Day 171| 1 July 2015 | Magarapatta Chowk, Hadapsar to Poona College of Arts | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • The Deputy Mayor of Pune welcoming Sri M at Magarpatta Chowk, Pune
  • Along the streets of Magarpatta - Pune
  • Acknowledging a young admirer - Koregaon Park
  • Reception at the German Bakery - Koregaon Park, Pune
  • Along Pune's busy streets, with a differently abled Sahayatri - Pune
  • Up the MSEB motor-lift, to garland Mahatmaji's statue - Pune Railway Station
  • Dignitaries in front of the Mahatmaji's statue - Pune Railway Station
  • Walking along with the pulsating rhythm of the Warkari beats - Pune
  • Strong advocates of the Vada pav - Pune
  • At Dr Ambedkar's statue - Pune
  • Sri M felicitated at the Poona College of the Maharashtra Education Society, Pune
The second day in Pune city began with a walk from Magarpatta Chowk, Hadapsur to the Azam Grounds. The deputy mayor of Pune was present to welcome Sri M at the starting point. From there on, about 300 people set off towards the German Bakery in Koregaon Park.

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After a short stop for tea enroute in Hadapsar, the group congregated at the German Bakery in Koregaon Park, an upmarket locality in Pune. The Bakery was singled out for a terrorist attack when a bomb exploded at the venue during peak hours. The blast killed seventeen people and injured more than 60 others. Sri M and the padayatris held a candle lit vigil for a few moments in remembrance of the victims of the attack. Breakfast was served to the padayatris at the Bakery. They continued their walk to the Railway Station of Pune where Sri M garlanded the statue of Mahatma Gandhi along with the Mayor of Pune city. Here, a group of Varkaris greeted Sri M and the yatris and joined the walk. Their next stop was at the statue of Sri B R Ambedkar, the main architect of the Indian constitution. Sri M garlanded the statue. He addressed the gathering briefly in both the places. A visit to the Lal Deval Synagogue in Pune was also on the cards. Sri M and a few padayatris visited the 150-year old beautiful structure where he lit candles and was provided a guided tour. As per the representative of the synagogue, there are about 200 Jewish families living in Pune currently. Weddings and special occasions of these families are usually celebrated here. The synagogue is also kept open on Saturdays for people to congregate and pray. The building was constructed in 1867 and is said to be Asia’s largest, outside Israel. The walkers congregated at the auditorium of Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education, Azam Campus, at the stroke of noon. Sri M was felicitated by the College and later on addressed a gathering of about 500 students. “Dear friends, Namaskars and Salaam!” “This Manav Ekta Mission under which we are doing this padayatra, it is not just me, it is all our friends who have come together for something we think is good for the nation and the world. We started the padayatra from Kanyakumari. Why Kanyakumari? Because it is the land’s end for India and also because it is a place where three oceans meet together - the Indian ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. So, we thought it was fit for us in the scheme of things to start from a place where great oceans meet so that the great streams of civilisation that make the fabric of this nation may come together. This is the intention with which we started.” “We have done 2700 kilometres till now - walking. This is not a ratha-yatra, we are not travelling in vehicles. There are people with us who are actually putting their feet on the ground. There is an expression in English, ‘down to earth’, we are keeping our feet on the ground, on this earth and walking onwards. We have reached Maharashtra and we have 5000 Kilometres more to go till the April of 2016. Today, I am speaking in English, which is a welcome change - I have been speaking in Hindi all along because I do not know Marathi. I understand it but I am better equipped to talk in this language. Before I talk about this walk, let me introduce myself.” “The honourable lady introduced me as Sri M. ‘M’ means Manav - a human being, or Manushya in Sanskrit. So, here I stand before you. No matter what religion I belong to, no matter what ideology I belong to. If you go to the beginning, at the embryo in the womb, we are all the same. When we come out, we get names and identities, the whole thing. Basically, M means Manav. This walk is about bringing unity to mankind. There is unity of-course. Unity, oneness, in Arabic it is Ahad - without this it is not possible to have peace and move forward. People call me M. With great respect, they call me Sri M. If you change this to English, Sri becomes Mister - Mister M. I don’t like Mister M so much, it sounds like the hidden boss of James Bond. But, Sri M is fine. You can also call me Janab M. The best thing would be to call me M.” “I was born in 1949 in Trivandrum, in Kerala. The name given to me by my parents at the time of birth was Mumtaz Ali, so ‘M’ also comes from there. Sometimes, I wonder why they gave me that name. When I travel, I have trouble sometimes - they think that Mumtaz is a girl. When I left for Himalayas and met my Guru, you can also call him Sheikh, Maheshwarnath Babaji, he gave me the name Madhukarnath. So, because of all of this my