is not final, but in the Vedantic sense it is. Totapuri was a Vedantin. You know the story; he came and asked him, ‘Do you want to learn Vedanta?’ Ramakrishna said,‘Yes, but what does it entail?’ So, he said ‘come, sit down’ and he taught him.” “Now, Totapuri was from an order where one did not stay at one place for more than three days. However, at Dakshineshwar, he stayed for three months. Why? Because he thought he had found someone who was a wonderful disciple who was willing to learn. So, he started teaching. He said that ‘the highest state of Vedanta is to go into Nirvikalpa Samadhi, where there is only one Reality; I want to teach you that’.” “The story goes—Totapuri asked Ramakrishna to sit down and to fix his attention at bhrumadhya – the point between the eyebrows. He took a piece of glass and pressed hard at the point. Totapuri was a big man who was a Nanga—he was a naked sadhu. Ramakrishna fixed his attention there. Totapuri asked him to take everything out of his mind butfor ‘awareness’. But Ramakrishna said that ‘all this is fine but when he closes the eyes, the Mother is there’.” “Now, here is a real student and a scientist. Totapuri told this disciple, ‘You have to cut her off’. Can you imagine, to him Mother was the dearest, more dear than anything else, but he agreed. Why? Because he wanted to find out the Truth! To him, Truth was more important. He was instructed to use the mind as a sword and to cut her when she appeared. ‘Yes’,said Ramakrishna.” “It must have been very difficult, considering that he always kept saying Mother! Mother! He was in that state for three days. Totapuri was worried; he used to push food in his mouth now and then. The story goes that after he had finished guiding Ramakrishna, Totapuri was convinced that it was possible to attain this state even by worshipping the Mother. When he came, he did not believe. Already, the great sadhaka had thus become a teacher. His first student, one could say was Totapuri.” “After he had completed the Vedantic Sadhana, he started with Christian Sadhana. He practiced Christian prayers, carried a cross and finally had a vision in which he said that Jesus Christ came and merged into him. But what is interesting is he said that he (Jesus Christ) did not have such a sharp nose, his nose was somewhat blunt. This is an original point of view of Ramakrishna.” “Then, there was a Sufi mystic, who taught him how to do the Sufi Islamic Sadhana. Now, during that period, he did not even look at the temple because he was doing the Islamic Sadhana with total attention. Of course, he could not bring himself to eat beef; he touched it with his finger and said, enough. Similarly, he had practiced, what is known as the Vamachara. In Vamachara, there are panch-makaras and one of them is ‘Madhu’ - wine. He did not drink it; he only said 'Madhu' and he got more drunk than those who drank a bottle of wine.” “After all that, finally, he started teaching all those young boys who had started gathering around him. He embraced everybody; this is a true teacher. Every person who came to him was taught in a different way. When the Vaishnavas came to him, he never said, become a Shakta. If a Shakta came to him, if a Vedantin came to him, he taught them too.” “There is a story of how Mahendarnath Gupta met Ramakrishna for the first time. Mahendarnath Gupta had a fight with his wife and was in a garden and there he met Ramakrishna, who suddenly asked him, ‘Do you believe in God, with or without form?’ Mahendarnath was from the Bramho Samaj; all young people of those days joined the Bramho Samaj, even Swami Vivekananda did. Mahendranath said he believed in a formless God. So Ramakrishna said,‘Fine, okay’. He said ‘This God of yours, without form, is he everywhere or somewhere?’ He replied,‘He is everywhere, it is all-pervading’. Ramakrishna said, ‘If he is all-pervading, then he should also be in the stone idol of Mother, why is that excluded?’ Nobody had asked Mahendranath this before, the professors, and all the others. He said that ‘it was true and it had to be told to the others.’ Ramakrishna said,‘This is the problem, you don't know anything and you want to teach others’. Mahendranath was silent and went away thinking that he will come some other time.” “There is also a story of when he came back. One day, Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in a room and he was talking to his boys. Then, he told them a story of a temple priest, who gave opium to the peacocks and the peacocks kept coming back. Ramakrishna announced one day that ‘a peacock is coming’. After a while, Mahendarnath Gupta walked in and Ramakrishna said ‘the peacock has come’ and everybody started laughing. Mahendranath inquired from the boys as to what was happening and they described what had happened.” “His greatest discovery, apart from his spiritual discovery, was Swami Vivekananda. All the work done at Ramakrishna Mission by him and all the teachings that he gave, Swami Vivekananda said that it had all come from Thakur only and that he had only organized it. There is a story that once at Ramakrishna Mission, his gurubhais made some comments, just for fun. Swami Vivekananda went inside, got his kamandalu and kaupin, came out and was ready to leave, saying that if you know better, please run this place. They called him back and he came back.” “He told his gurubhais, do you remember the time when passing through the drought stricken village with Mathur Babu, Ramakrishna had got down from the carriage and sat down with the villagers and said that I will not move from here until Mathur Babu brings food supplies and medicines for these people. That was his compassion! Swami Vivekananda said that service of man was the greatest worship possible.” “There is another story. Swami Premananda was a very mild mannered person. Once when he was coming to Dakshineshwar, someone criticized Ramakrishna, saying that he is spoiling the young people and wondered about what he was doing there. Ramakrishna asked Swami Premananda,‘What did you do?’. Hisreply was that he just kept quiet. Ramakrishna said, ‘What kind of a man are you, someone criticized your Guru and you just did nothing? Wake up!’” “One day, Swami Niranjanananda, who was fiery by nature, was coming by a boat to Dakshineswar, crossing the river. Somebody criticized Ramakrishna, saying what kind of a man he was. He got up and shook the boat and someone fell off the boat. So he came back and proudly told Ramakrishna that this is what I did. Ramakrishna said ‘Who are you to defend me? Why did you do this, you are not supposed to do this.’” “Whenever the moneylenders came to Ramakrishna and gave him sweets, he did not touch them. He used to say, give them to Narendranath, nothing will happen to him. So Vivekananda ate a lot of sweets. Once, somebody told Ramakrishna that Narendra had started eating paan. He said that ‘Whatever he does is okay but if you do it, I won't look at your face’. This is the way he taught. He was different with everyone; he taught everyone different things, but there was no exception about sticking to the Truth.” “So, not only was he a spiritual scientist, experimenting and finding out about himself, he was also a teacher who taught each one of his disciples differently. This is the sign of a great teacher. And finally, he said that all rivers flow into the same ocean. This was found through his own personal experience and not through anything else. This is why I call him Sri Ramakrishna, the spiritual scientist.” “Now, I will conclude here. I want to end with this message, no matter which faith you belong to, please stick to your practice, lead a simple and truthful life, and do not take what belongs to others. It is very important that we lead a simple life. Sri Ramakrishna could not take what belonged to others; even with the simplest of objects, his hand would freeze. Our hands do not freeze! Even Basavanna said, ‘Don't steal’. Jesus Christ went to the extent of saying that if a man takes your cloth; give him the other cloth too. So, with this simple idea, live with control over senses and concentrate on spiritual activity. Now, outwardly, the only way to purify one’s life is to serve others.” “All this that is here, this Ramakrishna Mission, all this work, these wonderful monks, this came from a small spark of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa - an unlettered priest. When Swami Vivekananda was asked to define his master, he was quiet for some time and, then he said, 'From a speck of dust, from those blessed feet, he could have created a thousand Vivekanandas, what more can I say?'. This is Sri Ramakrishna for you.” “Thank you very much.” “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!” As the Satsang concluded, it started to rain heavily again and people had to wait once more at the venue. Dinner was served at the Mission by the monks. Once again, the padayatris were transported to Balekundri College. This was the last day here and, keeping in mind the frenzied activity that is required to prepare before the walk when one stays in a common dormitory, the padayatris retired for the night, as soon as they arrived. It was a rather long day but a bountiful one.

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  1. Well Dressed Beggar says:

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

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