Day 239 | 7 September 2015 | Day of Rest in Ahmedabad | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Sri M in an interactive session with the students of Riverside School Ahmedabad
    1.Sir-at-an-interactive-session-with-the-students-of-the-Riverside-School,-Ahmedabad,-Gujarat
  • 2.Sir-with-the-students-&-teachers-of-the-Riverside-School,-Ahmedabad,-Gujarat
  • Sri M with Geet Sethi, former World Billiards Champion and founder of Riverside School Ahmedabad
    3.Sir-with-Geet-Sethi,-former-World-Billiards-Champion-&-founder-of-the-Riverside-School,-Ahmedabad,-Gujarat
  • At the Rajbhavan with the Hon Governor of Gujarat Shri OP Kohli - Gandhinagar
    4.At-the-Rajbhavan-with-the-Honourable-Governor-of-Gujarat,-Shri-O-P-Kohli,-Gandhinagar,-Gujarat
  • Sri M addresses the select audience at Rajbhavan, Gandhinagar
    5.Sir-addresses-select-invitees-at-the-Rajbhavan,-Gandhinagar,-Gujarat
  • Shri OP Kohli, Hon Governor of Gujarat welcomes Sri M to Rajbhavan - Gandhinagar
    6.Shri-O-P-Kohli,-Honourable-Governor-of-Gujarat-welcomes-Sir-at-the-Rajbhavan,-Gandhinagar,-Gujarat
  • 'Let us all be illumined' - Sri M during his address at the Rajbhavan
    7.
  • 8.Sir
  • The Honorable Governor of Gujarat during his address - Rajbhavan
    9.The-Honourable-Governor-of-Gujarat,-during-his-address,-Rajbhavan,-Gandhinagar,-Gujarat
Today was a rest day for Walk of Hope. The rest was very welcome after the full day yesterday—which included the Nirahar Satyagraha and the evening Satsang at the Sabarmati Ashram. However, during the day, Sri M visited and interacted with the students of the Riverside School. The interaction and dialogue between Sri M and the 100 odd students was a very special one. Sri M interacted with Sri Geet Sethi — former World Billiards Champion, a founder member of the school.

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The session at the Riverside School started with an introduction of Sri M to an audience of around 100 children, staff and some visitors. The talk was facilitated by one of the members. Q 1. At the age of 19, most people have trouble deciding which college to go to and you made such a big decision? A. Today, you have so many options. You are talking about when I was 19. I am 66 years old. Even in the biggest of cities, people did not have many options back then. In a small place like Trivandrum, where I come from, there were very limited options to decide upon in order to enter into some kind of a career. Either you become a doctor or you become an engineer or try for the administrative service exams. My sister did and she got into the IAS. If I had followed my father’s thought process, I would have ended up as a builder because he was a builder. In my mind, I did not have any bit of inclination for it. I did not think of becoming a doctor or an engineer. Well, I like mechanics. I didn’t want to become a mechanic since it meant 5 years in college! Definitely, not a builder. You know masons call themselves builders, craftsmen of the trade! Anyway, the ordinary kind of building I was not interested. Definitely, I did not want to go to the IAS or IPS. I had an incredible experience at the age of 9. When I was playing in the backyard of my house, I suddenly saw someone standing under the jackfruit tree. He gestured to me and so I went near him. The first thing he asked me was ‘do you remember anything?’ I said no. Then he put his hand on my head and said, when it’s time you’ll get to know. And he left. He said go home and he left. This was not a vision. It was a real thing. After that, my mind underwent a change. Every night, I would wake up from sleep. I tried sitting down but then everybody would wake up. So I would lie down and allow the pleasant things happening inside to take over. I had some brilliant experiences with lights. It was so interesting, exciting and enjoyable that I wished that it happened all the time. Till then, nothing of that sort had happened. Yes, I would look at the clouds and think they were snow-clad mountains. That’s all. There is no snow in Kerala. When I had these kinds of experiences, I developed this desire to explore this world. Instead of becoming an engineer or doctor, I wanted to explore this world. So I decided to look at all the literature available to me at that age. Through this, I learnt a lot but I also deepened my exploration. Even while sitting in the classroom, I used to wonder; some are sitting inside, some playing in the playground. How long can you sit inside? I wanted to get out. I am not saying at 19 you should run away from school. Suddenly at the age of 19, I felt an irresistible urge to break the cage. I felt like a bird in a golden cage. I don’t like to go to houses where birds are kept in cages; because I get tempted to open the door and let them out. To come to the point; I went because I was so seriously interested. When you are completely immersed in deep passion, then, you really don’t need to choose anything. When you are inclined that way, you can see that there are certain disadvantages. Like, somebody wants to become a musician; being a musician may not be lucrative. You have to see whether I am interested in the money or I want to be really creative. Mostly, we succumb to temptation. We take the lesser idea that comes to our minds. But deep down, we realize that the desire, the thirst