Day 414 | 29 February 2016 | From Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Panchkuian Road to Rajghat | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

  • Sharing the dais with Swami Shantamananda -Ramakrishna Mission
  • Sri M laying a floral wreath at Raj Ghat - New Delhi
  • Sri M coming out of the Ramakrishna Mission
  • WOH Day 414 - Ramakrishna Mission to Raj Ghat New Delhi
  • Coolies of Indian Railways Join the Walk near Minto Bridge - New Delhi
  • Warm welcome at the Parsi Anjuman - New Delhi
  • Reception at Raj Ghat - New Delhi
  • Sri M with one of Bapu's works received as a gift - Raj Ghat
  • Serving noon meals for the homeless - Yamuna Pushta
  • Sri Venkaiah Naidu welcomes Sri M to Parliament Annexe
  • Prof PJ Kurien Dy Chairman Rajya Sabha welcomes Sri M - Parliament Annexe
  • Prof PJ kurien addresses the gathering - Parliament Annexe
  • Sri Venkaiah Naidu addresses the gathering - Parliament Annexe
  • Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad addresses the gathering - Parliament Annexe
  • Sri M during his address - Parliament Annexe
  • 18.A-captive-audience!,-Parliament-Annexe,-New-Delhi
  • Speaking to the media after his address - Parliament Annexe
The Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi presented a clean, efficient and serene picture, with a well-manicured flower garden – something Yatris have become familiar with, after several visit to SRK Centres during their walk. These features brought a sense of serenity and peace to the place that makes one forget all the clamour of the main road. After offering prayers, Sri M and the padayatris were led to the compact auditorium with excellent acoustics. Swami Shantatmananda, Secretary of the Delhi Mission welcomed everyone including Sri M and Father Anil Couto. He said, "Sri M is a living example of the principle of Harmony. He has combined in him several traditions beautifully and they exude for the goodness and welfare of mankind." He added that these days saw an overemphasis on all things negative, especially by the media. There was a great need to highlight the good deeds of people like the Walk for ManavEkta by Sri M. He invited Sri M to address the gathering.

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Sri M started by thanking all including the President Maharaj of Ponampet Mission who had walked with the padayatra when it crossed over to Karnataka from Kerala at Bhagmandala and Father Anil Couto from the Sacred Hearts Church who joined the walk that day. He said, "Every time I come to Ramakrishna Ashram, I first visit the temple. It's difficult to speak after that. I have a deep link with Ramakrishna Mission. I'm an initiated member of Ramakrishna Mission. That's why, like we spoke about the Bible at the Church yesterday, today let me talk about the spiritual revolution brought about by someone called Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Mainly to say, that this is a humble continuation of the effort put in by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda.” “You know, when I was in high school in Trivandrum, I was already in touch with Swami Tapasyananda who headed the Ramakrishna Mission there. This was of course after Maheshwarnath Babaji met me and put his hand on my head when I was eight years old. Swami Tapasyananda looked very serious like a head master. Those days, people were afraid of headmasters. Yet a heart that was very tender. It also helped that he came from the state where I was born because I could talk in Malayalam. Later on, in 1981, I took initiation from him after many years because you are not allowed to take initiation from anyone except the appointed head of the order. Later on, this norm was eased and the Vice President could also initiate. So, in 1981, I went to Ramakrishna Mission, Mylapore. I had just come back to Madras after wandering as usual, because my parents lived there. So, I went to the Ramakrishna Mission and I was surprised to see that Swami TapasyanandaJi was the head there. But I didn't know that people other than the President Maharajcould give initiation. So I went and he said, "It is not right that even though you've met many stalwarts in the Ramakrishna Mission you haven’t taken initiation" I said, "But Maharaj, I'm doing Kriya". He said, "That's all fine but don't you think of Sri Ramakrishna?". So I said "Yes, always". "Don't you think of Swamiji?". "Yes". "Then you should, if you haven't". So I said, "Somewhere in high school, I decided that you should initiate me. But you can't because you are not the president". He said, "Who said