Today's walk started from the Guru Nanak Stadium - the fulcrum of sporting activities in Ludhiana. Nonagenarian hockey great, Balbir Singh Senior, thrice Olympic Gold medallist, joined the Walk for sometime. Also joining the Walk was a bunch of judokas and sportspersons who were joyful and boisterous.
Inside Gurudwara Mai Nand Kaur - Ludhiana
Reception at Ghumar Mandi - Ludhiana
Ghatka demo at Aarat Chowk - Ludhiana
Reception at Aarti Chowk - Ludhiana
Sri M dons the pagri at Gurudwara Nanaskar
Sri M addresses the gathering inside the Gurudwara Nanaskar - Ludhiana
Sri M speaks to the media - Gurudwara Nanaskar Ludhiana
A warm welcome at Bal Bharati Public School - Ludhiana
Bal Bharatians demonstrate their Manav Ekta - Ludhiana
Sri M addresses the gathering at Bal Bharati Public School - Ludhiana
WOH Day 235 - Guru Nanak Stadium to Gurudwara Nanaskar - Ludhiana
The martial artists twirl the hoop with elan - Ludhiana
At the front was a group of sword wielding practitioners of 'Ghatka', a Punjabi martial art, who kept all spell bound with their slick swordplay and flexibility from time to time.
The other celebrities who joined the walk today were Dr Ramesh from Punarjyoti Eye Donation Group, one of the largest charity organizations in the country; Mr Dhiman, Chief of one of the largest blood donation societies viz., Bhai Kanhaiya group; Mr Shinde the famous folk singer, etc.
The walk terminated at Nanaksar Gurudwara where Sri M and the padayatris were warmly received. After prayers, Dr Ramesh of Punarjyoti welcomed all and shared the pleasure they all had in hosting a yatra of this kind. The seniors among the padayatris were felicitated with colourful shawls. Quite a spread awaited the yatris at the langar after which they returned by bus to Hotel Ivory.
Bal Bharati Public School once again stole the hearts of the padayatris with their immaculate conduct of the evening's function. All would fondly remember the reception and function they had at Bal Bharati Public School, Pusa Road, last month. With the perfection they execute things, it will be no wonder if they are able to churn out high class citizens of the future in large numbers.
Sri M addressed the audience thus:
“Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih.”
“May the entire universe become happy, may the entire universe be free from illness, may the entire universe see what is auspicious, may no one suffer, may all beings be happy.”
“First of all, I have to thank Bal Bharati Public School, the principal, the senior staff, the faculty members and the students for welcoming me. We’ve already associated with Bal Bharati for quite some time starting from Delhi, where we had a very big program and the children were walking with us. I’m going to speak in English today because I rarely get the chance.”
“First of all, the walk- you have seen the film, you have a rough idea of what the walk is all about. I’m sure in your school you chant ‘Sarve bhavantu sukinhaha’ and I hope you understand what it means. ‘Sarve bhavantu sukinahaha’– May the entire universe be happy. May we all live in peace. This is the prayer. Not only confined to this country. ‘Loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu’ that the entire world, may the whole world live in peace and happiness. This is an ancient prayer, maybe 2000 years old. That is a very conservative estimate. So this is the culture of this land. It started from there.”
“The Rig Veda is a little older than that. The Rig Veda says ‘Ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti’, ‘there is one truth but wise men call it by different names’. People think that it applies only to religion - it applies to everything. It means that if there is a truth, there may be different ways of looking at it, different ways of interpreting it, different labels and names by which it can be expressed. So when I say something and you say something, we may be talking about the same truth. I’ll give you a very simple example. When I talk about my wife and you talk about my wife, you are talking about the same person but opinions may differ, right? (laughter from audience) So, the entire game of life is like that. The truth is one, but we can see it in different ways. Now,if you believe in this ideology - it is an idea, not even an ideology which is truth - then there is no reason why people pick up a fight because of different views.”
“Now, in the school, I think some of the children will remember it, the seniors especially. So, I want to start with a nice story. Actually it comes from very ancient Jain sources. Did you know that Jain dharma is one of the oldest in this country? In fact, the founder of Jainism was supposed to be Adinath, equated by some to be none other than Shiva himself. In our parampara which is the Nath Sampradaya, Adinath is the founder. Then after that is Matsyedranath, Gorakhnath and so on and so forth. So, from these sources comes this story. It's called the 'Aneka tat wad, which in Jain philosophy from ancient times means that there may be one thing and different opinions about it.”
