The Journal Of Hope Archive
The full text of Anna Hazare's Address to the Padayatris
“My greetings to respected Sri M, brothers and sisters who are on the padayatra, Popat Pawar from Hiware Bazar and all those who are here. Sri M has set out with a very important message; he has set out on this padayatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. I have faith that this padayatra will have an effect onthe society. I feel that this message of peace, harmony and unity with which Manav Ekta Mission has set out is very relevant. Today, due to many reasons, mostly due to a few people, the unity of our country faces some difficulties. I feel that, with this padayatra, these difficulties will be overcome. You have come here, to this small village, where the population is 2500.You have stopped here. You maybe experiencing how difficult it is to stay in a village; facilities are not good here and we face many challenges.” “Our India is a country of villages. Mahatma Gandhi used to say that if the country has to change, the village has to change. Until and unless the villages do not change, there will be no lasting change in the nation. Yes, there has been development - there has been a lot of change after Independence. There were no roads, now we have roads. There were very few buildings, now there are many tall buildings. There were no buses to the villages, now there are buses. There has been development. But, Mahatma Gandhi used to say that to change the nation, one has to change villages and, to change the villages, one has to change its people.” “Until people change, there can be no change – if people do not change, villages cannot change and until villages do not change, India will not change. Constructing tall buildings is not real development. There is nothing wrong with tall buildings but if the buildings get tall, the thinking should also be high. What is happening? The buildings are getting taller and taller and the thinking of people is going lower and lower. This is not real development. Mahatma Gandhi used to say - to change the nation, one has to change the villages and to change the villages, one has to change its people.” “And, what sort of change? There should be people who think of neighbours, who think of the village, who think of society, who think of India. So many years have passed since Independence but still there is a lack of such people. I feel that through the medium of Manav Ekta Mission, such people can be created - those who think of others. Why am I saying this to you? All of you are going with the message of peace and harmony from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. I have seen it in the pamphlet, you have other objectives too, you are talking about the environment.” “Today, people throughout the world are worried about the environment; what will happen of this nation? What will happen of this world? After Independence, we have been exploiting Nature and we have been exploiting Humanity. Day by day, this is increasing. Petrol, diesel, coal - we have been and keep on taking more and more everyday. And, then we are dreaming of development. Mahatma Gandhi used to say that in the name of development if one exploits humanity and nature, one day or the other there will be an unimaginable disaster. Today, we are experiencing this.” “Daily how much coal, petrol, diesel must we be burning? Has anyone calculated - Millions and millions of tonnes! This burning emits carbon dioxide. Because of this, there is pollution. Because of pollution, there are health diseases. There are new diseases everyday. We have constructed so many hospitals. Yet, they are not enough. Because of exploitation of nature, the environment is polluted, health of people is bad and temperatures are rising. You must have heard that this year in May, temperature in Delhi was 47.5 degrees; temperature in Wardha was 47.6 degrees. Those who sleep on the footpaths died.” “People are suffering and dying in this 47 degree temperature. And this will only go up, this will not come down. If this temperature goes to 50 or 52 degrees, there will be no birds. I am telling you all this because the work that we have done in Ralegan Siddhi presents an idea to the country and to the world. Here, 40 years ago, there was no water to drink, people used to sleep on empty stomachs, they used to walk 6 kilometers everyday to break rocks. No foreign funds have come, no money has come from industrialists, no money has come from funding agencies. Without money and support, these people have come together with nature.” “The rain that falls - they harvest that and do not let a drop go waste, they use it to recharge ground water. The underground water table has increased. In this village, where there was no water for even one crop in 400 acres, in the same village we now have two crops every year in 1200 acres. We did not burn any coal, petrol or diesel.” “Mahatma Gandhi used to say that in the name of development if one exploits humanity and nature, one day or the other, there would be an unimaginable disaster. This small work we have done shows that a