Satsang at the Daffodils Auditorium - Lohiya Talab
Padmashri Pt Bhajan Soporji weaving his web of musical magic with his Santoor - Daffodils Auditorium
Though a rest day, it was replete with activities for Sri M and the padyaatris (travelers on foot) as Daffodils Public school, their host had lined up many activities for them. The day started at 10 a.m. with Sri M’s interactive session with the school’s children. The children along with the Director sang bhajans followed by Sri M’s interactive session.
The padayaatris also attended a ‘Samoohik Vivaah’ (mass marriage) in the forenoon. In the evening the students sang Bhajans followed by a scintillating Santoor recital by renowned Padmashri Pt Bhajan Sapori ji and group.
Sri M’s interaction with the school children:
“First I will start with an ancient Sanskrit shloka, which you know already and which is chanted before every teaching, every class, every instruction when the students used to sit in front of the teachers in the forest academies. I am sure you know it but we have to look into what it means.
“Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |
Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||”
“‘Om shaanti shaanti’ you can chant all the time. Every time you get angry with your classmates you can chant ‘Om shaanti shaanti shaantih’.”
“All the three lines in the shloka have one word that re-occurs, what is that word, ‘Saha’. So, ‘saha nau-avatu’ means may both of us, when I say both, you and me. I could have said ‘I and you’ but I prefer to say ‘you and me’. May both of us be protected. Why protected? Now, when we’re sitting here peacefully trying to understand what we should be doing, what if someone comes in with a machine gun and starts shooting, can we sit in peace? Also, protection from distractions... You’re sitting here, suppose you are very hungry, instead of listening to what I’m saying, you might be thinking of kachori and jalebis, so that is a distraction. So, may we be protected from distractions, that’s another meaning - Physical protection and mental protection.”
“‘Saha Nau Bhunaktu’, this again applies to jalebis, may both of us be nourished. Jalebis are not the best nourishment. So, this means, may both of us have enough food. You know if you don’t eat food for five days, you cannot even think. Your thinking capacity is lost. So, the first thing we require to do, not only among ourselves but in our country itself is to feed the hungry. There are still lots of people in this country who wonder when their only meal of the day will be. So, may we get enough nourishment, physical as well as mental nourishment.”
“What happens when you sing a song or bhajan or when you are doing something very artistic, your mind gets nourished. When you study your mind gets nourished. But, you also need enough food to think, to move around. May both of us be nourished, Saha Nau Bhunaktu.”
“‘Saha Viryam Karavaavahai’, may both of us have the energy and the ‘virya’, the vitality to live to interact, and grow. But, for both. It is not enough if I have ‘virya’. You should also have ‘virya’. If only you have virya and I don’t have it, then I will not be able to stand here and talk. Virya also means courage - Courage to face the facts of life, courage not to let our minds sink in some imaginary ideas but to face reality. The process of evolution starts with coming face to face with what you have.”
“Since three times ‘Saha’ has been repeated, in Sanskrit grammar you don’t have to repeat it the fourth time. So, ‘Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu’, may the Tejas, actually Tejas cannot be defined in English. It’s a wonderful language but when it comes to certain things, it has its limitations. So, the shloka means, the spiritual energy in all of us, Tejas, may the Tejas increase in both of us. What is the fun if only my Tejas increases, you will only say what a wonderful man! You are most important, because you are the future citizens of this country, you are the people who are going to live together on earth and make it a better place to live in.”
“Last, ‘Maa Vidvissaavahai’, may we not quarrel with each other. It means, let there be no differences, let us not fight or quarrel. But, that does not include a dialogue. What we are trying to say is that a dialogue is different from an argument. An argument means, I believe in something, you believe in something. I am trying to sell my belief to you and you are trying to sell your belief to me. How can we meet? Then an argument starts. But when you say ‘Samvaad’, when you say dialogue, it means, you and I are thinking together and trying to find a solution to a problem. That is what is called a dialogue. The Bhagavad Gita is considered to be a Samvaad. Krishna is not selling his ideas. In fact I am a little against selling spiritual things for money. You can sell consumer goods for money but not spiritual things. When I teach meditation, I don’t charge anyone a single paisa. Because it is something that can be learnt if you are interested and if you are ready to learn. This is not something new that I am saying. It comes from ancient times.”
“I want to have a dialogue, an interaction with you but before that I want to tell you a small story which has something to do with the walk and Maanav Ekta. It’s a very old story which comes from an ancient Jain Story. It was later taken up by various other movements.”
“In Persia there lived a famous Sufi saint Jalaluddin Rumi who founded the order of ‘the whirling dervishes’. If you go to Turkey you’ll see some people go round in circles, its called the whirling dervishes. Some times, in Kathak you see how people go round and round? Like a top, spin like a top. This is something called the whirling dervish dance where they keep their hands up and go round and round. And Jalaluddin Rumi, was the founder of the whirling dervishes. He picked up this story from ancient Jain sources in his wonderful text called the Maznavi, which is a compilation of beautiful poems. In fact, there is a group called Sunaad in Bangalore. They have integrated Rumi and Isha Vasya Upanishad and brought out a beautiful dance drama called, ‘Isha Rumi’. Some time if they come here, it will be nice for you all to see it. So this is the story. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who you all know is the Guru of Swami Vivekananda, was very fond of this story. Whenever people came to him from different religions, he used to tell them this story.”
