Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee Anjali Bhagwat welcomes Sri M at Pune University
Having a 'ball' with Nandan Bal - National Tennis Coach - Pune University
Sri M on Yoga Sports at the Pune University Tennis Courts
Sri M takes aim at the makeshift shooting range - Pune University
Sri M with Anjali Bhagwat - Pune
Helping keep the campus clean - Pune university
Arathi at breakfast point - Pune Uiversity
Sri M cuts the Walk of Hope cake with birthday boy Sri Krishna Kulkarni - Pune University
Crossing over River Mutha - Dapodi, Pune
Dry fruits - at Bhosri Pune
Walk of Hope left at earlier at 5.30 am today and walked from Pune city to Wadmukhwadi, close to Alandi. A small group greeted Sri M on the Law College road a short while later. The city was waking up as they walked,the newspapermen being the only busy ones at this time. Lorries and vans were also on the roads, to deliver their goods on time before they get caught in the increasing traffic, to be later joined by the school buses and finally, the mad rush of office goers.
Reaching Savitri Phule University at around 7.45 am, Sri M was greeted by Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee, Smt Anjali Bhagwat, and they walked another kilometer into the campus. Walking through the University campus was a joy, the air was crisp and clear, trees were in abundance, the recent rains had given a fresh green look to the entire surroundings, the birds were chirping, and the air was heavy with the fragrance of flowers.
They stopped in an open ground where Sri M interacted with a gathering of about 150 students, including many sportspersons. He spoke on the power of Yoga and it’s benefits - the focus and concentration it brings and how one can use that in competitive sports. There were also some light moments at the sports center. Sri M tried his hand at the nets with a tennis ball & racquet. He also shot with an air rifle at the makeshift shooting range for the first time. He turned out to be quite a marksman, hitting the target closer than the coach who demonstrated to him how to hold the rifle.
Addressing the gathering, Sri M said:
“So, Nandan just said that it is a privilege to have me here. For me, it is a privilege to be here. Thank you for inviting me. It is a beautiful campus. I have come here before and this is the kind of surroundings that universities should have where there are trees and the environment is so good. Also, it is a privilege for us padayatris to have such sportspersons who are sitting here with us, such as Smt Anjali Bhagwat and Chandrashekhar. Nandan Bal himself is quite a star in the tennis field. I must not forget to tell you Padmashri Pralahdji Tipanya from Madhya Pradesh, one of the greatest Kabir singers in the folk style and Sri Ram Dasji who is an exceptional tabla player are also here with us. And, also all the people who helped me hit a ball on the tennis court.”
“I want to start with a little story. When Swami Vivekananda was travelling abroad, in a small little town near Philadelphia, he saw a group of students trying their hand at target shooting. There was a rubber duck floating on the water and they were supposed to shoot at a small spot on its wing - you know it can’t be easy because it was moving, and the experts were trying their best. And, Swamiji seeing them from a distance went to them and said, can I try? They asked, do you know how to shoot; have you ever shot a gun? Swamiji said, no, teach me how to shoot. They said okay and they instructed him - hold the gun on your shoulder, fix the target and shoot. It must have been an air gun.”
“So, he took the gun, fixed a pellet, spotted the target and shot. He was the first man to shoot the target. How did he do it? When they asked him that, he said, it is the secret of Yoga. When you say yoga, it is not only doing asanas. Yoga is bringing about a calm, quiet, concentrated state of mind. From the point of view of yoga, concentration is not straining, it is relaxing. When you are concentrating, you are completely relaxed. When a Yogi is meditating, if you put those instruments on the head and check the waves, you will find that the waves are very calm. There is calmness and a state where there is no tension or stress. When there is tension or stress, one often misses the target.”
“The definition of yoga is chittavritti nirodha. There is a big controversy on what yoga is nowadays. I was speaking to someone and he said he likes yoga but he cannot do it because he has a problem with the belief system. I told him - look, if you go to a doctor and he says do some yoga, will you die because of your belief system? These are silly things. Yoga makes your body fit, it makes the mind calm. And above all, it makes your mind work. It does not stun your mind. On the contrary, it sharpens the mind. If you think a mind that relaxes is a dull mind, you are completely wrong.”
“You know if I say this thing you might think that I am boasting, but I am not, it is a fact. I am 66 years old now. We have been walking from Kanyakumari and are walking towards Kashmir. We have finished 2700 Kilometers. We have been walking - this is a padayatra, not a rathayatra. When I started many people asked me, how will you do it? Now, we have covered 2700 kilometers. Believe me, I am doing well. My fellow padayatris are also okay. There are knee pains and leg pains - but everyone has those. Even when you who play tennis and you are tired, you rest and then, start again. What do you do? You rest and you move forward again.”
