The students even gifted him a beautiful portrait of him done by two of the students.Address and interaction with the students :
“......And most importantly, I greet and thank all the University students for welcoming and inviting us here for 'Samvaad' or a Dialogue. As I belong to Kerala in the South, there might be mistakes in my spoken Hindi, for which I apologise. But till now, things have been going well.
I start my talk with a Sanskrit verse. Valmiki is called the Aadikavi or the first poet of Sanskrit, as he wrote the epic Ramayan, which was the first of its kind. Then you must have studied about Kalidas too. So all this I mention here because Sanskrit is an ancient language par excellence. It has nothing to do with any single religion and I feel that it would be wonderful if it is read by all.
The verse I shall recite is very important for any dialogue. You might have heard it before but here the meaning is more important to understand. It goes like this:
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih
You might know its meaning but I shall explain it to you anyway. Saha nauv-avatu, Saha nau bhunaktu, Saha viryam karvaavahai... All sentences start with 'saha'. 'Saha' means together - Me and you, not me alone, neither you alone. It signifies both of us. May we be protected. May our bodies and minds be protected. If there is no protection to allow freedom of thought, then a dialogue becomes difficult. In a dialogue, both negative and positive points can arise and there needs to be protection for that.So, Saha Nau-Avatu means - May we both be protected.
Saha Nau Bhunaktu - May we both be nourished. It is important for the body to be nourished. We can’t even worry if we have not had nourishment for six days. It is important for the mind to be nourished just as it is important for the body to be nourished. No matter how interesting it is, but a three hour lecture in college will make the mind crave nourishment. Even I used to long for a lengthy lecture to get over in college. Then a break of some kind, a game of football, or a walk, or maybe watching a short documentary can rejuvenate the mind, thus nourishing it.
For us the best nourishment for the mind would be meditation.
Saha Nau-Avatu, Saha Nau Bhunaktu, Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai - May the energies within us, evolve in both of us.
Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu - May our study be enlightened. Maa Vidvissaavahai... This is the most important of all. May our study together not give rise to any hostility and that we may not fight with each other. This is because, a Samvaad is a dialogue. It needs two people to interact. It is not a monologue. A dialogue, also differs from an argument as, in the latter, each party thinks that it is right. On the other hand, a dialogue between two people respects the view points of both sides and then determines what could be better.
All our ancient Scriptures are based on dialogues - be it Upanishads, Gita or Brahmsutras. Especially, the Upanishads are an exceptional study done by dialogue. During those times, the Rishi or the teacher would sit down with his students and discuss various topics and come to a conclusion about what the truth could be. Ater several such discussion and dialogues, the Rishis stated 3000 years ago, in the Rigveda: ‘Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti, which means that Truth is one, even though the sages call it by different names.
The core of our Manav Ekta Yatra is also the same that, the Truth will look and sound different even though its essence is always the same. In the Jain community, there goes a story, that was later adopted and popularised by the founder of the whirling dervishes sect in Turkey - Jalaluddin Rumi. This story was also a favourite of Shri Ramakrishna, who lived (more than) a hundred years ago. So the story goes like this...
Three blind men go to 'see' an elephant. They can't see anything as they are blind. But they want to find out what an elephant is. So they go to figure out what it might be. One blind man holds the foot of the elephant and declares that an elephant is a pillar with small mosaic tiles at its lower edge. It is very quiet and sometimes moves. Getting too close to it could mean that you might get pushed under it, and that would surely mean death. So that was his elephant.
The second man gets to hold the elephant's tail. He finds out that, what they call an elephant, is actually a thin, long broom that is always moving and can slap hard if you get near it.The third blind man got hold of the elephant’s trunk. He declared that the elephant was nothing but a hose pipe made of leather. It moved and made strange phus-phus sounds.
I am not degrading the blind in any way here. Some people's eyes don't function. We may have functional eyes, but sometimes we can't see even with our eyes open! So all three had their own definitions of what the elephant could be, and very soon a quarrel ensued, just as it happens even today. All three were determined to prove their definition right. They were at each others’ throats, when a fourth man entered the scene of this fight. He told them that he had eyes with which he could see. He told them that even though all three of them were right in their own way of what an elephant was, it still wasn't the complete truth. The elephant was much much more than what they could perceive and they could only touch a small part of what it actually was.
Same is the case with Truth. The Truth we seek is all encompassing and it is beyond the limits of our senses and thinking. And this forms the base for all religions. We can discover this, only by breaking the definitions we have created.
