Day 385 | 31 January 2016 | From Bijli Ghar Crossing, Agra fort to Soorsadan | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Felicitations at Bijli Ghar Agra
  • Sri M addressing the public at Bijli Ghar before the start of the walk Agra
  • Speaking to the electronic media - Bijli Ghar
  • WOH Day 385 - Agra Fort to Soor Sadan
  • 5.Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir!,-
  • Reception in front of Shahi Juma Masjid - Agra
  • Garlands pour in at the Juma Masjid Agra
  • Inside the Mankameshwar Mandir Agra
  • 9.A-dealer-of-things-slowly-going-obsolete!,-slipper-straps-&-spare-shoe-laces,-Agra,-UP
  • Reception at Dhuliaganj - Agra
  • 11.Rolling-back-the-years-by-quarter-a-century!,-Muqadar-ka-Sikandar,-Station-Road,-Agra,-UP
The padayatris have been staying at Gurudwara Guru Ka Tal for the last two days. This Gurudwara has a poignant association with Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur. It was here that he was finally captured before being put to death in Delhi.

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It is a unique opportunity for the walkers – many of whom are staying at a Gurudwara for the first time. The cleanliness with which the sanctum where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept), the langar or the dining hall and the living quarters are maintained, is seen to be believed. The 24-hour langar which serves simple yet wholesome and tasty food is a revelation. The rotis are to be accepted with open palms and no food is to be wasted. Diners are gently but firmly put through a routine by which they wash their plates, cups and spoons. They are also advised to pray at the Gurudwara and obtain 'prasad' before they enter the dining area. It is definitely a model for any dining hall attached to a religious place. It teaches people the value and sanctity of food and also trains them how to respect it. Rekha S Chauhan, City Magistrate, Agra who has been instrumental in making the Agra stint of the padayatra a success, was present during the short civic function which preceded the walk today. Sri M addressed the gathering and expressed happiness about the Manav Ekta that people of Agra have been demonstrating over the years. After tea and snacks, the walk started along the narrow streets of Agra's fort area. The padayatris were welcomed warmly in front of the Shahi Jama Masjid. Also called the Jami Masjid or 'Friday Mosque', it is one of the largest in India. Next on the agenda was a visit to the famous Mankameswar Shiva temple. It is said to be one of the oldest Shiva temples and the wishes (mankamna) of devotees who pray here are believed to be fulfilled. As the walk neared the end point, it passed the St Peter's College (1848), St Patrick Junior College (1842) and the St Joseph Girls' Inter College (1843) along the Wazirpur road, all of which could rank among the oldest colleges in India. The evening Satsang was at St Peter's College where, after a short cultural program, Sri M spoke to the audience. Sri M apologised for possible mistakes in his Hindi and proceeded to talk about St Francis of Assisi. He said, "He was a big saint. Saints don't have any religion, caste identification, because they are saintly. St Francis of Assisi used to walk a lot. There are two kinds of walks. One is a restless walk, where you're running after things. The other is a 'parivrajaka'. In India, we have a tradition of 'parivrajakas'. They don't stay in one place for too long because they believe that if one stays for more than three days in a place, one grows strong roots. Life is like a flowing river. Where do mosquitoes grow? In a stagnant pool of water, right? The world is called Jagat in Sanskrit and movement is called Jagatyam. The Isa Vasya Upanishad has said it aptly; it says, 'Isa Vasyam Idam Sarvam Yadkincha Jagatyam Jagat. Jagat is always Jagatyam, meaning 'always in motion'. We look at a solid object and presume that it isn't moving. Ask a scientist and he will tell you it is in constant motion, and it is just that we can't see it. You know that the solar system is in motion, so is this earth. There is nothing that isn't moving. Look at your own mind. It is here now; the next moment, it's elsewhere. Saints are the same. They don't like to stay in one place. They can't be held in a cage. St Francis was one such saint who used to walk a lot. He used to walk with his disciples. Once, one of his disciples told him, 'It's been a while since you have spoken to us, please make time and talk to us'. So he replied, 'When the walk gets over in the evening, I'll talk to you all'. Even after the yatra got over, he didn't say anything. So, someone reminded him that he still hadn't spoken after the walk was over. He said, 'My walk is my talk'. I'm not comparing myself with St. Francis, but it's been over a year since we started