Day 407 | 22 February 2016 |From Baha’i Lotus Temple to Gurudwara Damdama Sahib | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • WOH Day 407 the Walk starts off from the Lotus Temple - Delhi
    1.WOH-Day-407,-the-walk-sets-off-from-the-Lotus-temple!,-Delhi
  • Welcome by a Sikh brother - Kalkaji Delhi
    2.Welcome-by-a-Sikh-brother,-Kalkaji,-Delhi
  • Sri M gets a tilak near Kalkaji Mandir Delhi
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  • The Yatra marches into Jamia Milia Islamia - Delhi
    4.The-Yatra-marches-into-Jamia-Milia-Islamia,-Delhi
  • Satsang at the Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari auditorium - Jamia Milia Islamia
    5.Satsang-at-the-Mukhtar-Ahmad-Ansari-auditorium,-Jamia-Milia-Islamia,-Delhi
  • Along the streets of the New Friends Colony - Delhi
    6.Along-the-streets-of-New-Friends-Colony,-Delhi
  • 7.A-truly-religious-kirana-merchant!--New-Friends-Colony,-Delhi
  • Inside the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha - New Friends Colony
    8.Inside-the-Gurudwara-Guru-Nanak-Satsang-Sabha,-New-Friends-Colony,-Delhi
  • Reception at Nizamuddin - East Delhi
    9.Reception-at-Nizamuddin-East,-Delhi
  • A hearty welcome from former CM of Delhi Smt Sheila Dixit - Nizamuddin Delhi
    10.A-hearty-welcome-from-former-Chief-Minister-of-Delhi,-Smt-Sheila-Dixit,-Nizamuddin,-Delhi
  • Inside the magnificent Gurudwara Damdama Sahib - Nizamuddin
    11.Inside-the-magnificent-Gurudwara-Damdama-Sahib,-Nizamuddin,-Delhi
  • Sri M addresses the listeners of Fever 104 FM New Delhi
    12.Sri-M-addresses-the-listeners-of-Fever-104-FM,-New-Delhi
  • In the hot seat - Inside the studio of Fever 104 FM New Delhi
    13.In-the-hot-seat!-Inside-the-studio-of-Fever-104-FM,-New-Delhi
  • The august audience at India International Center - Max Mueller Marg
    14.The-distinguished-audience-at-India-International-Centre,-Max-Mueller-Marg,-New-Delhi
  • Sri M addresses the gathering at India International Center
    15.Sri-M-addresses-the-gathering-at-India-International-Centre,-Max-Mueller-Marg,-New-Delhi
  • Hindustani vocal recital by Smt Kalapini Komkali - India International Center
    16.Hindustani-Vocal-Recital-by-Smt-Kalapini-Komkali,-India-International-Centre,-New-Delhi
The start point of the day was arguably the most pretty of Delhi's modern public buildings. Built in 1986, the Lotus Temple of the Baha'is has won international awards for design, outdoor lighting and other architectural aspects. In the adjacent building, there was a well-maintained exhibition about Baha'i faith, its founder, prominent leaders, and temples. The padayatris had a quick view of the exhibition. Unfortunately, today was a holiday for the temple and hence none could go inside it. Many vowed to return and visit it in the next few days itself. Sri A K Merchant, noted scholar and member of the Baha'i community, was present to receive the yatra. Sri Shivamurthy Shivacharya of the Taralabalu Mutt was also present on the occasion.

