Day 174| 4 July 2015 | Kohinoor Chowk to Maharshi Karve statue, Kothrud | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • At the legendary shrine of Hazrat Babajan - Pune
  • Along the busy streets of Pune
  • Sri M offering prayers at the Vittoba Mandir Nana Peth - Pune
  • Sri M with the school children who were a part of the day's walk - Pune
  • Pomp and pagentry as the Walk entered the famous Daglu Sheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir Pune
  • Offering prayers to Daglu Sheth Ganpati - Pune
  • Sri M with the memento presented to him at the Ganapati Mandir, Pune
  • Thunderous percussion accompany the Walk - Pune
  • Sri M at the Vir Savarkar Smarak - Karve Road, Pune
  • The padayatra on the busy Karve Marg - Pune
  • Sri M with the group of visually impaired children who joined the Walk
  • Sri M with the differently abled children who were a part of the Walk
  • Piping hot tea - Laxmi marg, Pune
  • Offering flowers at the Maharshi Karve statue - Pune
Today’s walk in Pune city was from Kohinoor Chowk, Old Pune Road to the Maharishi Karve statue, Kothrud—a distance of 15 kilometers. Starting at 6.00 am, they walked through the busy trading area that was still to wake up. Though the distance itself was not a challenge, the walk through the often-narrow streets of Pune was not a very pleasant one as they traversed through noisy, screeching traffic, polluted air and constricted roads. There were pockets of areas where children joined the Walk lighting up the faces of many a walker with fresh energy. More than 500 children from a few schools joined Walk of Hope for short distances.

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There were frequent halts at various popular and prominent places of worship in Pune. They started from Kohinoor Chowk at 6.00 am and soon reached Shrine of Hazrat Babajan, a Pathani Muslim saint considered by her followers to be a Satguru. Born in Baluchistan, she breathed her last in Pune after living here for 25 years. As the Spiritual Guide of Meher Baba, people visit her shrine in large numbers every day. Sri M and the padayatris spent some time at the shrine and offered prayers. As they were leaving, about 150 school children and a small group of musicians joined them with drums and trumpets. Walk of Hope next went to the Bhavani Peth Palkhi Vithoba Mandir at Nana Peth where they offered prayers and proceeded to the Shreemant Daggu Sheth Halwai Ganapati temple, very popular in Maharashtra and visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. One of the richest in Maharashtra, the trust runs many activities of philanthropy in and around Pune. Despite the voluminous footfall, the temple authorities welcomed the yatris and helped organise breakfast for all the walkers. Leaving after breakfast, they were joined by a group of about 20 drummers, trumpet blowers and flag bearers, along with a couple of horses with children dressed as Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Chhatrapati Shivaji, taking the numbers of the Walk up to 600 for a while. The walk progressed from the older parts of Pune with historic buildings fronted by crumbling facades to the more modern, newer parts. As the city woke up there was an ever-increasing cacophony of noise and associated chaos of a large, busy, city. Traders driving goods into markets and setting up for sale, ladies haggling for a bargain, small children waiting at street corners for their school bus, the air heavy with the smell of spices and fumes from the passing traffic. All inhabitants—dogs, cows and people seemed to have a ‘busy’ look around them, seriously involved in their own activities. The city traffic police helped the yatra navigate through the bustle. The heavy traffic was bought to a standstill in some areas but only for a few moments; but in most areas, the walk did not trouble the wayfarers much. Everywhere, people stopped and looked on in surprise; many came up to the padayatris with questions. Some even joined without knowing anything about Walk of Hope or Sri M. On and off, people joined and left at various places. At one point, the walk had about 800 people! As they reached the more modern, developed areas, the buildings got taller, their facades fronted with glass, and the roads broader but with fewer trees. On the way, the yatris were joined by a group of differently-abled children from Saavla Parivar who walked alongside for some time. Soon, the statue of Maharshi Karve in Kothrud was reached. Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve, popularly known as Maharishi Karve, was a social reformer in the field of women's welfare. He continued the pioneering work of Mahatma Phule and Savitribai Phule in promoting women's education. The Government of India awarded him its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1958, the year of his 100th birthday. Sri M offered flowers at the feet of Maharshi Karve. This was also the halting spot and the padayatris dispersed soon after. After lunch and rest, they gathered at the Yashwanthrao Chavan Naatyagruha in Kothrud for the evening Satsang. The Naatyagruha is a prominent hall for performing arts and its large hall was packed as the Satsang started. Before the Satsang, there was a musical program by a popular group. In his half an hour address, Sri M spoke thus, “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. Loka samasta sukinoh bhavantu May the entire universe be happy” “My Namaskaars to all of you. I do not ask if I have to speak in Hindi or English because if I do, they will say speak in Marathi and I do not know Marathi so well, so I speak in Hindi. But before I say anything else, I want to say this to you - the picture of me that you see behind me on the wall is much better than me.” “If I speak on who I am, what this padayatra is and why we are doing this - if I speak on these three things, I think it will be okay. You just saw the video and many things were shown in it about the walk. I will speak on what is not in it. This walk started on 12th of January this year, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was someone who, like us, wandered around the country. This was before he became famous. In Kanyakumari, he swam across to the rock - which is now Vivekananda Memorial - and sat and meditated to discover his purpose. He understood that his work was first to travel across India and find out its problems.” “That is why we felt this was a good point to start. Also, as you all know, Kanyakumari is a sangama of three oceans - the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This sangama also symbolises the coming together of people, this nation is strong because of it and no one can cause it any harm. Secondly, if people come together, there is peace and harmony in our home, there will be peace in our nation. If this happens,Loka samasta sukinoh bhavantu, as said in the Vedas, will be possible. One cannot fight in his home and still expect peace in his nation; this is not possible. Considering these things, we started from Kanyakumari.” “Thirdly, Kanyakumari is called by the Highways Department as zero point. If one has to do anything, one must consider oneself zero first and foremost. If one thinks that one is great and can do anything, it is not possible. Understanding these things, we have to work. And whatever work is being done, it should be for others. Name, fame and money are things that, if sought, ultimately lead to one’s downfall. The only aim of doing work should be the welfare of others. With this, we have started the padayatra from Kanyakumari. Many, many years ago, Adi Shankaracharya travelled all over India, north, south, east, west. He visited every place.” “Starting from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, we passed through Kerala, then Karnataka and now we have reached Maharashtra. We have covered more than 2700 kilometers. This is a padayatra - we have walked this far, this is not a ratha yatra. Many of our friends have been walking with us. There are 100, or 200, or 300, or 400 people who walk with us; sometimes, there are more and sometimes, there is less. When we entered Mysore, there were more than 1000 people walking with us. However, a core group of about 60 to 70 people has been walking with us from the start. They are going through many hardships - there are problems with accommodation, health, there is pain in the feet now and then - why is it that they are walking, with what faith have they been walking with me?” “We feel that in April 2016, we will reach Srinagar. The message is nothing new. In the Bible, Jesus Christ has said Old wine in new bottles. Three thousand years ago, the Vedas said Ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti - the Truth is One but the wise call it by many names. Different religions call the Truth by different names. With this message, we have been walking. To share this, to talk about this with people, to tell them that you may have a name, you may belong to this or that religion, you may have this ideology and belief but, first and foremost, you are a human being.” “This is not any philosophy or idea. This is my personal spiritual experience. Maheshwarnath Babaji, who was my Guru, kept his hands on my head and something happened and my mind changed. In the heart of every being is a spark of the Supreme Being. If that is so, than how can we see people as different? Many people understand this but forget sometimes. There are many reasons that this is forgotten - they hear someone say that you are different, there are selfish interests, and there are political differences. Our work in this yatra is to go from place to place and tell people not to forget that you may have a different religion, a different party, and a different ideology but you are