different way of development is possible. If other villages get inspiration from this then, without exploiting nature or humanity, there will be development. There was a time when 80% of the people were hungry in this village. There were 40 alcohol breweries just so the people could feed themselves with the money earned. From such a village now, without any external support, every year 200 to 250 trucks of onion are exported every year and more than a crore rupees is coming in. Neither humanity nor nature was exploited in any way. This is our way.” “I read about the objective of environment in the pamphlet of Manav Ekta Mission. This is a very relevant question.” “In this village, there was less than 400 liters of milk produced every month. Now, 5000 liters of milk goes out every day. It has been 4 years since there was any rain; there has been no rain. This is a drought-prone area. Despite that there is greenery here. The reason for this is soil conservation, water management and water conservation.” “The questions of peace and harmony Manav Ekta Mission raises are very important. I do not have that much energy to do much about this. I am a poor person; I have a bed to sleep and one plate. God has sent us someone in the form of Sri M; he has given him the power. This thing needs to start from villages.” “There are Dalits, there are Chamars - they keep them away, they are not allowed in temples, at places where food is served.They are told to go and sit somewhere far away - these differences are there. They are not even allowed to come close. Their wells for water are different. Today, you see what has happened here; a Dalit who had a government loan of Rs.60000 was not able to pay it back, the village came together and farmed his land. The villagers paid back his loan in this way.” “There is a festival of bulls here. You see what used to happen. There are these Patels. For pride, they used to fight about whose bull should lead the parade. Whose festival is it? Of bulls. And who is fighting - these Patels! It has been 16 years since this has changed. Dalit bulls lead the parade and the Patel bulls come after.” “Unless there is Manav Ekta, our nation cannot stay strong. If there is Manav Ekta, our country will be strong and can move forward. But, how will this happen? This work has to start from villages.But, if you go to villages, will they listen to you? Will they understand what you are saying? They will not. They are selfish and they will ask you, do not tell me things of knowledge - tell me something that will benefit me. So, you will also have to talk about their benefit.” “Secondly, there will be no change just by talking. If you have to change society then talking and doing have to come together. Now, why do people listen to and believe in Sri M? This is because there is talk as well as action. There will be influence from this. If we only talk and we don’t do then people listen to us and wonder, this person is speaking very nicely but how does he live, what does he eat? If there is even a little difference in word and action, there will be no influence. Words will only have weight if the character of the one who is speaking these words is pure.” “Clear character, clear thinking and a life without stain!” “I see many people who say many words and while sleeping in their air-conditioned rooms, they take sleeping pills because they can’t sleep. Why? This is so because their lives have many stains. Others may not know. But he or she knows and because of that in the night, one is not able to sleep. That is why there should be no difference in what one says and does. Kabir Das has said Kathi Mithi Khaand Si, Karni Mushkil Ho; Kathi Chodtoh Vish Amrit Hoye.” “Sri M has showed us what can be done if words and actions come together. Clear character, clear thinking and a life without stain! Also, a little bit of sacrifice. A little sacrifice is needed. Without sacrifice, nothing will happen. For thousands of years, it has been said in India that, for the welfare of the nation and society, someone has to sacrifice. You can see this in front of you.” “In a farm, you can see corn plants. Why are there so many corn plants? Because one grain has been put into the ground; this grain is needed. If that happens, then we will see good things. Many grains wonder - why go into the ground? I want to live a nice life of luxury - why go into the ground? The grains that think like this are destroyed; the grains that do not go into the ground go to the flourmill, are ground and become flour. This is not the fate of the grain that goes into the ground; it gives rise to a thousand other grains. Look at your family; 200 years ago, who was who, does anyone remember anyone’s name? Why? Because they went to the flour mill and got destroyed. And, what has happened of people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave? They have not been destroyed. They still stand out in the millions they have given rise to.” “This work that Sri M is doing - those that are with him - try to become such a grain.” “These are not philosophical ideas. When I was 25 years