for music is there which is not getting fulfilled. I know a very good doctor - a psychiatrist practicing in New York - who as a child wanted to be a musician. But her parents were both doctors. So, they encouraged her to become a doctor. She said, look, I want to become a musician. They said there’s no future in it! Now, she has a psychiatric practice; and she’s doing her best. So what she has done - she has undergone some lessons in music, whichshe learnt in her spare time. She’s a piano player. When I sit at the piano and play to my heart’s content, that is the greatest moment because I am not playing for the audience. Q2 - Let me move this discussion to the 4thcategory, that is spirituality. Several students have this question. Why spirituality? I’m talking about the feeling that you want to express, something in your heart. What is it that distinguishes this from religion? A - The thing is, in my understanding, every religion starts with somebody’s mystical experiences. As far as Hindu culture is concerned, there is no one person’s experiences. There are so many sources; many rishis but there is no one prophet, one guru. You may call it spiritual or mystical. When I say mystical, it is not an ordinary experience. And then, based on that, the person formulates a way of life for the people of a certain society. That, later on, becomes a religion. Problem is, when it becomes organized and more and more organized; after some time, the organization becomes more important than the essence. So, I would rather stay with the essence than stay with the aspect of religion. Religions all have a root in that. Q3 - So what is it that you mean when you say essence? Why is it required for these students, 11th and 12th graders? A - I am not saying they should explore it or they should not explore it. The thought of it has to come to them naturally. They should learn through their experience. Nobody asks a person - why are you grieved about it? It is an inner thing. It comes from the heart. But, for many people, creativity is spiritual. This is not something that can be taught in an orderly manner and it is not the same thing to all people. I don’t think there is any single approach to this. There is no one formula that they can preach and practice. This is multi-dimensional. The study has to be multi-dimensional. But if you come to the philosophical aspect of it; you know we all seek happiness, right? But we seek happiness in sadness, sometimes. The idea of some people’s good evening is to put on old sad songs and sit with a small peg of malt. They enjoy. What enjoy? The man is singing ‘dil hi toot gaya’. So in everyone, there is some urge to have some kind of happiness. It has nothing to do with the outside. If you look carefully, you will find that whatever you do in this world, you keep one small sanctuary in your heart where you can be with yourself. People direct it outside thinking there are ways outside for getting it. But, my understanding is we should look to the little corner that is in everyone; if you can turn in and look. Q4 - Let’s stay with that thought. Does anyone have a question? You said the path could be different for different people. So how does one go about finding a path? A - First, if one is going to explore the spiritual path; one has to decide; am I really interested in this or not? For different people, the spiritual search comes at different times. For Buddha, it came when he saw a sick man, a dying man and so on. He said what is this life? Let me find out. So, it happens. But, suppose your intention is there to explore - then depending on your background, depending on your tradition, depending on various factors - you may not be able to move along one path that somebody else has walked. It is too stifling to say that this is the only way. Also, because That, which we are seeking is infinite. Therefore, there are infinite ways of getting there. Bhagavad Gita talks about it but there are only 18 chapters and each chapter you can consider as one path. I always tell people that Bhagavad Gita has 18 adhyayas - 18 holes. 18th hole is where you need to reach. First, you have to swing your club through all the other holes. After the 18th, there is a 19th hole. Q5 (lady in audience): If you’re seeking, is the act of seeking in whatever field a spiritual quest? Say you are keenly interested in the area of teaching or education? That urge to seek; if I’m a seeker; could that also be considered a spiritual quest? A - Yes, it is true. But, especially when you say teaching, I think you need to learn first. So, the quest for learning, I would call a spiritual act. Even otherwise, in the Upanishads, there is a teacher and there is a student. They’re both having a dialogue with each other on an intimate basis. It’s very interesting. If you go back to ancient texts, there is nobody saying – Do this! Do that. They are saying, look; explore; move. Even the basic question of who you are. Who are you actually? Is being looked into. We think we know who we are.We know our names and all that. But when you are a child, you are somebody and you grow up to be somebody. Some traits may continue; some things change; when you go further, you are getting changed; you get married; you certainly have to change!! Move forward. The search should be such that you don’t get stuck in one situation. When I