Sri M started by thanking people and said, "Namaskar and thank you everyone for welcoming us to Kanpur. I thank you all on behalf of the padayatris who are walking with us too. Before I start, I would like you to know that I come from South, owing to which if I make any mistakes in Hindi. Please forgive me. I will mix a little English in between."
Explaining the meaning of the word Samvaad – the name given to the program – he said, "Today's program is called Samvaad. A samvaad doesn't happen alone, its between two people. This isn't something new. Thousands of years ago, from the Upanishads, to Yoga Vashishta and The Bhagavat Gita, it's all a Samvaad. The Sufis always have a Samvaad. The Sikhs have a Samvaad between the Gurus. In Amristsar when Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, was being built, the then Guru said that there's no one better than Miya Mir to lay the foundation stone. This was the start of a dialogue between the Hindu and Sikh religion. Even in the Gita, at the end of every chapter, it says, 'Iti Shrimat Bhagavat Gita su, Upanishad su, Brahma vidyayam, Yoga shastre Sri Krishnaarjuna samvaade'. Even this was called a Samvaad. The saints usually have a samvaad. It's not that they keep talking and you listen to them and forget it the next day. That's not how it works.
Sometimes, even if there's no dialogue, the conversation happens just by listening. The meaning of Samvaad is the meeting of mind. If that happens, then the knowledge within me is revealed to you spontaneously and vice versa. For this, the meeting of minds is important. I started this yatra because of a similar experience, knowing that a spark of the divine resides in every heart, whatever your name, your religion. That's why all of us are walking temples of God. Worship this temple through service, not by doing an arati. When the attitude of service arises in our heart, our true sadhana begins. Sadhana doesn't mean meditating 24 hours for spiritual progress. One’s spiritual journey begins when we see ourselves in others and do as much service as we can and along with it, do our dhyan or practise as taught in our sampradaya."
Sri M then gave a brief introduction to the yatra, the distance covered so far, distance yet to be covered and the objective of the yatra. Revealing the mystery behind his one syllable name, he said, "I was born in a Muslim family. Four generations ago, my ancestors were brought down from North India in service of the Travancore king because he didn't trust his bodyguards. When I was born, my parents called me Mumtaz Ali Khan. As a 9 year old child, I had an experience where my Guru, Maheshwarnath Babaji, came to Thiruvananthapuram and blessed me. Since then I'm transformed, I became a seeker. I would sit alone and stare into the sky. When I turned 19, soon after writing my exams, even before I got my results, (there are Khans who went to Bollywood) I went to the Himalayas. I felt like a bird locked up in a cage waiting to break free. It was a golden cage. Be it aluminum or gold, a cage is a cage. So, one day, I just ran away from home, took a train to Rishikesh and landed up in Badrinath. I met my guru in there and instantly knew that he's the same person I'd met as a child. Maheshwarnath Babaji, my guru, was a great guru belonging to the Nath Sampradaya.
In spite of it, he never spoke about religion. His only criteria to choose a seeker was to see if he's serious about his search for truth and if he's ready to risk all for it. After living with him for 2 years, he asked me to spend some time learning the Sufi tradition because he knew I didn't know much. He left me with a Sufi saint in Ajmer Sharif for 7 months. It was like a 7 month crash course. After 7 months, when Babaji came to take me back, the saint – whose name was Yousuf Sahib – told me that my Guru was a Vali and that I should never leave him. A Vali is a friend of god. I had many such experiences in the three-and-a-half years that I spent with him. When he initiated me into the Nath tradition, he named me Madhukarnath. You must have wondered who this Sri M is. The first letter of Mumtaz is M, the first letter of Madhukarnath is also M, but most importantly I consider myself to be a human being, Manav. That's why I prefer to be called M. Some people have added a Sri with respect. I prefer Sri M to Mister M."
Speaking further on the need for unity Sri M said, "Everywhere we go, people understand what we are saying and agree with us. In the Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak Ji said, 'Avval Allah Noor Upaye Kudrat Ke Sab Bandhe". A member from the audience completed the rest of it on Sri M's request, "Ek Noor Se Sab Jag Upjya Kaun Bhala Kaun Mandhe".
Sri M continued, "Every saint knows this which is why we must increase the capacity to control our mind. There's nothing else. This is the biggest task in Sadhana. Not to let the senses run free. Our mind runs behind the senses. If the mind can control the senses, one slowly turns into a saint.