My experience has taught me that Divinity resides in all hearts. This is not a theory. The all encompassing Supreme Bhagawan, if I may call it so, is present within everyone. It does not feel right to say Bhagawan. It is like someone wrote, 'another illusion'. So you can call it the Truth or any other name. That would be alright too.
So my experience has taught me that the Supreme Truth lies in all hearts. And every person - be it a man or a woman - is a walking temple. You can call it a temple, or a mosque or a gurudwara. So, each person is a walking temple. The worship of this innate God, who resides in all hearts, is not by an Aarti. it is only through seva or service.
As the Vice Chancellor had mentioned earlier, we started (the Walk of Hope) on Swami Vivekananda's birthday. He (Swami Vivekananda), had said, ‘Aatmano mokshaartha, jagat hitaaye cha’. This means that well being of the world and finding salvation should go hand in hand. They cannot be separate of each other.
The objective of this padayatra is to share my experience of oneness with all, so that we can all live together peacefully. First of all, we are Manav (humans). Each one of us is born out of a mother’s womb and nobody falls from the sky. We live on this Earth and will go back into it. So in this small life between birth and death, why is it not possible to live happily and peacefully? There is no need for this drama of violence. This is my message for all. Irrespective of the differences in religion, caste, creed and theory, if at the core we are humans, then it is possible to live in harmony. This is not a new idea that I recommend. It has always existed in India since time immemorial. But, sometimes, we forget this and then even a tiny spark is enough to fire up communal riots that are difficult to control. They call these as communal riots but I am assured that these are portrayed as communal riots and in reality they are not. The reason behind these riots is something else. We should not let these incidents occur.
So, how do we propogate this idea? We start with our homes, neighbourhoods, and all around us. We emphasise on the fact that we are all humans. We may belong to different religions and castes, we may be Amar, Akbar or Antony... and still live peacefully and harmoniously in this world and make India stronger. I believe that the message of peace, harmony and Manav Ekta (human unity) will spread to the world from our country. It will not come from outside.
India is a garden with so many different flowers. You cannot have a garden with only one kind of flower. So when all different kinds of flowers bloom, the wind of peace and harmony carries with it the fragrance of Manav Ekta to the rest of the world. I believe in this and this is the reason for this padayatra too.
I am happy to say that tomorrow, in Kanpur, we will celebrate one year of our walk. From 12th January (2015) to 12th January (2016). (Audience applauds)
As your Vice Chancellor mentioned, this one year of our walk coincides with the 50th year anniversary celebrations of your University. Now a University is not a small place. It stands for Universality. So think about that. And, you also think about human unity and teach others to coexist peacefully as humans. This is all I have to say to you.
I shall say one more thing, after which we shall start the 'Samvaad' or interaction.
I was born in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, into a Muslim family. My parents named me Mumtaz Ali Khan. At the age of 19, instead of becoming another Khan of Bollywood, I went to the Himalayas. There, I met my Guru, Maheshwarnath Babaji and I stayed with him for three and a half years. Even if you are not on the spiritual path, Himalayas is a nice place to go to. It helps to open up the mind. My Guru asked me to go back after three and a half years to live a normal life. People call me a spiritual teacher but I think I am a normal human being - a Manav. I am married and have two children and my children are also married, so I am free now. When my Guru, Maheshwarnath Babaji, initiated me into the 'Nath sampradaay' (tradition), he renamed me Madhukarnath. But my passport still has my old name on it. So the first alphabet of Mumtaz is M. That of Madhukarnath is also M and Manav or Manushya also starts with M. So I consider myself, Manav. That is also the reason why we are on this walk, so that we can make people understand that, first and foremost, we are Manav and everything else comes after that.
That is all that I have to say.
Dhanyawad. Namashkar. Salaam (Audience applauds).
“We now have 40 to 45 minutes for interaction. You can ask questions and I shall reply once I hear out the questions. I would like to take questions especially from the students, as their minds are still open and should be kept open too.They are not yet close minded.”
The interaction then began with a Master of Ceremonies facilitating the same:
Q: Namaskaar. I am from Arnapore PG College, and a NSS volunteer and I want to know why did you give the name ‘Asha yatra’ (Walk of Hope) to your padayatra?
A: We called it so because we have hope of maintaining Manav Ekta (unity in humanity) amongst us. Sometimes, we forget this and do not live in harmony. So the objective of this Walk is not to let people forget this and keep them together. It is with the hope that a time will come when all will live together as one and move forward. Thus, the name Walk of Hope.
Q: Sir, this walk is a great example to us.I would like to ask respected Sri M the reason why the padayatra is not travelling through the entire nation. Why is it only from Kanyakumari to Kashmir?