say search, I mean explore! You see what I mean? Not stuck! The river has its own beauty when it flows. When the river flows, we don’t have to worry about its embankment! It makes its own course. But if it gets stagnant; you know where mosquitoes breed! That I would call spiritual search; say Indian music; maybe Western also; but I don’t know much about Western Classical Indian music - there are great singers who experience spiritual ecstasy when they start singing; you should see them; there is a joy and ecstasy which comes into their hearts; you can see it in their faces when they sing. They might think they are singing for the audience. They’re not singing for the audience; they are singing because they are enjoying it! So, anything that you do, if you do it with complete involvement, there is no question of distraction! We get distracted when we really don’t like something but we are doing it because we are forced to. When we really love it, there is no distraction. When there is no distraction, the mind is quiet. When the mind is quiet, it is one-pointed. When it is one-pointed; it is easy to shift it into the inner. Therefore, we say in the outer life that we should also be without distraction. When you are leading distracted lives, you cannot sit down and meditate… you cannot do both! Q6: You talked about music and how it is very conducive to getting the experience of one-pointedness; if you think of musicians like Bismillah Khan Sahib or Ravishankar Sahib or Pt. Bhimsen Joshi; totally engrossed in music when you see them play; it looks like they have found the ultimate. But yet, many of these people behaved abominably towards their loved ones; they have hurt people close to them; they were mad for power; some became alcoholic, so how do you reconcile that? A - Now this journey which they have taken; if only someone could divert them into the spiritual path; if there are a number of examples of who were not spiritual, there are also a number of examples of who were. So the path that they walk on is quite tricky. Kathopanishad says it’s like walking on the razor’s edge. There are temptations to fall. When you go on the spiritual journey, first and foremost, you look at the temptations; of where you can go astray; fix those and then move forward. In these cases, there were great people, great geniuses but they did not have the proper guidance to get into it in time. So, they went to great heights and fell down! In fact, that fall is worse than an ordinary man’s fall. Once, I met a man on one of my wanderings. I used to wander without any schedule at one time; somewhere in the Himalayas. I didn’t know where to sleep at night. Those days, there were bears in the area. Then one woodcutter came and said, please come with me and took me to what I thought was a Sadhu. He was a very orthodox man belonging to the Vaishnava Sampradaya with the namas and all that. So you look at the nama and think – Oh, such a nice man; such a good man. I went to his place and then we started talking. He said, stay on for two days. I told him my name. Then he said something; he asked me - do you want to become a Sanyasi? I said I had not decided. He said I just want to tell you one thing - if you become a sanyasi, you are trying to climb a hill and if you fall from there, you will probably fracture all your limbs; not possible to get up. But if you fall from a small height, it is not so dangerous. So think carefully. It was so nice. So I think in this matter, I think you have to go through proper guidance. I know very creative path beaters who are completely absorbed in their work. They will not look at the quality of the mind; this is very important. This is what we are actually doing. We are walking and talking to people, telling them ‘just watch your mind.’ Bring about good thoughts, kindness, and compassion. Then, you might do something. Otherwise, you may be very successful, but you have actually not done anything to succeed. Q7: You spoke about distractions… you don’t have distractions anymore, but when you are on this journey, I might fall into a distraction probably because I don’t know it’s a distraction. So is there always a need for a guru or a spiritual guide that will help us through this or is it my own understanding? A - When you say a guru, a teacher, problem is that a guru from my point of view is not someone who makes you dependent on him. A spiritual teacher should be one who wants to free you as far as possible. Make you stand on your own feet. This is very important. It’s also partly the fault of our tradition that when you see a spiritual person you start worshipping them. Sometimes, you worship the person and forget even what he is saying, what he is teaching. Suppose someone asks how to get to the city; and if I know how, I will say this is the way - go straight, turn left. What will happen if, instead of going there, they stop in front of me, do aarti, garland me, ring bells and say you are the greatest one? To get to the city you have to walk in the direction, right? You understand what I am saying? So, it’s also become a tradition to worship people. This somehow takes over. Plus, the mind is a little lazy and thinks if somebody can take over why should I bother? We have to be careful because now-a-days there are more gurus than disciples. There is this story where somebody went to a