“So we can’t say , ‘What I’m saying is the absolute truth’. The moment, for instance, a scientific researcher says that what I am saying is the absolute truth, there is no research, everything stops, you can’t move forward. People are afraid of uncertainty, but there has to be uncertainty. Without uncertainty, you cannot move forward. Because if you are certain in your ways, then 10 years later you might be proven wrong, who knows? This is what is called ‘aneka tat wad'.”
“Now, this story from ancient Jain sources, was adopted by a Sufi teacher who lived maybe 800 years ago or more, Jalaluddin Rumi. He was the founder of the order of the Whirling Dervishes. If you go to Turkey, it has become a Turkey tourism spectacle where dervishes come and dance, whirling around in circles. Jalaluddin Rumi wrote a beautiful poem called the Maznavi, those who are familiar with Urdu and Persian will know.”
“Now he says a beautiful story based on this ancient tradition which is about three blind men. Please, this is nothing against the blind. Sometimes, I think they are better than us. We have eyes but we cannot see. This is a story.”
“Three blind men went to figure out what an elephant was. This was also a favorite story of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. One of them touched the leg of the elephant and decided that the elephant is like a big pillar, very rough to touch and someone had said, don’t go too close, you might be crushed. This was his definition of the elephant because he had to depend on his hands to figure out.”
“The other blind man touched the tail of the elephant and decided that an elephant is like a brush with hard bristles which keeps swinging up and down. Step too close and you might get slapped with the rough bristles. Then, the third one touched the trunk of the elephant and decided that an elephant is like a rubber hose. It keeps constantly moving and is very rough to touch and makes ‘phus-phus’ sounds all the time. This was his definition of an elephant. There was a very big fight initially, each trying to kill the other. You know what happens when a fight escalates? People are at each other’s throats. It was at that crucial time that a fourth person who was not blind, who could see, appeared on the scene and asked, 'What’s going on?' They said 'The elephant is this, the elephant is that', and he said 'just one minute’. The elephant is as you say, yeah agreed, you’re right, you’re right, you are right, but you are also wrong'. 'How can this be? Either we are right or we are wrong'. He said, 'No, you are right because you could find one part, you are right because you could find another part but in the absolute sense, an elephant is much more than all these parts. It is much bigger. So the truth of God or the Supreme Being, which religions talk about from ancient times, cannot be captured by any one religion and made its property.”
“It is a much wider concept. In fact, even before the Jains, the first utterance about the futility of even trying to define the Supreme Being was in the Upanishads. It said ‘yan vaachana abhyuditam', words cannot define that Supreme Being because words are limited and they fall short.”
“To live in this world and to practice, and to lead a good life, many religions have been formed, many ideologies have come. They have all come from great teachers who wanted to teach people of the Supreme Being in the way that they could understand. So, there have been different approaches. And in this land of Punjab - from where Guru Nanak Sahib hailed - I don’t have to say anything. There is a place near Jalandhar called Beri Sahib, where he is supposed to have stayed with his sister and meditated for many years before preaching. One day, he went to have a bath in the river, and for three days they thought he had died or disappeared because he was nowhere to be seen. After the third day, he is supposed to have come up and the first words he uttered was ‘There are no Hindus, there are no Muslims, there are only human beings’ . See why? Because there was a great being who has understood the truth of religion, understood the truth that there is one truth from which everything has emerged. So, it has to be different. If it is not, different, how do I recognize it? If I look the same as you, there would be a lot of clones walking around. So, it is the nature of prakriti - nature - to be different. But, in the mix of all these differences, in this diversity, there is a unity that links us together. That unity is that we are human beings. See, nobody falls from heaven. Everybody is born from the womb of a mother.”
“The other day, somebody from Beti Bachao andolan and somebody else were arguing asking what about the son? The beta? I said, 'Hold on. Are you a nationalist?' He said 'I’m a very strict nationalist'. I asked then what do you say loudly when you go about it'. He said 'I say, Bharat mata ki jai’.I asked, 'Can you say Bharat Pita ki jai?' He said 'No'. I said, 'then why not Beti Bachao?' The mother is so so important because the first moulding that we get for the child is from the mother.”
