The Walk of Hope left Agastya Ashram at 6.00 am for its destination of the day—Pavakkulam Temple, Kaloor in Ernakulam. Soon, the group reached Kalikkota Palace, Thrippunithura, which was the breakfast point. Here, Sri M met the Collector M.G.Rajamanickam, IAS who joined the Walk for a short while.
The Kalikotta Palace, also known as the Royal Theatre, in Thrippunithura was constructed more than 200 years old during the reign of Rama Varma who ruled Kochi. It primarily hosted cultural programs like music concerts and the dance form, Kathakali, during family events of the royal family. Since 1977, the palace has been utilized for public functions and is an important cultural focal point in the town with many eastern classical musical programs being conducted on the premises. Thrippunithura is also where the legendary dancer couple, Kathakali exponent, Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, and Mohiniattom danseuse, Kalamandalam Kanaynikutty Amma, lived for a long time.
After a tea break at 10 am, the padayatra reached Lakshmi Bai Towers, where they were hosted in a large hall for a few hours. Here, Sri M inaugurated Lakshmi Publications – a publishing initiative focused on books based on spirituality and well being. Sri M left for the press meet at the Ernakulam Press Club once the event was over. The group also had lunch at Lakshmi Bai Towers and they resumed the Walk once Sri M returned after his press meet.
At 2.30 pm, the Walk reached the Cardinal Parecattil Memorial Renewal Centre, Kaloor, where an inter-faith meeting was being organized by Manav Ekta Mission and Samadarsana Vedi. Dr K Jayakumar, IAS (Retd), current Vice Chancellor of Malayalam University, delivered the Presidential address. The inaugural speech was by Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Srimad Vedananda Saraswathy Swamigal (Hinduism) and Advocate Mayankutty Mather (Islam) were the other speakers. Sri M delivered the benedictory address to a gathering of 400 people. His address focused mainly on the objectives of Walk of Hope and the oneness of all religions.
The Cardinal Parecattil Memorial Renewal Centre is the main center of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly areas. It houses major departments and associations of the diocese and also conducts religious programs like retreats, Bible courses and associated activity.
After the inter-faith meeting, the padayatris continued on the next leg to their halting point—Pavakkulam Temple, Kaloor, about 5 kms from the city of Ernakulam. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva/Mahadeva (worshipped in the form of a linga) and Swayamvara Parvathy Devi (with a garland in her right hand). Here, Lord Shiva, is in Nataraja bhavam performing Thandava nritham (the cosmic dance). Swayamvara Parvathi Devi was consecrated behind the Shivalingam to pacify Shiva who is in an angry mood.
Today, the padayatris covered a total distance of 24 kilometers, with two stops en-route to accommodate the schedule of events during the day. The men were accommodated in the temple, while the women stayed at a guesthouse nearby. The accommodation was clean and comfortable, though the ubiquitous mosquitoes made their presence felt in abundance!
While the early morning stretch was comfortable on the narrow roads, soon progress became difficult as they approached the urban areas of Kaloor and Ernakulam. The yatris had to walk in very congested places, where walking spaces were very narrow, sometimes totally absent. This, along with oncoming traffic, proved to be a direct contrast from the easy walk on winding paths in small towns. As they arrived at the halting point just in time for the evening event, the group had to forego the customary rest and leisure in the afternoon. The halts in between also proved to be a trial, since sticking to the usual optimum pace was not possible. However, it is to be noted that the route was well planned by the local organisers so as to avoid major roads with heavy vehicular traffic. The route had its share of quiet and narrow crisscrossing roads, passing over and under bridges and alongside a river for a while.
The welcome and local receptions accorded to Sri M and the padayatris today was exceedingly warm, with over a 1000 people attending the three events—a fulfilling day so to say. Over a 100 people started with the Walk in the morning and this number became 200 by the time it halted at Kaloor.
The evening satsang began at 7.15 pm. The auditorium was packed with over 700 people, with some standing in the aisles too.The Sopana Sangeetam recital set the right mood for the evening. Justice R Bhaskaran, a retired Judge from the Kerala High Court, inaugurated the event.
Sri M began his address saying that the temple’s holy ambiance is befitting for the internal journey for any human being. He wanted everyone to participate in the spiritual inner journey even if they were unable to physically participate in Walk of Hope. This way, he said, one could be at home but still be part of the Walk, without having to face the physical hardships associated with a padayatra of this magnitude.
“I was 19 years old and was with my Babaji, with whom I had completed two-and-a-half years of journeying all over the Himalayas. Mind you, Maheshwarnath Babaji wore no slippers, had no vehicle, banner or organization and would only walk barefoot. I learnt under him, first at the Vyasa Guha, after which I told him I wanted to be with him always, to which he replied “Dekha jayega”.
