The yatris were off to an early start, after congregating at the Thunchan Memorial Trust - home to the legacy of the life and times of Thunchathu Ezhuthachan, considered the father of Malayalam language. The day’s walk began at 5:30 am after a quick and invigorating cup of coffee, nd were greeted by a group of people with most of them joining the walk. Taking a breather at Vatthani, there was another small gathering waiting to welcome the walkers with a few joining in for the onward walk.
On reaching the Bhagawati Devi Temple at Tanur, Sri M and some of the walkers visited the temple and offered their prayers. Breakfast was served a short distance away from the temple, after which they resumed the walk by 9.00 a.m. The next stop was Pariyapuram, at 10.30 a.m.where an enthusiastic crowd numbering over 30 waited to welcome them, with the accompaniment of a traditional percussion ensemble, the chendamelam. Sri K N A Khader, the local MLA joined the walk at this point, till the day’s destination with Sri M, interacting with the group and with him, sharing perspectives and inputs on various subjects pertaining to the local community and current affairs. They were soon greeted by cheering school children lining both sides of the road, welcoming Sri M and the walkers. A short refreshment break later, there was another group of 20 people who greeted Sri M. The story was no different around 11 a.m., as they neared their destination, coming across another stretch of enthusiastic students waving and cheering them on, from both sides of the road.
The road they walked on today was the road leading from Ernakulam to Calicut. Though not a highway, there was very heavy traffic as the road was quite narrow and had just two lanes. As always, walking on such roads facing heavy transport trucks, speeding buses, cars and two-wheelers was difficult. The redeeming point was, though the sun was shining, there was enough cloud cover. And much of the distance of the road being tree-lined, the walk was easier than the day before. The walk again reached its optimum pace averaging a kilometer in about 16 to 18 minutes. They had done 20.5 kilometers today.Reaching Parappanagadi, the day’s halting point by 12 noon, the yatris congregated at a satsangi’s house which would also serve as Sri M’s place of rest. Men and women were provided lodging about a kilometer away. Walking to the lodging house, they were assigned their rooms. All women and a few men were housed in rooms while the men rested in the large corridor. With all the rooms for the day’s stay situated on the second storey of the building, accessing the rooms was literally an uphill task, with their personal belongings & baggage, after the day’s walk.
Parappanangadi is a small town in the Tirurangadi taluk, roughly 5 sq km in area, serviced by a fairly busy railway station and a smattering of public utility and trade establishments catering to the local populace. In fact, the Parappanangadi railway station is one of the oldest railway stations in Kerala, and was part of the first rail route (Tirur–Beypore) in Kerala. The Maha-Vishnu temple of Parappanangadi is a famous temple here and the town is more popular as the halting place for visitors to the temple. There are hardly any public spaces that could be used for informal gatherings, as per the layout of the town. However, being on a busy road, the town is very active. Such halting points are expected to be more frequent in the coming days.The padayatris congregated again for lunch at the Satsangi’s house at 1.30 p.m. and returned for some rest.
B E M Higher Secondary School had been chosen as the venue for the evening program. Gathering at 5.45 pm, Sri M planted a sapling on the campus. Sri Khader, who delivered the welcome note, is a practicing Muslim who also practices Raja Yoga, one of the finest examples of the mingling of cultures, faith and practices.
The evening started with prayers from the Bhagwat Gita, Bible and the Quran. Sri Khader introduced the Walk of Hope to the gathering with eulogies and tributes to Sri M. He shared a personal anecdote which touched people’s hearts. During his travel to the North, among other places, he visited the Golden Temple of Amritsar, along with a sick friend who belonged to another community. He was just outside Akhal Thakt and had a doubt if he would be permitted to enter. He enquired with his friend if he could enter. His friend replied, 'ye jagah jitna hamarah hai, utna tumarah bhi hai' (This place is as much yours as it is ours) !' We embraced each other with tears in our eyes. This is a dream being carried forward by Sri M through his Padayatra.’ Sri Khader said.
He also narrated another anecdote from Sri Ramana Maharishi’s life. A gentleman wanted to see the Maharishi alone, so he waited till all devotees had left, went to him and told him that ‘all others have left and I am now alone with you’. Ramana Maharishi said that the 'I' should also have gone. Sri Khader also stressed on the importance of education in creating a healthy mindset in children which can comprehend the importance of great truths propounded by all the religions in the world, thus enabling them to realise that peace is inside and that it cannot be achieved by anything external.
Sri M started his address saying that “Mr.Khader had given a great introduction about our Padayatra and I have only a few things to add. While it is easy to utter truisms, it is difficult to 'walk the talk'.” Recalling an earlier introduction about him in one of the previous satsangs, in which the speaker said ‘Sri M's walk is his talk.’