teacher and said - Sir, I want to become your disciple. What should I do? So the Guru said - get up early around 4.30 and clean up the kutir, bring water from the Ganga, cut vegetables, cook and so on. Then he said, what does it take to become a guru? He said - you have to sit and bless people. What I mean to say is, it is required that you have a teacher because it is largely an unexplored territory. So, if you want to avoid the pitfalls and the potholes, then somebody should have travelled on the road. You can say, so what? But the problem is you become completely dependent; that is not a good thing. I have never been, I mean he never allowed me to. Every now and then, when he thought that I would get too personally attached, he would throw me out - Jao. So I used to go; in the beginning, I was very unhappy. I was so angry; he said where are you going? I said I will go wherever I want. So you need guidance, of course. Watch out carefully that you are not dependent on them. The teaching must become more important than the teacher per se. You have heard of the whirling dervishes? There is a Sufi order called the Dehluvi Order, Order of Jalaluddin Rumi. He has written a beautiful collection of couplets called the Masnavi. When somebody was going to a tomb of a saint for worshiping, he said why are you going and breaking your head on the tomb? When, if you practice what he taught, others would in turn worship you. To be worshipped personally, it sounds very nice. He said ‘go according to the wind rather than breaking your head on the tomb’. If that’s what you’re asking, it’s required. Q8: She says she has a fascination towards the word God. What is God? A - As it stands, God is a word we use to describe something which we cannot broadly put in words. It means something mighty, or as we have been taught - creator, destroyer and so on. Someone said –Generator, Operator and Destroyer. When you say God, normally, it means some energy or some power which we seem we may not be able to grasp but which seems to be behind everything. And depending upon our upbringing, we give it different interpretations. There have also been great traditions in this country that do not believe in a creator God - Jains. They don’t have Ishwara; a Creator. They believe in the immortality of the soul, a number of souls develop, evolve and go towards God. That is their God. However, if you look at it logically, every action that has to be, even though we cannot define the cause, because our brain, however much it has evolved has only a limited perspective; do you know the difference between a chimpanzee’s soles and our’s? They have one arch less. And, that one less has made the difference. So, one wonders whether having more makes a difference or less makes a difference. So, there has to be some cause for all the effect. But that cause need not be according to our definitions. In fact, from my understanding, if it falls into our definitions, it’s a projection of our definition. Why do you say God made man and all those things.Now-a-days, we make God in our own way, that doesn’t mean there is nothing. Even when the Buddhists say Shunya. I have had dialogues with Great Buddhist teachers including the Dalai Lama. And Shunya does not mean ‘Nothing’; Shunya means something that cannot be defined, compared with anything that we know of. So, when you say God, from my understanding, it is that which is not possible to be known through a religious sect or something but which probably is understood, when the mind is simply quiet. Q9: So, that is also the definition of Brahman right- Neti neti neti; not this, not that? A - Sri Adi Sankara said Net ineti neti. It is not a negative thing - it’s negation. This is something that we are looking at; something that cannot be defined by norms or any conditioning. These are the definitions that he formed; when one is completely unconditioned, one perhaps would understand it. Q 10: You talked about Buddhism. One big thing Buddhism talks about is change. A number of students have this question. How do you deal with change? How do you bring positivity in the midst of changes that you may not like? A - Change is something that you cannot change. The only change on this earth is change. You cannot stop it; it goes on. See, the problem is, I have a definite idea about things and I have put it in a box. And I don’t want to get out of that box. If something happens to the box I think, change has taken place now; how to move on? So, always be prepared for change. Always be sure that this box can be opened and thrown at any time. Sometimes, this box could be a Pandora’s box. Believe me. But then, we should learn to be positive. According to me, we need to be aware that change can take place any time and to give up is not being able to proceed. Change is there always. I want to tell you a little story about this. Buddha said that everything changes; nothing remains; anything put together by nature is surely going to be taken out by nature – disintegrated. This teaching was for most of his students. One of his closest disciples was Ananda, his cousin. When Buddha was dying, in the last stages, Ananda could not control his tears.He was crying really loudly and lamenting. So, Buddha said, Ananda! How many times have I told you, anything put together by nature is surely going to be taken out by