WoH Day 213 was a short and sweet walk from Koprali to Vapi
Reception at the ISKCON temple-Koprali, Valsad
Sri M inside the ISKCON temple - Koprali
A tuition class in progress - Vapi
In the middle of an 'al fresco' bath - Vapi
At the goshala at Rata, Vapi
Ducks, buffaloes and monkeys - Rata, Vapi
Circling the Vande Mataram chowk as the Walk nears the city center - Vapi
Civic reception accorded to the padayatris at Vapi center
Sri M being feliciatated during the satsang at the Vapi Industrial Association Hall - Vapi
Sri M in satsang at VIA Hall - Vapi
Trombone, bugle and percussion welcome the padayatris to Vapi
On a grey and cloudy morning, Walk of Hope left Koparli and walked to Vapi, a distance of just 11 kms. Stopping at the ISKCON temple, half an hour into the walk, Sri M was greeted and welcomed into the temple. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known locally as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organisation who follow select on select time-honored Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavatam and The Bhagavad-gītā.
ISKCON believes itself to be direct descendant of Brahma-Madhava-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. and was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga towards the Supreme Lord, Krishna. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 550 centres, including 60 farm communities, 50 schools, and 90 restaurants. Sri M and the padayatris spent a few moments in prayer and continued onwards after visiting the temple and partaking in their hospitality.
At Rata, a village they passed through, they stopped briefly at a Goshala full of cows, other animals and even some birds. Sri M and the padayatris were taken around the premises located close to the forest areas.
Reaching Vapi at 10 a.m, Sri M and the Padayatra were greeted by a group of 100, including a troupe of musicians with drums and trumpets who led them into the city. Situated on the banks of the Damanganga River, Vapi is the largest industrial area in Asia in terms of small-scale industries and dominated by the chemical industry. Dotted sporadically with green and in a sad state of disrepair, it was ranked as the second most polluted place in the world in 2008, mainly due to its poor air and water quality caused by the industrial sites in and around it. After walking through the reserve forest territory just three days before, the stark contrast was very difficult to accept and left many of the yatris feeling dejected.
They reached and halted at the city centre where Sri M was welcomed with a garland and a shawl. The yatris retired to the day’s resting place. They gathered in the evening at the Vapi Industrial Association where, in the large auditorium in an industrial district, 600 people including prominent industrialists, had gathered for the evening program. Sri M was felicitated and he addressed the gathering. Following his address the yatris retired to the resting place.
Sri M said:
“Akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāram vyāptam yena carācaram
Tatpadam darśitam yena tasmai śrī guravenamah
(Which) pervades the entire unbroken form of the circle (of creation), moving and unmoving.
To that beautiful and benevolent Guru through whom that state was revealed (to me), salutations.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Om Peace, Peace, Peace
Loka samasta sukinoh bhavantu - May the entire universe be happy
“Shall I speak Hindi or English? (Audience replies ….Hindi…Gujarati…)
“I don’t know Gujarati well, I will speak Hindi. Respected Sri Sarnaji, Reverend Father Edmond, Sri Gafru Bhai, Sri Hemant Shahji, Sri Yogeshji and all those present, all the guests, all those who are here and those who have been walking with me, first I would like to thank the people of Gujarat. For the three days, we have been here we have been treated very lavishly. I think in these three days I have gained at least one kilo. They are so courteous and so caring when they feed you, you cannot stop eating. We have now reached this place and now we are on our way to Madhya Pradesh.”
“You saw the video about the walk. We started this walk from Kanyakumari on 12th January, 2015. We started from Kanyakumari because it is the confluence of three oceans - the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian ocean. We felt it was the right place, a place where Swami Vivekananda crossed the ocean; there was nothing at that time, there was just a rock, now there is a memorial and a statue; and sat on that rock and meditated on his life’s mission. I felt that it was the right place to start because we would also have Swamiji’s blessings.”
“We have covered close to 3300 Kms. This is a padayatra and not a ratha yatra, we have covered this distance walking. Wherever we have been, every person we have met, has supported us without reservation. Yes, a few people have said you are mad, but apart from that we have had support from all quarters. When I met Anna Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi, I told him that people call me mad sometimes. He told me that only if one is mad can work be done.”
“5000 Kms still remain. In April 2016, we hope to reach Srinagar. The message from this padayatra is only one and it is nothing new. 3000 years ago it has been said in the Vedas, Ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti - The truth is one but the wise call it by many names. As Jesus said in the Bible - Old wine in a new bottle, I am only selling you old wine in new bottle.”
