Day 182 | 12 July 2015 | Visit to Alandi and town walk in Shirur | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Inside the sacred precincts of Sant Jnaneswar Samadhi - Alandi
  • Sri M in contemplation, with the padayatris, adjacent to the samadhi - Alandi
  • The serpentine que awaiting darshan at the sanctum sanctorum - Alandi
  • Alandi is a riot of colors
  • 'Tonsured, nonchalant and cute'- banks of the Indrayani, Alandi
  • Fishing in Indrayani for coins using a 'magnetic bait' - Alandi
  • One of the multi-religious receptions at Shirur
  • A group of young warkaris welcome the Walk to Shirur
  • Traditional welcome to Sri M at Ram Mandir, Shirur
  • Sri M performing Arathi at the Ram Mandir, Shirur
  • A short and sweet satsang at the Ram Mandir, Shirur
  • The Ram Mandir, Shirur
  • A floral carpet welcoming Sri M at the destination point at Shirur
  • WOH Day 182 - walk within Shirur
  • 14.Sir-received-with-a-shawl-at-destination-point,-Shirur,-Pune,-Maharashtra)
Today was a special day for Walk of Hope for it reached Alandi. This town on the banks of the Indrayani River, is a pilgrimage spot, quite well known as the place where the 13th century saint, Sant Gyanesvar gained his samadhi. Born in the year 1271, Sant Jnanesvar was a saint, poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition - the same tradition that Sri M belongs to. His commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called ‘Jnanesvari’ , and the outpouring of his devotion to God and all the great saints called ‘Amrutanubhava’, are considered to be milestones in Marathi spiritual literature.

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In the months of June and July, there is a ‘palkhi procession’ that carries Sant Gyananesvar’s sandals (symbolically) in a Palkhi (carriage) that starts from Alandi to reach Pandharpur on Ashadhi Ekadashi. This 150 km procession, covered by foot, is joined by hundreds and thousands of Varkari devotees. This big festival in Alandi is held every year on Kartika Vadya Ekadashi (eleventh day of the dark fortnight of Hindu month of Kartik) close to the day Sant Gynanesvar entered Samadhi and is attended by devotees in huge numbers. WOH reached a few days after the Varkari yatra had left to Pandharpur and Alandi was still teeming with people. The banks on the river Indrayani were a hive of activity. Some people were taking a dip, some sitting quietly and many were washing their clothes. Despite an average footfall of near six lacs during the time of Palki yatra, the Dakshinamukhi temple was clean and very well kept. There are narrow cobblestone roads that go all around the temple surrounded by shops that sell uniform ware – variations of prayer beads, white and yellow-coloured sweetmeats, articles of worship such as red kumkum (vermilion powder considered holy) and tulsi leaves. There are vendors squatting in nooks and corners selling more of the same. At every turn, there is someone to apply a holy mark made of sandalwood paste. The sky is blotted with electric lines running here and there. The air is heavy with fragrance of sweets and myriad scents. There is a constant din of untraceable noise, of people talking and whispering, of hawkers selling their goods, of vehicles moving. Hundreds of people move through these narrow streets every day, so the stone on the walls are worn around their edges and have become silken smooth. A special darshan was organised for the padayatris and they were led, one by one, into the two feet by two feet space that has Sant Jnanesvar’s samadhi. Padyatris felt that this was a very kind thing to do because the queues were unimaginably long, winding around the temple many times and one would normally haveto wait for hours to get a darshan. After darshan, which took about an hour, the yatris sat quietly with Sri M in a small hall next to the samadhi for half an hour! Following this, the walkers left for a town walk in Shirur. As it entered the town, about 40 young workers joined the walk. The three-kilometre walk through the small town lasted an hour or so. After that, the yatris were welcomed at the Ram Mandir by a special group of about 60 to 70 people. The reception was special because it was organised jointly by the local Muslim and Hindu communities. Leaders from both the communities welcomed Sri M and the padayatris. Sri M offered prayers at the temple and performed aarti. After a quick refreshment break, Sri M addressed the gathering briefly. “Namaskaar and Salaam to all of you. I do not feel like saying too many things. These days, I have stopped speaking and I walk more. This walk is