“This is the story about three blind men. Three blind men went to see an elephant. If I write it today I would say three blind women went to see an elephant. It’s about time women come forward. So anyway, three blind men went to see an elephant. Can you imagine blind men looking at an elephant? So what did they do? They touched the elephant. This is the only way they can figure it out, so they touched the elephant. One of them touched the foot of the elephant, the legs of the elephant. And then he said, the elephant is like a huge pillar with small mosaic legs at the bottom and it is very hard and rough, it is like a tree trunk, occasionally it moves, it is dangerous to stand close by because if it stamps on you, you’ll be crushed. It is one side of the elephant.”
“The other man touched the tail of the elephant, and he said, an elephant is something like a huge brush with a stem with bristles on it and it keeps moving up and down and if you stand too close to it, it might hit you in the face. In those days there were no bathrooms, otherwise he would have said it is like a huge moving bathroom brush. Then the third man caught the trunk of the elephant, touched not caught, catching can be dangerous! He touched. And he said, an elephant is like a huge rubber hose, it keeps moving all the time and every now and then it makes a hissing sound. These are the definitions of an elephant according to the three blind men.”
“Now, a big fight ensued because each one said my definition of the elephant is correct. Nobody can say no because ‘I have touched it, I have felt it’. Very soon they were at each other’s throat. You know how it happens, it starts with a small thing, then it flares up into a big flame, a forest flame, even water hoses cannot stop it. This is what happens.”
“It had just started when a man who could actually see, who was not blind, stepped in. He asked, ‘what is this fight about?’ So he was given an explanation that my friend is saying the elephant is like a…. So the other man said wait a second, are you people not blind? They replied, ‘yes, we’re blind’ very proudly. So the man said, ‘Unfortunately I am not, I can see’. So what you, Mr.A is saying is correct because you have touched one part of the truth. What Mr. B is saying is also correct because you have touched another part and what Mr. C is saying is also correct as you’ve touched another part of the elephant. Unfortunately, the elephant is much more than all the parts put together. I can see that the elephant is this, this and this and much more than you can think of. You cannot because you do not have the instruments of perception. You don’t have the sight to see. So therefore, when blind men define things, the Mundaka Upanishad very beautifully says, when the blind become teachers…, not physically blind, people who can’t see. Then, the Upanishad says, ‘andhenaiva nīyamānā yathāndhāḥ, it’s like the blind leading the blind. Then you go fall into a ditch. So, the whole thing that we’re doing, this walk, is to make people understand, especially young people, because it’s only in youth that you can sow the seeds.”
“Several years later when you grow up, and do wonderful things in this world, I am sure you will, you look very bright, this should remain in your heart, that there are many ways of looking at the world. There’s not one way. There are several religions, several ideologies, different thoughts and different sects. The greatness of this country is that all of them can live together hand in hand, understanding that we are human beings. Basically we are human beings. Now I don’t know your name right? Now you’re a little girl. Not so little, but a growing up girl. You might not like it if I call you a little girl. If I call my daughter a little girl she says she’s grown up. So you are sitting in front of me and I’m standing in front of you. I don’t know you. But what do I see? A human being with a beautiful smile, an intelligent face. That’s all you need to know. Why should you ask what is your name? You don’t have to, I think. The moment you say a name, it is difficult. Now this is the reason I called myself Sri M. The Sri has been added by people. In India when you respect somebody you say Sri. Well it sounds better than Mister M right? Mister M is James Bond’s boss. Nowadays, I think it is a woman. So this why I called myself M. Because M means Manushya, Maanav, a human being who has no name, no other thing to differentiate with. You don’t even have to use Sri, you can say M, great!”
“Our whole walk is to bring people together, to understand that in this country, even in other countries but in this country you have so many languages, so many religions. Does anybody know how many languages we have in this country? Twenty two official languages plus so many dialects. For instance, a man who speaks in the southern end of Kerala will be a little confused when he goes to North Kerala though they speak the same language. In China there are so many dialects, Mandarin does not know what Cantonese is. This means we are all like different streams flowing into the ocean, which we call India.”
“We are saying, that we can live in peace and harmony, we don’t have to fight about differences, we can live together in peace and harmony and I believe that it is from India that this message of peace and harmony will go to the rest of the world because in the ultimate analysis, it is not only India, but the whole world, ‘Loka samastha sukinoh bhavantu’.”
