The padayatra started at 6.00 am from Hosanna Mount, and was soon accorded a warm reception group of 30 people at the Bharananganam Junction. The reception group also joined the walkers and together they headed to the St. Mary's Church, Bharananangam. Sri M and the walkers spent time visiting St. Alphonsa Convent and Museum in the vicinity. They also visited St. Alphonsa’s Church and Sri M spent a brief time in prayer at the Church.
The 1000-year-old St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the famous pilgrim centers of Christians in Kerala. It also houses the tomb of St. Alphonsa (1910-1946), a Syro-Malabar Catholic Franciscan nun, who was the first native woman to be canonized by the Catholic Church and the second Indian to be accorded that status after St. Gonsalo Garcia. The Syro-Malabar Church traces its origins to the visit of St. Thomas around 2000 years ago. The Alphonsa Museum is situated next to the Chapel. Items used by St. Alphonsa including her habit, a hand fan, a wooden cup, and books have been meticulously preserved and displayed.
Moving on, the group, after spending a short time at a temple on the way, left the hilly terrain for the flat roads of the plains. The padayatra is now moving in more populated areas and passing through fewer villages. Along the way, a group of around 15 people welcomed Sri M with roses and joined the Walk thereafter.
With the group numbering more than 120 now, they stopped at Kadappattoor Mahadeva Temple, after having walked 11 kms since the start. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, and is unique as the idol worshipped here is a ‘Swaroopa Vigraha’ form, while most other Shiva temples worship the Lord in the ‘Linga’ form. In 1960, a woodcutter discovered this idol inside a large fig tree on the banks of Meenachil River.
As more and more people flocked to see the idol, a temple came up in the vicinity. This temple is also an important shelter for the Sabarimala pilgrims and provides facilities in a quiet and serene environment. The group spent little over half an hour at the temple, while they had their breakfast as well.
Around 10.20 am, another group of 30 people joined the Walk after greeting Sri M and the yatris. Ten minutes later, the padayatra reached Puliyanoor and were greeted by a large group of around 60 people. These people too joined the walk. Walking on, they reached the Holy Cross Forane Church, Cherpunkal where the local community greeted them. People relaxed for a short while here, with Sri M settling on a swing on the roadside.
The group stopped for a well-deserved tea break an hour later. The padayatris soon reached Kunnmanoor close to noon. They were received by a group of 20 people here who, subsequently, walked with them to the halting point at 12.15 pm. Today’s Walk covered 21.15 kms in 7 hours. The group was served lunch at 1.30 pm. The padayatris were accommodated in various places, some in commercial lodging facilities and some in residences. They retired for their afternoon rest around 2.30 pm. Though it was a relatively relaxed day, the group didn’t feel as rested as they were a week ago, since they needed to be taken to individual lodges and houses once they reached the halting town, instead of accommodation in one place.
The satsang in the evening was held at the NSS Higher Secondary School. Sri M and the yatris were greeted and led by the school band in a procession through the small town, attracting attention. People crowded the streets as the procession went by.After the town procession, the padayatris and local people, numbering about 300, assembled at the venue by 5.30 pm and the satsang started immediately.
Continuing on from his talk the previous day, Sri M began by revealing some more experiences and learning he received from his Guru. He said he learnt that the ever-present ‘parabramhan’ or Father in Heaven was a part of every being. This, he said, he had learnt through experience. Maheshwarnath Babaji opened up many aspects of his mind in the three years Sri M spent with Babaji in the Himalayas. After this, a couple of months every year, Sri M spent time in his presence to bring about improvements in himself. This helped him open up to greater inner experiences, with his Guru teaching him to think differently. This also provided him the self-confidence to live, based on his own inner experiences.
Sri M further added: “We normally do not realize the Self or the Truth as there are many impurities in our minds. As we get purified, we start realizing that everybody is the same. All scriptures talk only about this and there is nothing else. But each one brings it forth in their own unique way.”
He narrated one of Sri Ramakrishna’s parables – four people went in search of water, all calling it by different names in their own language. One called it ‘jal’, another called it ‘pani’, yet another referred to it as ‘water’ and the fourth one called it ‘thannee’, not knowing they were all thirsty and wanted the same thing. They started fighting over where to find what they thought were different needs. When a person who understood them took them to a lake, they stopped fighting and ran to the banks, drank water together, quenching their thirst.
“It’s the same with God too—some call Him Allah, some Christ and others as Krishna, Siva and Brahman. It is like the water in a lake. It is one and the same thing – it differs in definition depending on the language and the state of mind.”
Sri M again quoted from The Rig Veda: Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanthi - ‘The truth is one, the wise call it by different names’. In different ages and times, different rishis or wise ones have shown us the way to that One Truth in different ways. They have revealed that love is paramount. If the heart is not suffused with love for the Lord, which is like a mother’s love - pure and unsullied - then, Self Realization or realization of the truth is difficult and cannot be found.
He has realized through his own journey that people can live peacefully together if everybody realizes that they have a spark of the supreme power within each one of them. He said that ours is an ancient culture, more than 3000 years old, and through these years, the wise have been stating this truth alone.He again quoted from the 12th Chapter from the Bhagawad Gita - a bhakta par excellence is one who has equanimity of the mind at all times and has the welfare of all beings in his heart.
Sri M quoted Jesus, who could be called a parivrajaka or a wandering monk, saying that “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He further added all rivers flow into the mighty ocean, though they all originate in different places and flow through different regions. The spiritual journey is also similar – paths are different but we all have to travel towards the One Source. The body is likened to a temple with the Supreme Soul as its deity. He quoted again from the Holy Bible – ‘Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?’ The Sufis say: “man 'arafa nafsahu faqad 'arafa Rabbahu” meaning “Whoever knows himself knows his Lord”. God and Truth are the same and we all originate from the same source.
In essence, the message from every religion is the same.
Sri M said that one should practice before preaching. If each one starts this practice and it happens on a large scale, there is no need for a padayatra or an external journey. “We can all pack our bags and go home”, he said.
The reason he chose ‘Kanyakumari’ as the starting point was that there was a ‘sangam’ or a union of three oceans that is also very symbolic of ‘Yoga’. He said further that we can start with small improvements, beginning with villages, and he conveyed his happiness in traveling to small towns and villages. People have come from all over India and also other countries to join the Walk. He finds that ‘Ekta’ or ‘unity’ has risen in the group after walking together for more than 350 kms, even though there is many a suffering.
Sri M concluded his talk while urging more and more people to join the Walk. After the chanting of Om, the group meditated in silence for some time.
After dinner, which was served at 8.00 pm, the padayatris were taken to their respective places of stay by 9.30 pm.