“I am confident that if the ever present energy is with us, we will walk and complete the Padayatra successfully. My leg hurts but I am very confident that I will walk. In this lifetime we have and hold precious, we should do whatever good we can.”He went on to narrate an incident from Ramana Maharishi’s life when the much learned Sri Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni met the sage for the first time. Ganapati Muni, though a scholar and very well versed in all shastras and tantric practices had not found ‘The Ultimate’. On his travels to Tiruvannamalai, he was told about a certain young ‘brahmana’ swami on the hill. He went to have his ‘darshan’ and immediately spoke about the various practices and the books he had studied in an attempt to introduce himself. All amana responded to this diatribe was the crisp ‘Koncham chumma iranda’ (Could you be quiet and still for a while ?). As Ganapati Muni approached Sri Ramana, he realized that the Maharishi sat with his eyes open. He sat with his eyes open - he was one who found out that there was no difference between inside and outside and everything is one.”
Sri M then referred to a verse in Arabic and the verse from the Ishavasya Upanisha "Isha vaasyam idam sarvam " - the Supreme is everywhere. It’s the same.He continued, “ Many people ask me, will you reach Srinagar ? I reply that I am taking it one day at a time. We will come to that later. One of the reasons that prompted me to undertake this Padayatra was if we do not do it, who else would…a country that has welcomed everyone, told all foreigners to come, stay and live with us. I am doing it not as a politician or a social activist but as a person who has had an experience about the unity of our country and oneness of mankind and who would like to share the same with others.”
“There are about 35 to 40 regulars who have been walking with me from Kanyakumari till here. There are many others who join temporarily for a couple of days, heeding my exhortation at different places. I know that many of the regular walkers are going through a lot of pain and suffering due to the heat, blisters and bruises. But it is very touching to note that trusting in me, they are putting up with all this and continuing.”
Sri M then recounting a story from the Prophet Mohammad Nabi's life. “Once Mohammad Nabi had to flee from Medina with only Omar as company. They were fleeing and the fear of death hung over them. They travelled through the desert and came to a cave, they entered the cave for rest and prayer. A little later, Omar who was used to warfare, said that a group of twenty horsemen were in pursuit and that the two of them had no chance against them. To Omar’s surprise, Mohammed Nabi told Omar to trust in him since they were actually three!. As they hid in the cave, the horsemen came right in front of the cave, stopped and turned right around and went back! Mohammed Nabi then told Omar, I told you not to worry. The third one I mentioned was ...” Sri M stopped here and said “ I will tell you later .”
Continuing the story, “As they went to the entrance of the cave, they saw that large desert spiders had woven a web right across the cave mouth giving an impression that the cave had been unoccupied for long. ‘The third one’ said Mohammed Nabi, ‘was Allah.“ God or whatever name you would like to call him. The Rig Veda said 2000 years ago Ekam sat, Bahuda vadanti. There is great strength in this belief. It is not a violent strength but a peaceful strength which you will have only if you have love in your mind. You cannot buy it from any Walmart store, whatever amount you may be ready to pay. We base our Walk on this self-realisation. There is a beautiful verse in the Bhagwat Gita in Chapter Twelve, which happens to be my favourite.”Samyam indriyam gramam, sarvatra sama buddhayah, te prapnuvanti maam eva, sarva bhuta hite ratah.
When translated, it means that one who worships the unmanifest that lies beyond the perception of the senses – by controlling the externalized senses, being equally disposed or having complete equanimity in all situations and having the welfare of all beings at heart is the one who will reach Krishna or The Ultimate Truth.
Explaining the import behind the term equanimity Sri M said, “Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin and you will find that one always follows the other”.Continuing, he said that Swami Vivekananda, when asked about the essence of Vedanta had replied ‘Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy - by one, or more, or all of these - and be free. This is the crux of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.’ Sri M said “But the path to this is not easy and it has been compared to a walk on a razors' edge.”
He reiterated that the body is the Kshetra (residing place) like the temples, mosques and churches around us and the Kshetragna (the resident) is the Divine.”Once you realise this, all problems can be solved.I am not saying that all religions are the same. No, they are different, like multi-hued flowers in a beautiful garden. However, a country like India understood very early that different faiths are like rivers emptying into the great ocean. It is easier to realise the unity of mankind. I am sure that the rest of the world will also follow.
This truth has not totally disappeared from our country,” he reiterated,”but is only lying submerged. To bring it out for all to see is a task which I alone cannot do. I want all of you to help in this undertaking. If we could teach youngsters in schools and colleges, I am sure, the next generation and the new India will be a garden full of beautifully different flowers.”
Sri M concluded the satsang saying that he had planted a sapling today as he has done in many places during the walk.
As is the practice now, dinner was served at 8 p.m. again at the Satsangi’s residence being the venue, the walkers retired by 9.30 p.m.