so? Now I'm authorized to initiate, so come back after three days". So I went and - in an old shrine in Madras (now there's a new shrine) - I gladly accepted the initiation.” “I get up quite early in the morning, and I do many practices. I don't need to do Kriya now. But I enjoy it, so I do it. Also, if I don't do it, nobody will do it afterwards. And I never miss a day of the chanting the initiatory mantra. Today, I came a little fast so I did 2×108 in the shrine. You can do it with fingers actually. But anyways, this is my link. So you see a unique being like Ramakrishna has been my inspiration.” “So, this Walk of Hope is to see that people don't fall apart. In India, people are always together; they don't need to be brought together. It's an ancient tradition where people live together; 'Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti' has been said 3000 years ago in the Rig Veda. And, Sri Ramakrishna was a unique example of this because he went through each and every discipline you can find in spiritual life. Not by reading but by going through it in practice – which is what I really appreciate – and coming out in the end and saying, 'well, it all leads to the same goal'. How many can one cover? Generally, as human beings you can practise one discipline or two disciplines for all one's life. There's no time for anything else. Here's someone who goes: six months over, found, goes, six months over, found. Then, in the end says paths are many and the goal is the same. How many can say this? There have been many saints but how many can actually say this? So, I think he came for a special purpose.” “From Michael Madhusudan Dutta he learnt how to chant the rosary, and he worshipped Jesus. At that time, he wouldn't go to the Kali temple. You see, one-pointed attention. Then he met a Sufi and learnt the Islamic practice. However, even this time, if he saw the temple of the Mother, he would turn this side – the Mother who he loved so much. And, when he did the Vedantic Sadhana under Totapuri, he was completely into it. So the single-minded attention with which he pursued everything was for a mission. What we call today, the Ramakrishna mission, actually originated from this mission. Which is to show that different parts lead to the same goal and one can reach the highest with devotion and attention and by leading a good life – things that people don't give much attention to. We think – we'll do some Japa and meditation and we've got the mantra, so we'll be fine. Kindness, compassion and service to mankind are the best goals set by Swami Vivekananda. And, if he set it forth, I think he knew what his Master wanted. No one else could have succeeded Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, except Swamiji. In fact, there is an incident where, after the Belur Mutt was established, and Swamiji was one day sitting with his Guru bhais, maybe in fun, they said, 'All this service to humanity etc are new fangled things which you have brought from the West, Thakur didn't ask us to do any such thing’. He just said, 'Have devotion and go into Samadhi'. Swamiji got up and went inside, took off his clothes, wore a kaupin, took his old kamandalu and walked out of the place. He said, 'If you understand best what the master said, you please look after this. I have no attachment to the Mutt or anything. I'm always a parivrajaka'. And he left. They were quite shocked. They went and told him, 'Dada, we were just discussing matters, why are you going away?' He said, 'Do you think I can really get angry with you?' And, came back. Then he said, 'Do you remember the incident when Thakur (meaning Ramakrishna)went with MathurBabu to Deogarh on a pilgrimage when there was a big famine there. People were dying by the dozens, there was no food and everybody was reduced to skeletons. Sri Ramakrishna got out from his palanquin, sat there and said to MathurBabu, 'Unless you send provisions and other supplies from Calcutta and feed these people, I'm not going away from here. I'm going to stay with them and live with them, die with them. You do what you want'. MathurBabu was the son-in-law of Rani Rasamoni so... But, he had no option but to oblige. Swamiji asked the Guru bhais, 'Do you remember that?'