He said, "Firstly, I would like to thank the people who brought us here. I said ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha’. We're walking for Manav Ekta, which means unity of all of mankind. But, before that, we need to unify India. On 12th January, this yatra began from Kanyakumari, the meeting point of three oceans. This yatra is to unify India. That's why we started from Kanyakumari. Also, 12th January is Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary who did a lot for Manav Ekta. On 12th January, 2016, we completed 5000 km, we have 3000 km to go. Our objective is to take the Indian flag, that Commodore Ravindranath carries with him, to Srinagar. He is 80 years old and he has walked all the way from Kanyakumari and wants to walk up to Kashmir.”
“Meeting you all today, I believe that the progress of India is in the hands of the youth. I was pleased to hear the song the students sang. India has welcomed everyone who has come. Parsis, Yehudis, Sufis, no one stopped them from coming to India. Because our country is like a garden made of different flowers.”
“In school, do you ask each other which religion your friends belong to? Religion is one that teaches you goodness. When you are kind, compassionate and can smile even when you're angry, that's religion. When you're happy inside, it manifests outside. Whatever be your name - Amar, Akbar, Anthony - the all pervading God resides in every heart. It's possible to worship this God only through service”.
“It's your responsibility to ensure that India becomes great. If you can work together, it's possible. I'm sowing the seeds of Manav Ekta in your hearts, make sure you nurture it. Don't forget that we are Indians. I come from a Muslim family in Kerala. I respected all religions, and, had a liking for Vedanta. At the age of 19, I went to Himalayas. When the other Khans went to Bollywood, I went to Himalayas. I met my guru there. Everything I know today is because of the three-and-a-half years I spent with him. When he initiated me into the Nath Sampradaya, he gave me the name Madhukarnath. The first letter of Madhukarnath is M. No one's ever called me Madhu as sweetly as he used to. Most importantly, I am a human being. The people walking with me have added Sri to my name. I prefer Sri to Mister. That's the story behind my name.”
“I'd like to tell you one more thing. The song you heard, it isn't possible to sing it with one note. You need all the notes to make good music. The same way, every religion is important. Include everyone. When I was small, I used to hear the song 'nanhe munhe bache'... The second stanza says,'tere mutti mein hai takdeer tumhaari'– so your future is in your hands”.
The students asked some Intelligent questions during the interactive session that followed:
Q: Sir, you were born a Muslim but learned under a Hindu Guru. What difference did you find in these two religions?
A: When two Muslims meet, they say salaam valaikum – it means let God's peace be upon you. In India, we say 'Om Shanti Shanti', Yehudis say 'shalom'. In the Gita, the 12th chapter, when Arjuna asks Krishna who is the biggest yogi, he says, the one who thinks of the welfare of all. 'Bismillah al rahmanal rahim', it means the God who is all compassionate. We should also be compassionate. I don't believe that communal violence is caused by fundamentalists. A fundamentalist will know his religion well.The objective of our yatra is to encourage a dialogue between people of different religions who understand our walk. But the most important people are you all.
Q: When every religion talks of peace and harmony, why is there disharmony and violence?
A: People talk but don't practise. Many years ago, Indira Gandhi said, more work, less talk. If everyone is ready to do this, it won't happen.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to do this Padayatra?
A: My Guru Babaji once told me, ‘Many years later, you'll walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. So I replied, ‘I'm happy walking with you in the Himalayas’. Once he'd asked me what I think of him in relation to him. So I said I am like a dog. Reminding me of it, Babaji said, ‘Don't wag your tail too much’. When I saw the increasing number of fights happening between people, I realised the need to do it now.
Q: I want to know how people get into violence and terrorism. What can we do about it?
A: I am ready to talk to people. We are walking through Pathankot, even in some areas of Kashmir. If we get an opportunity to talk to them we'll try to change them. Terrorists train children which is why we need to speak to them, so they understand what's right. So, it's in your hands.
Off late, Sri M has been getting more and more opportunities to address students, both at schools and colleges. This is sure to make a remarkable difference as he often says that it is upon the young generation that the onus of nurturing Manav Ekta will fall. Often, the padayatris find the youngsters come up with genuine and sincere questions, straight from their hearts. In such places, his objective of planting the seed of Ekta is sure to succeed.
As the yatra entered the next district of Kanpur Dehat, hundreds of government employees, many of them teaching staff, joined the walk. It was probably the first time Government staff in such numbers took part in the padayatra. The Yatra ended at Akbarpur University where there was another big reception for the Walk of Hope. Sri M addressed the women who were all dressed in green sarees and said, "One of our objectives is women's empowerment and here I see an auditorium full of women. It makes me happy. Today we're at Akbarpur and the meaning of Akbar is the 'biggest'. We've had the biggest welcome here.”
“I'm wearing my fifth pair of shoes now, that's how much we've walked. We have the tri-color with us, we want to take this flag to Srinagar. We want everyone to live together. You said God has come here. For me, each of you is God. The all-pervading God sits inside you. Share this grace of God with everyone. Peace, harmony and unity are basic human qualities but sometimes we forget it and it leads to great violence. We may belong to different religions but we are human beings and Indians. You must think I'm a mad man but Anna Hazare said one needs to be mad to do something useful. While I might be mad, so many padayatris walking with me are definitely not mad. So, maybe, I'm not mad either. If India needs to grow, we need to stick together. Uttar Pradesh is the seventh state we have entered. The welcome we've got here has been heart warming. This means that people understand that something good is happening.