“Do we have time?” (Yes – replied the organizers)
“Okay, I will tell you a story. I have believed up until now that this story came from the great Sufi, Rumi. I also knew this was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s favourite story. I found out a few days ago that the original story came from the Jain religion, from their Anekvaad. Rumi adopted it. Whosoever is intelligent adopts and adapts. Like that all great works are done. I will tell you the story.”
“The story is titled, ‘Four blind men learn about an elephant’. So, four blind men go to an elephant. One of them holds on to the foot and says that this is like a great pillar. The second one holds on to the ear and says that this is like a leathery sieve, that moves to and fro, now and then. Third one holds on to the trunk and says that this is like a hose that moves sometimes and makes noises now and then. The last one holds onto the tail and says that this is like a brush that moves and if you go too close you may be hit. They started arguing and fighting over this - what an elephant was like really. It came down to violence.”
“At that point of time, someone who had eyesight, arrived there......someone who could see. They stated their contending points, that the elephant was like this or like that. The person who had just arrived, told them that whatever each one of you is saying is correct, but the elephant is something more than what you can see. He said that the elephant cannot be defined by your limited perception. He added, you are not wrong in your definitions but you are wrong in believing that your definition is the only definition.”
“This story has the message of Ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti. We are walking on this yatra so that we can tell people - people already know it, that everyone is born of a mother’s womb and goes into this earth - but sometimes we forget this. We forget this in anger, we forget this in selfishness, we forget this because of many reasons. Our aim is to not let people forget that we are all human beings. Our message is that you may come from any religion, you may come from any faith, from any place, from any creed or sect, you may be a man or a woman, you may have this ideology or that ideology, you may have this affiliation or that affiliation, but do not forget this - that first and foremost you are a human being.”
“Understand this deeply and do not forget it. If, when someone says you are different, you say to them that it is not so, we are all one. Now, I have reached Vapi. Remember this, that someone came and spoke about these things. If this is remembered, then India will become strong. It is very important and necessary that India becomes strong.”
“There was a time when India was a great center of learning; it was a repository of wisdom and people from all over the world came here to attain knowledge. It is not so now. People go to Harvard to attain information now. There was a time when people came to Takshashila and Nalanda. Why did we lose this? We lost this because we did not stand united. We lost it because not standing united, we could not face outside forces when they attacked us. We lost it because not standing united, we could not face outside forces when they attacked us, and when they attacked us they destroyed things of great value here that we could no longer protect.”
“If we stand united now, if we understand deeply that we are all one and live this oneness, then what was before can be restored. This is my dream. I see an India where people will once again come to attain knowledge. There will come an age, there is to come an age where India will once again attain it's status as a great center of learning, a storehouse of knowledge and people from all over the world will come here to attain wisdom.”
“This is my dream. Looking at the response we have had till now, it seems that this is possible. When we started this yatra from Kanyakumari - we started from zero point - we started with this prayer that we also become zero. Any work that is done is done by the will and the grace of the Lord. This ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘I’, are the source of all problems. If this is removed, one can overcome even death. I will tell you a short story. This story was told to me by a swamiji of a Lingayat Math and I liked it very much.”
“There was once a great sculptor who was called by a temple priest for some work in the temple. The priest asked him to create a statue for the temple. The priest also happened to be a very good astrologer and he told the sculptor, ‘You are going to die in a month’. The sculptor said, "That is fine, can something be done - show me a way to defeat death’.”
The priest said, ‘Go to your workshop and create replicas of yourself and stand amongst the statues. When your time comes, the messenger of death, the yama doota, who comes on a buffalo and lacks intelligence, will not be able to make out which is real and which is not.’. So, the sculptor went back and created ten to fifteen replicas of himself and, when the time came, he stood amongst them. The yama doota came and searched for the sculptor but could not find him, so he went back. The time for death is fixed and once that time is over, one is no longer in danger.”
“So, the yama doota went to Yama (The God of Death) and told him what had happened. Yama said, ‘His time will come again after two months. He has won once; And he will again stand amongst the statues. When you go there, just praise the statues - look at the statues and say how good this statue is, how life-like this nose is, how clear these eyes are, so on and so forth. Just do this.’”
“The time came, the sculptor did the same thing and stood between his replica statues. The yama doota came and did as he was told. He started praising the statues - this sculptor is the greatest sculptor, this statue is so beautiful, these eyes are so life-like, who could make such brilliant pieces of work, etc.
The sculptor could remain silent for only five minutes, after that he shouted out ‘I made these!’. The yama doota said, ‘Come, let’s go’. So, this is it.”
“It has been said in the Gita that if you are doing good work do not think of the doer or agency, and the result will be good.”
