Reception after crossing over to Haryana - Babu Jagjivan Ram Chowk - Haryana
Putting the essence of the Walk of Hope in mime - MMK College for Girls Hodal
The grand finale of the Vande Mataram Dance - MK College for Girls Hodal Haryana
Sri M addressing the staff, students and the community of Hodal MMK College Girls Haryana
Arguably, the most colorful function so far - MK College
The walk started at Tapasviji Maharaj Samadhi and Ashram, Kosi Kalan. The story of this erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala who gave up everything and became a Sanyasi is one of Sri M's favourites. An adept at the rejuvenation therapy called 'kayakalp', Tapasviji is said to have lived up to 185 years.
The yatris prayed at the small shrine with the image of Tapasviji and some even ventured to crawl into his subterranean samadhi underneath. Sri M was felicitated by trustees of the Ashram and he spoke briefly about Tapasviji Maharaj. All were served breakfast while folk music and dance perfromances were staged in the background. The program featured two young male dancers whirling away with abandon, with hip swings which could put a belly dancer to shame. The walk proceeded along National Highway 2 and crossed over to Haryana. Sri M and the padayatris were warmly welcomed on setting foot in Haryana. The walk deviated a little later to use the fabled old Grand Trunk Road. The walk terminated at MKM College for girls, Hodal.
The colleges under this group, founded by Choudhary Rajendra Singhji in1992 and currently run by Sri Harsh Kumarji, has succeeded in educating more than 20,000 girls. This is no mean achievement in a place like Hodal which is rural and agrarian.
In the audience was the largest group of girls to have assembled for a Walk of Hope function to date. As Sri Harsh Kumarji said, women empowerment was a great commonality which the Walk of hope & MKM group of colleges shared. He also dwelt at length about the Ekta which existed in that area for many years. He wished Sri M and the padayatris all success.
A most colourful cultural extravaganza under a huge shamiana followed. To the massive audience which included Sri M, the padayatris, the public of Hodal and students, it was a visual and audio treat. The performers had practiced their items to perfection and realized the underlying theme as well. The program ran a full hour before Sri M commenced his address.
Sri M thanked the director, administrators and staff of MKM group of institutions and all those gathered, before starting his talk. He started with the Sanskrit shloka that's usually chanted before any good work is performed –
“Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih
Om, May All become Happy,
May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious,
May no one Suffer.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace”.
Explaining a little about the shloka, he said, "Since it is in Sanskrit don't think it's connected to some religion. In Sanskrit, it means may everyone be happy and nothing come in their way."
Speaking further, he said, "One of the main objectives of our walk is women's empowerment. So we're very happy that the first place we've come to on entering Haryana is a girls' college. I consider this to be a good omen. I'd also like to add like the Chairman of Shankar Group of Institutions said, soon as I landed here, seeing your response I felt that our yatra will definitely succeed. One was that the programme the girls put up and the manner in which they depicted women's empowerment and interfaith harmony was commendable. I don't think I need to talk too much about it, that's how well they performed."
He then explained about the yatra saying that the walk itself is the message and that he believes in more work, less talk. He said, "I'm not the only one walking, there are many others walking with me, having left their jobs and homes. Walking on faith alone, walking for Manav Ekta."
Sri M spoke of the reason why the walk started from Kanyakumari on 12th January. As it's the coming together of three great oceans, it’s an ideal place to start a walk which aims at bringing people together. Also, 12th January is Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary, the one man who did such a great deal of work a hundred years ago towards Manav Ekta that a thousand men couldn't do in a hundred years. He said, "Haryana is the 8th state that the walk is entering, UP was the 7th state. Like Meenu Madam said, we've covered more than 5,600 Km so far by walk. We have another 2,500 Km to go. We hope to reach Hazrat Bal in Srinagar on the 1st of May. From Kanyakumari to here, our tricolour has been up in the air, it hasn't been put down. Our Commodore Ravindranath, who's a retired Commodore from the Navy, never puts down the flag, even when he sits down to eat.He never lets go of the flag."
He spoke of the welcome received in every state and how he's elated at the welcome received in Haryana. He felt the walk has already succeeded by how it’s been welcomed here. Sri M added, "It's true that some people have called me mad for walking from Kanyakumari to Srinagar. What's going to happen? When we reached Ralegaon Siddhi and met Anna Hazare, I told him that people have also called me mad. He said a nice thing, he didn't deny that I'm mad. He said, 'Only someone who's mad can do something like this'. So, consider us mad, like there are masts in the Sufi tradition and there are Avadhoots among Yogis. So, we too are walking with a little bit of madness. Sanity doesn't work sometimes."
Sri M then explained the objectives of the walk, how Manav Ekta is part of India's ancient culture and said, "You won't find a country like India anywhere in the world with more than 25 languages, so many religions. For thousands of years, we have welcomed everyone who's come to this country with open arms. All the religions of the world exist in this country and, in religions, we have what you call many Sampradayas in Sanskrit. We have more than 25 languages, so many religions and every religion with it's own sampradayas, and castes. It shouldn't be there but it is. Yet, you go to a man on the street, be it anybody, and ask him who he is, he'll say his name and then he will say, 'Hum Hindustani hai'." (We are Indian)
Sri M spoke of how we are all born of a mother's womb which is why a woman or a mother is given such importance in this country where we say 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'. He also stressed on the need for the message of peace to go from India to the rest of the world as India is the spiritual guru of the world. Sri M added, "That's why we need to live together. All religions talk of peace, none of them preach violence. In the case of any violence done in the name of religion, look at the incident closely and you'll see that there's some vested interest, it's not because of religion. And when the fire breaks loose, it is so big that it cannot be doused with water.
Our objective is to never let it happen because we believe that prevention is better than cure. This responsibility lies with the youth. I'm reminded of an old Hindi song, 'Nanhe Munne Bachche Tere Mutti Mein Kya Hai, Mutti Mein Hai Takdeer Humari', so I believe that the future of this country is in your hands. We might have failed but think that you won't fail. People ask me what we are doing about ISI, etc., but I tell them that we need to fix our country first. We look at ourselves first, then I'm hopeful of doing an Asha Yatra in Pakistan because there are human beings there too. People sometimes might have wrong intentions but it's the same here as well."
He then quoted from Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism and Buddhism to show that every religion preaches peace. Before closing, he introduced himself, explaining why he prefers being called Sri M, as M stands for Manav.