name is M. If I go anywhere, nobody distinguishes me by my name, my community or my religion, I am free.” “Now, this is also my intention as I walk along that I spread the message of love and affection among all sections irrespective of caste, creed or religion. I believe that in this country, you can belong to any religion and still live as a respectful citizen and share whatever you have with each other - this is possible in this country. Three thousand years ago, the Rig Veda said Ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti. It is in Sanskrit and it means that the truth is one but the wise call it by many names. Whatever religion it may be, it teaches love, affection and compassion. If these are missing then, we have to be careful that we are not running into danger.” “I see many young people belonging to the Muslim community here and I want to share a few stories with you. It is said that once when Prophet Muhammad was going out for prayer - it was the most important Ramzan prayer, he found that there was a child in torn clothes standing on the road, crying. So he went to him and said why are you crying? The child replied saying, I have no father and mother and I have no clothes to wear on this day of Eid. The great man then said to him, don’t cry. From now on, you have a father and a mother; I will get you some new clothes now. Some of the people accompanying him for prayers reminded him that they would be delayed for their prayer. The Prophet said that the delay will be appreciated many times when I reach heaven. He bought new clothes for the boy, bathed him and took him to the prayer with him.” “You see this. When there is a religious person there is always compassion, love and peace” “When you go to any prayer, it begins and ends with a word repeated thrice. It goes like this, Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. ‘Shanti’ means peace. Translated in English, this means peace. What do two Muslims say when they meet each other? They say Salam ul malekum - may the peace of God be upon you. How does every verse in the Quran start? With Bismillah ul Rehman-i-Rahim - In the name of God, the compassionate and the merciful. That element of compassion and mercy is also in the structure and constitution of human beings.” “The light of God resides in all human beings in some form. The Hindus call it Jivatama. If you see the story of creation, God makes humans and breathes his own breath into them. It is His own life. Should we not practice compassion and love? Should we disturb others who are in peace? In this, if you go to the Jain religion, the whole motto is Ahimsa Paramo Dharma - which means that non-violence and peace is the greatest religion.” “For this we have been walking from Kanyakumari and we have come to your state. We are walking towards Kashmir. The intention is to bring people together, enough of divisions. This country gives us food, water and shelter. Can we not sort out the differences peacefully through dialogue? Because, when there is violence, then the fathers, mothers and children that are in your house are there in the other’s house also and the pain that is felt in your house is also felt in the other’s house. We are born of the mother’s wombs and one day, we go into this earth. So, how is it that there is so much of violence?” “This is the aim of this yatra. Many, many people have come together and said that we need this, we need peace, we want to live together. It is this idea which I want to instill in people, especially the young, so that tomorrow when someone comes and says that you are different, you can flatly refuse and say that this is not in my religion. Peace is what I have been taught and peace is what I will practice. If we live like this, our lives will be good and there will be peace. Young people should bear in mind that when someone says that you are different, say that, sorry but it is not so, I can live with my neighbours. We can all live together - Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Jews, Christians, it doesn’t matter which community.” “This is the ideal society which we are looking at. It is a hope. Whether the hope will be fulfilled or not, it does not matter, we are trying. Believe me, it is madness to walk 20 to 25 kilometres in the hot sun every day. But for me, there is a method in this madness. And, that is, to bring people together. When people wonder why are these mad fellows walking, they stop and think for a moment. In history, all the great movements have started and progressed when people get down and walk. So, here we are, walking. We hope that the earth on which we walk will also soak in peace and goodness. So, after some years, there will be flowers and fruits and when there is a breeze, there will be a fragrance and the whole humanity will enjoy this. This is our mission, this is our hope. I hope you agree with what I am saying. We will only know what will happen after the walk is over in Kashmir and what happens after that. We will walk and go away from here tomorrow. Please remember that there was a mad man who came here and talked about these things. I want the seed to be with you all when we go away. Remember this and pray to God that may all the humanity live in peace and goodness.” “And the rest, as they say, Inshallah - God willing.” “Thank you very much.”

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