“Looking at the response we feel that this yatra will be successful. Everyone we talk to says that you are doing good work. We have walked through small villages and people there understand why we are doing this, for what we are doing this. Every religion propounds love, compassion, peace and harmony. There is not one religion that does not speak about peace. The Jain religion starts with Ahimsa Paramo Dharma - non violence is the greatest religion.”
“Violence is of many kinds. If you slap someone once, physically, the slap will be forgotten by tomorrow. But, the memory of it will remain for a very long time. As has been said in the Gita, Manasa, Vacha, Chinta, Karma - in mind, speech, thought and action one should be pure. There is no other way.”
“How does a verse from the Quran start? It starts with Bismillah Rehman Ul’ Rahim…Rehman and Rahim are the names of the Lord. If that is so and a spark of the Lord is within our hearts, then there is kindness and compassion within us also. Kindness and Compassion are qualities of a human being.”
“When one says Salaam, what does it mean? It means peace. When we end the satsang, what do we say? We say Om Shanti Shanti Shanti - shanti also means peace. In Arabic and Sanskrit it means the same thing, peace. It pains me that they say peace and take weapons in their hands.”
“I will tell you one more story of the great Guru Nanak. When he was first illumined - he came out of water, he was inside a river for three days and not to be seen - the first thing he said was, there is no Hindu, no Muslim, no Sikh. He used to work for a nawab sahib and his job was to distribute provisions to the people. Once he was distributing the grain and he started counting - one, two, three - it went well till he counted twelve. When he came to thirteen (in Hindi, ‘tera’, a term that also means yours) - he could not move ahead from here, he just gave and gave, he gave away everything remembering God and thinking that all is yours.”
“I am reminded of another incident of his life. There was once another nawab sahib - in those days there were many nawabs - this nawab was very rich but he never gave money for good causes. Guru Nanak thought that this nawab had to be taught a lesson. So, he placed a needle in a piece of paper and wrote on that paper, ‘Greetings Nawab Sahib! We are both going to die and I think that you will die before me. Please take this needle and keep it for me when you die. Give it to me on the other side.’”
“So the nawab got it and thought to himself that there must be something to it because it came from such a great saint. He went running to Guru Nanak and said to him, ‘You are a great sant, what you are saying must be true, how am I to take a needle with me after I die?’. Guru Nanak said, ‘You cannot take even a needle when you die, what will you do by accumulating wealth like this?’ The Nawab understood and stopped running after wealth, he became very peaceful after this incident.”
“If one thinks about these things and looks deeply then one becomes very peaceful. Maheshwarnath Babaji once said to me that if you mediate for twenty hours a day for twenty years and when you go out, you do not hear a child’s cry, all that meditation is gone to waste. The real meaning of religion is compassion, kindness.”
“I will end with something from the Bhagavat Gita. In the 12th chapter, Bhakti Yoga, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, who is your greatest devotee, the one who is closest to you?”
“Lord Krishna says three things. One is Samyiyam Indriyam gramam…- the one who keeps his senses under control. Second, Sarvatra Sama buddhaya..- one who remains calm in any situation; be it praise or blame, hot or cold, be there happiness or sadness, if one's mind remains calm, if one is equanimous in any situation, such a yogi is my dearest devotee. And third, Sarva Bhuta hiteh ratah..- the one who has the welfare of all beings in his heart is my dearest devotee.”
“I am speaking of these things with you because the qualities of kindness, compassion, peace - they have been spoken about in every religion. The same thing has been said in different ways because it had to be adapted to the time and place.”
“Reverend Father is here, I will speak a little on the Bible, I do not know much, so forgive me if I say something that is not right. In the Sermon on the Mount - it is very short but it is also my favourite - Jesus preaches to the multitude, telling them what no one had said before. He says, pray for them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.”
“Jesus also said - lay treasures in your heart where thieves do not break in and steal. St. Paul has said, Know ye not that you are the children of God and the spirit of God dwells within you? If that Supreme Reality - call it God, Ishwar, Allah, Jesus - if there is a spark of that Supreme Reality within every being, then every human being, be it a man or a woman, is a walking temple of God. And the service of another human being is the service of God. On this Swami Vivekananda has said Daridra Narayana Seva. With service, one not only helps another but also purifies oneself and moves towards that which is called Moksha.”
“To move together as one. With this we have been walking and we have come here. Leave that which is old and start anew. Let the old settle and the water will become clear and pure. India will become strong this way and an age will come where people will come once more to India. Start a new life, a new world where we live together as one and there will be peace. In the Vedas it has not been said that may there be peace in India only, it has been said - Loka Samasta sukinoh bhavantu…- may there be peace and happiness in the whole world. This is all I want to say. I thank all those from Vapi who are here who welcomed us and sat here with patience listening to me.”
“Namaskaar and Salaam.”