With the first light of the day, the padayatris left Kollam Central Library at 6.00 am—a group of 100 walkers enthusiastically heading to the next halt in Kollam district. Groups of people are leaving and re-joining the Walk on a regular basis. Being the weekend, new people as well as those who had walked a couple of days earlier, joined the Walk. The group numbered 150 almost, for a while, as the day progressed.
The first stop, 3 kms from the starting point, was at Jonapuram Mosque, featuring the Dargahs of Sufi mystics, Bappuji Thangal and Valiya Thangal. Jonapuram is a fishing hamlet with inhabitants belonging to different religions. Sri M spent a brief time here in silent prayer. The head priest of the mosque addressed the padayatris and prayed fervently for the success of Walk of Hope.
The group proceeded to another stop at The Infant Jesus Church, all the stops being within 3 kilometers from the starting point. The team offered prayers here for peace and harmony. At 7.45 am, the padayatris had breakfast at a Satsangi’s residence. Thereafter, the group walked until 9.00 am. They were greeted by children inmates of Shree Balashramam Orphanage at Poovanpuzha. The children sang bhajans to greet the group.
Today, the Arabian Sea formed the perfect backdrop to the Walk. Mostly, the Walk proceeded along the route that ran parallel to the sea. Once the city limits were left behind, the beach and the sea stretched out on the left side unto the distant horizon merging with the perfect blue skies. The waft of the sea was prominent in the air and the breeze a gentle caress for the perspiring padayatris. The sea, just a few hundred meters away for most of the Walk, instilled much energy and spirit to the yatris.
At the Neendakara Bridge, the padayatis were welcomed by the sight of dolphins frolicking at the confluence of the Ashtamudi Lake and Arabian Sea.This was in sharp contrast to the stretch of walk in some places today. Heavy incoming traffic and the humid air, filled with smoke and dust from the vehicles, created a smog-like atmosphere on the road. With the sun beating down relentlessly, the loud noise from vehicles added to making these stretches the most difficult for the day.
At 11.00 am, the group reached the halting point — Arya Samajam’s guesthouse, Neendakara—after a walk of 15.5 kms. Some of the padayatris moved to a comfortable hotel, a couple of kilometers away. About 15 people remained at the Samiti along with Sri M. In the afternoon, this group spent some time in his company, a quiet and contemplative session.
After lunch and rest, the group of padayatris and the local fishing community gathered for the satsang at 5.30 pm. Sri M walked to the seashore and spent some time on the beach before proceeding to the venue. The satsang started off with bhajans. It was indeed a beautiful and remarkable setting, as the stage was set in the middle of a fishing village on the beach– a mere 20 metres away from the sea. The local community shared their concerns with Sri M and sought his guidance and advice. Sri M’s address began at 6.15 pm, just as the sun was setting and the sky looked resplendent with a million hues of blue and red. A truly magical hour, the wind joined in as well, strong and resolute, bringing in a transcendental quality to the session.
Sri M spoke of how happy he was to be in this setting, terming it the best since the Walk began. He said that the Walk of Hope should percolate to the grassroots of society like it did today. He stated the story of Rishi Vyasa for he too hailed from a fishing community as did his mother, Satyavati.
Sri M related the search for the Truth to the life of fishermen—they go out to the sea everyday yet the catch is never assured. So too is the quest of a Yogi. Most often, he does not get close to the Truth or even get a glimpse of it—being in the quest of Truth does not guarantee that one is going to reach it. He stated that one must work very hard for it. Life is like this too. There is no assurance of anything. One should learn to live in the lap of insecurity and perpetual change.
Sri M moved on to Bhakti Yoga, the 12th Chapter of the Bhagwad Gita, and the qualities of a Bhakta described in the said chapter. He spoke of moderation in all of one’s actions and added that Bhakti purifies the mind.
He concluded the satsang by inviting the local community to join the Walk of Hope. After the chanting of OM and a few minutes of silence, he called upon stage a satsangi to narrate his experience of the Walk so far. The evening became much more relaxed due to the concluding announcement that the shorter walk of 10 kms on Monday meant the morning departure of the Walk would be at 7.30 am instead of 6.00 am.
The group dispersed for dinner amidst the boisterous mirth of children playing on the beach. They were also enriched by the day spent with a local community, understanding their simplicity and way of life first hand.