old, I got inspiration for this. I wondered what this whole drama of life was. The rich are running, running and running! They wake up at 4.00 am and sleep at 10 am, running all day to get some more. They want more and more. Nobody stops while going to the cremation ground. What does one come with? What does one go with? One’s whole life one runs; mine, mine, all mine - some people do not stop at this. They say that mine is mine but yours is also mine! They take a cap from one person and place it on the next, they take it from the next person and place it on some other person, and on and on goes the cycle. And what is in hand – nothing! I started thinking at 25 years of age about these things. I felt like committing suicide; I felt that if one has to go empty handed anyways, why live?” “Somehow, a small booklet of Swami Vivekananda fell into my hand. I understood that life is given to us to serve others, it is meant for seva. ‘Seva’ means nish-kama-karma - to work without expecting anything in return. In seva, there is ananda, in seva, there is the welfare of the spirit, in seva, there is the success of life. I found these things through Swami Vivekananda. I was in the Indian Army when I was 25. The war with Pakistan broke out and bombs and bullets rained on us. All my comrades were martyred, only I survived, I was hit here - on the forehead - apart from that nothing happened. I felt that all my friends have been martyred, and only I have lived. I wondered why. I felt that it was God’s grace and wish that I lived. I understood that life is for seva. At that time, on the border of Khem Karan, I offered my life for the service of the people of this nation.” “I felt great danger in marriage. I felt that if I get married I would have to spend a lot of time looking after the kitchen and I would not be able to do seva. Then, I decided that I would not marry. I am now 78 years. There is a house in the village, there is farming going on there but I have not been there for more than 40 years. My brother has children and I do not know their names. I have no bank balance. They gave me Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, many other awards, awards from America, Canada, and so many other places. I got Rs. 1 crore as an award and I made a trust out of that. Every year 12 lacs comes as interest that I use for social welfare. I only have a bed to sleep on and a steel plate. I have no bank balance.” “But, I am experiencing bliss that the richest of rich do not have. And, people live for bliss. Many people have air-conditioned rooms but they need sleeping pills just so that they can sleep. So, the bliss is here, in service of human beings. Service of human beings is the service of God. Others won’t know this; how will someone know how much bliss is there? If someone who has diabetes asks how sweet the tea is and is told it is very sweet - what is this ‘very’ - how can one measure something of this nature? It is known by experience only. Bliss is in serving humanity.” “It is not my message to the young padayatris that they should not marry because I have not married; this is not my message. Here is an example in front of you; Sri M - who is doing such good work, he is a married man. To be a bachelor and serve like this is not easy. It is more difficult than walking on the edge of a sword. The mind is very fast, very wicked. It has fooled many great people. The one who did tapasya for a thousand years, Vishwamitra - he was fooled by his mind. Nobody knows when it will fool you. That is why I say - marry.” “I do not feel like I have lost anything. Instead of having a small family, the whole nation is my family. Look at Sri M; he has a family and also a family that is very big. There is so much of suffering when the family is small within four walls. Why? Because everything is mine - this is mine, that is mine. What did one bring and what does one take? Whole life one runs. Mine, mine, all mine - some people do not stop at this. They say that mine is mine but yours is also mine. This nature is increasing.” “What grace is on me, I do not know. He has given me power to do all this. I am 78 years old and God has not let even a single stain fall on me. 6 corrupt ministers have been sacked. More than 400 are under investigation! I am a poor person; I am a fakir. Clear character, clear thinking and a life without stain - these things are needed. And also, learn to take insults. M Sir was telling me that people laugh at him, say many things about him. I told him that to do anything like this, you have to be mad. Not half mad, you have to be completely mad. If one is half mad, one is neither here nor there. I took a bath in the ocean in Mumbai before going to the Mantralaya because I had no money, but work is always there. Sometimes, there is no money to eat food. I have spent many days eating just channa. One has to be mad.” “Have you ever seen a mad person in the bus station? Touch his feet and there is no reaction because he is in his own madness. Put money in front of him, he does not touch it because he is in his own madness. Call him mad and