nature. It’s the same with the body. So why are you crying? Ananda said, I know all that! But I will continue to cry. It’s an emotion! Q 11: Considering all the people you have met, different kinds of people that you have met, according to you, what does it take to be an Indian? Someone who belongs to a country or a nationality? A - Practically speaking, there are many Indians who live abroad. I think even if they live abroad, they somehow love this country. Their going abroad has not changed their love. When I say Indian, I think it is to be a good citizen of this country. The criminals who live in India are also Indians. So, to live responsibly, to be thankful to the food that has grown on this earth, to therefore, bow down to this earth, and say proudly that I am Indian. There are some people who, when I go abroad, tell me now it has changed. For me, it is to appreciate the culture of this country. Someone who is thankful for the food which grows on the soil, who loves the smell of the rain when it falls on the earth; to feel the ethos of its nature - for which the poor man almost ended his life, fasting. And what did he fight, 100 years of British rule; it’s courageous to be non-violent that way. He gave it new strength and called it Satyagraha. Satyagraha actually means, desire to be firm in the truth - satyaagraha. You being an Indian does not depend on what religion you belong to. In this country there are all religions, everyone who has come here has become part of this country. You go to a Malayali Muslim in Kerala and talk to him.He’s proud to talk in Malayalam. So that is what it is. It is also your duty and responsibility to keep the nation together and prevent it from breaking into pieces. So it is also your responsibility to see to it that there are more trees growing in this land. Don’t cut trees off. A tree is a symbol of life. Every tree you plant is like feeding the earth. You are the people who are going to be responsible citizens. If this seed is in your heart - I see bright faces; this is my belief; you can say my dream. Now-a-days, when I am called to a school, even if it is for ten minutes, I go. Q 12: You talked about Shunya just now; you talked about something that you can’t describe. In your Walk of Hope, I read something that said you are starting at Zero Point, Shunya and you are ending at a bigger Zero. What are these zeros, what do you mean by that? A - We started at the land’s end in Kanyakumari. The Highway Department calls it Point zero. When we reach Srinagar in April 2016, hopefully - what I meant was - at least those who walk with us, by the time they go through this whole grind, differences that come up and all that, they would have got rid of their ego. Well, I am going to tell you a little story that illustrates this; what I mean by Zero. It’s not zero exactly; nobody can survive with a zero; we’re trying to do our best; we need an ego to work, to walk, to talk but this is an interesting story told by a monk. There was a great sculptor who used to make beautiful sculptures. He was asked to come to a temple; they wanted him to make a deity. The priest looked at his palm; he knew palmistry. I don’t believe in it but…He said to the sculptor - you are going to die in 3 months. So the sculptor says; tell me how to get out of it. The priest is supposed to be the nearest agent to God. So this guy tells him - it’s very simple; make images like you; make 5-6 of them and keep them in your workshop. Start now. Those yama-dhoots are supposed to come on buffaloes. They are a little weak in the head. So they will not be able to pick which is real and which is not. So the yama-dhoots came and they looked around. They couldn’t find out the original. So they went back. Once the time is over you can’t do anything after that. Yama said, Again after three months, the sculptor’s time is coming for him to die. This time you go and make sure you bring him. But how, Sir? Yama said: Don’t look… You can’t find out. You just stand there and say, Oh! What a wonderful statue. Wah!! Look at the nose; the eyes!! So beautiful. Just say that for a few minutes. The Yama-dhoots went there and started praising the statues. For a few minutes the sculptor kept quiet. The sculptor shouted – I did it! So, when we reach Srinagar; let’s not say we did it!! You understand? That is what I mean by Shunya! M.C.: To conclude; I can’t do better than to quote Kabir. He said Tu kahata kagaj kel ekhi main kahata akhan ki dekhi - You talk about things that you have read; I talk about things I have seen. That is what makes Sri M special, right? We all read about things but he has seen them. Therefore, he gave a first-hand account of what those things look like. Thank you very much Sir. In the evening, Sri M along with a handful or padayatris, visited the Honourable Governor of Gujarat, Shri O P Kohli at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat. The city has been built around the Central Government complex around thirty sectors with each sector having its own health and cultural centers, shopping areas, etc. with both Government quarters as well as private housing. The city was exclusively built to house the capital and the offices governing the state. The Governor, Shri O P Kohli, the current Governor of Gujarat was formerly a Rajya Sabha member. He is an M.A. in Hindi from Delhi University