WOH Day 451 - Dargah Baba Nuth Pir to Bhavans SL Public School Amritsar
One of the Patton tanks captured in the 1965 war - Amritsar
Around the statue of Sri Saifuddin Kitchlew - a great champion of Hindu-Muslm unity
The paradox that is India - Amritsar
Reception at Bhavan's SL Public School
A whirl of energy - Sufi dance - Bhavans SL Public School
Sri M during Satsang at Bhavans SL public School - Amritsar
The evening Satsang at Khalsa College Amritsar
For a change, the boys had them all eating out of their hands - Khalsa College
Major Baljit Singh Randhawa was a member of the much decorated Rajput Regiment of the Indian Army which has seen action in many parts of the globe. Hailing from Amritsar, he fearlessly led his men in Kargil in the 1965 war with Pakistan before falling to enemy bullets. He was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously. The padayatris circumambulated his statue during the walk today.
The yatris also passed the Saifuddin Kitchlew Statue, not realising that it was his arrest along with Dr Satya Pal's which finally resulted in the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre. It was to protest against their arrest that the massive crowd had assembled at the ill fated venue. A true congressman, freedom fighter and nationalist, he bitterly fought the very idea of partition and later, turned away to join the Communist Party of India. One of the founder members of the Jallianwalah Bagh Trust, he was also awarded the Stalin Peace Award. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Aligarh Muslim University.
Along the route taken by the walk of hope was a Patton tank, displayed right by the side of the road. A couple of days back, Commodore Ravindranath was heard remarking how Pakistan had bungled in handling the 'then-ultra-modern' Patton tanks during the 1971 war. In fact, it was in the nearby Tarn Taran district that the biggest tank battle between the Second World War and 1965, was fought. Indians scored a telling victory despite having much less sophisticated tanks at their disposal. After the war, the place was called the 'graveyard of tanks' as the 97 captured Patton tanks were displayed there, only to be distributed as war trophies to various army camps all over the country. The one on display must be one such.
The walk ended at Bhavan's SL Public School This is an institution under the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan which is an education trust founded in 1938 by Kulapati K M Munshi. The aim of the Bhavan is to promote Indian culture and Sanskrit and motto, 'let noble thoughts come to us from every side'.
For the fifth or sixth time, schools in Punjab wowed the padayatris with the sheer talent, professionalism and perfection with which the students do cultural programs. If this trend is anything to go by, there is no need to worry about the new generation losing touch with our great culture, at least in these parts. Here, at the Bhavan's, it was a Qawwali and a Sufi dance that stole the padayatris' hearts.
Sri M addressed the students:
“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.
“I would like to say namaskar, sat sri akal, salaam and Good morning to all. I thank everyone who is here. Since it's a CBSE school, I am going to speak in English. I am from the South, Kerala, so sometimes I make a few mistakes in Hindi, you'll have to forgive me for that. To avoid that, today I'll speak in English. I've been speaking in Hindi all this while, so now I think I need to brush up my English, or I might forget it by the time I reach Srinagar. So, first of all I must express my admiration and thanks to all the students who performed here and all the teachers and staff who supported them and conducted it so well.”
“Let me first brief you about the walk. You've seen the film and also read the literature. This padayatra started from Kanyakumari on 12th January, 2016. Why Kanyakumari? Because it's the confluence of three great oceans, the Arabian sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Since this yatra is about bringing people together, we thought the confluence of three great oceans is the right place to start our yatra. Also Kanyakumari is called zero point. The highways department calls Kanyakumari land’s end. So, before we started, I told all our walkers to start with zero ego from zero point. It's very important to start with no expectations whatsoever, humbly, thinking that perhaps we can bring about a change. That's the reason why we started at Kanyakumari. There's an ancient temple of the Goddess there, the Devi, called the Kanyakumari, the Virgin Goddess. Legend says that she used to have a nose ring made of a diamond, which on a moonlit night guided the ships that came to the ocean. Now in Kaliyug, it has been replaced by a crystal. January 12th, the date we chose was the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. I am sure everybody has heard of Swami Vivekananda. I believe that a hundred years ago, the work that he did to make us aware of our spiritual heritage, and bring about human unity, could not have been done in a hundred years by a hundred people. So we said, let's start on this date, the anniversary of this great being called Swami Vivekananda.”
