Day 216 | 15 August 2015 | Pardi to Valsad | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Keeping an eye out for the less privileged - Pardi
  • The excitement is palpable - Pardi
  • WOH Day 216 - India's 69th Independence Day - Pardi
  • Sri M received by Swami Hariprasadji at Vallabh Ashram - Pardi
  • A squad of smartly marching cadets lead us to the Vallabh Ashram School - Pardi
  • Sri M unfurls the tricolor at Vallabh Ashram School - Pardi
  • The rendering of the National Anthem that swept the stadium - Vallabh Ashram School
  • An emotional moment as the revered octagenarian Swami Hariprasadji greets Sri M with a warm hug - Pardi
  • Sri M addresses the Vallabh Ashram School community
  • 10.School-children-taking-a-
  • 11.Good-to-see-children-shouting-themselves-hoarse-on-Independence-Day!!,-Parnera,-Valsad,-Gujarat
  • Reception at Parnera - Valsad
  • 13.Sir-had-two-
  • Sri M gets to taste the local Gujarai chai - Parnera
  • Ceremonial reception at the day's halting point - Parnera
  • 16.Oh-my!!,-they-look-straight-out-of-a-baby-beauty-pagent!!,-Parnera,-Valsad,-Gujarat
  • At the Swami Ayyappa temple at Valsad
  • Sri M offering prayers at the Swami Ayyappa temple - Valsad
  • Sri M in quiet contemplation inside the Swami Ayyappa temple - Valsad
  • 20.Sir-offering-prayers-at-the-Hanuman-shrine-attached-to-the-Ayyappa-temple,-Valsad,-Gujarat
  • Sri M, just before his address at the Swami Ayyappa temple - Valsad
Leaving behind the town of Pardi, Walk of Hope reached Valsad city covering about 14 kilometers in 5 hours. The day also marked the 69th independence day of India and saw special celebrations. Leaving Pardi early in the morning, the yatris marched on a drenched and busy trucking highway. The only town they passed through was Parnera, before reaching Valsad. Valsad is historically a small coastal town with teak production as a major industry. Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury had family origins in Valsad, and his original family name (Bulsara) is derived from the former name of the city. Now, the town has many industries and a major highway passes through it.