.” “Therefore, he always advocated 'Atmano Mokshartha Jagat Hitayacha'. I think Ramakrishna Mission is also run on the same lines – looking for Moksha and doing good to human beings. This is what has kept me going. After meeting MaheshwarnathBabaji and spending some years, he directed me to go and join the Ramakrishna Mission. I didn't take Sanyas, of course, because I was very open about it. I thought I was not so qualified. So this is the work which we're doing." Saying so, Sri M spoke of all the diversity that makes this country unique, in spite of which an average Indian calls himself an Indian, that it pains to see people trying to break this unity. This walk, this movement is nothing but the bursting forth of this pain. He clarified that he has no political affiliations, doesn't intend to stand for elections. Continuing further, he said, 'But I'm affiliated to all who love human beings. And living in this nation, those who love the nation. I love everybody. I'm sure you're also with me. So, even though we have a foundation, it's actually Sri Ramakrishna's one finger that's been kept on my shoulder. Finger - I said because I may not be fit for the whole hand. This is what moves us around.” “Sometime ago, in 2001, I went to UN for a religious meet. There, I met one of the senior monks of the Ramakrishna Mission. So I told him, Maharaj, Ramakrishna Mission is so big and this is such a big gathering, how come only you have come here? He said, 'No, no, another two representatives are there.' So I said 'Where is the second'. So he said, 'What about you?.’ You don't have to belong to a sect or anything to be a part of the Ramakrishna Mission. I believe so. Anyone doing good to humanity, anyone who believes there's something to be found inside, is kind and compassionate, and is full of devotion, I think is part of this movement. Of course, formalities are required in the world because everything goes with 'naama', roopa'. I understand that, but on the other hand, it's a huge universe, which is pervaded by the spirit of such great beings, and we are only in some way manifesting this through the work we do. I don't want to say anything more. Thank you!” The next stop was at the Parsi Fire Temple or Anjuman. In Walk of Hope's 414-day-old diary, this is the first time that a Parsi place of worship was visited. After prayers, a senior member of the community explained about the race, their beliefs and their universal message. These followers of Zoroastrianism, a religion almost as old as Buddhism and Jainism, settled in India from native Iran centuries ago. They have quietly but efficiently carved a niche for themselves in the multi-cultural society that is India. Building most of modern Bombay, they are a powerful presence in Indian finance and industry. Next, the solemn grandeur of Rajghat awaited the Padayatris. It presents an enormous expanse of green to the visitor. Sri M and the group sat down on the lawn adjacent to the Samadhi and sang two Bhajans most dear to the Mahatma viz. 'Vaishnavajanato...' & 'Raghupathiraghava...' – a truly soulful experience. Later, about 2000 homeless people were fed their noon meal at the Yamuna pushta, on the banks of the Yamuna. The fare was no-frills, with rice, puri, sabzi, dal, and a sweet served with concern and love by the padayatris and organizers. It was a humbling experience for the padayatris as well, serving the poor or destitute. At the India Islamic Centre, the yatris were treated to tea and snacks before being led into the small but modern auditorium. Sri K L Thapar, former principal advisor, Planning Commission introduced Sri M to the audience. Sri M thanked Mr K L Thapar for his words of introduction and said, "We're going to watch the Amir Khusro play, and you'll see how a young man from a royal family fell in love with Nizamuddin Auliya. And only desired to look into his eyes all the time, and leave the body, and still think about him. This was the kind of relationship this 'M' who's standing before you had with Maheshwarnath Babaji, his Guru. While, in some way, I'm a product of my farther and my mother, more than that I'm a creation of Maheshwarnath Babaji. He had some work for me which in spite of my reluctance, I wouldn't say kicked me on to it, but persuaded me to do it. There are old friends here who know me for many years. I don't think they even had inkling that, apart from my spiritual pursuits, I would ever embark on a social act and walk through the length and breath of India. I nurtured the secret command of Babaji's for many years in my heart until it became impossible for me to bear it. I tried hard not to do it. When he first told me, in the Himalayas when I was with him, I said 'Why would I walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir? I will walk behind you. The weather in the Himalayas is so pleasant - the Ganga flows here, the air is clean. Why would I leave this and go anywhere?' So he asked me, 'One year ago, when you first came here, I asked you what do you think of yourself, in relationship to me. What did you say?' I said, 'Babaji I said I'm your dog, your puppy'. 