Today being the day of rest, the group woke up to a relaxed note. Today is the day to contemplate on the week past, to attend to one’s own well being and cogitate upon the present moment. In the metaphoric sense, a day to unwind, let the tiredness slip away and recharge one’s batteries.
In the morning, Sri M and a small group of yatris visited the Sree Nagaraja Temple. The temple was a picture of calm with few devotees milling around. Sri M entered the sanctum sanctorum where nobody except the priests are allowed. Sri M spent a brief time in prayer and contemplation. The sanctum sanctorum features the ancient idol of Nagaraja, believed to have been consecrated by the sage, Parasurama. Legend goes that, Parasurama, after having fulfilled his vow of ridding the earth of the Kshatriyas, sought to absolve himself of his sin of killing. He prayed to God Shiva, who asked him to appeal to the Nagas. After praying to the king of serpents, Nagaraja, Parasurama built a place of worship for Nagaraja and his legion of Nagas. The Nagas in turn helped him cleanse the land and create the green landscape full of ‘Mandara’ trees—evolving into the current Mannarsala.
Later, the group led by Sri M, strolled to the Sree Subrahmanya Swamy temple, about a couple of kilometres away. This temple is ancient and devotees from all castes and creeds come here for worship. This temple is said to feature the very same idol of Lord Subrahmanya that that was worshipped by Parasurama. As the temple structure got burnt down in a fire, Sree Chitra Thirunal Rama Varma, the erstwhile King of Travancore, rebuilt the current structure.
The temple premise was again devoid of a crowd and the ‘deepaaaradhana’ (lighting of the lamps) was in session. The group then circumambulated the temple. The Sopana Sangeetam (a form of devotional music) was being sung—a song in praise of Siva and Parvati forming the perfect backdrop. It was also an apt display of the singer’s expertise—as the group,in rapt attention,watched her simultaneously play the Edakka (a drum instrument) and the Elathalam (a metallic instrument resembling a miniature pair of cymbals).
In a quiet and meditative mood after the temple visit, the group returned by the tree-lined road that wound its way through the village.After breakfast, at 8.00 am, the group went about their personal chores and also spent time at leisure.
Around 11.30 am, the group assembled for a recital of Pulluvan Pattu — an old form of folk music related to snake worship, mostly sung in praise of Nagaraja, the lord of the serpents. The performance was in a stunning setting—the front yard of a 300-year-old traditional, wooden Kerala home. The songs were sung by a lady, who also played the pulluvan veena—a one stringed instrument resembling a violin.
Interestingly, in the midst of this performance, Sri M’s attention was caught by some part of the lyrics. He sat in rapt attention and listened to the entire recital. Later, he pointed out that the song’s narrative contained the same story about the land of the Nagas he had mentioned in his autobiography.
The group had lunch at 2.00 pm. At 6.00 pm, they assembled again at a Satsangi’s home. Today’s satsang was different from the set routine. The gathering was mostly limited to walkers, residents and few people from the local community. It began with bhajans being sung by the padayatris, with Sri M joining in. Sri M also recited a few shlokas or cantos from the Bhagawat Gita’s 15thchapter, where Sri Krishna reveals the virtues, glories and the transcendental qualities of the Supreme One – the omnipotent, omniscient and the omnipresent.
After the satsang, funds for the padayatra were raised by an auction of gifts received by Sri M.
After dinner at 9 pm, and some interaction with Sri M, the group retired for the night. An announcement was made that the Walk would leave later than the usual starting time of 6.00 am tomorrow.