and was a lecturer in Hansraj College and Deshbandhu College for over 35 years. There were about 150 odd people present and the group included high officials of the state, dignitaries, leading citizens of Ahmedabad and select padayatris. Shri O P Kohli greeted Sri M with a shawl and initiated the event. Sri M then addressed the gathering. Following this,Shri O P Kohli addressed the gathering, expressing his support and solidarity with Walk of Hope. This address was followed by dinner. “Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih Om, May All become Happy, May All be Free from Illness. May All See what is Auspicious, May no one Suffer. Om Peace, Peace, Peace. Loka samasta sukinoh bhavantu - May the entire universe be happy” “Honourable Sri Kohli, Governor of Gujarat, distinguished guests, dignitaries, friends, brothers and sisters. I am always in a dilemma whether the talk should be in English or Hindi. I can in speak Hindi too – it’s not a problem. His Excellency suggests a mix. So, we will do that. My native language is Malayalam – that’s of no use here. Gujarati, I know only Kem Cho and Maja Ma.” “This journey we have begun; we left Kanyakumari on 12th January; this is a padayatra; we don’t use any vehicles. We do have some vehicles with us but we do not use them. We are walking. We started on 12th January 2015, Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary. And Kanyakumari is also the place where we have the confluence of the three oceans. We thought that the confluence of the three oceans is very symbolic of our Walk. And you may already be aware of the Vivekananda Rock; the rock on which Swamiji sat and meditated and understood his mission for the world and for India. He had travelled through India before he reached there. He understood what he had to do when he sat there. So, we felt that this would be a good place to start our small effort which could become big slowly.” “We have now reached Gujarat. From Tamil Nadu to Kerala; from Kerala to Karnataka, Karnataka to Maharashtra and from Maharashtra, we have reached Gujarat. We have walked around 3600 kms now. I am saying this, as I am not walking alone. I have many people walking with me. And, we have about 70 people walking from Kanyakumari up to here. The youngest person is 18 years old and younger than him is our 80-year-old Commodore Ravindranath! He was a pilot in the Navy. He’s flying like a helicopter on our padayatra! All of us are walking together and 50% of them are ladies; they are also walking. We have to walk another 4000 Kms. We plan to reach Srinagar in April 2016. And in Srinagar, we will hold aloft our National flag and flag of Manav Ekta and interact with people over there. Our aim for this journey of 500 days is Manav Ekta – One Humanity. I do not have any affiliations with anybody. But I unite with those people who think of India as a country first and who work for the nation.” “I would like to proceed further after I speak a little about the root cause from which I started the journey towards my work for Manav Ekta. It was my good fortune that when I was nine, a great person blessed me by placing his hands on my head. He neither had an organization, nor a banner nor did he travel in any vehicle. He did not even wear chappals. His name was Maheshwarnath and he was from the Nath tradition. But he embraced all traditions as his own. This is a big thing; it’s not easy - as people from one tradition do not mingle with people from other traditions. I spent 10 minutes with him in Trivandrum, where I spent my childhood. He asked me if I remembered anything. I said No, nothing. He said, things will be fine when the time comes. He blessed me and went away. From then, my mind started undergoing a change. I used to meditate on my own; nobody had taught me meditation. Yes, a teacher used to come and teach us the Quran regularly. It was my good fortune that he was a Sufi. So, I learnt a lot from him.” “When I was 19 years of age, I felt I was in a cage; it was a golden cage. A cage is a cage; even if it is a golden one. Many a time, I would sit and think of the birds flying in the open skies. I felt that I had to break free and fly. I was getting too conditioned! So, after my degree exams, when I was 19, I left home without a word to anybody; and reached Badri after facing many difficulties.” “I met Babaji in Vyas Guha. We looked at each other and he then welcomed me with the word, ghum phir kar aagaye - you have finally arrived after all your wanderings! I spent a lot of time with him and learnt plenty. My gyan – knowledge increased. And I experienced and understood that all humanity is One; they are not separate. Body, appearance, name may be different but for Atma – for the soul, there is no difference - no man, no woman; the soul is the soul. I personally experienced this with the blessing of Babaji. From then, my life changed. After spending a long time with him, one day Babaji said – you go back now; and after 10 or 15 years, share whatever knowledge you have gained and whatever you have experienced with others. So, I kept silent for 10 or 15 years. I came back home; I met many good people and worked with them and learnt what I could not learn in the Himalayas – what Indian ethos was and how Indians lived it. Babaji sent me to many places to learn. I worked with people who were doing great things