A:There are two reasons for that. It is not that we won't be travelling through the entire country. But it was important to start somewhere. So when we first formed the route, we decided that we will go from Kanyakumari through Delhi to Kashmir. So for a walk lasting one and a half years, we are covering 8000 km. There is a core group of 70 to 75 people, walking with us right from Kanyakumari. They have left behind their families and work in order to walk with us. So, it is difficult to walk longer than that at one stretch. After resting for one or two years, we are thinking of planning another Walk. That starts from Kanyakumari and moves towards Andhra Pradesh, from there to Odisha, from Odisha to West Bengal and move towards the Northeast. I take pride in telling you that, before the start of this Walk, we went to meet our former President, Dr Kalam sahab, with whom we shared good relations. He had expressed his desire to walk with us if we decided to walk to the Northeast. It is sad that he is no more, otherwise he would have surely joined us there.
Q: Sir,Abyarichit from the USD department. My question to you is that you left home at the age of 19. We all are around that age and want to know if you thought about your parents before you left home? What was your mental and emotional state at that time?
A:Somebody asked me this question in the morning too. It's true and that is why I would advise you against it. (Laughter from the audience) But my situation was different. You look at it this way. When there is a strong burning desire to do something great, you think about a larger family, and not only the small family that you have. When I left, I was sad and scared. My family was sad too. But when I came back, and they saw the evolution I had undergone, their sadness went away. I had gone away to return. But it is very difficult and not easy at all. If you have the urge to do something great, then it might not be so bad to go away like this. Running away from home unnecessarily for a picnic is not very wise. You need to look at the motive behind it. If you had a fight or are scared of the exam results, and you run away to Benaras, you would probably be back in two weeks. I had an uncontrollable urge, a fire inside, that pushed me towards that. Going away was sad though. It was not as if I went away happily. I am the eldest and the only son in my family. So there was sadness. Anyone would be sad. And I had to face a lot of obstacles too. I was not living in an air conditioned room. It wasn't easy at all. But when I came back, I came back to a much larger family. Thank you.
Q: Namaste Sir. I am Nandini Gautam from the fourth year. I need to know, how to maintain unity?
A:We are working towards that. How do you build unity? Unity is always there. We discount it sometimes. It is not that it does not exist. We sometimes forget about it. Whenever and wherever we go during the walk, especially the colleges and Universities, we urge the students and the youth to maintain unity. Because, when you understand that, the future of our country would be a unified one. So, it is in your hands. You start with your homes, neighbourhoods and wherever you go. Talk about it and try to work towards improving on it. Only then our walk would be a success. We will go to Kashmir and go back home. But if the seeds of unity are not planted in your hearts, it is of no use. This is what we understand. Thank you.
Q: What inspired you to undertake this padayatra, the Walk of Hope?
A:The motivation to undertake this walk has always been inside me. I wanted to share my experience that every human is One with others and I wanted to spread that knowledge. It has been inside my heart for many years. But I had other work to do, my children had to be taken care of. But all that is done now and I thought, it was time to start! I am 67 now. And if not now, then when? So we started out in January.
For the last three years, my friends did a lot of work, did recce, charted a route. I didn't do anything. I just held the Tricolour and started walking on January 12th, 2015. That is all that I did. The inspiration has been from within. There has been no outer inspiration as such. The outer motivation has been the plight of the people, when they suffer because of violence. That has been an inspiration. I wanted to erase it as much as possible. This has been the inspiration.
Q: Namaste, Sir. Pankaj Pandey, BPT third year. Si,r I want to know what prompted you to go to the Himalayas at the age of nineteen. Who motivated you to go there or was it your own decision? Did you meet your Guru as soon as you reached there or someone told you to look for Him?
A:That is a long story. When I was a small child of 8 or 9, He, whom I would be calling my Guru later on, came to meet me in Thiruvananthapuram where I lived. After that, instead of playing games, the sky held my attention. What happened there? How? Where does it start? What is its source? And when I read about the Himalayas and it's wise Gurus, I thought, that maybe, I'd find some guidance there.
Q: What was the education you had before you headed out to the Himalayas? (from the same student)
A:I gave the final exams for my degree.
Q: One last question. Were you married, before you left for the Himalayas? (from the same student)
A:I got married after I returned. I got married at 37.
Q: Namaste, Sir. Mohammad Abdul. Sir, I want to know about the difficulties that you faced while on the Walk?