“So, we are human beings born from the womb of a mother. And where do we go when we die? The same earth. Some of us might go to the smashan, we might go to the kabristhan but we are going to the same place. In between, from birth to death, there is this drama that goes on. Can’t we live in peace and harmony knowing that we are human beings? And in the Indian context that we are basically citizens of this country, not worried about who we are, what we are, where we come from? This is the aim of this walk. You know, India is a great country. I don’t think there is any country in the world which can be compared in its diversity and at the same time is sticking together. Can you tell me one country which has 23 and odd languages and maybe 200 dialects and so many sampradayas. When I say sampradayas, it means religions also are included. This country, for thousands of years, have welcomed people from all over the world belonging to many religions. Nobody said, 'Don’t come here'. Even the smallest community of a few thousand people or a lakh of people, driven out of Iran, came here and they were welcomed with open arms and made citizens of this country. They adapted to this country so well that today the leading industrialists of this country belong to the Parsi community. What about the Tatas? So you see, this has been the nature of this country. We have great unity in diversity, an example in complexities, if it can go together and be one.”
“Then what is the need of this walk? The reason is - sometimes, and maybe it’s increasing day by day - this unity's fabric is sometimes torn into pieces. We won’t go into who is responsible for this but it happens. And, because it happens, this ancient land - which has remained glorious and welcomed everyone - breaks into pieces. And when the fire breaks out, it becomes such an inferno, it is difficult to even put off. It takes time to repair and get back. So, we decided, I’m saying, 'We' not for myself, I and all the padayatris who have walked with me from Kanyakumari and all who have joined us at different places and walked with us. We walk so that we preserve the unity of this country and do not allow the breakages to happen, as far as possible. So, this is more of a preventive walk, than a curative walk. Now, if you have a disease you can give medicine, sometimes patients survive, sometimes they die. Suppose, you have an inoculation which once given the disease never comes. So, this is a pre-emptive, preventive Walk of Hope for keeping the unity of human beings together no matter whether they have diverse ideologies, religions, anything. India is the prime example and best place for this to happen because we can serve as an example to the entire world. So, with this in view, we started this walk.”
“As we walk along, we meet people from across all strata of society. From the smallest village in the interior rural areas where there are not more than 1000 people. We sit down in the evening under the peepal tree and have a nice Satsang. We call it Satsang because there's a group of people trying to find the ‘sat’ which is the truth. A Satsang need not have a religious connotation. I insist that ‘sat’ is truth and ‘sangha’ is a group of people sitting together, this is going to its roots.
“Unfortunately, nobody goes to the roots because Sanskrit has been forgotten and thrown to the backyard. We say it’s a dead language. It’s such a live language that there is no noun in Sanskrit which is not formed out of a verb. A verb is a word of action.”
“We are especially delighted when we come to schools and colleges for two reasons. One, students' minds are still young and fresh and open because they have not been crystallized or brainwashed yet. I hope we don’t brainwash. And, they are the future citizens of this country and they are still young. They are the ones who are going to run this country in the future. I’m sure they will. Many of them are more intelligent than we were at that age.”
“And, it is an understood fact now, that in the next few years India will have more young people than the old. When I say young, it is anyone younger than me. I am 67 years old. So, anybody younger than me is young for me. But especially, these schools, colleges and the student community are very important. One more clarification, I may be physically 67 years old but I'm not old. And, one of the reasons for this - like these kids who have demonstrated yoga - I too, from the age of 10 until today, whatever be my engagements, I do half an hour to 40 minutes of yoga. I have been doing it constantly. In addition, a controlled diet and moderate habits plus, of course, an inspiration to do something good are what keeps me going. I’m not tired. Do I look tired?”
(The audience answers from audience) “No Sir, you look very fresh.”
“Thank you, I just washed my face! So, with this idea in mind, we go to colleges and schools and tell the children, look we have to live together. It so happens that we belong to different religions, different communities and different ideologies. In India, you have from the extreme left to the extreme right to the middle. All kinds of things can live together. And this is a democracy, so definitely we will have differences of opinion, there is no doubt. If you don’t have differences in opinion, then we are in a dictatorship, we are not in a democracy. And, since ancient times, 'samvad', dialogue has been much appreciated. From the Upanishads to the Gita, it is all a dialogue,‘Sri Krisharjuna samvade‘ this is how the Gita is written. That’s true, however, can’t we sort things out peacefully? Can we sit across the table and negotiate? Can’t we discuss among ourselves and sort out the problem instead of resorting to violence? Can we sort this out? Not that we shouldn’t have differences. Yes, but can we sort them out through dialogue sitting across the table talking to each other? 'Chai pe charcha ya pani pe charcha'.”