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The next important destination for the walkers was Jamia Milia Islamia. Founded by Muslim leaders in Aligarh, the JMI grew with the help of the hard work of many sincere people to become a public Central University in 1988. Dr Zakir Hussain played a crucial role in its growth in the troubled teething times. His mausoleum is within the campus. With 23000 students and 1200 staff spread over 9 faculties, JMI is a giant among Indian educational institutions. Sri M addressed the students in the college auditorium and said, "If someone says you're different, tell them that you're all human beings, Indians and you are one. It's the responsibility of the teachers and parents to create conditions to nurture the seeds of Peace, Harmony and Unity. If something needs to be discussed, have a dialogue." The Gurudwara Damdama Sahib was where the walk terminated today. It is the memorial of a meeting that took place near Humayun's tomb between Mughal emperor Bahadurshah Zafar and Sikh Guru Govind Singhji. Yatris offered prayers after ending the walk. A sumptuous langar lunch followed after which they could rest for some time. Since, the house where Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia lived, Humayun's tomb and Arab ki Sarai were all within stone-throwing distance, many ventured out to explore them in the benign sunshine. In the evening, everyone moved to the The India International Centre, which looks every bit a place where intellectuals of the capital get together for top-notch cultural and social functions. The compact auditorium was overflowing well before the program started. The evening's program opened with prayers by the Chief Priest of the Delhi Parsi Fire Temple. Former Chief Secretary of Delhi Sri Ranganath welcomed Sri M and recounted his wonderful experiences with him. Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, Rabbi of the Judah Hyam Synagogue, regaled the audience with his spontaneous and humorous talk. He reiterated the fact that India was the only country where Jews have not suffered any form of persecution. He touchingly mentioned that he is first an Indian and then a Jew, a sentiment all our countrymen should necessarily echo. He also anecdotally recalled his encounters with Sri M and welcomed Dr Pandav and Justice Venkatachalaiah to hand over his presents to Sri M. He also blew the ceremonial Shofar (conch-like wind instrument) normally used only inside a Synagogue. Later, Smt Kalapini Komkali enthralled all with her full throated, rich voice in singing Hindustani (nirguni) Bhajans, in the company of brilliant accompanists. Sri M thanked all the dignitaries like Mr Giriraj Singh, Ms Sheila Dixit, Justice Venkatachalaiah, Mr Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, and others before starting his address: "I am very thankful to you for having come here and graced this occasion. I'm going to talk in English because, since Karnataka, I've been speaking in Hindi and by speaking every day, it has actually improved. So, this walk is a social act but it comes from within me. Let me at the outset tell you that there's no vested interest or any idea of gaining anything from it. I'm walking because I love humanity. When the Vedas said 'Loka Samastha Sukhinoh Bhavantu', they were not talking about any small section; they were talking about the whole world because we are humans. Raghunathji said about my being with Guru Maheshwarnath Babaji. Even though he came from the Nath Sampradaya, no one could have put him in any bracket. He was an expanded human being. He always said he was a human being. But I thought that he was God because of the way he lived and the way he communicated and interacted with me. I was so insignificant before him. And he taught me the first lesson in humility – that when you meet somebody, consider yourself as the lowest of the low because the heart of the lowest of the low can reach the highest of the high. He also used to tell me that if someone calls you a fool, or mad, don’t get angry, instead go look in the mirror for you might be a fool. In essence, this whole walk is merely a reflection of this inner experience. And I have found through experience that, in essence, a small spark of the all-pervading, Supreme Reality, resides in every human heart. It also resides in animals. In human hearts, it is more important because humans can be conscious and recognize it. There is no one, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, fair, dark, who doesn't have the spark. This is not my belief but my experience. Therefore, every human being is a walking temple of God. In temple, we do Arati; in Masjid, we bow down; in a church, we ring the bell, draw the cross; in the synagogue, we bow down. But to worship this spark in all of us, in the human body, the only way to worship this divinity in the heart is through worship - seva. Therefore, Swami Vivekananda said that to live ideally in this