walking. When people look at us, they understand why we are walking and how we are walking.” “It has taken us a year to reach Kanpur. We have to walk another 3000 kms before we reach Kashmir and we will reach Srinagar in the first week of May if all goes well. The objective of this Yatra is Manav Ekta, unity and oneness. We go to temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras. We go everywhere. If someone asks us not to come, we don't go. But our experience so far has been that everyone invites us inside. Everyone sees the need for this and believes it but, sometimes, there's a rift. This yatra's objective is to ensure that there's no rift because it’s very hard to fix a rift. Everywhere we go, we meet people of different faiths and religions, and tell them that their religion is their faith. There's no need to break it. A garden has all kinds of flowers. That's why it's called a garden. It's not made out of only one variety of flower.” “I'm not saying anything new. And, it's our collective responsibility to ensure it stays the same. This is why we are walking - to unite people. It's also why we started our yatra on 12th January 2015 from Kanyakumari. It is where the three oceans meet. So, we thought it apt to start the walk for unity from the place where three oceans meet. Our northern border is Kashmir and that's why our yatra is from K to K. We believe that we are one united country. Firstly, we are human beings and then we are Indians. This is written in every religion. No religion asks people to kill each other. It's just that it gets interpreted like that. I don't think there are communal problems.It is just that it is given the name 'communal'. If you look closely, there are vested interests. The most important thing is to speak to students because their minds are open and they are extremely sensitive. If we can sow these seeds of unity and oneness in their minds before they solidify, they will ensure that this unity is maintained in the future. That is why we visit schools and colleges. Today, Father asked us that we meet the college students tomorrow morning. It's very important that we meet them and explain it to them.” “Since we are at a Christian institution, I'm also reminded of the definition of 'catholic' – it means all embracing, no particular sect. They call it Catholicism of thought. Since we are at a Christian institution, I'm talking about the Christian faith. If I were at an ashram, I would have spoken on Vedanta, Upanishads. There used to be a parivrajaka in Jerusalem, who used to walk everywhere. He said, 'The foxes have dens, snakes have holes but the son of man has no place to lay his head'. He was an 'aniketa', he had no home. When someone asked Swami Vivekananda if he considered Jesus the 'son of God', he said why did you pull him down one grade, he's God, why 'son of God', he is 'father'. If he were born in India, he would have been counted as one of the 'Avatars' (incarnation of God).” “Jesus said a couple of things in the Sermon on the Mount that come to my mind. Firstly, he said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God'. He didn't say blessed are the Jews or Hindus or Muslims. Peace is most important. When two Muslims meet what do they say –'Assalaam Alaikum', it means may Khuda's peace be upon you. In Satsang, we say 'Om Shanti Shanti Shanti'. Peace is stressed upon in every religion. See, different religions take birth in different lands. Based on the geographic location, its people and culture, there are a few differences but the core teaching doesn't change. The namesake of Father Paul, St Paul who was a pure Vedantin, said, 'Know ye not that we are the children of the living God and the spirit of God dwelleth in all'. That's why we are all moving temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras. This is not just my belief but also my experience that a spark of the all-pervading divine resides in all hearts. At a temple, people perform an arati to worship God. But one cannot worship these moving temples of God by doing an arati. They can only be worshipped by doing Seva. If the difference of name and form didn't exist, how would we recognize each other? But we have to see the unity that exists in spirit. If we understand this and stay united as Indians, no one can shake us. We need to be strong because I feel the message of peace and harmony needs to go from India. It is not going to come from anywhere outside. I consider India as the Spiritual Guru. Now, you may ask me your questions, if I have answers to them, I'll reply, if not, I won't." An interactive session with the general public followed. Q: Where did our generation go wrong? Will you take this yatra outside India to our neighbouring countries? A: You've asked me a very relevant question. We have a very ancient principle of 'Loka Samasta Sukhinoh Bhavantu'. Not