Day 353 | 30 December 2015 | Camp at Allahabad | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • 'A selfie with Sri M' - United College of Engineering Naini
  • Cutting through the indigo-blue waters of Yamuna, Allahabad
  • 'Ahoy !we have visitors from afar' - Siberian seagulls at the Sangam
  • An evening enriched by an Interfaith Dialogue - North Central Zone - Cultural Center Allahabad
  • 5.A-view-of-the-audience-at-United-College-of-Engineering-&-Management,-Naini,-Allahabad,-UP
  • Dancing to the music of the Master - Bhupen Hazarika - UCE M Naini Allahabad
  • Sri M during his interactive session with the students of United College of Engineering Management Naini
Today, though a rest day, was hectic for the padayatris and Sri M. In the morning, they set out for an interactive session with students of United College, Naini. Before the interactive session, students put up a vibrant cultural program about Allahabad – the sangama (the confluence) and cleaning the Ganga.

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Sri M then addressed the audience by thanking all the dignitaries, Dean and staff of Allahabad University and went on to compliment the NSS youth who joined the walk the previous day. He said it's the youth who can make a difference to the country and that's why he sees the need to sow seeds of Manav Ekta in each one of them. He then narrated his favourite story of the three blind men – one that owes its origin to the Jain tradition, later retold by Jalaluddin Rumi and also by Sri RamaKrishna Paramahamsa. He used this story to explain that the truth we seek is beyond the reach of senses. Quoting, 'Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti' in this context, he said, "This is why we're walking. We believe that every human being needn't agree on everything. Whatever be your ideologies, whatever your religion, whatever your gender, we're all human beings. I know this from my own experience that a spark of the all-pervading consciousness, God, Ishwara, whatever you may choose to call THAT, is in every human being. We are Indians, so we need to understand this. You know the kind of problems we face when we forget this. So we have to live together with our different ideologies, like a beautiful garden.I feel like I'm starting where Kabir Das left off. My parents gave me the name Mumtaz Ali, my Babaji gave me the name Madhukarnath and most of all I think I'm a Manav, human being.I'm sure when mankind gets together, this yatra (journey) will be a success." "I believe that the message of peace, harmony and oneness needs to go from India to the rest of the world.It's the responsibility of all you youngsters to join your minds with us, so that our yatra is a success", he added. The interactive session with students followed. Q: Sir, today we need acceptance more than tolerance. What do you have to say about it? A: Tolerance means I'm okay, I'll tolerate the other. Acceptance means everyone's okay. Tolerance means he's not okay but we'll take him along. But India needs acceptance in future, not tolerance. Q: Were we smart earlier or are heading towards a smarter tomorrow? What do you have to say? A: That's an important point. We are becoming smart means more industries, modernity, but smart doesn't mean more malls in cities. That's an American theory. In America, you say I'm smart. If you're so smart, why aren't you rich? That's not how it is in India. Here we have had such great people that they were ready to give up everything they had. 'Tyag' or sacrifice is considered important. The biggest development in India is the spirit of sacrifice. Q: Sir, my question to you is we can see flaws in others but we can't see our own flaws. How do we control this side of us? A: When we tell someone that he's wrong, we need to think about what we're saying. Like Kabir Das Ji said, "Bura Jo dekhne mein chala, bura na miliya koi, jab dil khoja apna to mujhse bura na koi". That doesn't mean I am bad. Just means that the 'I' or the ego is bad. If we can handle this, then we see the other's view point, and analyse it. For this, we need to observe. That doesn't happen you just sit and meditate. When we speak with people, work with them, then our mind needs to be alert and think – what am I doing, why I'm doing? Only then can you catch it. If you sit and meditate, there's no problem, so all will be well. Babaji told me you can sit in a cave and meditate for 20 years and think you're free of anger and desires, but who's in a cave to get angry with? It's when you get out and get into a bus and have someone wearing stilettos step on your foot that you'll understand if your anger is under control. You'll understand this only if you live in the world. Q: When we think we're right and we actually are, do we try and explain our point to others or will they eventually understand that she was right. A: In my opinion, you must explain. Say this is what I believe. This is practical. I meet all kinds of people. The practice of yoga is my field. And I've just got a request from Kerala from the Marxist party of India to teach them Yoga. Communism is good but the ideology has come from Russia. It needs to be Indianized, then it's good. No one was ready to listen to this till now. But when we walked in Kannur in Kerala – where they keep throwing bombs between the left and right –the two cadres walked with us on either side for the first time in its history. When I introduced each of them, they shook hands. I'm saying this because you asked me about difference of opinion. There's a Yoga meet in Kannur District and they asked me to inaugurate it. I said yes. Many right wing people called me enquiring why I'm carrying the red flag? When people learn yoga and their own ‘sanskriti’, they'll become calm. And they'll understand that violence should be avoided. So now when I address them, I'll have to do it differently, whether they accept it or not. Q: My question to you is whether you will stay politically neutral. Will your movement have a political connection? A: I don't have any political affiliation but I think it's important to include politicians in spite of their affiliation. Because, after all the laws are made by legislature. If their mind becomes alright, they'll