“We can still sit across and talk and sort this problem out because, after all, we are Indians grounded in the fact that there is one truth which has many interpretations and many answers. So, with this in view, we have been going around talking to people. We want to plant the seeds of unity in their hearts. You know, if you plant the seed, any seed, you can’t expect it to grow into a tree the next day, it takes time and it is the responsibility of you teachers and parents to nurture these seeds in the school and at home. If this happens, then we will have a wonderful future for this country. This is a great country and it is in the hands of the young that the future of this country lies. And it’s in your hands that the nurturing of this future lies. So to spread this idea we have started this walk from Kanyakumari on the 12th of January, 2015. We have walked 14 months now. We are walking, this is not a 'rathayatra' and we hope to walk another 1500 Km or so and reach Srinagar. We are hoping to reach Srinagar on the 30th of April if everything goes ok because walking from Jammu to Srinagar is not such an easy thing to do. Apart from the terrain, there are other problems which could come up. I hope we don’t have more of these people with guns around us. They have been helping us throughout for our safety. So this is the walk. The total is around 7800 Km but I think by the time we reach it will be 8000 Km and believe me, it’s the inspiration that keeps us going. We don’t want to give up. And, as a message to the young, 'Never give up, hold on'. Things will turn out okay in the end.”
“Another message to the teachers, 'Don’t give up on any student'. Sometimes, the one who sits at the back and who doesn’t give you an immediate answer may be more intelligent than the fellow in the front row because he is still thinking if the answer he says will be right or wrong. Let’s not judge like that. Questions get better answers when they settle down in the mind for a long period. Don’t give up. They might turn into geniuses, you might get an Einstein. Please don’t imitate my example, boys and girls. I’m just joking. There might be an Einstein, not listening to the teacher but scribbling mathematics on a little piece of paper under the desk, who knows?”
“So, this is the walk, and don’t think that 8000 Km is a big deal. If there is inspiration, if there is a will, there is a way. All great people have walked and we are nothing in comparison. The other day I was looking at the map at a Gurudwara of the route taken by Guru Nanak Sahib. I was stunned and felt quite belittled because from Sri Lanka to Uzbekistan to Mecca to Russia I don’t know where this person went, 500 years ago. But today, we find it a little strange because we have learned not to walk. Even my driver, if I ask him to go and buy something he asks, 'Can I take the car?' I say, 'Go walking, it'll take ten minutes'.”
“So, that is another inspiration I want to give you; please practice walking. Our legs are given for us to walk. If you don’t keep walking, they may atrophy. So, walk. There is an ancient shloka in the Rig Veda, where Indra says 'Walk O’ disciple, walk. For he who walks, his destiny walks with him and he who sits, his destiny sits and finishes with him'. So walk! In mind, physically, walk, move. Any water that stays without moving becomes a stagnant pool and you know what comes out of it, mosquitoes. Move, flow. This is what we are doing. And last, I know that you cannot walk with me all the way to Srinagar. In your minds,think that this man is not mad - I hope I’m not - and that he is doing something good, and I think it is reasonable. So, let's put our minds together and help him with our minds. Now organizing this is part of the walk. I assure you, you are all contributing in some way. If you think so and if we get the strength of all the minds of the people in this country - even though they may not walk with us and already we have met more than 10 million people - then, I would think this walk would be a successful enterprise even before we reach Srinagar. This is my understanding.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Namaskar, Sat Sri Akal, Salaam and Good evening.”
The Journal Of Hope Archive
An interactive session followed with the children.
Q: Good evening Sir! Sir, what problems did you face initially during your journey towards peace.
