Walk of Hope has been in Kolhapur district for the past three days. Today was a day of rest but Sri M met many visitors who had come to see him—at least a hundred and fifty people today.Later in the evening, Sri M had an interaction with the walkers for more than 1.5 hours which was a strictly private affair.
Towards the end of the interaction, there were torrential rains. The satsang took place in a hall with a tinnedroof that tends to increase the sound of the rain manifold. The satsangis sat there listening to the sound and fury of rain. It was followed by an leisurely dinner and interaction under a clear blue sky, accompanied by a cool breeze. In general, there was an ambiance of relaxation—while some slept, the others indulgedin the luxury of merry-making till late into the night. Before the evening program, the padayatris had spent the day being occupied with their necessary tasks.
Many padayatris visited the prominent Mahalakshmi temple in the city of Kolhapur. This ancient city is referred to in the Devi Gita—the final and key chapter of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, a special text of Shakta tradition. Kolhapur is noted here as a place of Kollamma worship.
The stay for the third consecutive day in this place seems to have done well to the padayatris. The complex where they have stayed stands facing a sugarcane plantation; on three sides, there is nothing but open land. The area has two roads cutting across in a perpendicular fashion and the compound is situated where they meet. Towards the south, the land is elevated and all we see from here is the open sky. Towards the west, there is rocky outgrowth and grasslands—the tall grass rustles in the wind the whole daylong. And towards the east, there are a few trees, witness to this emptiness. At night, one can see the distant city lights that shimmer in the darkness.
The padayatris have enjoyed staying in this quietness.The minus point being that the city is not easily accessible, if one needs to replenish one’s supplies or go sightseeing. A few padayatris have brought their cars and they have been very considerate in taking as manyof their companions along with them as possible or bytaking a list of things to be fetched for those who cannot accompany them. There being no care about the customary loading and off-loading of luggage, the late evenings and early mornings were not as frenzied as they have been usually. The parivrajakas caught up on sleep and this has led to being well rested.
The variance in the temperature has been quite extraordinary here. With temperature being around 22 degrees in early part of the nights, one needed at least a thin bedsheet to cover one’s body. Later in the night, the temperature dropped even further. It remained cool until dawn but with the sun slowly rising higher in the skies, the coolness gradually vanished with every passing hour. With the sun at its zenith, the temperature must have been around 35 degrees. On some days, the heat was dry and on other days, it had been unbelievably humid. Usually, there was no dew in the mornings but yesterday, many saw it for the first time.
What a grand unification this group is all about! There are people from all over the place, there are people of different faiths and religions, with so many ideologies, and they come from different backgrounds, even different countries. Some are quiet, some are outgoing, some do not talk at all and there are others who don’t stop talking. There are people who are the center of attraction of any gathering and there are those who are aloof. Each has their own strength and weakness. There are smaller groups and factions within the group, at times these are in conflict with each other. Sometimes, they argue and there are instances of anger, which eventually and invariably culminates in reconciliation later.
The group is a mixed one with many opinions and suggestions. There is a mix of everything like a good Indian thali—so many flavours and so many spices; each one lending a new relish to the thali. Without diverse inclinations, things would be bland. All the same, there is an underlying message of unity in diversity here.
In every padayatri's heart, no matter whoever it is, there is love for the fellow padayatris. It is certain that in times of need, no one from the group will ever find himself or herself alone. The group is large enough and has space for dissent. No matter what the external disagreement might be, there is agreement at the core. When we walk, we walk as One, moving as a unit. This is the underlying message of Walk of Hope - that Unity is possible. And, they seem to be examples of unity in diversity. What would it be like, looking to the future, a year, ten, or even a hundred years later? Would it be recorded and remembered in the books of history? Would the inner journey be complete at least for a few of them?
Who can answer this but Time itself?