The Walk of Hope group left Parthasarathy Temple at 5.30 this morning. The start was 30 minutes ahead of schedule as the distance to be covered was more than the previous 3 days. Sri M stayed overnight at Swayamprakash Ashram, the samadhi of Bhramajnaananda Sarvakshi Amma. He joined the walkers as they passed near the Ashram. After an hour's walk covering 2.6 kms, the group had a mini-breakfast consisting of a local variety of banana.
Continuing another 1.5 kms, the group reached Peer Mohammed Appa Dargah at 7.10 a.m. The Dargah, located in Thuckalay is dedicated to Muslim saint and Tamil poet, Peer Mohammed Sahib. It was a very poignant moment, as this was one of the places Sri M had traversed in his early days as part of his spiritual journey, also mentioned in the chapter ‘Trial Run’ in his autobiography. The group offered prayers for peace and harmony at the shrine.
Peer Mohammed Sahib or Mohammed Appa, born in Tenkasi, wrote many books on philosophy. His poetical magnum opus “Thirunerineedham” was composed in 1594 AD. In yet another poetic work, Bisumikilkuram, the Sufi saint makes it evident that he had realised the full implication of the term “Bismil” from his spiritual mentor, Imam Sadkhatullah Appa (Rali). He is said to have acquired the merit of ‘saram’, the marvelous mystical mastery over ‘The Breath’. Moreover it is believed that the illustrious Sufi saint laid the foundation stone of the famous Padmanabhapuram Fort at Thuckalay, built in 1743 AD.
Moving on, the group reached Thiruvithamcode Arappally, the Royal Church, after having walked another 2.2 kms. The Church is also known as the Thomayar Kovil and St. Mary's Orthodox Church. The group offered prayers for peace and harmony at the church. Then, the group had breakfast here.
The historic church, also called Amalagiri church as named by the Chera King Uthiyan Cheralathan, was built by St. Thomas, the Apostle, in 63 AD. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church maintains the church. Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I, proclaimed the church as an international St. Thomas pilgrim centre on December 16, 2007.
After couple of stops for tea and refreshments hosted by local groups, Sri M stopped at the Tamil Nadu WoH Coordinator, Mr. L N Subhash's house briefly where he was traditionally welcomed with an arathi.
At 12.15 pm, after having walked over 12 kms, the group reached the Rotary Club, Marthandam which along with the IMA Building were the halts for men and women respectively. After lunch and rest, the group gathered again for the highlight of the day - the daily satsang. It started at 6.15 pm with a welcome address by the President of the Rotary Club, Dr. A Devdas.
Sri M began his address by thanking the foreigners who had joined the walk and mentioned that walking such long distances everyday was not an easy task. He also expressed the need to spread better awareness about Walk of Hope amongst the locals along the route as he noticed the people's surprise when they saw the padayatra.
Sri M further added that he had embarked on the Walk as per his Master, Babaji's wishes. Reiterating the intention of the Walk, he said that it was envisioned to bring about unity amongst humanity. He said, “The moment a person is labeled through caste, creed or religion, there is division and he is no longer a human being. Whatever religion a person follows, if he is not a peacemaker, then he does not understand religion.”
He recollected his Himalayan days where the poorest of the poor would share their food with him. He said, “Fortunes or a person's circumstances may change in an instant - a pauper can turn into a prince and a prince to a pauper.” He spoke with great anguish about the glaring disparity in our country - between the rich and the poor, “Only a change in heart can help bridge the gap. It is important that we bring about change in our own small world if we wish to see change on a larger scale.”
He further said, “We will come across a lot of pain during the Walk but we should try to overcome the pain, without letting it affect us. This is The Walk of Hope. People have come to walk together from all over the world and this is only because of the principles that we share. Let this journey be an internal journey; may we move towards tranquility; from jealousy to forgiveness. It is important that we practice any meditation technique that helps us keep the mind calm.”
Sri M concluded his address by thanking the Rotary Club and the IMA for their hospitality.Thereafter, Dr. Chandrakant Pandav proposed a vote of thanks. The entire session culminated to the resonating chanting of OM.