'And what did I say?' I replied, 'You said I could be your dog but make sure I don't wag my tail too much'. 'Then, do as I told you, don't wag your tail too much'. Generally, he encouraged dissent and discussion, so I knew that there must be something behind this and it was in my heart and my ears. So, till this time, I've been only doing spiritual things if you may call it so. I've a good group of friends who I think might have benefited from my closeness to them. I can assure you that I have benefited from closeness to you.” “One day, it occurred to me that I'm growing older and older and that promise which I'd made is still there. When would I do this? So when I was 65 years old, I said, “After this, who knows how the body is going to be and I may not be able to perform this.” So, I started on this journey from Kanyakumari, which is the confluence of three great oceans – quite symbolic because we were trying to keep people together. I won't say bring people together, I'll say keep people together. Because ManavEkta, Shanti are built into the fabric of this nation.” “Then, sometimes, I've been noticing that it's getting worse day by day, that there is a break in this fabric, in this well-knit fabric, about which – 3000 years ago – the Rig Vedas said, 'Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti' meaning‘There is only one truth and the wise men call it by different names’. So, when I could no longer bear this, that we who should be living together in peace are sometimes breaking our unity into pieces, I said we shouldn’t let this happen. And if I don't do this now, few years later, I may not even be able to walk, who knows. This is how this was conceived. And when I told my friends that I was going to walk, I thought they might say that I've gone mad. Can you imagine somebody walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir?! Although great people have walked before – not that they haven't – maybe not at one stretch, I thought they would say what is this guy going to do. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone I talked to said, 'I will join you'. Because I made it very clear from the beginning, that I'm not going to stand for elections, I'm not eyeing any administrative job and that this is part of my spiritual expression of unity. It is not my theory. It is based on my inner experience. I believe but, along with it, I also have the experience. And I know from my experience that the Almighty Being exists as a spark in all of our hearts. We are born with it. Therefore, we are one. No matter what names we have, what creeds we are in, what Sampradayas we have, what ideologies we believe in. One fact is unquestioned, which is, that we are one. We cannot be many. Everybody is born from the womb of a mother and goes back into this earth, maybe Kabristhan or Smashan, that's a different matter. But everybody goes into the earth. No one has fallen from heaven. So, in this short period between life and death, why can't we live in peace? All the more so in this nation, this great nation." Sri M continued to explain how the average Indian calls himself an Indian in spite the diversity and that the aim of the walk is to protect this unity and not let it break. He then spoke about the distance covered, when the Walk aims to reach Kashmir etc before concluding his speech in time to meet the MPs of RajyaSabha and Lok Sabha at the Parliament House Annexe in the evening. In spite of it being the budget day, many leaders and MPs were present for the talk including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Venkaiah Naidu, Suresh Prabhu, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, PJ Kurien, Oscar Fernandez and Tarun Vijay. They watched the Walk of Hope documentary that was screened exclusively for them and heard Sri M's message intently, even thumping the desks in approval on many occasions. During the tea and snacks served after the session, media and the MPs chatted with Sri M and some of the padayatris informally. The Amir Khusro play opened to a full house. It combined a minimum of acting, with narration in exquisite Urdu. The singing was of a very high order and it paid tribute to a master poet, who, with his Guru's blessings, took poetry and music to another level with his multifaceted virtuosity. No wonder the audience was left reeling after the show. As if it was not enough, they were treated to a delicious Andhra dinner by one of the Delhi volunteers.  
