The highlight of the day was a visit to the Laghu Sachivalay and meeting with Sri Manohar Lal Khattar, the Chief Minister of Haryana. The CM had a very informal chat with Sri M during which he quickly assessed the aim and progress of the Walk of Hope. He was quick to offer all help to the Walk during its passage through Haryana. He also discussed certain key issues with Sri M regarding the walk from Jammu to Srinagar. He also stunned everyone by speaking in Tamil with Swaminathan from Tamil Nadu.
The Nirmal Kutia, like any Sikh temple, is maintained very neatly and the accent is very much on devout seva. The langar lunch served was arguably the most delicious so far and the yatris have had quite a few up to now!
The evening Satsang was at a Krishna temple. The programme started with a performance by physically disabled children from a local school to sensitise people towards disabilities. Sri M addressed the gathering next.
Sri M started by chanting the invocatory mantra:
“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.”
He then thanked the organizers for inviting him and the physically handicapped children for putting up a wonderful performance. He said, "You already know about the padayatra (journey on foot) as you've read about it and watched the film. If there are any mistakes in my Hindi, forgive me, as I am from the south. This yatra (journey) is of two kinds. The one as you saw in the film is what we started on 12th January 2015 from Kanyakumari. We have already walked 6000 Km, and we'll reach Srinagar in May. There's a core group of 60 people walking with me throughout. Wherever we go people join us, sometimes the numbers swell up to 5000 as well. This is the external yatra. Like I tell the padayatris and anyone who walks with us, along with the external yatra an internal yatra is also essential. Inspite of travelling from Kanyakumari to Kashmir if we're still our same old selves, there's no use of this yatra. This yatra will be successful only if thousands of people understand that the most important thing is Manav Ekta, compassion and love. Otherwise, this yatra won't be successful. For this message to reach thousands of people, we don't need thousands of people to gather. I believe that if one or two people understand this properly, then this message will spread all across the world. Someone asked Swami Vivekananda: ‘You've worked for so many years, what do you think, has there been a change?’ He said, 'Give me five people who put others before themselves and I can get a lot of work done'. I'm saying the same thing. If we get even one person who thinks about others before himself, the entire world can be transformed. In today's times, this is impossible. It's Kaliyuga, what can one do, that's just how things are."
Sri M continued, "We walk on foot so people think we're also like them and listen to what we have to say. We've had Satsangs in small villages, with just 50 people. This movement towards Manav Ekta doesn't happen if thousands of people gather, it starts from these villages. I don't have a political aim, don't want votes, I don't belong to any party either. I just have one party - that of human beings or Manavs. And, this is a result of my inner experience; it's not just an external thing or just a reformation exercise. I'm just expressing my inner experience. Since I was a child, I've been interested in finding answers to the question of who am I, where have I come from, where am I going, what's my purpose in life? Some people are happy, some are sad and our life goes on between these two extremes, why is it so?”
“At the age of 19, I ran away from home and met Maheshwarnath Babaji. For three and a half years, I spent time with him and understood that a spark of the all-pervading divine is in all hearts, which means we are all walking temples of God. The body is the temple and the heart is the sanctum sanctorum. The rich and the poor all are temples. The temples of the rich are made of marble, the poor have no clothes to wear, but they're all temples. Like we do arati, japa, kirtan and offer worship at temples, the human temples can be worshiped only through service. This helps purify the mind."
"We are all looking for happiness and peace. No matter how much money we make, how much land we have, if we don't find peace and happiness, we're not satisfied." To illustrate this, Sri M narrated the story of the King of Patiala who became a renunciant only to become the proverbial King of the world, a 'Maharaj'. He also mentioned Kabir Das's 'Kasturi Mrig' that chases its own scent in the forest. Sri M continued, "There's no one in the world who doesn't have a spark of the all-pervading divine residing in their heart, that's the real happiness. But we look for it outside. From birth to death, we are in search of this. If we find it, our yatra will end there. But we don't find it. The world is called 'Jagat' because it is 'Jagatyam'. In Sanskrit, 'Jagatyam' means that which keeps moving. This circle of life goes on only because we're looking for happiness outside of us. Even outside, we can make peace through reform and by talking to people but the peace inside us cannot be experienced easily. It's because anger, greed, etc., cloud the peace.”