A:Walking in itself was difficult because, nowadays, even to go to the shops, we prefer a car or a scooter rather than walking down. Feet were made for walking but we don't utilise them. So, the first difficulty was that. Our feet hurt in the first two-three months of the walk. Others walking with us also faced the same problem. But we never gave up and kept on walking. The second thing was that, at some places, we were warned about some problems in some areas where we were supposed to walk. But nothing happened and we walked through those parts as well. So, it was mainly difficulties of the body and mind. Nothing more than that. Whenever we were hungry, we got food. I don't know how and from where.
Q: Hello Sir. Good morning. My name is Priyanka Gupta from the pharma department. Sir, what steps would you suggest against terrorism so that our soldiers don't lose their lives?
A:Our hope is for human unity. We make a start at home and then look towards the neighbours. Home here means India. If we keep a unified front, then no one can harm us. This happens because we fall apart and get fragmented and lose the power of unity. My effort is for people to come together as one and have more energy to tackle such incidences. But if terrorism is arising in another country, then we will have to go there and do something about it. I am ready to go there but the Government won't let me.
Q: (addendum) But the attack is from their country. Is there no way we can make them understand this?
A:How can we do that? How can we go to them and make them understand?
Q:(addendum) Though our Prime ministers are having bilateral talks, there are still many who want to harm us. How is it possible to prevent these attacks so that no more lives are lost?
A:You have very bravely said this, but it is important that these bilateral talks do not stop. Terrorist attacks are a way to hinder such talks. The talks must go on. When the terrorists attack, it is important that our army defends. That is there but the talks should not stop. My advice to the Prime Minister would be to continue these talks, in order to prevent this problem from becoming a permanent one.
Same student: I would like to recite two lines that I have written.
(Translated from Hindi)
Our country has been independent for 68 years, then why are there taboos?
They say India is great but then why is there deceit?
We pay homage to Gandhi and yet there are disgraceful incidences that put us to shame.
A girl is your sister and daughter. She is also Durga and Bhavani.
Why are we wearing the mask of deceit?
We'll walk two steps and you walk one, and let’s prevent the country from sleeping again.
Let us light a lamp of love and create a magnificent India.
Sri M: We are ready to walk two steps instead of one, with you.
After this, the facilitator intervenes to announce the next day’s program.
MC: Before the next student asks his question, I would like to give you the details of tomorrow's programme. Tomorrow's walk shall start from Phool Bag, Gandhi Bhawan at 10 am. From there till Green Park, there will be 12 stops and about those, you will come to know from the newspapers. These 12 stages have been set up to welcome the walk with cultural presentations. The main event shall be at Green Park, where the program starts at 10 in the morning, and will continue in the presence of the Chief Minister.
Sri M and the Chief Minister shall be felicitated at the Green Park Stadium, where all are invited.
Tomorrow is also World Youth Day that is celebrated on Swami Vivekanand's birthday. And we are blessed to host the anniversary celebration of the Walk of Hope here in Kanpur. The feedback has been that the rousing welcome that the walk has received in Kanpur, has been a good one. I would request Sri M to tell us about his experience in Kanpur.
Sri M : You were there, so you can tell
MC: We want to hear it from you.
Sri M : The welcome at Kanpur was very good. There were people from all places, all communities, ideologies and professions, who have welcomed us. Especially the welcome in schools was very good. This was the best so far in Uttar Pradesh. And I hope that our message shall spread properly amongst the masses.
The interaction continues:
Q: Pranam Guruji. I am Rudrapratap from DAV College and I am a NSS volunteer. As they said earlier, terrorism is a challenge but in our own country communal (based on religion) issues is a major problem. How would we tackle this issue without compromising the unity and integrity of the nation?
A:The first step is to consider yourself human. That is what I am trying to propagate. Wherever I go, especially amongst students, I try to explain that we are first and foremost Manav - humans.
Secondly, keep religion at an arm’s length. Religion is personal faith, but in humanity we live together. As Indians, it is very important that we make India strong as the message of peace and harmony will emanate from here. That is our effort and we will talk to everyone about this. What else can we do?
Q: Hello Sir. I am from University’s Health Science Department. I want to know if there were any people opposing you when you started this walk?
A:To tell you the truth, there was no one who opposed me. There might have been a few talks about it, but I haven't heard any. Somebody did call me mad though. They said that this man is mad to walk from Kanyakumari to Srinagar. What has happened to him? How will he collect people? But to do good work, sometimes you have to listen to people calling you mad. When I visited Ralegaon Siddhi, I told Annaji about people calling me mad. He approved of it saying that to do good, you have to be mad. It's a good thing. You should be a bit mad.