there is no reaction because he is in his own mad world. One has to be this mad to do some work. Otherwise, it will not happen. We are not able to stand even a little bit of insult. We get frustrated easily. This is a big disease. I want to say that you are doing good work, please remember these things - clear character, clear thinking and a life without stain and the ability to ‘drink’ insults.” “When the river is flooded and the trees do not bend, they go along with the flood and are destroyed. There is grass next to the river, it bows down and lives. What does not bow down is destroyed. Only that one who bows down has a heart that has life. Becoming angry is very easy; it is the mark of the ego. The quality of humility should be there. I will conclude now as I have spoken for quite some time now.” His address received a rapturous applause as it ended. Following this, there was an interactive session that lasted for about half an hour where the padayatris asked Anna Hazare questions. Excerpts are as follows: Q. Please say a few words about Sant Yadav. A. There is no recorded history of Sant Yadav. He was a yogi who spent his life in sadhana. This is what we know about him. He made ashrams at many places. He came here for samadhi. That is also the prayer place of our village. He took the law into his hands. For example, if anyone drank liquor he would warn that person two or three times, he would make the person take a vow. If that person did not amend himself, he would call forth a public committee; he would be tied to the pole in the village chowk. He went against the principles of Mahatma Gandhi of non-violence and peace. But his intentions were those of a mother. If a child played in the sun, a mother shouts and calls out to him and forces him to come to the shade. He helped in construction of homes for people, in making provisions for basic amenities. Because of him there were no alcohol or tobacco shops in the village. He did a lot of work here and helped change the people here. Q. Who do you consider to be your Guru? A. There are many Guru Traditions in Maharashtra. It is said that if there is faith and devotion for a deity, that deity becomes the Guru. But I do not have a Guru in the normal sense. Swami Vivekananda became my Guru. Mahatma Gandhi became my Guru. They inspired me. Because of them, I could control my mind. For example, I was a driver in the army. I used to see married couples and wonder if I was doing the right thing. I then used to go and read Vivekananda. I then discovered that my way is also fine. Whenever my mind tried to delude me, I got inspiration from Vivekananda. Because of that there is no stain on my life. Controlling the mind is not easy. Because of there not being a stain on me, I live in bliss. If there is a stain, one cannot even sleep peacefully. Q. Facing so many difficulties, what gave you strength for these last 50 years? A. It is this - I have made no plans. What comes, comes. I told you these things - the character has to be controlled. Life has to be without stains. I did not take revenge. I learnt these things early on. Yes, this is there - I associated and mingled with those who drank alcohol - but I did this with the intention to improve them. It is said that only Satsang can change what is not right and with this intention, I associated with them. They now tell me that we would have been destroyed, it is good you came into our lives. I made no plans. All that you saw today: watershed development, farming practices, and water conservation - I never planned for any of that. Work became my guru and one thing led to another. Like it happened with development, it happened with corruption. For a rupee, even ten paisa was not coming to the village. Then, the development movement started in the sixties. The government did not want to let us establish Gram Sabha. It was because of social pressure that they finally took action. Development and corruption are two sides of the same coin. In our country not only do we have to develop, we also have to tackle corruption. After some laws were passed, people started believing that something can be done and they had hope. This corruption has roots everywhere in the country. Then, came the Lokpal Bill. In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal was working along the same lines; they needed support from someone like me. He came here and asked me to work in Delhi too. What happened because of all of this? Corruption has not ended but people have awakened. They have hope. They now have the courage to talk against, question and stand against corruption. People have awakened and nothing can stop them. Corruption will end. I mentioned to Sri M that we have to do another movement in Ram Lila Maidan. I did not see any party or sect but kept on working. It is very important to have a goal. We make so many goals - what will I do in a year, what will I do tomorrow, what will I do in a week? Like this, it is important to sit in solitude and find out what is to be done in a lifetime. I made service my goal; it does not matter if death comes. With a goal