“Tulsi Das Ji said, 'Kaam krodh mad lobh ki jo lau man main sthaan, to lo pandit murkh tulsi ek samaan'. Clean your mind and there's nothing but peace inside. It's because the qualities of the all-pervading divine are peace and happiness. Firstly, one needs to understand this, you don't need to practise yoga for years. Secondly, we need to understand that the more we serve other human beings, the more our minds get purified and the soul within us shines through. We need to understand this and live in the world. We don't need to run away into any forest. This is Kaliyuga and only a few can take Sanyas in these times. It's not easy. The Bhagavad Gita describes a Sanyasi as the one who does his work, looks for peace within himself and is satisfied within. I'm saying this because people think all this is fit only for Sanyasis. It's not that you need to sit in a forest to practise this. If I sit in a cave for 20 years and meditate, and I start telling people that I have no anger, no desires, there's no meaning to it because who can you get angry with in a cave or what do you desire there? Get out from there and get into a bus. When someone stamps on your foot you'll realise how far your anger has reduced. Only when we interact with people of the world, do we realise what the state of our mind is like. Can I treat everyone as equal or do I treat them differently? This spiritual journey begins when we take our mind into the 'nivritti marg' (internal path). You don't need to runaway and go anywhere. I had run away initially but Babaji asked me to go back. So, if you have a place in your house where you can sit for 10-15 minutes, sit quietly and meditate. Visualise your God in your heart and then meditate. When you open your eyes, think that the same God that's inside me is inside everyone else. Automatically, your mind will become calm and you'll slowly begin to have spiritual experiences. Because it's when you have that sweet feeling (madhuram) inside, that you understand that everything is a part of the divine. We're walking with this experience.”
“I can't teach you any meditation technique now because, for each person it is different. There are 18 chapters in The Bhagavad Gita. Each chapter is considered as a yoga. It starts with Arjuna Vishada Yoga. When we start our spiritual journey, we are all like Arjuna who doesn't know what's the right thing to do. These 18 chapters are 18 approaches because not everyone is alike. Some people like to work, some like to meditate. But the best way is to combine meditation, work, devotion and service. If all four are brought into our life, then we will definitely progress in our spiritual journey. You don't need anybody outside, it's all inside us. The Guru is also inside us. That's why when people call me a Guru, I say the only guru is God. I have an experience that I'm sharing with you but the real Guru is God. In the Gurudwara, when they say 'Wahe Guru' they are not referring to a Guru, they're referring to God. So, whatever we call this God, Allah or Krishna resides inside us. If he resides in us, he resides in everyone. So we must lead a life of service combined with our spiritual Sadhana. There'll be peace in us, peace all around us and everyone will live happily.”
Following the talk by Sri M, there was an interactive session with the audience:
Q: Why has God made us like this – with both good and bad?
A: This isn't made, it's how I am. Like in nature when there's darkness, there's also light. When there's something positive, there's also something negative. You need both anode and cathode to get electricity. Just like we've been given desire, anger, greed, and attachments, we've also been given intelligence to discern and understand for ourselves, what's positive and what's negative. To make this yatra a success, we've been given some intelligence. If we didn't have that intelligence, we wouldn't have even been able to start the yatra. We'll understand this as a whole only when we tap into that spark of the divine in our heart.
For instance, when a child chooses something good, the parents are happy. Consider God to be like a parent who's kept something in front of us. If it's brought to our mouth, there's no point. It's only when we work hard and choose what's right for us that we understand that this God is not somewhere outside but inside our own heart. That's why a certain resistance has been built. We just need to face it and move forward.
