Day 148 | 8 June 2015 | Rest at Akalkot | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Ceremonial welcome on arrival at Jnaana Prabodhini School, Herali
  • 3.AMAL6717
  • Sri M and the padayatris offering Arathi to mathrubhumi - Jnana Prabodhini - Herali
  • Soulful Arathi to the mathrubhumi - Jnana Prabodhini, Herali
  • Radiant in the light of the diyas - Jnana Prabodhini, Herali
    7.Radiant in the light of the Diya
  • Someone who has seen it all - calamity, resurrection and prosperity, Herali
  • Sri M in conversation with an ex- Minister of state, at Yatri Bhavan, Akkalkot
  • 'Anna' VS Thamankar greets Sri M at Jnana Prabodhini, Herali
It was a rest day in Akkalkot and the only two events of the day were a Satsang in the morning at 10.30 am and a visit to Harali village in the evening. The morning Satsang took place in a hall at the place of stay. Sri M addressed the audience of around a hundred people. “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 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.”

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Sri M said: “While this is the Guru Mantra that is chanted usually, I give a little stress on the last, the ‘Maheswara’ because then I think of my Guru, Maheswarnath Babaji. When I bow down to the guru, I bow down to him and only then proceed further. Many of you are from Akkalkot and from Maharashtra, you do not need to be told, but there are many among the padayatris who do not know much about Swami Samarth. Yesterday, I was reading a well written biography, by someone who is actually a descendant of Cholappa Ramachandra Naik, in whose house Swami Samarth lived for 22 years. Swami’s Samadhi is also nearby. The book has personal experiences that have been conveyed by their ancestors. I will read it out. It is in simple language and it seems to be authentic.” “Reading out a text in a Satsang, please don’t consider this to be something unoriginal. We have what is called the Pothi. In Maharashtra, the Guru Charitra is read. People also read Sai Sat Charitra for seven days. We have only one hour, so I will read a little bit from the book. Where necessary, I will step in and interpose with my comments.” “Akkalkot was a small village. Now, I think it is a town, on the Maharastra Karnataka border. We came walking from Mangalwedha. If you remember, we stayed there for a day or two. There we have the well-known Maharashtrian saint called Chokhamela who was from the so-called ’non-Vedic’ community and another famous saint who was the Tehsildar (administrator) of that place, Ramkrishna Pant. Apparently, before coming here, Maharaj (Swami Samarth) spent 12 years there. That time he was not so well known. Nobody knows where he came from. Just like Shirdi Sai Baba, the origins of whom nobody knows. Not knowing is wonderful.” “He appeared from a hole in a banyan tree, a big banyan tree which was hollow inside. Prior to that, he had wandered in the Himalayas and many places in the north and returned. In his own words, he used to say ‘When I was in Uttarkashi, this happened’ and so on. So, he came and lived in Mangalwedha and was found inside a hollow banyan tree. He was found by this man, a jeweller called Cholappa Ramachandra Naik, a Gowda Saraswat.” “So, when Cholappa went near the banyan tree, he saw someone sitting within and did namaskar. And, he was blessed. Not by a hand being placed over his head but by being slapped. He got a tight slap and Swamiji said, ‘Don’t you remember me?’. That is one of the things you will notice about Swami Samarth, he was often very angry. If you have this kind of test in our Satsang, there will be nobody left. Everybody will leave. There, people went to get slapped. So, when Cholappa went near him, he got a tight slap and was asked, ‘You don’t remember me?’. He said ‘No’. Swamiji said, ‘You go back to Akkalkot and start your jewellery business there, I will come shortly". Cholappa used to visit him now and then.” “Cholappa was not allowed to get a place anywhere near the city. He had to go a little further away, near the place where the Samadhi is now, where he bought some land at a very high price and started his jewellery business. He lived with his brother Ambaji Ramachandra Naik in a joint family and they were very happy. Later, Swamji came to Akkalkot. First, he went and sat near the banyan tree, from where he spoke to people. From there, Cholappa went and brought him home and he lived in his house.” “There is a description of his personal appearance. You must have seen his pictures and photos. He had very long arms, reaching down below his knees. His belly was big and his shoulders were broad. His eyes were brilliant and sharp. Most of the