Becoming a saint doesn't mean wearing new clothes. There are many saints who are dressed normally. Kabir Das Ji said, ‘Jaati Na Poocho Sadhu Ki, Pooch Leejiye Gyaan. Mol Karo Talwar Ka, Pada Rahan Do Myaan’. Sometimes, I think we need to complete the work that Kabir Das Ji left incomplete. Tulsi Das Ji said the same thing in Ramcharitmanas. He said, ‘Kaam Krodh Madh Lobh Ki, Jo Lo Man Mein Sthaan, Tho Lo Pandit, Moorkh, Tulsi Ek Samaan’.”
“Whenever we see communal riots happening, if you look closely, you'll see it's because of anger or some vested interest. It's not really communal, it's just the name given to it. Because the one, who understands his religion well, will never want to hurt anyone. It happens only because one isn't able to keep the senses under control. There's a saying amongst the Sufis, ‘Mann Araf Nafsu Faqhad Araf Rab’- it means the one who understands his mind and learns to keep it under control knows God.
The Upanishad says that when you know yourself, you know God. You might wonder how this message will reach the common man. When one speaks from personal experience, it definitely has some impact. We have walked 5000 kms, having met people from different cities, religion, region and I feel like they're all understanding it a little-by-little. We sit under a Peepal tree, 20-25 of us and they share their thoughts. In fact, this innate goodness is hard to find in cities. I've gone to villages where a small community belonging to a different religion live in harmony with people from another religion.
The message I'm trying to convey is that, if there are differences, we can sort it by having a dialogue. There's no need of violence and fight.” “I feel that the seeds of Manav Ekta that I'm sowing now will grow into a huge tree one day. But I can't do this alone. If each of you understand this, practise it at home, then in your neighbourhood and share the message with your entire community, then it's possible. One can go into a temple, a masjid, a church. Yesterday, we went to a Church and the father welcomed us very well. We keep going into temples everywhere we find them and no one has told us that we aren't welcome. We even went to a Masjid yesterday, they welcomed me and asked me to read the namaz. So this exists everywhere.
From Kerala to here, we've been into countless number of Gurudwaras and they tell us we're doing a great thing. That's all I wanted to say. Since its a Samvaad, if any of you has a question, please ask. I can't promise that I have answers, but if I do, I'll definitely answer.”
Q: I have been working towards India's unity for years and continue to do so. But we need more participation from the youth of the country.
A: Everywhere we go, we try to visit schools and colleges because the youth’s minds are still fresh. Whatever we can explain to them now will help the nation in the future. These are the people who will make India great one day, so we make an effort to visit schools and colleges because the seeds we sow there will become a huge powerful tree one day. There'll come a time when all of us Indians can sit under its shade peacefully. When it bears flowers and fruits, and the wind blows, the sweet fragrance of Manav Ekta and patriotism will spread across the world. I believe that the message of harmony and unity needs to go from India to the West. There's nothing to come from there.
Q: I would like to know how to reach the spiritual essence of your message of unity.
A: I keep repeating this everywhere I go that it isn't possible just by sitting and meditating. While it's important, it's just one department. Serving mankind is also important. Serving mankind doesn't mean setting up an NGO; if you see someone starving in your neighbourhood, see how you can feed them. That's it. If both meditation and seva go hand-in-hand, then what you're speaking of is possible. That's why we're doing this walk. I tell people that we can go to Kashmir and return, that's one yatra. The other is the internal yatra. When we look at different people, we have to live with them, we face challenges, and we progress, that's the internal journey. Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Atmano
Mokshartha Jagat Hitaya cha’, liberation of the soul and welfare of the world, both these need to go hand-in-hand. Once Maheshwarnath Babaji told me, ‘If you meditate for 24 hours for 24 years in your cave (this is Kali Yuga not Treta Yuga, so it isn't possible), but suppose you do it, and get out of the cave and don’t hear a hungry child crying, then your 24 years of meditation is a waste’. This is very important. We don't do Yoga and Dhyan to turn into stone.
When you see that the soul inside you is the same as in others, others’ sorrows become our own. It's a tough life! Jesus Christ's image has a wreath made of thorns. He could sense every man's sorrow and the only thought on his mind was to try and solve it. Vivekananda meditated a lot but a common man can't do it. But, finally, he said there's no bigger service than service to a 'Daridra Narayana'. It's worth thinking about. But in our parampara there is a sadhana, which we call Kriya Yoga. It cannot be taught anywhere, not it an auditorium like this. It can only be taught individually, sitting alone. It's a type of pranayama. We believe that every man's body has 'prana' and there's also two kinds of prana - prana and apana. When they aren't equal, the mind is disturbed. When they become equal, 'Prana Apana samayukta' – means if we can balance the prana that's passing through the ida and pingala naadi, and direct it through the sushumna naadi, the spinal cord, then the mind becomes calm. Then the shakti inside us doesn't get wasted, it gets gathered. That's the first step and that's where the yatra begins.