“This is what I came to share with you. In your classroom, in your home, wherever you live, please inculcate these ideas, that we may have different ways, we may be different looking, Amar, Akbar or Anthony, doesn’t matter. But we are all one, human beings and responsible citizens of this country who will not let anyone break it to pieces, but who will keep it together. Now I leave it to you if you want to have any interaction with me, you can stand up and ask me anything. If it is relevant to the topic, even if its not so relevant it is okay with me, I have nothing to hide. Now you have seen me, I don’t bite, so don’t worry.”
Q: Sir I want to know how old you were when you left your home for yoga and these types of activities?
I left home at the age of 19, I’m 67 years old now. Physical years. Mentally I think I am your age perhaps. And when I left home at the age of 19, I spent 3 and a half years in the Himalayas because I met my spiritual teacher whose name is Maheshwarnath Baba ji. He introduced me to the Nath tradition. It comes from Adi Nath, Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath and so on… However, that does not mean I belong to any particular sect. So to your question I spent 3 and a half years and at home nobody knew where I was. Please don’t imitate me. It’s a dangerous thing to do. Please don’t imitate me. But I came back home after 3 and a half years.
When I came back home my mind had changed and I saw things differently. I think the three and a half years I spent were useful even after I came back. What happens when somebody goes to study Law in England and something happens by which all contact is cut off. Then three years later everything is restored and you come back. You have studied enough, you have changed and you come back and you bring good things and you teach others about good things. So this is what happened.
Q: Is the message of this walk only for India or for the whole world?
We have started the walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir which of course is in India, but as I said earlier my idea is Loka Samsatha Sukhino Bhavantu. Let the whole world be happy. So it has to go all over the world but we have to establish our credentials that we are at least able to walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Once the credentials are established then if somebody says here’s a mad man who walks, who walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, they will know who it is. Then perhaps we can step out to neighbouring countries. But problems have to be first solved in our house, then I can solve the problems of my neighbours and so on and so forth.
So in fact there is a lady here, whose name is Ms Yousser from Tunisia, she has worked in the United Nations in Netherlands for many years. Only yesterday she was suggesting that there are lots of people ready for a peace movement, ‘can we walk in Netherlands?’ So once we finish this, I’m hoping one day we can walk into Pakistan. Like us there are hundreds of people who want to live in peace and harmony. After all we are human beings. Thank you very much for the question, very good question. Gradually, slowly we will expand if we’re still around. I am 67 years old. Bhagvan ki kripa se hum rahenge to karenge (By God’s grace if I am alive, then I will do it).
Q: My name is Shreya Singh and my question is that we’ve seen the video of the Walk of Hope and we are inspired by it. And I want to know how can we play a role in your vision?
I know that you may not be able to walk with us because you’re all in school, you are students. But tomorrow when we walk in the city see if any one of you can walk with us. But it is left to the school to decide. It will be very nice. Many schools have walked with us for an hour. Good idea. If you cannot do that, my suggestion is, put your minds together and support us.
Every morning when you get up, spend one minute saying we’re all with the Walk of Hope, we would like to go but we cannot go, so we are on Walk of Hope, walking with our minds. Because every actual action, comes from mind power, there’s no doubt about it. Because if the mind does not think nothing can be done, I think after a while when you grow up, some of you might actually attempt to do something like this. I do not want just me to do it. I want to see a world where people take just causes and say we are walking for this. So if that much inspiration I can provide, I think you are contributing to the walk of hope. Hope I answered your question.
Q: When did this idea come into your mind?
You must be wondering why I chose to do this at this age. In fact this idea came first into my mind, I have walked a lot, not at one stretch but I’m a walker. In the Himalayas I have walked with Baba ji. Every now and then I walk off into the Himalayas. Apart from that, many many years ago, when I was 23 years old or so, once I was sitting on the banks of Ganga and talking to Baba ji. He suddenly told me, ‘One day you will have to walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir’. I was terrified. I said, ‘Baba ji I don’t want to do this, I cannot do this. Why should I walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir? I am happy here. I’m walking’. So he said, ‘You have to do this for some time for a certain purpose’. He didn’t even tell me the purpose.
That idea was in my mind for many years. I did not have the guts or the courage. Few years ago, seeing the situation in this country and all over the world, people fighting for no reason whatsoever, it occurred to me that if I do not do it now, I may not be able to do it later because already I am 67, after ten years I’ll have to hold a stick and walk around. So I decided let’s do it now or it cannot be done ever. So this idea has been there for several years but it came into fruition only now.
Then I mentioned to some close friends that I’m going to walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Talk to people and bring them together and prevent the troubles that are crippling this country and very happily some of them said they want to join. It took us 2 years to actually organize everything. It had to be organized. It is not very easy, we have to figure when we have to walk, where to stop, where to eat, where to move forward. There are many people with me, we have to look after so many. Sometimes, I have to make them understand some times I have to smile, sometimes I have to frown. So ultimately it has taken place now. It started when I was 23, I am 67 now so how many years is that? Anybody who has a quick mathematical mind? 23 to 67?”