A: Many of the problems that one faces are the problems which you face when you want to start or do something quite different from others. So, don’t think that these are only problems for us. These are problems we face with anyone who tries to do something different from the run of the mill. Anyone who wants to do something more creative and original faces these problems. First, there were objections. Of course I’m lucky because the least of all objections came from my own family. I am lucky that way. In many cases, it’s very strong. I have an understanding wife. I’m saying all this because it’ll be recorded and she will hear all this. I believe in living in peace, OK? (Laughter from audience) And these were some of the things, criticism, Oh how can you do it? Oh, what is the use of walking for so long and so on and so forth! Physically, we didn’t have any obstacles. Many of us who are walking trained for 6 months and got ready for our walk. There are people. Our ‘youngest’ walker is 80 years old, believe me. He is a Commodore from the Indian Navy, Mr. Raveendran. And we have a young man who is 19 years old. I think he is hanging around with his video camera somewhere. So, physically we didn’t have any problems. But the most important problem was how to face the obstacles of mind which we managed very nicely, by and by and the last was finance. When we started, we had a shoe-string budget. We did it and we are still walking. When you do something good, people come and help. Thank you.
Q: Good evening Sir! Sir, what inspired you to initiate the Walk of Hope?
A: What inspired me to initiate the Walk of Hope? It was the whole talk that I gave you today, just now. That’s what inspired me. I think that if you have a life, you should use it for a good purpose, and if the purpose is to bring people together, no matter what sacrifices come in the way, we would be inspired to do it. And this is the inspiration of the walk. Of course, I have been looking at great people from Shankaracharya to Mahatma Gandhi who have done walks for the good of humanity, who have also been additional inspirations for me. Thank you.
Q: Good evening Sir! Please share with us your experiences during the Walk.
A: This is a good question. There is such a myriad, hundreds of experiences I don’t know how to share with you but let me share some. We have seen little tots, like the ones who were doing yoga here, come to us and quietly say in their original language, ‘Aap achha kaam kar rahein hain'. I don’t know if this can happen in many other places. I doubt it. Then we have seen a very old lady when we were walking in Kerala. She was bent with age, I think she must have been 90 years old. But Kerala is a 100% literacy state, I think she could read. So by the time we reached there she had managed to raise her head up a little bit, and that’s when we saw her ears had gold rings from here to here, about 60. And then she said, 'Hey, what you are doing is good, son. Actually there are only two divisions in this world, which are actually not divisions, but man and woman, the rest is all nonsense. Good you are trying to get people together to understand this'. This is one of them.
There are many, I think we don’t have time. Then I want to tell you another lovely experience which gives us inspiration for doing something. We go to all religious places. From temples, gurudwaras, to churches, mosques, to dargahs, wherever we are invited and believe me, there is not a single place of worship which has told us, 'Don’t come here'!. In fact, we have been welcomed happily into all the places of worship and everybody stands by us. This is one of our greatest inspirations.
Thank you very much once again. Namaskar. Should I tell them what M means?
Now the M, you know, what is the first letter of the word ‘manav’? What is the first letter of the word ‘manushya’ which in Sanskrit means human being? M.So when I say M, when people call me M, I am most happy because then I am purely a human being with no affiliation except those of human love and affection. No religion, no caste, nothing. M means human being. There are many Ms here today, not one M. So this walk is bound to succeed because all the M’s are walking. It’s not one M, so this is the meaning of the M. Apart from the fact that when I was born, we are 5th generation immigrants to the southern end called Kerala. From not even the Northern end of India, but from Peshawar. So, we went in the service of the Maharaja of Travancore; not we, I don’t look like a body guard, but my ancestors, where they settled down for 5 generations. Myself, my parents and their parents were all born and brought up in Kerala so I’m an Indian, I’m also a Malayali. I’m very proud to say that. I like Kerala food. When I was born, my parents according to their tradition, named me Mumtaz Ali Khan. I think you didn’t guess it listening to my Sanskrit, right? Then, when I was 19, I went off to the Himalayas. I met my guru Maheshwarnath Babaji who was my mother, father guru and friend all put together. I spent 3 years with him in the Himalayas, in places the tourist circuit doesn’t know exists. There, something happened to my consciousness. When Babaji initiated me into the Nath sampradaya, he named me Madhukarnath. Then he sent me back to do my work. He said 'go get married, you can’t become a sanyasi, get lost'. So at the age of 19, when some Khans went to Bollywood, I went to the Himalayas.
Maybe, I’m better off today. So, the first letter of Mumtaz is M, the first letter of Madhukarnath is M, above all I’m a Manushya, a Manav, a human being and this is the message I have for everyone.