A beautiful dawn saw 100 padayatris set out on the dot at 6.00 am, from the Oachira Parabramha Temple to the destination of the day—Mannarsala.
An hour into walking, things started to ease a bit once the town limits were transcended. The walkers reached Krishnapuram, the border town between Kollam and Alappuzha. Alappuzha, known as the ‘Venice’ of Kerala’, is one of the most scenic regions in the country—a place with a port and a pier, crisscrossing roads, aquamarine backwaters and numerous quaint bridges.
After a small break, when everyone enjoyed ladoos, the group passed by the Krishnapuram Palace—a palace built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma of the Travancore kingdom. It houses the largest mural painting of the ‘Gajendra Moksha’, measuring 154 square feet and also has one of the four Buddha statues found in the Alappuzha district. The Shankar Memorial museum, a memorial to cartoonist Shanker, is also in this town. Kesava Shankara Pillai (31 July 1902 – 26 December 1989) is considered the father of political cartooning in India.
After covering 8 kms, the group had a 15-minute tea break at Kareelakulangara at a Satsangi’s home. Sri M also chose the opportunity to interact with the local community here. Leaving soon after, Sri M and the walkers were greeted by local community groups at 8.00 am and, then again, after 10 minutes. The padayatris stopped for breakfast at 8.30 am.
Walking on, after breakfast, the group stopped at a Satsangi’s clinic at Nangiarkulangara for a much-needed juice-break. While early morning saw relatively empty streets in a cool atmosphere, the traffic is noticeably heavier than yesterday, the tar almost melting under the scorching sun.
At 11.00 am, the padayatra entered Haripad—the land of ‘Mayura Sandesa’, snake boats, music, dance and drama. The place is famous for its Subrahmanya Swamy temple—one of the oldest in Kerala. The temple is believed to have been established before the advent of Kaliyuga (the current aeon),and is also known as Dakshina Palani (southern Palani).
Sri M was accorded a traditional welcome by the priests from the Subrahmanya Swamy temple. After a visit to the temple, the group reached the Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple at 12.30 pm. The Sree Nagaraja Temple is believed to be the abode of the King of snakes, Nagaraja. The famous temple is nestled in a heavily forested atmosphere, like most snake temples. The temple area has over 30000 snake images all along the paths and under trees. Women seeking fertility offer their worship here and, upon the fulfillment of their wish, revisit to hold thanksgiving ceremonies here, many a time bringing new snake idols as offerings. The turmeric paste that is available at the temple is said to have curative powers.
After this, the group continued its Walk to a Satsangi’s residence. The Satsangi belongs to the family of temple caretakers who have a prominent presence in the town. After having availed of their hospitality, the walkers proceeded to the Mandaaram Guest House at Mannarsala. Once settled, the group again assembled at 2.00 pm for lunch.
The venue for the evening satsang was the Mannarsala Upper Primary School. The group assembled at 5.30 pm and were treated to a beautiful rendition of bhajans. After lighting the lamp and marking another auspicious beginning, Sri M began his address at 6.00 pm.
Sri M began with a reference to the Mannarsala Sree Nagaraja Temple. He said that the ancient temple has the ‘pratishtha’ of Nagaraj—the embodiment of universal consciousness. This ‘Naga’ is present in the human beings too.There are energies within the human system that are symbolized by the serpent. These energies remain dormant in most cases. People go about their daily activities – waking, sleeping and eating, even while this energy remains dormant.
Continuing in the same vein, he said that there are realities beyond what we can see and hear. There are sense organs beyond the usual faculties that we use in our daily lives. To rouse these senses, one has to awaken the ‘Naga’ or the power that is dormant within. When this power arises, it should rise upwards and not fall. If it falls, one reaches a state that is ‘hell-like’, wherein one’s behavior becomes that of an animal.
The upward journey of the ‘Naga’ or ‘serpent’ power is the sadhana. It moves through the various chakras and, upon reaching the Sahasrara Chakra, awakens new dimensions of knowledge—previously unknown and not experienced. This requires consistent practice and also guidance in most cases and is known as the process of ‘awakening’. There are many different paths to awaken this energy, and all paths finally lead to the same goal.
Sri M concluded his talk after urging all those present to join the Walk of Hope. He called upon four of the padayatris to relate their Walk experiences to the audience.
The session ended with the chanting of OM and, thereafter, the group spent some time in silence.
Tomorrow being a rest day, the Padayatris were visibly more relaxed. They retired for the night after dinner.