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After they stopped for their first tea break, the walkers were received at the Vallabh Ashram School of Pardi. Swami Hariprasadji from Swadhyay Mandir, the principal and other senior members from the school welcomed Sri M and the padayatra into the school. They were led to the school ground in a slow procession by the school band. There they took their seats on a raised ground and saw rows and rows of more than a 1000 school children awaiting their arrival. The principal and a group of students welcomed Sri M and the walkers officially. Soon after, another small group of students spoke about the significance of Independence Day. After this, Sri M raised the Indian flag to loud cheers from the students and the padayatris. Everyone stood absorbed as they sung the national anthem. The yatris had been to many schools in the course of the padayatra but this is the first time they were taking part in a school function, leaving many of them doubly nostalgic - not only of memories of their school days but also being an integral part of the Independence day celebrations. The patriotic spirit, in the children and the old timers alike, was very palpable today. Sri M addressed the gathering afterwards. Greeting the School dignitaries, Principal and Trustees by name and also the walkers, Sri M’s address continued: “When Swamiji invited me to speak here in Swadhyaya Mandir, I thought we would hoist the flag and leave. Now, we are participating in the event with you all.” “After listening to the Principal, I feel it is better to speak English. As you know, I am from the South - I am from Kerala. It is better I speak either in Malayalam or English. There’s no point speaking Malayalam here, so I will speak in English. First of all, I am very happy and thankful that we have been invited to your flag hoisting today. I will keep my speech short. I will also not speak a lot about the padayatra; much has been published about it in newspapers and so on. This flag in front of which we are standing - you and I are standing - is the flag of independence, self-rule and oneness. When the independence movement was going on, when the freedom struggle was going on – you must be proud that the father of the nation is from your state.” (Loud applause) “What was so different in this freedom struggle is that Gandhiji decided that he will get the Britishers to quit India through non violence. Never before was something like this ever done. When Nelson Mandela did that, he said that he was emulating Gandhiji. Nowhere in the world had something like this happened before.” “He said that we have enough in our culture and that is what we will use.He said that we will use ,Ahimsa Paramo Dharma; non-violence is the greatest religion and we will get Britishers out of India. Not all Britishers as such, but Britishers who ruled India. You must understand that we have nothing against the British race. The fact is that for two hundred years, we were ruled by a foreign power and on 15th August 1947, we were able to come out of it.” “And look at Gandhiji, when everyone was becoming President, Prime Minister, and Minister and so on, he had no desire for any such responsibility. He was walking on the streets, in communities where there was strife, trying to put the people at peace. You have not been a part of the independence struggle. Even I have not been a part of the independence movement. I was born in post-independent India. I am only 66, and I was born in 1949. But, I have been able to meet people who were part of the struggle. One of my good friends, one of my closest friends was Sri Achyut Patwardhan. I consider him a Guru; he, along with Aruna Asaf Ali, climbed up and pulled down the British flag and hoisted the Indian flag in 1942, which started the Quit India Movement.” “Talking to him and talking to his friends, I am convinced that this freedom was attained with great sacrifice. You are the inheritors of this great freedom. We have got independence but we have also got another thing and that is Swarajya - self rule. We can also rule our country, this is our own country. This does not mean ruling the country but it means understanding deeply that this is our own country. This belongs to me and I have great pride in being a citizen of this country and I will protect this country to the last breath, from any more foreign occupation of any kind. I will also work to keep this country together and not allow it to fall apart for which I need to learn the traits of honesty, truthfulness, integrity - which is all part of our culture - we do not have to learn anything from outside.” “I am convinced that if young people like you - I am impressed by you, my young friends - that if there are more such young people who grow up and go into the world as future citizens of our country, we will be a great nation; not only economically and so on but also as cultural ambassadors to the world. I am dreaming of a time when India will once again be a great center of learning and there will be universities on par or better than Yale or Harvard. Why I am saying this is that a thousand years ago people from all over the world came to India to attain knowledge. They came to places like Nalanda and Takshashila.” “Please keep this dream alive in your heart; one day, we will make India so advanced, so great that people will once more come to this country to learn new things and attain wisdom. Let our country move forward. Make sure that nobody can stop this growth. Absorb the good things from all sides but do not forget that basically we are Indian, we are citizens of this country which has been bequeathed to us with so much sacrifice by those you have not seen but whose memory will remain in our hearts.” “Before I wind up this little sharing I had with you, I also want to share that the great grandson of the Father of the Nation is also walking with us. His name is Krishna Kulkarni and he is the grandson of Ramdas Gandhi.” (Loud applause again) “He is walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. I think I have said enough. Please remember this in your heart – Saare jahan se accha Hindustaan hamara.” “Thank you” “Namaskar” After the address, the walkers were served breakfast in the school mess where a delicious, wholesome meal was served.They started off again, walking in a light drizzle, and as they reached the highway half an hour later, the skies opened up! Sri M and the yatris were greeted by yet another group of school children, about 100 in number, shouting slogans at the top of their voices! These children were particularly adorable, being so young and so sincerely mouthing the slogans. Moving on towards Parnera, Sri M was received by a group of about 40 people. They walked along with the padayatra briefly. Soon after, they reached their halting point andwere greeted ceremonially. They proceeded onwards for a temple visit to the Ayyappa temple of Valsad. The small temple is a beautiful one and it seemed like a little piece of Kerala had been planted in Gujarat. Many of the walkers from Kerala were very happy to experience a little bit of home once more. Sri M and the padayatris offered prayers here and gathered in the temple courtyard. Sri M addressed the gathering of about 300. “I have a chance now to speak in Malayalam after a long time but there are many here who do not understand the language, so I will also mix it with Hindi and English. When he told me that there is an Ayyappa Swami temple here, I thought I should come but I had to consult Manish bhai, who is the organiser for this area. And, when Ayyappa says ‘come’, I don’t think anybody can say ‘no’. So, I am here.” “I was pleasantly surprised to hear, as per the Tantri’s description, that experts in temple architecture who came all the way from Kerala have built this temple. We Malayalis have a nice gift of bringing Kerala to any place we go; I do not know if others appreciate it or not.” “It is indeed a great achievement. Once, long ago, I was told by a person that he was having dreams wherein Ayyappa appeared and kept saying, ‘Build me a temple, I want to come to your place’. He told me that he was poor and he could not build a temple. I told him that if Ayyappa had told him to build a temple, he himself would build the temple, ‘You just do your best’. I told him that if you truthfully had a dream then He will somehow come here. So, three years later, he came to me and said I have made a little temple.” “In the same way, I have come here. I am very thankful to you, Sir, for first taking up the idea of this visit. Actually, you are doing me a favour. A large percentage of the padayatris are from Kerala and they are very happy to be here. My life has been that of wandering and, wherever there is something divine happening, I somehow manage to go there. So, I am convinced that there is something divine happening here.” “At the entrance of your temple, there is something written - Tat Tvam Asi. It is written in most Ayyappa temples. I don’t want to go into the story of Ayyappa, I will tell that in some Satsang. ‘That you are’ is the meaning of Tat Tvam Asi -it means Know Yourself. It means - know that Supreme Reality, a spark of which resides in your heart.” “If you appreciate that, then every human being is a moving, walking temple of God. If all living beings are temples of God, then all are One. This is our Manav Ekta Mission. With this, we have been walking from Kanyakumari. After paying obeisance at Padmanabha Swami Temple, we are now going to Srinagar. This was not the exact route.” “Another person went to Srinagar many hundreds of years ago. One can see Adi Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar. We are - humbly - trying to emulate the walk. In April 2016, we hope to reach Srinagar with God’s grace. I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity topay my respects to Ayyappa.” “Thank you very much.” After the address, the padayatris departed to their place of rest.

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  1. Well Dressed Beggar says:

    Jai Gurudeva.. Jai Kriya Babaji… Jai Maheshwaranath… Jai Madukaranath

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