our talk. This is because many people talk on the stage but do not do anything.” “We thought that we will walk for Manav Ekta. The message is this, be it a man or a woman, the person is born of a mother’s womb. In the span between birth and death, this whole circus goes on. If it is like this, why is it that we fight? Why can we not live with love towards other beings?” “This land is the land of saints. From Sant Gyaneshwar, from Tukaram –you read the works ofany saint - they say that we are all One. They say that the Supreme Being is within. This the Sufis call Khuda ka noor– thejewel of the Beloved within the heart. If this is within everyone, then what is the violence for?” “Yes, there can be difference of opinions, a difference in religions, a difference in ideologies, in name and in many other things. But we are all human beings first. When there is violence, the pain that is felt in this home is the same pain felt in the other’s home. People know this but they forget this sometimes for many reasons. This is our message.” “For this, we have been walking from Kanyakumari. We are doing this padayatra to tell people - do not forget this; whatever happens, do not forget that you are human beings. Walking is nothing new here, Varkaris walk every year. That too is a message of humanity and oneness.They walk with great devotion. Whenever I see Varkaris, I say to them that you are with our padayatra too - you are walking that side, we are walking in another direction - both are movements.” “We are all one - this is my experience. When Babaji’s hand was placed on my head, I had this experience that we are all One, there is no difference. Man and woman are maybe different on the outside but the soul is the same for both of them; at the level of soul, there is no difference.” “With this thought, we are walking. We have covered 2800 Kilometres. People ask me that in this era of jet planes, why are you walking? I say to them that throughout the ages when any good work was done, it was done by walking on the ground. That is why we too are walking.” “I feel, this is my faith, this is our belief, that a seed will be planted in the heart of human beings. This seed will, in time, grow into a strong tree; its fruits will be peace and harmony and its fragrance will be love. India will become strong this way. As is said, Loka Samasta Sukhinoh Bhavantu, will also happen. 5000 Kilometres are still left. I have faith that in April 2016, we will reach Srinagar. If it is God’s will, we will reach there.” “What am I to say more than this? This is all I have to say. I am happy we came here to this small place. I feel very happy that you welcomed us with so much love. Is there a Church here? We want to go there with everyone. It is my faith that the padayatra will reach Kashmir.Janaki nath sahaya kare jab; Kaun bigad kare nar tero – When Ram is on your side, who can cause you harm?” (Speaking to a person who had requested Sri M to say a few words on meditation) “You asked me to speak about meditation. I invite you to Shirdi and Nashik where we will have a special Satsang for this. Please read my autobiography and ‘Jewel in the Lotus’. We can meet later and discuss these things. I want to say this one thing. If there is any prayer, be it in the form of worship, or devotional singing, or meditation. Or be it in the form of Namaz.... Namaz is from the Persian language and not from the Arabic language, it comes from the word Namahand means to bow down or surrender. What does someone who does Namaz do? He bows his head down and comes up, bows down and comes up, and he keeps on doing this. I want to say that if you do any work, if you do anything, do not forget remembering the Lord. Do this daily for half an hour to one hour. What will happen this way is that whatever work you do, the hand of God will be on your head. If anything does not go right, know that it is God’s doing - there is a lesson in it for you - so that you learn from it and become better.” Following this address, the padyatris walked another two kilometres to a satsangi’s residence. Many yatris had a very pleasant surprise waiting for them- everyone in the building had simply opened their homes for them. 10 -15 of them rested in each home. Those who stayed here had moved out to make space for the padayatris. People from the neighbourhood pitched in and helped organize food and comforts for the yatris. In their experience, simple people have only love to share in abundance. There was no Satsang in the evening so everyone spent the rest of the day at leisure after lunch.

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