because Babaji always used to say – if you sit in a cave and meditate for 20 years for 20 hours everyday and you cannot hear the cry of a hungry child from a nearby house, then all the sadhana that you did is a sheer waste! Keeping this in mind, I became a family man; I got married; Babaji’s command was that I get married, have children; only when you experience this, will you know what a common person’s problems are; if not, you will not understand. In between, I worked in many places; Delhi, Chitrakoot, Andamans and I met many good people. I worked with Nanaji Deshmukh; I understood that such people are not hungry for power; they want to serve people. And, Babaji had already planted the seed of the idea of service in my heart. So, I did a lot of work there in these places”. “And there was a very important thing that Babaji had told me; wherever you go, understand the people there. Religion may be different, name may be different, but mankind is One. Every man is born from a mother’s womb; nobody falls from the heavens; and everyone goes back into the earth. And it is also evident that I feel the same sorrow felt by everybody else; and the same happiness that is experienced by the others. To help people understand this; because sometimes, people forget this; sometimes due to religion, sometimes due to politics; my job is to help people understand. We can disagree; this is a democracy, we can have a dialogue. Anybody can come and make demands but this does not mean that buses should be burnt. Nothing comes out of violence; solutions can be only through non-violence, through peaceful dialogues. So, everybody has to come together and have a dialogue.” “I have started on this journey only with this aim. With Babaji’s blessings and through sadhana, I say it with great pride - I do not give much value to praise and criticism - actually criticism is a good thing; through this, we understand what our problems are, where our defects lie; Tulya ninda stutir mouni – the Gita says this; happiness and sorrow come and go; I don’t pay much attention to this. If we make sorrow our friend, then the impact of sorrow is not there at all. So with this and on Babaji’s instructions, I studied many religions and have come to the conclusion that no religion prescribes or likes violence. Some people say that Islam… Jihad actually means fighting a war with your mind. Keep the good qualities and remove the bad ones. This is the greatest battle. This is what should be there for everyone. In Christianity, Jesus Christ says – bless them that curse you. This is not easy to practice. I say that there can be only one Christian and that is Jesus Christ. Somebody asked Swami Vivekananda if he thought Jesus Christ was a Son of God? He replied – Why Son of God? If he had been living in this country, we would have made him an Avatar of God – A God in form. This open-mindedness has always been India’s culture. I am not stating anything new - like how the Bible says – old wine in new bottles. Three thousand years ao, Rig Veda stated – Ekam Sat, Viprah bahuda vadanti – There is only one Truth, the wise call it by many names. If anyone has faith in any religion that God exists, then that God has made everything; this is the faith and belief. And my experience is that the essence of the Omni-Present God is present in every human being’s heart as an indweller.” “There is no need to look for God anywhere far away. Kabir Das said – Moko kahan doondhe re bandhe; - Where do you search for me? And then, he said that He resides in Faith and Belief. He is the same for all; he can be called by different names; The Hindu system of thought has many different types of sadhana and traditions. Keeping all these together and retaining the essence is a very big thing. We should not let this be forgotten. We are Indians and we should always have that pride in our hearts that we belong to this country. The religion may be different but the food we eat is from this land and we are leading our lives here, so we should always have that gratitude in our hearts. This land is such that it has welcomed all religions with open arms – people from how many religions live here! So, we have to live together with all cultures – what happens then? India becomes strong and the whole world will get a message that peace, brotherhood and goodwill are in this country. This will be the message going out. When the Parsis first came here, the ruler of Surat had told them that there was no place for them here, he symbolically showed them a glass of milk and said if he adds anything else to it, then it overflows. The leader of the Parsis added a spoon of sugar to the milk and said – we will live in such a way that you will not even feel our presence. This is the ideal life. I have this dream that we will live together this way and I am only walking for this – this is the way. Sometimes, some issue happens – something very small happens but it becomes blown into something big. We need to avoid this like the doctor says – prevention is better than cure. We are walking with this as our aim. I would also like to tell you that wherever we have gone, people’s response has been very positive. We went to temples in Kerala where people from the North or other regions are not allowed to enter that easily; we were welcomed into all temples” “We went to Dargahs, temples and mosques; the