First of all, my Namaskar, Salaam Aleikum, Sat Sri Akaal and Good Evening to all.‬ Honorable Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Prof P. J. Kurien, Sri Ravi Shankar Prashad ji, Honorable Minister, Sri M Venkaiyya Naidu, Honorable Minister, Sri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Honorable Minister of State, Sri Suresh Prabhu, Honorable Minister, Sri Manoj Singha, Honorable Minister, Sri Bandaru Dattatreya, Honorable Minister and Sri Pon Radhakrishnan, Honorable Minister of State, Sri Dharam Vijay, MP Rajya Sabha, all other Honorable Members of Parliament, Sri Oscar Fernandes is also here, he comes from my wife’s native place in Hubli, and all honorable Members of Parliament, some of the padyatris (walkers) who have come, Ladies and Gentlemen and members of the media who are here.‬ I will start my talk with a Sanskrit shloka (verse) that is 3000 years old. As I am from the South, please excuse me for my Hindi, if I happen to go wrong somewhere.‬ "Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Nir aamyaah, Sarve Bhadranni Pashyantu Maa Kashcid-Dukhha-Bhaag-Bhavet Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu" Just because it is in Sanskrit, please do not assume that it belongs to any particular caste or creed or religion. This is a Universal saying. These days, if we say something in Sanskrit, it is assumed to belong to a particular set of people and if you say something in Arabic, then it is assumed that it belongs to some other set. But it isn’t so. If I can give the meaning of this in short, it means, “May everything on this earth be happy. Let no one have dukha (suffering). May this happiness extend to the whole world …"Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”. I have nearly half an hour, thirty minutes... This walk was started in Kanyakumari on the 12th of January, 2015. Why Kanyakumari? Because, Kanyakumari is at the confluence of three seas. And we thought, since this Walk is one of coalescence and about bringing people together… although we are already united and are one, we tend to fall apart sometimes. So we felt that a sangam (confluence) would be a good choice to start our Walk. A second reason for us to choose Kanyakumari was that 12th January is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand, and I think the spiritual work that he did, a hundred years ago for Manav Ekta (human solidarity), a thousand people cannot do that work in a hundred years. And when Swami Vivekananda roamed around as a parivrajak (a wandering renunciate), he travelled throughout India. And having wandered around the country, he reached Kanyakumari, where there was nothing but a cliff, in the middle of the sea. He swam across the sea and meditated on that cliff for three days, after which he understood the work he was supposed to do thereafter. So we thought that this place and date would be an appropriate start to this Walk. We have walked around 5800 km so far. I am not alone. With me are 60 to 70 people, whom we call the core group, and who are walking with me from Kanyakumari. These people belong to different states, different sects, different religions - and we are all walking together. And after walking this much, I am happy to tell you, that India’s Manav Ekta is still intact. The question that arises then is - "Then why are you walking? If everything is set, why are you doing this?" When we started from Kanyakumari, we had a very good response. When we reached Kerala, we had a bigger response. I thought, might be because it is my home state. But, when we went to the next state, it became more. More people started coming. And as we proceeded, we completed one year in Kanpur on the 12th of January this year. It was an overwhelming response. Now we have come to Delhi. I think some effect definitely has taken place, without which, I wouldn’t even have had the privilege of getting invited to the Parliament annex, to talk to the MPs. We still have almost another 2000 km to walk. We intend to reach Srinagar on May 1st. As I said, people ask, “If there is Manav Ekta, then what are you doing for it?” Yes there is unity amongst us, but sometimes it starts fraying. And once the break down increases, it can get out of hand. There is no other nation in the whole world like ours, which has 22 or 23 languages, so many religions, so many sects, so many ideologies - from left to right and centre. In spite of all this, an average citizen will call himself a Hindustani, a Bharatvasi, an Indian. No one will say otherwise. But sometimes, one sees that this unity starts to rupture, and when that happens, the fire that rages with it, is not extinguished even with water. We felt that, these communal riots or ideological or political problems are a facade to conceal someone else’s vested interest. We have been to small villages, in interiors, where in a majority community of a thousand people, there are three Muslim families or two Christian families and they all live without any problem. There are places like these which we have visited and when we talked to them, they said that sometimes, such incidents (of disunity) do occur. When asked why? They ask us, to look carefully and the issue would reveal itself to be, the self interest of somebody else. We thought that this unity needs to be maintained and not broken. It is the custom in India to live together as one. It is in our Samskar (tradition) and it is not something new. As is written in Rig Veda, "san gacchadhvam" Let’s walk together "sam vadadhvam" Let’s study together "sam vo manamsi janatam" Let’s