In fact, what you call bad qualities is what helps one move closer to truth. Take desire, for instance, we think it's a bad thing. It's not so. If the pleasure that one derives from the same desire is diverted towards God, the negative becomes positive. So if you get angry, get angry with God because you can't find him. So this negative can also be turned into positive like this. For this, an experienced Guru might be required, I didn't say you don't need a Guru. But you need to walk on the path the Guru shows, and instead of worshipping him saying he's the greatest, one must follow his teachings.
Q: It's said one cannot find God without a Guru. So does this Guru have to be a person, or is it a power, or can it be words? Because if someone takes one as his Guru and if he leaves his body, passes away, then can we rely on his words? Is a living Guru required or are his teachings enough?
A: I can only speak from my experience. So, even I had a Guru. I can't say 'had' because even though he's not there in his body, I can't say he doesn't exist. His name was Maheshwarnath Babaji and he belonged to the Nath Sampradaya. I practised under him and lived with him for many years. I also learnt a lot from him. His body isn't there anymore but now I consider his teachings to be my Guru. If I go against any of his teachings, I feel like I'm going against him. If someone says something against him, I don't consider that as 'Guru Droh'. I think I commit a 'Guru Droh' when I do something that he's clearly asked me not to do. So if we follow our Guru's message, it doesn't matter if he's in his body or not, because he's already sown a seed in my heart and that seed will grow into a big tree one day, even if it doesn't happen in a day or two.
Anyone who begins to walk sincerely and seriously on the spiritual path begins to get some sort of guidance even before he finds a living Guru. We cry a lot for money, for children, but like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say, who cries for God? When this crying starts in our hearts, that 'there's nothing I want besides him', then the Guru appears as a word, he comes through a book, and sometimes in a body. Till the Guru arrives in his body, the guidance continues. This is my experience and not just my belief.
Q: How does one maintain equanimity of mind in life?
A: In Kaliyuga, it's not so easy to be calm and equanimous. But I can share a few things that I practise in my life. Don't worry about praise or ridicule. This is from The Bhagavad Gita, 'Tulya Ninda Stutir Mouni'. We must live true to our conscience. If someone calls me mad, why get angry? I could be mad. We must not get carried away by praise either. If we maintain this and do our work with full dedication, then most of our problems will vanish. Babaji had told me that I shouldn't get any angry thoughts against anyone while meditating. I never usually had such thoughts but there was one man who troubled me a lot as a child. So every time I sat to meditate, his face would appear in front of my eyes. So, I would wonder how to peacefully resolve this. One day, I asked Babaji. He told me that even when you don't think of him, force yourself to think of him and imagine that you have many flowers with you that you are offering them to him with folded palms. And, say to him, 'God, today you've appeared in front of me in this form to teach me how to stay away from anger'. I did this for three days. From the fourth day, the man never appeared before me. It's not so easy but if we put all our mind into it, it's possible. Like Bhagavan Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Keep the welfare of all human beings in your heart'. It's not easy but I think it's possible.
Q: As I saw the film, I felt like I was walking with you right through. Is it my imagination or is it some kind of yatra? I forget all my questions as soon as I appear before you, I don't understand that either. So, please explain these things to me.
Q: If you feel like you've been walking with us, I'd like to tell you that when you walk back home, I'll be walking with you. Like you think you're walking with us, I'm walking with you everywhere you go. The other thing you said is that you forget your questions in front of me. Many people have told me this, that they had many questions that they forget in my presence. I believe that maybe my mind is in silence. No waves are formed in it. It's like a calm sea. Though there's no such thing as a calm sea, it always has waves. But imagine such a sea. My mind has become like that with Babaji's grace. Many people who surrender their mind and sit must be experiencing the same thing. That's why there are no questions. This is what I feel, I don't know. I could be wrong.
The session ended and the padayatris found their way back to the hotel in a mild drizzle, capping yet another fulfilling day.