bishops from the churches welcomed us and took us in. This is not due to my importance and me; this is Indian culture. Like I told Anna in Ralegan Siddhi – many people call me mad and he said – only when you are mad will work be done. I am mad and I am walking this way and India’s culture is such that they welcome us and say – what you are saying is right You may have seen in the video that we have been going to every place.Sometimes, people warn us; please don’t go to such and such a place; they tell us how a person was brought down. But we need to go and sow the seeds there. Maybe after 10 or 20 years it will grow, but only if the seeds are sown now will new trees grow one day. A time will come when beautiful flowers will bloom, fruits will grow. The hope is that people will sit under these trees and enjoy their shade. When the breeze blows, the world will know that the aroma is from all the flowers together.This will become a universal bouquet. This is why I say that we should have peace in our homes first; then in our neighbours’ homes and later in the whole world.” “After we reach Srinagar, I have the thought of going away somewhere for about two months. I like to be alone and am not the sort to mingle with people. This is Babaji’s command and I am fulfilling that. After 1 or two years, I think I may go to Pakistan. I may do this. They too are human beings; sometimes, there are misunderstandings. This is Swami Vivekananda’s message – when one is on the spiritual path, it will not do if he confines himself to that path. Atmano mokshaya jagat hitaya cha is what it says in the Upanishad. The Gita also says this. We need to think about it. Do it for your self-realization but do what is good for the world. When we work for the world’s welfare, the mind is purified and we then walk the spiritual path. Service to mankind is the biggest. Gandhiji said if there is anybody who is suffering, think of him as a God in human form and serve him.” “This message of peace with which Muslims greet each other - Salaam Alaikum– this means Shanti – peace. When two Jews meet, they greet each other with Shalom – they all mean the same but the essence is lost. When any task is completed, we say Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. We do everything for peace; we get Prasad in temples; another meaning for Prasad is Anand – happiness and peace. This is why I am walking from village to village to make people understand. We sit with them, eat with them, and talk to them. I feel there is an impact from the response I have received till now. It may take time but the impact will definitely be there. If Manav Ekta takes effect, then a new chapter will open up for India. I feel that we are moving towards that. Mahatma Gandhi said that those doing such work should have not have any anger in them. It cannot be done otherwise. One should be away from Ahankaar - personal ego. Arjuna asks Krishna in the Bhagavat Gita – who, according to you is your best devotee, who is the best yogi? Krishna spoke about three criteria. This is difficult in today’s world. He said, first – have the sense organs in control. This includes anger too. Anger comes from the sense organs. Second, Sarvartra sama buddhaya– whether there is joy or sorrow; cold or heat; keep the mind peaceful; One whose mind is at peace always is called Stithaprajna – equanimous. Third – One who thinks of the welfare of all beings is the best yogi. These people are the closest and dearest to the Lord.” “Today’s world is such that when Sanskrit is spoken, people think it is Hindu! When Arabic is spoken, they say it is Muslim. I say Sanskrit is a language - it is India’s ancient language. When we revive this, we will come to understand a number of things and there won’t be any wrong interpretations. In our school, we teach Sanskrit as a language; there is no need to connect it to any religion. Kalidas has not written anything about religion. And Ramayan – Valmiki is called Adikavi – First Poet. All these have to be taken to people’s reach and this is the reason for the padayatra. We have reached here till now; we will move to Madhya Pradesh next and we will continue till we reach Srinagar. I have a request. I know that you cannot walk with us and my request is that you walk with us in your minds.Please pray for the success of this journey; don’t think about me! Think about the journey. India should be rooted in peace and goodwill and with this, India will also become strong; this is my dream. As in the earlier days, people from all over would come to Nalanda and Takshashila. They should start coming again to gain this knowledge. And for this, Manav Ekta is extremely important.” “I thank His Excellency, the Governor, for inviting us and giving me an opportunity for sharing this with people in such a beautiful atmosphere.” “Namaskar, Salaam and Wahe Guru.”

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  1. Pranams,

    My heartfelt thanks to Sri M for sharing this. Very many thanks for the person who captured all the conversations from the satsung and presented them here for my benefit. Many thanks for the young minds of Riverside school , who could come up with the questions that made Sri M to talk!

  2. Well Dressed Beggar says:

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

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