join our minds to gather knowledge As Prof Kurien said, “Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti”, the meaning of which everyone knows. I once went to a University in America and the Professor over there began his lecture with the same shloka, “Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti." So we tell everyone we meet, that, this being a democracy, ideological differences and difference of opinion will exist. Otherwise this can’t be a democracy. But despite the differences, we are first of all, manav (human). We are first and foremost a manushya (human). Everybody is born from a mother’s womb. No one falls from the sky. And when the time comes, it is into this earth we all go, whether it is a kabristan (cemetery) or a mashan (crematorium). Why can’t we play this small drama between birth and death with peace and harmony. I thought that this was possible and this was the first thing we needed to convey. The second thing is - whatever our faith and ideology, we always need to remember that we are Indians first. This ancient land which has seen so many rishis (sages), has welcomed so many religions, whoever came was never refused. This land is ours and we are its citizens, is something we should always remember. These are the two things that we are trying to make people understand. And I am happy to say that people listen to this and understand it and say, that, they will not let any untoward incident happen again. So this is not curative but a preventive measure. When someone falls sick and goes to the hospital to get medicine from the doctor, he either dies or survives. But if inoculated beforehand for the disease, the person wouldn’t fall sick in the first place. That would be best. That is why, we talk to people about it and tell them not to let these incidences happen in the first place and to stay united. But if tendencies do crop up due to someone’s greed and vested interests, that would be the time to tell those who are responsible, that, 'We have heard you out, but we don’t support it, so please end it here. We will not let violence take place and we will not fall apart either.' It is my experience that a small spark of divinity resides in all hearts. In Sufism, it is called "Khuda ka Noor”. This Atman (spirit) or ansh (portion) is present in all. That would mean that each one of us is a moving temple or a mosque. The aradhana or worship of these moving temples is not through arti (ritual worship) but through seva (service). Swami Vivekanand used to say always, “atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha”. Search for Moksha (deliverance) for your Atman. That is an individual’s journey. But the welfare of the world is the duty of all. Since this is my experience, I cannot deny it. Be it Amar, Akbar or Anthony, whichever ideology one chooses, we are one and the same. In Kerala where I come from, there are also ideologies which do not believe in the existence of God. That is fine too, as long as they believe in humanity. They don’t hurt anybody and live happily together. I go to schools and colleges to educate the students about this. Our generation might have committed some mistakes. Those mistakes can be avoided in the future. We have met thousands of students and in their heart we have sown the seeds of Humanity. We have also taught them, that, we are the citizens of this country and we will hold steady against any outward or inward force without falling apart. This is what we have said all along the way. When we sow seeds, they do not sprout the next day. It takes time. To nurture these seeds is the responsibility of the parents and teachers and you (the politicians) too. The politicians should think a little bit more about this and try to keep the country together for we are all one. Because, what those in power can do, is much more, than what we, the general public can. I was happy to be invited and to come here, as it gave me an opportunity to talk with you about this. I have full faith that the seeds we sow today will grow up into trees, under whose shade we would be able to live peacefully and harmoniously. This is my wish and my prayer. Even if a country is economically secure, without peace it won’t mean anything. Peace, Harmony and Human oneness are of utmost importance. United we stand, divided we fall. We have reached here with this thought. It is a privilege to stand before you, this August assembly, and share my thoughts with you and I have to thank Sri Pon Radhakrishnan, State Minister. The moment we told him, that this yatra (journey) is to start from Kanyakumari, he asked us to start from Zero point, and allotted the land there. We have got help from various quarters. You have seen the film how we have interacted with Chief Ministers cutting across political barriers. You know that, while politics, is important, we are a democracy. There will be differences of opinion, but deep within heart of hearts, all of you know that we are human beings and we have to live together and make this nation - it is already a great nation... Can we come together, and ensure that it becomes much more glorious then it was or is? Let us not just think about past glories and forget the present. Let’s move forward for a bright future. This is my earnest request and prayer. I know all of you cannot walk with us, but, if you support us with your minds, our Walk will be accomplished much before we reach Srinagar in Kashmir. So once more, I thank you and pray that you are with us. Thank you. Namaskar.

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