time, he was angry. His skin was the color of wheat. One could not directly look at his eyes for long. He was of an angry temperament and many were afraid of him, as if he would burn them with his gaze. Swamiji had vertically long ears and when he moved his head, his ear lobes also moved. When he laughed, he had both hands on his belly and his laugh was very open; he usually talked in Marathi and Hindi. His body was soft and smooth. His feet were also soft. His assistants made him wear a langoti (loin cloth) and applied sandalwood paste on his body’.” “ ‘His assistants made him wear a langoti (loin cloth) and applied sandalwood paste on his body’ - he never did anything. He just sat. When they were with him dressing him up thus, he would tell them to go away. If you didn't, there was a danger of being slapped.” (Reading continued…) “Though people tried to put clothes on his body, he threw them away. He roamed about and travelled aimlessly and freely, not according to any fixed rule. Very kindhearted, he nevertheless used to say, ‘I am not a slave to anybody.’” “Now, the personality and the way of living of Swami Samarth, this is a small chapter. ‘His teaching is for one and all and anybody. It is not for any particular caste or religion. But, he used to speak out the Dohas of Kabir, or the verses from Gita, or Riks from the Rig Veda. From his daily routine, we can make a conjecture, that he knew theShastras. Many people believed that in his earlier incarnation, he was Narasimha Saraswati of Narsobachiwadi.’ “‘Once Chintopant Todhe asked him about his religion and so on, he said, "I am a Yajurvedi Brahmin, my name is Narsinha Bhav, my gotra is Kashyap". Then he said,"If you ask one more time, you will get a good beating". Swamiji did not give importance to any creed or caste; when one asked him something, he spoke the truth. ‘The behaviour and attitude of Swami Samartha was unique. He was like a child or like a mad man or like a ghost, a yogi living in a strange state of mind. When he got up in the morning, he did not follow any personal routine’ - not a good example for a Sadhaka!” “‘Others took upon themselves to give him a bath. He was fed. People took care of what he would eat. Even to answer nature’s call, he was not regular. He would not do anything for himself. Only if he agreed, could anything be done’. If someone went and said something, he would say ‘Get out’, and that person would have to leave.” “‘However hard a person may try, Swamiji took food only from some people, only if he liked to. When they covered his body, he threw away the clothes. Swamiji sat anywhere. He did not care if the place was clean or dirty. The place maybe a royal palace or a cemetery, to stop him from doing anything was impossible. He ate food from anybody’s hand in anybody’s home. But, he was neither an atheist nor a heretic. Sometimes, he took fragrant chandan (sandalwood) paste and applied it on his body. Sometimes, he allowed others to wave aarti in front of his face. But sometimes, he did not take a bath for 8, 9, 10 days.’ - not a good example for Sadhaks. Why? Because after I read this, there will be a terrible smell on the walk!” “’Sometimes he went into any garden or forest and just sat there doing nothing. He walked very fast. Others could not keep pace with him. Sometimes, he talked continuously. Sometimes, he kept silent. He played with children, children loved to play with him. When he was in a happy mood, he talked to many people in sweet words. Sometimes, he talked to himself and laughed. Sometimes, he touched trees and big boulders and asked, ‘What do you want?’. To read the minds of others and to talk exactly on those lines was a common thing with him. Even at 2.00 am in the night, he would awaken suddenly reciting verses. People were sure that he was always awake. If at that time people asked him questions, the right answer came - spiritual life, Vedanta, philosophy, all questions were solved by him properly’.” “‘But, this was always very much earlier than sunrise. If this was asked after sunrise, the replies were often irrelevant or he would give them a slap or abuse them. When he used to go out, there was all the glory of vehicles, articles of enjoyment and people - chamaras, palkis, horse carts, cows, buffalos, trumps, horns to be blown, shehnais, group of assistants, haridasas singing, singers, florists, sweet-meat merchants, cooks and businessmen - all part of the procession, all rejoicing and shouting - ‘Victory to Swami Samartha! Jai, Jai Samartha!’” “‘If the assistants spat on the road or blew their noses anywhere, Swamiji got so angry that he might even give them a sound beating. He had equal regard for persons of all religions. Sometimes, he would go and sit at a Dargah or a Masjid or near a Pir. His pets were cows and dogs. He liked besan laddoos, puran-poli and onion bajji.’ This is a short description. He passed away in the year 1878.’ And if you ask me when he was born, nobody knows.” “He had arranged for his Samadhi himself. He went and sat there and passed away, at which point, three white seeds came out of his mouth. ‘Under the banyan tree he sat in lotus position and passed away. Three white coloured seeds came out. His last advice was, ‘Hold on tightly to the branches of this banyan tree. The sadhana of Ram japa will definitely be successful’. He had also given his disciples the exact position his body had to be kept. The instructions were meticulously followed.’” “‘After taking Samadhi, Maharaj is supposed to have appeared in person in the village Nilegaon in the house of Deshmukh. Apparently, he took meals at his house for three days. He observed Deepavali by bursting fire crackers with the children. When this news reached Akkalkot, his assistants ran there but Swamiji had walked away. Deshmukh did not know that the Swamiji who had lived with him for three days had taken samadhi. When he came to know this, he began to sing prayer songs of Swamiji. Swami appeared in his dream and said, 'See I am not dead and gone, I am still here' “. “Now, here are some essential teachings. One, ‘Become an ant and eat the sugar’. Lot of things are implied in this. Don’t think you are big. Can you imagine a 7 foot 3 inch man saying this? Once, Guru Nanak was asked, would you like to become the Supreme Brahman? He said, I would rather be the ant that tastes the sugar than become sugar itself - I can’t taste myself. There’s another meaning here - first become small, don’t become the sugar. Eat the sugar and enjoy the taste. And, many other things. You can think on this easily for two to three days. Then we will talk again, I want feedback on what you think. Become an ant and eat sugar.” “He said also, two - ‘Work like a bullock, eat only to satisfy your hunger, other food should be distributed to others’ - these are some practical things. It is not as if these teachings are saying go to a cemetery and stand on your head. Three, ‘I am not gone, I am living’. Four, ‘If you meditate with real love, I will take care of you’. Five, ‘Don’t fear, stand up, I am with you’. Six, ‘Observe your duties regularly, do your devotional practices regularly, keep me as a witness with you to all this’.” Sri M remarked humourously, “If people see Swamiji as a witness, I am sure they would do their practice out of sheer fear. If you keep me as a witness, you will do nothing because you will always see me smiling.” “Seven, ’Be alert, do not have anxiety’. Eight - this is very tough, very difficult - ‘One should not even look at the face of a lazy person’. These are the teachings of an Avadhuta. Some people think that to become an Avadhuta is to become lazy. Nine, Keep chanting your nama japa regularly’.” “Now, here are some instructions given by him for spiritual life. One, ‘Be careful in spiritual life' - this is a big thing to say. This means, always be on watch- what you are doing, your thoughts, what you are saying, your motives, why you are doing something. Be careful in spiritual life. Two, ‘Drop your superstition and blind beliefs’. When you sit to meditate, do not think, ‘I cannot meditate because there is a tree on my left and the Vastu is bad!” “‘Do not discriminate among castes. Do not make a fuss about cleanliness and austerities’.” Sri M joked ‘“But please keep the mobile toilets clean! Do not make a fuss about cleanliness and austerities - why? If you are a slave to details of rituals, your devotion will be lost. When you have full devotion, you should not wonder if I did Aarti two or three times because devotion is more important than the ritual.” “‘Surrender yourself at the feet of a Guru after you have known him for some time. Do not crowd your house with hundreds of deities.’ Because when you sit down to meditate, you will not know where to look. When you need help, you will not know who to call. If you are falling from a tree, you will say ‘Ram Ram’ and think, " What of Shiva?" and say ’Shiva Shiva’ and then you will say ‘Brahma’ and ‘Vishnu’ and finally you will fall. Stick to one. Each will be resting thinking the other would save him, Krishna will be resting saying Shiva will go, Shiva will be resting thinking Krishna will go.” “We have a fear, "Who to satisfy? This one or that one?" so we put all together. One is enough. Everybody will take care of you. I have to add something. Do not keep deities in your bathrooms, when you sit there, they are staring at you. Eight, ‘Be simple, straightforward, disciplined and honest’. Ninth, ‘Useless inquisitiveness into matters of others and gossip of others must be avoided’. Inquisitiveness into matters of others is a sign of insecurity. And then, when someone gossips, it means that there is nothing else to do, the mind is not full. If the mind is full, what is there to gossip? Gossip is also a sign of insecurity.” “I am repeating this – ‘Useless inquisitiveness into matters of others and gossip of others must be avoided.’ This much if you follow, you will be spiritually free.” “Tenth, ‘Do not be selfish, do not always think of me and mine’. You know the story of me and mine. Shall I say it again? Saying it once is not enough to fix it in the mind. This me and mine is the root cause of all our problems. The Swamiji of Sirigere Math, Dr. Shivacharya of the Taralabalu Math told me this story. When we were having a Satsang for only the padayatris, he insisted on joining us. After the Satsang, I asked him if he wanted to say anything - one of the stories he shared was about the ego.” “Once there was an expert sculptor. He went to a temple for some work and the priest, who was also an astrologer, told him he was about to die soon. His time had come. The sculptor asked, ‘Is there anyway to escape this?’ He was told to go into his workshop and make many statues that looked just like him. When the yama-doota comes, he would be confused, and unable to know who the original was, he would return empty- handed.” “The sculptor thought this a clever idea and made many statues that looked like him. When the yama-doota came, he looked but could not find him. He went back to Yama and told him what had transpired. Yama said, ‘Do not worry. His time is coming again in three months, I will tell you what to do then.’ Three months passed. The yama-doota went again to Yama who told him,’When you go, he will use the same technique. Do nothing, just go upto the statues and praise them. Do not search for him, just praise the statues, this is the trick.’ On reaching the sculptor’s workshop, the doota did as he was told and started praising the statues - ‘this statue is so good’, ‘these eyes are so lifelike’, etc.The sculptor could not remain quiet for long, after two minutes, he said ‘I made it’. The yama-doota said, ‘Come,your time is up.’” “This ‘I made it’ is the biggest problem. If you are free of ‘I made it’, what can he take away when ‘you’ don’t exist? It is very difficult. There are many kinds of pride. Pride of family, pride of birth, pride of state - you know, all kinds of pride.” “Then, Swami Samartha said, ‘Don’t pamper occult powers, don’t give much importance to miracles’, and all the time people are talking about his miracles! Twelve, ‘Keep morality intact, one should be humble, be careful, try not to commit mistakes’. Thirteenth, ‘robbery, lies and cunning should not be resorted to. Don’t think about the wiles of others, think of yourself’. Fourteenth, ‘follow the path of Bhakti and you will acquire knowledge and wisdom’.” “This is some of the advice of Swami Samartha. If you follow these simple things, that is enough. “ “Now, I am going to read a few of the experiences that the people had. This is about a goldsmith woman by the name of Saraswati. ‘There was a goldsmith woman. Swamiji had blessed her. He blessed her by putting his hand on her head one day. After that - she sang Abhangs and cried and sobbed in ecstasy. She roamed around the streets as if she were a mad-woman. All her possessions were one bundle of rags and an earthen pot of moderate size. She knew the hidden meaning of the ambiguous words of the Swami. When he said some words people could not understand, they looked for Goldsmith Saraswati. When Maharaj got very angry and would not calm down for a long time, then servants and attendants searched for Saraswati. Then the lady walked forward, loudly chanting - I meditate on Tukaram, what has Tukaram to do with you - she used to dance and his anger would cool down. She used to laugh and he used to laugh. When he laughed, the cot would shake.’” ‘Many persons used to come from Narsobawadi and ask him - Maharaj, who are you really? Swamiji said - Aadipurush, Banyan tree, Dattanugrah. The goldsmith woman said that he has no other identification than the primordial Supreme Purusha. As a child sleeping on a leaf of the banyan tree, he is sleeping like Lord Dattatreya himself. This goldsmith woman always begged for food. There were many dogs in her house and she gave all of them bread. When the pups were committing nuisance, she would lightly beat them with a stick. She would run after them and play with them. She was a blessed soul under the shadow of Swami Samarth.’” “‘Sometimes Swami Samarth