Today, the group reverted to the usual departure timing of 6.00 am, with Sri M and the group resuming the walk on State Highway # 9. Some of the walkers were visibly haggard having had less than four hours of sleep. Soon, energized by the morning breeze, the group began its progress accompanied by the sun beginning its ascent in the eastern sky. The road was narrow and winding in a hilly terrain with hardly any traffic and fewer people. The yatris have started relishing the early morning part of the walk for its contemplative nature.
It is perceptible that awareness about Sri M and Walk of Hope is much higher on this stretch. Prof P J Kurien – the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha joined the Walk on this day. Along the way, large groups of people were frequently greeting and garlanding Sri M at each point. Around 50 people from the local community received the walkers at Mallappally, from where they proceeded towards the Thirumalida Swayambhoo Mahadeva Temple. Sri M and the yatris offered their prayers for peace and harmony here. The temple, dedicated to ‘Shiva’, is located on the sandy banks of the river, Manimala. It is considered unique as the deity’s image faces the west of the river and is believed to be self-manifested. The shrine is often compared to the Kashi Viswanath temple in Varanasi. After breakfast here, and some interaction with the local community, Sri M and the yatris left the temple around 8.20 am.
The walk, post breakfast, is a little enervating with the sun beating down. The humidity forces the walkers to stop for tea and juice breaks every hour. The play of contrasts is also interesting—the vexing walk through the heavy traffic in some places, while in others through many a wooded patch with abundant shady trees on the roadside offering much relief.
About 11 kms from the starting point, the walkers reached Nedungadapally by 9.20 am. Starting with around 120 walkers in the morning, the group swelled to 180 by the time they reached here. After couple of tea breaks on the way, they reached Karukachal to be greeted by couple of community groups. Walking on, they entered Nedumkunnam Town and reached the residence of a satsangi by 11.55 am. The Satsangi’s home also hosted Sri M for the night. After rest, the group had lunch at 2.00 pm and proceeded to their respective local host’s homes. Around 25 houses extended their hospitality to the group.
After rest, the yatris gathered again for the Satsang in the evening. Sri M began his address to an audience of around 200 people at 6.00 pm. The core of his talk dwelt upon ‘Bhakti’ (devotion).He began with a story. In the days of yore, there was a boy who lived with his mother. They were very poor. The mother wanted to educate the boy in a Gurukul, located far away, with the route passing through a deep forest. The Guru there accepted the little boy as his student. The first day, the mother took the boy to school & walked back with him. After this, the boy had to walk alone through the fearsome forest. The boy cried and conveyed his fears to his mother, about having to walk through the fierce forest on his own. The mother consoled him and asked him to call upon Krishna, a little boy who lived in the forest, to accompany him every day. The little boy, Krishna, was dark-complexioned and used to play on the flute. “Call him and he will protect you”, she said. So, the boy, walking through the forest, called Krishna every day. Krishna came with his flute, walked and played with him, and they soon became friends. As days passed in this fashion, the teacher’s birthday was fast approaching. The boy was sure that his classmates, who were very wealthy, would offer rich gifts to the teacher and he had nothing to give because he was poor. Finally, the mother and son decided they would offer milk to the Guru as their tribute. The day soon dawned and the boy took the milk in a vessel. As he walked, troubled with doubt, Krishna appeared and asked him why he looked so worried. The boy told him about his gift that, he felt, was not good enough for his teacher. Krishna drank some of the milk and asked him to proceed; consoling him that everything would be fine.
When the boy reached the school, his classmates made fun of him and his offering of milk. The teacher asked all the children to drink the milk and give the boy back his vessel. They started pouring the milk into containers and, lo and behold, the milk remained unfinished even as they kept pouring. The Guru was amused at first and thought it to be a prank. He repeatedly questioned the boy and his replies remained consistent, saying it was because of Krishna. The Guru, disbelievingly, asked to be taken to Krishna.
The boy willingly took his teacher and the other children to the deep forest and called out to Krishna to appear. Krishna did not appear even after repeated calls. The heartbroken boy, in tears, finally cried out, “Krishna, where are you? Why are you not coming? These people do not believe you are my friend”. A voice was heard from within the forest. It said, “These people have no faith. Even if I appear, they will not be able to see me.”