world, follow this principle, 'Atmano Mokshartha Jagat Hitayacha' – move towards moksha for the atma and do service for humanity. So, this walk is my practising this principle. We started from Kanyakumari, which is a confluence of three great oceans, because this walk aims to bring people together, not to break people. Therefore, we started because the confluence is a symbol of coming together and it's also our land's end – the Zero Point. When we started there, I told my padayatris, let's start by thinking that we are zeros. Don't start with the ego that I'm going to achieve this and that. Say that I'm zero, I've to learn much more. For us, it's not only a physical walk but also an inner spiritual journey. While we walk, we also consider it a pilgrimage. The spirit has no caste, no creed, and no religion. It's just a spirit. So much so that no one has been able to divide it. Since respected Rabbi is sitting here, if I'm wrong, please correct me. When Moses went up to the mountain and saw what he thought was a burning bush, the first voice he heard was, 'Moses take off your shoes for you're on holy ground. We do that; it's our habit to take our shoes off. It's a symbol, taking the shoes off. One, you don't want to take the dust you've walked on into a sacred place. Two, the great saints used to say, when you leave your shoes outside and come, you leave your egos. After that, Moses went and saw the light and he wondered, what is this light? What is this burning bush? So he asked, who are you? What are you? The answer was in Hebrew - Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh - I am that I am. Do you find any parallel? It also means 'Tat Tvam Asi'. You are that, not what you identify. You see, it's there in the essence of things. When the great Ali Mansur Al-Hallaj touched the truth, he declared ‘Ana 'l-Ḥaqq' meaning I am the Truth, which according to Islamic orthodoxy and the Madhvite order is considered blasphemy. How can I be the Truth? I interpret it this way. I can go as close to Truth as possible. Let's be modest. And, when you've gone so close that you've forgotten yourself, then there's only the Truth. As long as I am there, you're still worshipping the Truth. So 'I' is the problem. It's the 'I' that makes you say, 'An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth'. The great saint, I'm not comparing myself with him, he walked the streets of Jerusalem and had no place even to sleep. In Sanskrit, he's defined as Aniketa, one who doesn't have a house. Now, it's a terrible word to use. In United States, if you say homeless, it's a terrible thing. Here was a man who was voluntarily homeless. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’. He didn't say blessed are you or they or Jews or Christians. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. When you see, you see that God reflected in every heart. Not that God is sitting in a far away place, where it's shut away from us. See God in the cry of a suffering man, in the happiness of a little child who gets a toy, in the happiness of a mother who keeps the child in her hand and puts him to sleep singing lullabies. You feel that happiness when you see that someone's out of danger. This is the Truth that he spoke of. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. One more, 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God'. When I use language,s like Arabic or Hebrew or Sanskrit, don't identify it with any religion or cult or any of the kind. Sanskrit, for instance, which is an ancient language. I started with 'Sahana Vavatu'. The moment you chant in Sanskrit, they say 'Oh, he must be a Hindu'. It's a great language and it has expressed great truths. Not only once upon a time, but even now. So, blessed are the peacemakers. Shanti, in Sanskrit, is what we all desire, we all want. After this, I'll go back to the room and peace. Every talk, every Satsang, how do we end it in this country? 'Om shanti shanti shanti' [someone sneezes repeatedly] 'Om shanti shanti shanti' [laughs]. When two Muslim brothers meet, what do they say? 'Salaam Alaikum', it's in Arabic. Now, this belongs to another religion. I'm reminded of a man who went to Arabia, came back and told me: There everybody is chanting Qur'an. The guy thought everything in Arabic is the Qur'an. The same way Sanskrit is an ancient language. If you don't want to identify it with religion, go into literature. Kalidasa gave such a beautiful description of the Himalayas – 'asty uttarasyam disi devatatma himalayo nama nagadhirajah puraparau toyanidhi vigahya sthitah prthivya iva manadandah’. That's literature, on the verge of being lost. The other day, in Madanapalle, a man came and said he can't find a job. I asked him, why? He said he was a Sanskrit pandit. When you say Salaam Alaikum, it means, May the well being of the Lord be on you. That's what it means. You say 'Valaikum As Salaam', May it be upon you too. And the Jews say Shalom, it's a variation of Salaam. You