“This person here - he is supposed to be a sports person - he has advised me and now they are rolling chapattis, I roll on my feet every morning. This is how it is. I hope my mind is doing okay, it is working fine. Some people have doubts; they say it is madness to walk like this. But it is a deliberate attempt. At the age of twelve, I started practising yoga. I practice half an hour to forty five minutes every day. Believe me. I am an example. Of course, there is diet. Also, one should not get lost in the ‘eternal’ spirit that comes in bottles and so on. If you take a few precautions in your diet and then do yoga, it will do one much good.”
“One will move forward on the path of Yoga towards its ultimate aim - spiritual fulfillment. But, for the time being, let us leave that out. Now, the definition of Yoga according to Yoga Sutras, is Yoga chittavrittinirodha. - getting rid of distractions of the mind. There is no harm in having positive thoughts. It is getting rid of the distractions, the negative thoughts that take the mind up and down and making the mind completely calm. It starts with the physical, one must be physically healthy. Unless one is physically healthy, one cannot sit even for 2 minutes. One must be able to sit with an erect spine; all the Yogasanas are either bending forward or bending backward. One should sit steady without the back support. In fact, I get uncomfortable if there is a back support.”
“If you sit straight, I assure you, your spine will turn out to be first class. Do exercises that are good for your spine. Yoga is also good for your endocrine system - the ductless glands that are in the system. There is an asana called the Matsayasana which massages the adrenal glands in the system. Adrenaline is the hormone that controls fight or flight response. When you practice Matsayasana, you will be able to control this so that when you go home and your wife has not put enough salt in the food, you don’t blow up ! Yoga is a way of controlling this.”
“You have the thyroid glands here. There is a lock called Jalabandhana that gives a beautiful massage to the thyroid glands. If anybody has what is spondylitis - it is not so easy to get it out, but you can try it - we have what is called the Simhasana. If you do it at home, please warn someone or they may think that something has gone wrong with you. Start with standing on all fours and put your tongue out - the tongue-out actions automatically massages the neck - and roll your eyes as if you are a lion just about to spring on the prey. In Simhasana, you make a noise, like sucking the air in - don’t worry; they make such noises in karate also.”
“If you put your feet up in the Sarvangasana or Shirsasna - if you have high blood pressure, you should never do that - what that will do is increase the blood pressure in your head. As it is we do not bow down to anybody, fine do the Sarvangasana or Shirsasna. Close the door and keep bowing down. Like this, there are many asanas.”
“Now, I will go onto the mind. Rishi in Sanskrit means a scientist; if the word Rishi only had a religious connotation, nobody would have called Vatsayana, who wrote the Kamasutra, a Rishi. Rishi means one who examines, one who studies, in any field. Einstein can be called a Rishi. Like this, Marx can also be called a Rishi; right or wrong, he studied and spent all his time studying.”
“So, Rishis were those who did experiments. The rishis did an experiment, they studied the breath. They found out that when the mind was quiet the breath was calm. On the other hand when one was agitated, the breath too was very agitated, and erratic. The Rishis said that if there is a connection between mind and breath, is it possible to bring about a change in the mind by changing the breath? This started off the experiments in Pranayama. According to Yoga, when the mind is calm and undistracted, this is called dharana. Meditation - dhyana is simply an extension of dharana.”
“There is a simple one which I think is useful to everyone, including sportspersons. Before you start a game, before your play a game, if you practice this for ten fifteen minutes, you will find that your concentration will improve. This is not to say that you should meditate while playing. In Yoga, there is something called Pratyahara. It is doing one thing at a time. You all know what will happen if one meditates while one is driving. This is not meditation. Meditation is not being in some vague kind of space.”
“I am going to tell you a simple technique which can help everyone. Don’t worry, it is free, there are no cheques to sign. This is what is called in our tradition as ‘hum sa’. You can sit down anywhere - here, under a tree, anywhere. Sit down and take in a deep breath slowly. Breath is something that we pay no attention to. Food and water you can live without for some time, but breath you cannot live without for even one minute. And it is something we pay least attention to. What you do for a change is pay attention to it. Give the respect it deserves. When you breathe in, follow your breath in your mind. Hold for half a second and exhale. Give complete attention to it. Do this practice for about five to ten minutes with complete attention. For that time put away everything else;the thoughts will not be there because the breath is being watched. Do that for ten, fifteen minutes and then go about doing whatever you need to do.”
“So, thank you very much for listening to me and I hope you understand the benefits of these practices. The more your practice, the more perfect it becomes.”
“Om Shanti Shanti Shanti”
Following the address, the padayatris walked half a kilometer and stopped for breakfast at a Satsangi's house. At the breakfast spot, they also celebrated the birthday of a padayatri and spent about two hours on the campus. Walking onwards, they left the university and soon were walking out of the city. They crossed the bridge over river Mutha and were soon on the highway to Alandi. The highway was a chaos of moving automobiles, it was noisy and dusty. However, they moved on at quite a fast pace and reached Wadmukhwadi at 1.30 pm. They covered a distance of 22 kilometers today.
An hour later, they reached their resting place and retired for the day.