it should be like this, one should not care for death. One should walk hand in hand with death. People do not have any goals. If some difficulty comes, they run away. M Sir has also created his goal. It is very important to create this goal. Otherwise, there was no planning from my side. These five things are very important - pure thoughts, pure actions, a clear life, sacrifice and the ability to take insults. Q. Why is it that what has happened here has not happened in other villages? A. What has happened here - in Ralegan Siddhi or Hiware Bazaar - this has not happened elsewhere; there is a reason for that. Good leadership is not there. This raises the question if there is not enough leadership in our country. For one place in the government, 25 MLAs stand, it seems like there is abundant leadership for such things - it won’t work like this. If one does not have pure thoughts, pure actions, a clear life, sacrifice and the ability to take insults one cannot be a good leader. Secondly, there are so many departments in the Indian Government. In each department, there is a training center. But, there is not one center for leadership development. Today, there are such people in the country who are saying that like you I am ready to give my life to serve the nation. But, they ask me, where do I start? They say I am ready to work but I need support, how will I fill my stomach? If these two things are fulfilled then there will be more leaders. I tried to do something about this here. We spoke to students who have completed their graduation. I wrote a letter to such colleges and asked the principal for the name and address of all the students who had graduated in the last 3 years. I wrote to all of them that we have to start a development program for rural development, will you join us? We will provide six months of training but training will be from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. If we have to build this country, then we will have to be mad. Wake up at 5.00 am and have some physical training. Then, for one hour, take the broom and clean. There is great power in the broom. The ego will leave because of the broom. I have picked garbage for one year in the village with a broom and a bucket. These days, everyone is picking up a broom. When I picked up the broom, no camera was called and no pictures were taken. Then, work for two hours in the fields. Whole day there will be a training program. In the evening, there will be games. There will be library in the night at 9.00 pm. I wrote this to 4000 students and 403 came forward - we were ready. 403 came and when it came to taking the broom, 110 were left. When it came to working in the field, they got boils and blisters, and 96 were left. To those 96 we gave training and what wonderful work they are doing. But, that is all we could do because we had no funds. At this moment, the population of India is 1.25 crores. There are more than 6.5 lac villages. In a country like India with this kind of population, it is sad that 6 lac leaders cannot be found - it is sad that 6 lac grains that can go into the ground cannot be found. If these were found then, we would be leaders in the world. It is not that we do not have resources. We have tremendous natural resources. So, this is the answer to your question - that there is no leadership. Even now, if there are good leaders, something good will happen. Q. What is the essential thing needed for someone to be socially committed? A. It is like this. Imagine you are working in a village. You must find out what the needs of the people are. If there is no need and you want to help them, they will not accept it. They have no need and you go there and want to help them - this will not work. If there is a need; it is this leadership that is most required. I came here and found out that they were hungry; they were running more than 40 alcohol breweries. What right have I to tell them that alcohol is bad, close it? They needed it to fill their stomachs. I did not tell them to close the breweries. Rather, I did something so that they could eat. Then, I worked on watershed development. Later, I asked them to close the breweries and they agreed.Concluding the session, Sri M added: “I thank Annaji. I am very happy that he said ‘our’ padayatra, ‘our’ ManavEkta. I feel very happy that he is with us. It is not necessary that he walks with us but our thoughts are similar. This is also your yatra. You are doing work. We are also doing work from this side. I thank you for your guidance and love. The padayatris are grateful, they must see what work is being done here, they must learn from this place.” “What you said about the leadership training, that you found a few people but that could not go ahead. If you give us information about such people, we will try to help in some way. I do not know what will happen and if it will happen, but we will try. With God’s grace, something will happen.” “I thank you. Namaskar and Salaam.” To this, Anna Hazare said, “Our paths maybe different but the goal is the same.” Dinner followed and the padayatris retired soon after.