first a human being.” “Every being, be it a man or a woman, is born from the mother’s womb and in the end go back into this earth. When one is born in a Hindu family, if the parents die and the child is raised by Muslim parents - what is the child - a Hindu or a Muslim? This is common sense. This is written in our shastras - we may have different religions or ideas but we are human. If we live with this, then the violence that happens now and then will not happen at all.” “On this yatra, we visit every place of worship - we go to Temples, Churches, Mosques, Dargahs, Buddh Vihars, and Synagogues. Recently, we visited the Lal Deval Synagogue. They told me this synagogue in Pune is special. They tell me that the Jews here have never been persecuted. Why? This Maharashtra is a dev-bhoomi. We have been walking through many small villages and there is spirituality in the heart of people here. They say that we want to dopada-puja. I say to them that we are walking now, and ask how is it possible. They tell me that it is our faith, our tradition, do not tell us not to do it - here, put your feet here.” “It is our experience that wherever we go, wherever we have been, the people there tell us, ‘we believe in what you are saying but, sometimes, we find it difficult to say anything against what is happening. It is good that you have set out to talk about these matters’. We go to their homes, we sit with them, we have food with them, we drink their water. We are not different, we are all One.” “For this, the old ideas we have must be left behind. Now, a new phase is emerging in India. If that is supported, then in a few years this country will become great - it is great even now - it will become greater. There is only one way for that - do not harm anyone, do not commit violence. With this message alone, we are walking. What is a message called in Hindi? Ah, sandesh. In Bengal, sandesh is a sweet dish. This message is also sweet.” “If possible, please walk with us for two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour, one day, we will be grateful. If you cannot walk with us physically, walk with us in your heart.Everyday, for ten minutes a day, meditate on this idea - In the heart of every being sits the Supreme Being, I bow down in front of every being. Please do it behind closed doors; otherwise, people will think you have gone mad.Such is these times. Do it without anyone’s knowledge, like Ajapa Japa.” “The Supreme Lord cannot be reached through worry and anxiety, but only through love and devotion. In this realm, questions are endless - one questions leads to two, and then four. In ordinary matters, questions are fine. They are good. But in this, where IT cannot be grasped by the mind, questions are of no use. How can you reach Him then? Through love, through devotion, through singing.” “The flute is made of bamboo that is hollow. When the mind becomes like that, when it becomes purified, then one will hear Lord’s vaani. In our Nath Tradition, the Shushumna Nadi is called the flute - it is empty, it has seven holes. When it is purified, then through each hole that is called a chakra, one can hear different vaanis. When one hears music, for some time all worries leave you, the mind becomes quiet.” “Hazrat Shah Niaz said: Akal ke madrasse se uth, Ishq ke maikhade mein aa; Jaam-e-fanaa-o-bekhudi, ab to piyaa jo ho so ho – Wake up and move from the school of the intellect to the tavern of love…..This is my experience. Based on this experience, we have set out on this work. Actually, I am not someone who likes to be in public a lot. If you will allow me, I will live in a kutir in solitude somewhere. But, this is Babaji’s aadesh. This is Maheshwarnath Babaji’s and Sri Guru Babaji’s aadesh, that this work be done.” “I again request you to walk with us. If you cannot walk with us, that is okay, walk with us in your mind. Go back home and talk about this with people. When any situation comes, where you feel like committing an act of violence on another, mentally do pranams and say Om shanti shanti shanti. It is possible. Go home and think on this. If this happens, then I will consider this padayatra, going from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, successful. I thank you for listening to me patiently.” “My love and blessings are with you all.” “Namaskaar and Salaam” “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.” “Hari Om.” After the Satsang, the audience dispersed. The padayatris walked back to their resting place and the locals took cars, buses, taxis and autos back home. The yatris were put up in a popular market district with many shops and restaurants and they used the opportunity to the fullest—shopping and eating at fancy places, enough to sustain them for the next ten days. It was a very full day but the Nirahar Satyagraha on the morrow promises more!

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