Sri M said that simple faith is sufficient for God to appear. He again repeated the story of Kunti’s prayer – her prayer to Krishna when he was bidding farewell to them after the Kurukshetra war. After the coronation of Yudhisthira as King, Lord Krishna bowed to Kunti, respectfully asking for her blessings. Kunti’s prayer went thus: “Let all the world’s sufferings and calamities come to me; let me suffer as that is when you will appear before us, giving us your darshan”.
He narrated another story about Krishna and Uddhava to drive home a point about God's logic. One morning, the duo went on a walk and they come across a rich man’s mansion. Krishna said he was thirsty and asked Uddhava to fetch him some water from the rich man’s house. Uddhava went to the house and asked for water. The man of the house invited them in, received them with respect and offered them cool refreshments. Krishna was pleased and, once they go out, he blessed the man with prosperity and even more riches. They continued on their walk and come across a small hut, with a cow grazing in the background. Krishna again said he is thirsty and asked Uddahava to ask for water. Uddhava was suspicious that Krishna was up to his usual tricks but was reassured by Krishna that there was nothing amiss. Uddhava went and knocked on the door. An old ascetic opened the door and invited them in. When Uddhava told him that his friend is thirsty, the ascetic said regretfully that there was nothing in the house to offer them. The yogi then exclaimed that his one dear possession, the cow, will not let him down. He milked the cow and offered fresh milk to his guests. Krishna gulped it down with enjoyment and thanked him. They walked out and Krishna’s hands moved up in blessing, “May the old yogi’s cow die!” A shocked Uddhava found this difficult to comprehend. He questioned Krishna, asking him why the punishment when the yogi offered them the best he could. Krishna laughed and said that his blessings are always true and is based on the need of the individual and not on his ‘desire’ or ‘want’. He went on to explain that the yogi was on the verge of reaching Him but his remaining attachment to his cow prevented him from attaining Mukti, the Ultimate Truth.
Sri M then spoke about Shirdi Sai Baba—how the Baba granted a devotee whatever he wished for, even if it was a materialistic one. This was so that the devotee may someday realize the need to move beyond, so that Baba could lead him or her towards the highest.He said that one has the chance to experience the ultimate truth only when one’s heart opens up. He continued that this truth was beyond logic. There was little the logical mind could do in its search for the truth. Many a time, he said, 2+2 could be 5 or even 10 in the realm of Truth. This sounds absurd to a limited, logical mind. This mind has to be transcended and it would be possible only when one’s heart is purified.
Sri M reinforced the above point with another story of Swami Vivekananda (Narendra as he was known then) who went to meet Sri Ramakrishna the first few times. Narendra possessed a rational mind and was very proud of his intellectual and reasoning power. Sri Ramakrishna gave him an experience—a vision of the Ultimate—that totally crushed his logic. He added that one should read Ramakrishna’s works if one wanted to find out more about bhakti/devotion.
He added that when one’s in a realised being’s company, one shouldn’t ask for materialistic boons. ‘Bhakti’ (devotion) is a good boon to ask for. “This is what a realized being can do for you – induce bhakti at a fast pace. Then, it is easy for one to grow from there.” he said.
Sri M, continuing in the same vein, said that devotion was not to be wasted for material gains. He said that a ‘para-bhakta’ (devotee of the highest order) was rare. Devotion only for the Truth was the highest of its kind. He said that the Supreme One’s logic was different and beyond one’s understanding. Rather than making one happy all the time, God may bestow suffering so that one may ‘grow’ or evolve. Ultimately, when one realises the truth, one sees that God is always compassionate.
He explained that it was Swami Vivekananda’s idea that service to mankind was service to God. He spoke of Walk of Hope’s objectives and said the idea behind them too was to channelise spiritual power to social work for uplifting the poor and the needy. He concluded his talk by urging people to join him in the Walk. Thus, Sri M concluded his talk.
After the satsang, people gathered around Sri M for an informal interaction till dinner was announced at 8.30 pm. After dinner, the group went back to their respective hosting homes to retire for the night.