see in the Gaza Strip, Salaam and Shalom are holding guns at each other. As much as we would like to deny that we are the modern educated lot, religion is a core issue for us. The people of the book are fighting each other. Peace is of the essence. And this peace comes from that Supreme Reality that actually cannot be defined by anybody. The moment you define it, it ceases to be infinite. How can you define the infinite with our finite language? You can only say 'I am that I am'. A certain amount of faith is required. Because, that which we are dealing with, cannot be understood by our limited sense organs and the logical design that's made from the data that we get. This is so because our senses are very limited. So our great Rishis have said: 'Go beyond', open other instruments of perception in us, so we can see that which lies beyond the ordinary world. And, when you see that, you see everything as that Supreme Reality. Shankara says, there's nothing other than that Supreme Reality. So, where is bad and where is good? So, to remain peaceful in this world, the good has to predominate the bad. And bad for me by definition is something that is only for myself and not for others. The moment I turn around and say only for myself, corruption starts. If I say 'also for you', there is peace. You know that if the Granth Sahib had not been compiled, today we would have lost much of Kabir Das. It contains pages upon pages of the songs of Miya Mir, apart from the songs of the Gurus. There's the cobbler saint Ravi Das, there is Sur Das. There's no one who has been left out because Guru Nanak conceived of this religion as a bringing together of different cultures, different streams. In fact, there is a beautiful Shabad in the Granth Sahib that says, 'Avval Allah Noor Upaaye Kudarat Ke Sab Bandhe'. Here Allah means the Supreme Being, don't think Allah means Arabic deity. And the Sufis think Allah means that which can't be defined. All definitions fall flat when you go to the Supreme. So, what do you do? Have faith and you bow down and you say, 'May the grace of the Lord be on everyone'. In the Gita, in the 12th chapter called Bhakti Yoga, Arjuna asks Krishna: “Whom do you think is the best of men, who do you think is the closest to you?” Lord Krishna answers, “Certain qualities or characteristics are necessary; if they are there, he's considered the greatest of Yogis. 'Yah Bhakta Same Priya', he's my greatest Bhakta. What are the qualities? There are many but I won't go into all that. One who is 'Sarva Bhoota Hite Rataha' the one who has the welfare of all beings in his heart, him I consider my dearest Bhakta. You see this is a universal teaching. If one is not kind, if there's no compassion and if one doesn't care for others, one has not grasped the essence of the Gita. I'm not going into the details of the Walk; you've seen the film. Believe me, after every step, my health has improved. People ask me 'You're 67 years old, how are you walking, what’s the secret of the energy?'. There's no secret. I'm dedicated to doing something. I have full faith in what I'm doing. I have no vested interest. I'm not afraid if it fails. I'm walking because I believe in it. In this country, 60% of the people still live in villages. We've gone to villages where the population is one thousand. In the evening, we sit under the Peepal tree and talk to them. I'm hopeful when they say 'You're right, we'll think about it'. When we go to schools and colleges, we interact and they ask brash questions, I have nothing to hide so I don't get angry. And in the end, they say, 'Looks like you're right. We'll think about it'. I tell them the future of the country is in their hands. There was a time when people from all over the world came to Nalanda and Takshashila to study. Now we are going to Harvard. I'm not saying we shouldn't go, but we are no less. I have a dream that if we stick together and don't let anything come in between us, then maybe there will come a time when once again people will come to India to gain wisdom. I think India is the spiritual Guru of the world. Every country has its own essence. We essentially are a spiritual country. We just have to fan it and it'll come somehow. We have a role to play. The whole world is watching us. First, we have to put our house in order, and then we have to go to the neighbours. For that, we require first to think that we are human beings and, two, that we are citizens of this great country which is unparalleled in the world – with so many languages, ideologies, religions, caste, creed and Sampradayas. Yet, an average citizen is proud of being an Indian." Sri M then went on to state the objectives of the yatra and concluded the talk with the story narrated by Swami Shivamurthy Shivacharya about the great sculptor who is taken away by Yamadhoota because of his own ego and said that if one can control his or her ego, one can even evade death.

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