Ornate well designs a re a common sight in these parts - kanpur
Along mustard fields in full bloom - Kanpur
Reception at Chatrapati Shivaji University - Sakhin
An impromptu pani puri session halt at Mahtauli
Reception at Mahtauli - Kanpur
Satsang at end point - Mahtauli
It was by far the coldest day of the walk and the padayatris‘ teeth chattered as they stood huddled together to take the oath. Within minutes of the start, the yatris came to the Sikandra Juma Masjid, which was built a thousand years back during Sikandar Lodhi's time. The reception at Chatrapati Shivaji University was next.
It was unfortunate that it was a Sunday due to which many students could not be present. However, the students staged a short cultural program with a couple of songs.
After thanking the dignitaries and the audience, Sri M said, "I said Namaskar, I'll also say Salaam because this yatra that we're on is to unify people, not to divide. The culture in India is such that we already know that all are one. We must live together in peace, whatever one's religion maybe, we know this. But, sometimes, we forget this. I feel like we're forced to forget it. Our objective is to tell people in villages and towns to stick together despite their differences and never break this. This place is so small that I haven't even seen it on the map but there's such a good degree college here. People here are so adept! For the first time in my life, I'm hearing someone play the sound of the table by their mouth. This might be a small place and not having a tabla doesn't stop you. We need people like this who come forward to support a good movement. I would also like to thank the girls who sang.”
“The walk started from Kanyakumari on 12th Jan '15. We have 60-70 people walking from there who form the core group. On an average, we have close to 200 people on the walk each day. In some places, thousands of people join the walk. I feel fortunate that we completed a year of walking while we were in the city of Kanpur. We had the biggest welcome there."
To explain the concept of unity, Sri M compared India to a garden full of flowers of different kinds. He also said that there isn't another country with so many languages and dialects, in spite of which its people stick together. "India is like a beautiful song that's made of all the seven notes", he said.
Speaking of the impact the walk has had, Sri M said, "Everywhere we go, people form small groups to discuss Manav Ekta. We were in Fatehpur recently and an untoward incident has taken place since. Now the people who joined the walk with us have organised a walk there on the 18th. Hindus will walk with the Quran in hand, the Muslims will hold the Gita, Christians will hold the Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhs will hold the Bible. So the incident gets arrested there itself and doesn't grow bigger. This shows that the walk is having an impact."
Sri M then explained the origin of his name and said, "Like me, each of you here is also 'Sri M'. Because you're also 'Manushya'. There's no difference between you and me because the soul is the same in all. Think about this carefully and spread the message that we are all Indians and human beings and that we need to live together in peace."
Quite a bit of today's walk was along National Highway 2 with mustard fields in full bloom on both sides. For those who didn't already know, it was clear where the main ingredient of the Punjabi delicacy 'Sarsong ka sag' comes from!
Another interesting incident of the day was an impromptu stop by Sri M at a 'Pani puri' vendor's cart.
The yatra also went past a 'Kos Minar' or a mile pillar of the Mughal period, which is a protected monument, and also the impressive Khwajaphul Fort during today's walk.
At the end point, a small village called Mahtauli, there was a reception function for Sri M.
Sri M spoke to the villagers who were waiting for him. He said, "We had been told we'll be stopping at a small place. But it looks like you have a very big heart. So many of you have gathered here, especially women. Looks like this message of Manav Ekta is accepted and understood. I think people usually live in peace in India. In India, whatever happens in villages will be reflected in the rest of the world. The future of India is in your hands. This walk is to unify and that's why we started at Kanyakumari, the meeting point of three oceans. We want to unify India. Look at how many languages we have. In spite of it, we all consider ourselves Indians. Prevention is better than cure. That's why we speak to everyone and say first you are human beings. In this short drama from birth to death, why the fight and violence? Keep this message in mind and talk to your neighbours, discuss it and spread the message of unity."
He then explained the mystery behind his name and said, "Each of you is Sri M because you're all human beings - 'Manav'. If there's a fight, discuss it. Don't fight, take this oath. Please repeat after me, ‘hum sab ek hai, Bharat Mata ki jai’. (We are all One and Victory to Mother India) The villagers repeat the same.
“Namaskar, Salaam aur Dhanyavaad."