Q: Asalaam alaikum. Sir, my question to you is that you were a Muslim and then you went away to the Himalayas. Why did you not follow Islam? Prophet Mohammad, in his entire life, preached peace and sacrifice. So why did you not follow that?
A:Because we need to understand what others think. What we think in our homes is not sufficient to know about others. In order to stay together, we need to find out other person's view too. I have not changed the name on my passport and neither have I converted. In Vedant, I wanted to know about what an ancient text had to say. How did it contain such priceless knowledge? And, when I learnt about it, I found out that it is exactly the same thing that was written in Quran Shareef, albeit in a different language - Urdu. So I would tell you to have an understanding about other religions as well. That way, you would understand them better. India is like a garden with thousands of different flowers that need to stay together as one.
Q: (Addendum) Sir, in Quran Shareef, it is mentioned clearly that the only ideal person that should be followed is Prophet Mohammad. And Walk of Hope is spreading the message of peace. But there can't be peace till every person practices honesty and that can come only by being true to your faith.
A:What you say is right. That is what I teach too. That the individual should change. You can't change groups. But then again, groups are made of individuals. Since you have mentioned Quran Shareef, I would like to tell you that Quran Shareef also mentions, that, the Lord has, at different times and places, sent different Nabis, to teach people accordingly. So one should compare. I totally agree with you that, to change the world, an individual should change. As far as Truth is concerned, you must know that even before becoming a Nabi, Nabi Salamullah wali musallam, was called Al ameen - the trustworthy one. So whatever he said was taken to be the truth just because it came from him. It is very important to be truthful.
Even in Vedant, truth is discussed at length.
You don't have to search for Truth outside. You need to practice it your day-to-day life. People come and tell me that they are searching for Truth but they lie all day. I tell them how will you find truth when you lie whole day long? It is true that to change the world an individual has to change. That is our message too. We are doing Walk of Hope now. Let us see if it is able to do its job. Inshallah, God willing.
Q: Salaam aleikum. My name is Umar Salaar Quereshi and I am from pharmacy department, Kanpur University. Why did you start your walk on 12 January, on Swami Vivekanand's birthday. There have been other great personalities in India too. So why was it not 2nd October for Gandhiji or 14th November for Jawaharlal Nehru? Why did you choose this date?
A:Because Swami Vivekanand was a universal personality and was not linked to any religion. And also that he had done a lot of work for Manav Ekta. About 100 years ago, he tried to teach people about this. Besides, Kanyakumari is a sangam, a meeting point for three seas. So we thought, it would be a good idea to start a walk from there, as it was a walk that aimed to bring people together. And 12 January is Swami Vivekanand's birthday. He was a great personality which couldn't be tied down to a narrow category. He was a great yogi and a saint. If not his birthday, then who else?
Q:(Supplement) Can this Walk of Hope aim for a world tour?
A:World tour! Let's finish this in our homeland first. Two or three people have asked me, whether we can do this in the US, from UNESCO, and from Zurich, Switzerland and Netherlands. First, let us reach Kashmir. We have to walk down from Jammu to Srinagar and that too via Pathankot! If we survive, then we will reach Kashmir. After that, we will thing about the rest.
MC: I would request the students to ask one question each, as there is a long line for it.
Sri M: There is time only for one question now
Last Questioner – Q (i) :Good afternoon Sir. My name is Dipanita Awasthi. I am from the Paramedical department of BBD second year. Beginning is half the work done. This walk has a great objective. Human beings are changing but humanity is still incomplete. Do you think there will be a change in perspective?
A:We have hope that it will bring about a change. That is why we have called it Walk of Hope. We do have hope. Whether it happens or not, only time will tell. Let us reach Kashmir, and then we shall assess what has happened. But by the response we are getting, I think something is happening.
Q (ii): So you think that there are changes that are happening?
A:Rome was not built in a day. It takes time but it doesn't mean that we can't try to make an effort. If it is to succeed, then groups with people like you need to understand its message, share and spread it. We can't do it alone. But, it's a start.
Q (iii) Sir, I want to present a few lines before you
Aatmeey bhaavon ki lehrein
Leheron ki abhivyakti meri hai
Bharat ke kone kone se
Shat shat pranaam mera hai
Rach gaya vidyalay ka praangan,
Jis kshan, isme aapne jispe kadam rakha aur hum sabko apne gyan ke saagar mein le liya.
(Translation - By visiting the campus, you have enriched us with your wisdom and blessed our University.We do a hundred pranaams to you and convey our heartfelt thanks.)
The facilitator announces the end of the session.