Babaji never said that only by doing Kriya Yoga one can find moksha. What kriya yoga did Meera Bai do? She only had Bhakti. What kriya did Ramana Maharishi do? He only understood himself by enquiring 'who am I?' This is our parampara so I believe that if it is practised properly, some change can definitely happen.
Q: I have two questions. One - You just spoke about controlling the mind which is very difficult. Is there an easy way of doing it? Two - Mahavatar Babaji has given you Darshan, did you see him in his body? (The microphone system makes a loud squeak)
A: I'm not sure if I can answer the second question. But let's discuss about the first question. You also said you weren't sure if you could meet me. So to that, the padayatra that we're on, in a way, it’s for Manav Ekta, secondly I think we reach everywhere where there are people who are interested in spirituality, but we haven't met yet. Since the yatra started, this is happening. Sometimes, I go alone in a car or I go with the yatris, they say they never thought they would meet me. Babaji once told me that if there's anyone who cannot meet you or doesn't want to meet you, go to their doorstep, there's no big or small, if they don't open the door, walk away. Once he said if someone calls you a fool, look in the mirror you might be a fool.
The other function of this yatra is that I meet people who are interested in spirituality. You said it's difficult to control the mind. Firstly, we need to understand how sincere we are about our spiritual search. When we see the world and realise there's nothing in it, it's only if this happens that one can sit for meditation. The basic thing is - our mind is very restless. You might be sitting here and looking at me but your mind might be elsewhere. You need to make it one-pointed, for which there are many techniques. The bhakta does not need any sadhana because their heart naturally gets drawn towards God. The others who aren't as lucky, need to do some kind of sadhana for which we have Kriya Yoga and many other kinds of Yogas, Pranayama and Jap.
Since you've asked, I'll teach you a simple pranayama. You won't have to pay for it. If you listen to me carefully and go home and practise it, that's my dakshina. It's very simple. When your mind is very agitated , close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, you'll notice that even your breath is very agitated. When one listens to good music or does anything that calms the mind, the breath is slow.
The rishis thought that if the mind and the breath are connected, somehow then it’s possible to control the mind by controlling the breath. This is where the science of Pranayama begins. This exists even amongst the Sufis, they call it Damadham mast kalandar. Dam ke upar Dam aur mast. One breath after another and be liberated. I'll now teach you a simple pranayama. Everyone can do it. It doesn't require any special qualification. Our breath is very important. You can stay without eating, without drinking water even but the breath cannot be controlled for more than one minute or half a minute. We don't even notice our breath which is such an important aspect. Our life begins when we take a breath in and ends when we breathe out. If we pay attention to this breath, since it's inter-linked with the mind, we can control our mind too. This can even be done for good sleep. But, to sleep, do it lying down and for meditation do it sitting up.
Sit quietly, and when you breathe, fix your mind on your breath. As you breathe in, put all your attention on your breath. And, then hold your breath in Kumbhak (retention). Then release the breath, and put all your attention on the outgoing breath. If you do this 25-30 times, then you'll notice a change in your mind. You'll see that it's become quiet. With frequent practise there will come a time when you can keep it quiet all the time. When your mind becomes quiet, no one will need to tell you, you'll exhale a deep breath out. After that you can do any sadhana that you practise. This is the runway after which you can take off.
Q: Pranams to you. I've been on the spiritual path. I've been doing seva. But my question to you is that how is possible to function in the world – towards your parents, responsibilities and still do one's Sadhana?
A: Even I'm a householder, I have children and a wife. But I do everything that needs to be done in the world. I'm not a Sanyasi. Along with it, I also do my sadhan.You need some preparation for it though. Initially one needs to stay in solitude for some time, every now on then. There are busy corporate guys who work through the year and take a week off to recoup in a resort. Similarly, perform all your functions in the world and take time off for yourself now and then silently. The Sufis call it 'sidha'. For four days in a quiet place, eat simple food and do your practise. Once I return from Kashmir, you can come to Madanapalle. I'll connect you and leave you on your own.
After the samvaad, Sri M led the padayatris and public on a 'candle light' walk of half a kilometer, right up to the Sarsaiya Ghat on the Ganga. It was first of a kind for most of the yatris, having done a 'candle light vigil' at German Bakery, Pune.
The Sarsaiya Ghat looked beautiful with hundreds of 'diyas' floating down the Ganga, setting the mood for the Arati. There was a short dance program after which the Arati began.