take good decisions. I consider myself an Indian but that doesn't mean I need to enter politics. If I did want to enter politics, I had many opportunities when I was much younger. But I wasn't interested. The politicians also need to understand about Manav Ekta. So we'll take everyone along. Like when we go to Kanpur, the Chief Minister is expected there. Because if there's something good happening, everyone will come. Politicians have some strength in them if not they couldn't have reached the position. Q: Do you have any plans after the Walk where you'll be taking the help of Govt. organisations and non-governmental organisations to see that your work doesn't come to a grinding halt? A: Very important question. As it goes now, we will be reaching Srinagar in May, 2016. Physically the yatra will be over. We believe that all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, we've instilled at least some amount of positive thinking in people. So, that they can sit down and think about it. After this, as I said earlier to this young man's question, when we go to Delhi, I'll probably be invited to the parliament. Then we will have a talk where all parties - this is the first step - all Members of Parliament will be invited. This is one step and,since media is only interested in politics, I'm going there so that it'll be reported and people will learn more about it. The other step is that wherever we've gone people have been very seriously interested in this cause. So, after I reach Srinagar, I'm planning to take off a month of two in solitude. Two reasons for this, one I'm not the kind of person who mixes too much in public. Somehow, I'm doing it for a cause. So I'd like to go back and recharge my batteries. The second is, I'll also get time to think about what steps to take next. One of the steps I've thought about, is come back to the places which we had passed through , not by walk (but by) train, bus whatever is available. Spend two days in places we've already touched which already includes Allahabad, keeping in mind the wonderful welcome we've had and the enthusiasm showed by all. And make small core groups which should include a large number of youngsters. This should be taken forward in every place we've visited, at least the major places. And we have this little group working on it who will go to schools and colleges and talk about it. We need to select some people who can do it. That is the plan as of now. But I'm sure, as we go along, some other things might evolve out of it. Q: How do we keep people together and progress? A: I have a solution to this. See you're thinking about it and like you I'm sure there are many others too. So you should get into politics. We can't sit here and complain about all that's going wrong. Active youngsters should get into politics so it becomes positive. You are young, so think about it. Politics starts with local bodies, not the Parliament. You should get into it and speak of equality. Q: What do you have to say about illusion to reality? We have goals and sometimes we fail. What do you have to say? A: Those who have succeeded have worked hard. Look at Thomas Alva Edison. He didn't even go to high school. He used to sell newspapers. He had no money. The electric bulb is his invention. That's why we're sitting comfortably with lights on. He was such a big inventor who has 100 inventions in his name. One day someone asked him, "Where did you get the inspiration for so many inventions and you have so much inspiration but we don't, so how do we succeed?“ He said, "I'll tell you the truth. It's 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Which means work. Whenever you fail, don't fear. You need to move on. Though you have to understand why you failed, then it becomes the stepping stone to success. Only after you fail, can you succeed. You can't succeed in the first attempt. When we started the padayatra we were under no illusion that it will succeed and we did it. This is called dedication. We have been walking one-pointedly. That's why we have succeeded. Don't forget this, never accept failure. Always move forward and you'll succeed. ------------------ After the session,The yatris had just enough time to get back to the place of stay, and have lunch before boarding the bus to the sangam (confluence point) for a boat ride. Everybody enjoyed themselves – some cutting through the gentle waters of Yamuna in motorboats and others having a more leisurely ride in row boats. The view of the giant 16th century Allahabad Fort, feeding the migratory Siberian sea gulls, noting the distinct texture of the two most famous rivers of India as they merged, were the high points of the ride. A rich, intellectually stimulating Interfaith Dialogue awaited them at the North Central Zone Cultural Centre where the participants "Padma Sri" S R Farouqui, Swami Satyamanandji of Ramakrishna Mission, Kanpur and Father Leo Zacharia painted the fabric of Manav Ekta with the colours of their rich experience and scholarship. As a prelude, there was a short yet sweet music program by young Anmol Khatri and group who sang Sufi songs. Once again, Sri M had to accede to public request and sing ‘Tujh ko humne dilko lagaya'. Sri M summed up the program by quoting St Francis of Assisi who preferred to let his walk do the talking: 'my walk is my talk'. He said that he was in total agreement with whatever was spoken by the eminent orators. But he felt it was his duty to take these age-old truisms to people right to their doorstep, by walking the length of the country. To cap it all, Mahant Narendra Giriji Maharaj, President, All India Akhada Parishad hosted a sumptuous dinner at his Ashram in Daraganj for Sri M and padayatris. The most remarkable thing at the dinner was the habit of the acolytes at the ashram to shout the dishes they were serving with the suffix 'Ram', for e.g. chaval Ram, dal Ram, etc. As one of the yatris put it, if only we could treat each one of the food items served as 'Ram', none would waste even a morsel! As they retired late into the night, the yatris were obviously tired, but deeply nourished – physically, intellectually and spiritually – by the activities of the long day.

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