ridiculed anyone who laughed at him and did not believe him, and converted him. Sri Narayana Dutta had no faith in Swami Samartha, he used to criticise him behind his back saying, "This is not a sanyasi, he is not a religious man, he does not observe untouchability, who will say this man is a sanyasin?" One day some people visited Swami Samartha and Sri Narayana Dutta was one of them, standing apart with a bitter face. Swami told him, ‘Get out’! Without knowing the significance of the Swami’s words, he went back proudly. When he reached his house, he found out that his place had been robbed. An amount of four thousand rupees was stolen, which was never recovered, even after many efforts. Now, Narayana understood why Swami asked him to get out. He repented and went back to Akkalkot and went to Swami Samarth and said, "I touch your feet". Swami again said, ‘Get out.’” “‘One Shri Ganpath Rao Joshi had a book in his house, a big Vedantic text by the name of Panchadashi, which he was studying along with others. One day, they did not get the meaning of a verse. They thought of asking Swami Samartha to explain it to them. One of them said, ‘Do you think he knows anything about Panchadashi?’ They said, ‘Let's go and see, if he does not know we can ridicule him and come back’. So, they went and quietly sat there, not knowing what mood he was in. Swamiji suddenly said – ‘Panchadashi’ - and gave them the meaning of the verse. They wondered, ‘How did he know that we wanted the meaning of that particular verse?’ These people who used to come occasionally started to come daily.’” “‘A lady by name Vitthabai had come to Akkalkot to see Swami Samartha. The month was approximately June-July, Ekadasi. Vitthabai wished to go to Pandharpur. She spoke to Ganpath Rao of this. Those days Swamiji was living in the palace, as Bhonsale had requested him to live there. People were not allowed to enter the palace. Ganpath Rao began thinking, how many days Swamiji will remain inside, it is better to go to Pandharpur with Vitthabai. She also agreed. This discussion took place in the night. She went to the palace in the morning to get a darshan of Swamiji. He asked her, ‘Why did you not go to Pandharpur to hold the feet of Pandarnath?’ At this, Vitthabai was ashamed and all the women around her began to laugh. Vitthabai began to think, Maharaj is himself Vitthoba. She said to Swamiji, ‘You are yourself God, why would I go to Pandharpur?’ She went back and recounted the day’s happenings and the trip was cancelled. Some days later, Maharaj came out of the palace and started seeing people regularly. Someone asked him why he had come out of the palace. He said, ‘Because Vitthabai was thinking of going to Pandharpur.’” “That is all for today. Thank you very much.” “Om Shanti ShantiShanti.” After the Satsang, the padayatris went about their rest-day rituals - cleaning clothes, visiting the town, and trying local food. In the evening, they took two buses to Harali village. The trip was an adventure! First, it was 80 km away, not the 50 km they had anticipated and took two and a half hours to get there,with the heavy rains slowing them down. The last 20 or so kilometers were spectacular - dark grey rain clouds in an inky sky, sleeting rain and howling winds, boundless open and ploughed fields ready to receive the rain, with almost no trees, the river snaking its way through the landscape with rocky outgrowths jutting up from the unadorned plains and, on top of the hill, a beautiful fort! The place they arrived at was the Jnana Prabodhini School and campus at Harali. This was a part of Jnana Prabodhini group of institutions. The village of Harali was razed to the ground during the 1993 earthquake and Anna of the Jnanaprabodhini group had helped the village rehabilitate themselves through what is called ‘vocational rehabilitation’. The campus, around 60 acres in all, has farmland with fruit orchards, a plant nursery, and a land tilled and waiting for the rains so that planting can start. They follow traditional and a scientific way of farming. There is a patch of neem trees on one side planted to purify the air around. An agricultural college has also been operational to ensure that the local community and the farmers in the area have access to scientific techniques in farming. The village and the school are completely self-sufficient on most fronts including energy. They have solar and wind energy supplying power. The school is a residential one and is free with children paying for the food only. They also have a wing for destitute women who are provided employment either in the school, on the campus or in the fruit canning plant with free shelter. Children with them are also provided free education in the school. Currently, a water purification plant is under construction, personally being supervised by the 80 plus patriarch, Anna. Reaching there, Sri M was given a traditional welcome. After this, he and the padayatris were ushered into a large hall. In the presence of about 200 people including many locals, there were bhajans. Following this, Sri M was welcomed and he addressed the gathering. In his ten minute speech, he spoke mostly on Walk of Hope and its goal. “Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih Om, May All become Happy, May All be Free from Illness. May All See what is Auspicious, May no one Suffer. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.” “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti”. “You are right in saying that we had some discomfort in reaching here. We were wondering when we would arrive. The grace of God was such that halfway on the road, it rained. I saw around us that all that had been dry was now wet. Our cars slowed down a little bit. Do we give importance to the cars or to the rain? You decide. It was good that it rained.” “Here, in this village, where there was no road, it is no easy task building up all this. According to me, from the work of Man and the grace of God, these things work out. Here, with all of you here - this work has happened only because of you. We have come here, our tiredness has vanished after seeing you and listening to Bhajans and Kirtans. Look, all of the Yatris are smiling. They were wondering a little while ago, ‘Where are we going?’ “Now about my - not mine but our - padayatra. Like good work was started here and there has been a spread of happiness, like a hope that arose to turn around the lives of the people here, in the same way, we thought of a walk; different people work in different areas, we should support each other.” “Our area of work is spiritual. Spiritual does not mean to close your eyes and sit. It means Atmano Mokshartham jagat hitaya cha. Our work belongs in the first department – Atmano Mokshartam. We thought that many years have passed since anyone walked for this. People have walked for votes, and after that nobody comes back. We are doing this Yatra because it is our spiritual experience that in the heart of every being is the spark of the Supreme Being.” “To spread this experience by walking is our aim. When one walks, keeping his feet on the ground, he gets strength from the ground. With this aim, we have started this padayatra. We have covered 2300 kilometers till here. We will go to Pandharpur. Another 5500 kilometers are left. With God's grace, we will reach Srinagar in April 2016. It has started raining; when it rains, we stop at a place; when it stops, we will walk. Sadhus stop for 4 months,Chaturmas, when it rains.” “We walk 20 to 25 kilometers a day. Walking, we talk about Manav Ekta wherever we go and we want people to understand this. This is our only aim. Now that we are here, please think on these things. If anyone says that you are different, do not believe them. Your name may be different, your religion maybe different but we are all humans.We forget this sometimes. We have come here just to tell you this. Do not forget that we are all humans. There is an orphan child who is hungry - will you ask him his name, where he is from, who are his parents, what religion he belongs to - or will you feed him? Any person with a heart will feed him. With this understanding, we should live our lives.” “What you are doing here is also a Yatra - working for the benefit of people, taking away their pains, improving their lives, giving them whatever is possible. I am here to show you that there is also another kind of Yatra. I thank you for bringing us here. My blessings are with all of you, my parampara's blessings are also with all of you - I am from the Natha Parampara, Maheshwarnath Babaji's blessings, Sri Guru's blessings and God's blessings - all these are with you.” “With this, I end now. Thank you and Namaskaar.” “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.” Everyone in the hall was given a lamp after this and there was an 'akhanda-bharat aarti'. After this, the padayatris were served dinner prepared by the villagers. Leaving after 9 p.m. and feeling it was unsafe to take the road they had come on, that was full of pot holes, they took the long road home driving back some 100 kilometers. Exhausted, they reached after midnight, and everyone scurried back to their rooms to rest.

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  1. Keep it coming Sri M. You must be in love with Maharashtra – we get to drink from the well of your wisdom even more.

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