“After three years, he wanted me to go back. I was surprised and asked him where? He told me to go home, lead an ordinary life and told me to expand on the treasures he had bestowed me along with ‘sadhana’ – asking me to realize them and then share them with others.”
“I remained silent for long. I would go to satsangs but remained quiet till, one day, I saw Babaji in a funny dream.” Sri M saw that Babaji was in a Railway Guard’s uniform, but barefoot as usual, while Sri M was in a train named ‘Satsang Express’. Babaji was waving the green flag. “I woke up enjoying the fragrance of his lotus feet but then, I wondered who would listen to me speak. Then, out of the blue, Mohan C B, who is walking with us, told me that he had heard I had been to the Himalayas. He wanted me to speak about it at Theosophical Society on a Sunday. Even though I had many reservations about it, somehow I went and spoke to people present that day. It was my first public speech. I don’t remember what I said. From then on, I have been in this ‘circus’. I have only been obeying my Master’s orders, whatever be the difficulties.” Sri M continued that once he was sitting at Babaji’s feet and the Master predicted the disciple’s mission of having to teach people in the coming days. Sri M had asked him if he really had to do it and Babaji had said, “What do you think?” to which he answered, “I am like your dog.” Babaji had replied, “Don’t wag your tail too much.”
“Realization needs great ‘sadhana’ and blessings of a Guru. Due to my good karma, I got a great Guru and, afterwards for two and a half years and then later two to three months every year, he continued to change my mind and brain till I became the man you see now. It is akin to a piece of iron, which if exposed to a big magnet closely and continuously, slowly turns into a magnet. The Kriya is a similar process "but, it is highly probable, most iron pieces have a thick layer of rust—the rust of kama, krodha, lobha and moha.”
“In Malayalam, there is a saying – there is no medicine for jealousy and baldness – but I would say jealousy has a solution, which is ‘Bhakti’. Bhakti, or absolute surrender to God, because of which you want everybody to be happy. With Bhakti, you attain ‘ananta ananda’ (unending bliss) and then, you realize, you are That. Once you realise this, the rust is removed. Rust can be removed by observing Yama and Niyama and sincere Sadhana.’ He said only sadhana would not be sufficient without following the yamas and the niyamas. The mind becomes quiet only if we follow certain principles of ‘right living’ coupled with sincere practice. ‘Ashtanga Yoga is a technique by which mind is trained and calm.
“Even in Bhagawad Gita, Chapter 12, Lord Krishna talks about Bhakti. You might wonder why he waited till the 12th Chapter to speak about it. It was only then that Arjuna was considered ready to understand it. The 1st Chapter is Arjuna Vishada Yoga - the dissatisfaction/woe of Arjuna. You will realize, it’s only if you have a dissatisfaction or a problem, that you turn to God.”
“At this juncture, I will talk to you about Kuntis' prayer, mentioned in Srimad Bhagawatam. Lord Krishna, on his departure for Dwaraka after Yudhisthira’s coronation, went to pay his respects to Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas. Kunti bid a tearful farewell recounting the various ways he had helped them in their miseries. She then prayed to him, asking for one boon only—that misfortune after misfortune may befall them, since it’s only then Krishna would be with them all the time.”
Sri M recounted a message from the Bhagawad Gita about the body being the holy temple ‘Kshetra’’ while the supreme deity reigning over that was the ‘kshetragna’. Till the 9th Chapter, Arjuna considered Sri Krishna as a very close friend. In the Tenth Chapter, Arjuna is a little shaken when Sri Krishna says,
“Amongst mountains, I am Meru; Of the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda.” In the 11th Chapter, Arjuna’s logical mind is totally shattered by Lord Krishna’s magnificent ‘Vishwa Rupa Darshana’ and his mind is thus opened up to receive Bhakti (Devotion to God) Yoga.
In Bhakti yoga, Sri M continued, Sri Krishna speaks about the qualities of a ‘bhakta’. A person who has his senses withdrawn, who worships the Supreme with single-minded devotion, who treats everyone equally and who has every living being’s welfare at heart is considered a true ‘bhakta’.
He concluded his talk by referring to the 12th chapter of the Gita again, where he elaborated on Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s question, “Who is the best Yogi?” – “You may pray to a God with or without form, it does not matter. Welfare of all beings must be in the heart.” Sir M said this was the most important requirement. “It is to share this wisdom that I have taken up this padayatra. Such an attitude is considered important in the Indian culture and it is to learn about this attitude that many people have come here from abroad. Even the great conqueror, Alexander, took a Guru with him. Once we Indians re-learn this essence, other things will take care of themselves and ‘Manav-Ekta’ will happen.”
After the program concluded, dinner was served at 8.30 pm. Later, the yatris retired for the night.
Today marked the 30th day since the padaytra began—a month well spent for the cause of peace and harmony.