just India but the world. However, we need to fix our home first. Only then can we go out. Whatever practice we do, we need to try it at home first. If we can't practise it at home, how can we talk to our neighbours? First, we need to make India strong. I'm 67 already but if I keep good health, I would like to visit other countries and maybe even do a padayatra. Let's reach Kashmir first. A few European countries have shown interest but I feel like visiting our neighbours before going to Europe. If you have any expertise, please join us so we can work together. Q: Firstly, I would like to congratulate you and welcome you to Agra. I feel proud of the work you've done towards Manav Ekta. I have never wanted to meet any politician but I read about you in the papers and I really wanted to meet you. I run a mobile repair shop. I wish you all the success. You say you are 67 and you're walking. If each one of us could inculcate this spirit, what a change that can create. I'm in shock that you've taken on such a huge task at such an age. Most people your age would be scared even to think of doing something like this. I wish you all success. A: You said I'm old and wondered where I get the energy from. The answer to this is very simple. If we believe in something firmly, then the body's age doesn't come in the way. My body might be 67 but I feel like my mind is not a day older than 16. I keep thinking of doing new things. Man ages or becomes old when he thinks he can't do anything, achieve anything, or feels that he knows everything. There's no one in this world who knows everything. Our senses are conditioned and that's the only way we experience the world. But if someone says I've learnt everything, I know it all, consider him to be dead. There are so many things to learn, till we die. Q: We fight for rights but why don't we fight for duties and learning to perform one's duties and teaching it to others, how does one do it? A: We need to teach through our actions. We aren't fighting for rights. We just want people to live as human beings. What duty are we doing towards it, we are doing a padayatra. Everyone can't do a padayatra. But in your own district, whatever areas of concern need to be addressed, they need to be looked into very carefully and with single minded focus. Like the boy who just sang 'Raam Ji karenge beda paar, udasi man kahe ko dare'. Raam's name can become Rahim. You can call God, Raam, Rahim or by any name. We need to have that faith and do our work. You are right, when the time to act comes, people give up. Anyway, I'm trying to talk to everyone and tell them to perform their duties. Q:Your objective is noble. I wish your yatra all success. But will your yatra get over here or can we do something even after this yatra has moved on. Is there a message for us Indians? A: What you asked me is part of our plan. We say the same thing that if we walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and go back home, there's no use. That's why we meet people, and sow seeds that are to be kept alive even after we are gone. We need to follow up on that. But, now since we are walking, we can't stay in one place for too long. I promise you that after we reach Srinagar and go back, I need a few months of solitude, because I'm not the kind to meet people. You'll be surprised to see me meeting people now but I usually prefer solitude. I know such places in the Himalayas that are unknown in the tourist circuit. I want to go there and spend some time alone. After that, we will make a plan on what to do next. I assure you I will return. I won't come walking but I'll come by train, by car or plane. I will go back to each place I've visited and meet people like you. We will definitely come. We want to make groups in each place that are non-denominational. Groups where people can get together and discuss. If there are any unfortunate incidents in your localities, you can all get together and do a padayatra. We need to do something like that. You are right, that if we go away, nothing will happen. I tell the padayatris that this isn't just an external padayatra. There should be an internal yatra as well. Our minds must improve. As we reach Srinagar, some change should occur in the mind that people say - Ah! he went on the yatra, he isn't the same he used to be, I yelled at him many times, he is still smiling.. Unfortunately, even among our padayatris, there are fights some times. If the individual doesn't change, how can society change? We need to change internally. There is so much conflict and confusion inside us, how can we change others? First, we need to change inside. Swami Vivekananda said it well, he said 'Atmano Mokshartha Jagat Hitaya cha'. The liberation of the soul and the welfare of the world need to go hand in hand.

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