“This is a padayatra, a journey on foot not a rathayatra. Now we have done a little more than 6000 Km, walking. Not only me, all the padayatris who are with us, many of them. We have to proceed from here to Srinagar. The one reason we definitely wanted to touch Amritsar, though it falls on our route, is because Harmandir Sahib is in Amritsar, to bow down in a temple that has seen so many sacrifices. Punjab that way can be glorified for the many sacrifices by many of its great saints and leaders. Now we proceed to Pathankot and from Pathankot to Jammu, from Jammu to Srinagar. We hope to reach Srinagar on the 30th of April or 1st of May. Maybe enter on the 29th. Because of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, many people are telling me to keep the date a secret. I don't wish to keep it secret. When you do a good thing, you don't care for anything else. So, when we wind up the walk in Srinagar, we would have done more than 7,500 Km walking. This is the rough logistics of the walk. There are about 60 to 70 people who are our core group, from all states and all communities, who have been walking with us. Wherever we go, people join us apart from this core group, so you can never find less than 200, 250, people walking with us. Sometimes the number has swelled to thousands.”
“This is the walk. Now, what is the reason for this walk? Before we go into that, I would like to give the root reason from where this yatra has started. There's an ancient story, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who was the Guru of Swami Vivekananda, he used to love this story. Three or four people belonging to different nationalities were going on a pilgrimage, they all became thirsty. There was no water available. One of them who happened to be a Greek, said that he immediately needed Aqua to quench his thirst. There was a Brahmin from ancient India who said we need Jal to quench our thirst. The third one who was from a Hindi speaking area, was wondering what the hell they were talking about, 'I'm very thirsty, I need Paani'. And the Englishman wanted water. All the four were thirsty but they named it in a different way. A big fight ensued between them about which is the right thing to search for when you are thirsty. Until someone who knew where water was came there. The person who knows where the water source is, is a spiritual teacher, the Guru, if he knows. If he doesn't know, then he's no better than anybody else. He came and said, I know where you can quench your thirst. Luckily, he knew all the four languages. He took them there and said here's the pond, 'quench your thirst'. They said, Oh, here is aqua, here is water'. The Guru said, 'so what were you fighting about just now. This is the same thing for which you were using different names. To quench your thirst, this is what you need'.”
“Therefore 3000 years ago, the Rig Veda, the oldest of texts, I sometimes wonder if there were any texts older than that, I don't know for sure. It's said there, 'Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti'. There is one truth but the wise may call it by different names. Now, this is the basis of this walk. It's not only that I should be happy, but you too should be happy. No matter what religion we belong to, what community we belong to, what our dharma is or what our sampradaya is, basically we are human beings. This is the great truth preached by all religions if you go to the core. They might have been adapted and adopted based on the circumstances and for the kind of people who lived at a particular place. But the core is, find the truth, quench your thirst, be human, and the greatest worship is service. In fact Swami Vivekananda called those who were poor and who were suffering, as a form of God, Narayana, Daridra Narayana. So this is an experience for me, not merely belief. It starts with a belief but when it becomes an experience, there is a complete understanding that there is an all pervading supreme being and that all pervading Supreme Being pervades everywhere and is complete.”
“Today the invocation you sang, ‘Om poornam-adah poornam-idah poorna-aat poornam-udachyate’. Poorna means what? Completeness. Once I taught a German friend of mine to chant this, he tried for two days and gave up. He said, what is poorna, poorna, poorna....! Poorna means complete. What does it mean in our context? As a human race we are complete, we are not separate, we are not in pieces. We may function from different points but we are one great mind, one great consciousness, one great truth which functions through different centres. If you come to the practical aspect, there is nobody who falls from heaven, everybody is born from the womb of a mother. Even if it's a test tube baby it has to be put in the womb. And when we die, we go to the same earth, we may go to the kabrasthan or we may go to the smashan, but we go to the same place. This itself is the complete proof that we are the same. Suppose I was born, as a little child, I may be born let's say in a Hindu family and I'm put at the doorstep of a Muslim house, and they adopt me, what happens to me? I become a Muslim? Does anything really change? Am I not a human being? This is not my statement, this is a great philosophy especially in this country where the sages declared that there is only one truth and we are all manushya, human beings. So it is based on this experience that I started this walk.”
“This is a great country, you cannot find a country like this anywhere. I am sorry about people who are not from this country. I am sure that all human beings are the same, everywhere. But specifically I'm saying this because of the situation. We have so many religions and so many dharmas. We are so good and we are also the ones who create the most problems! Just examine this fact, do you know how many languages we have in this country? How many languages? If I talk to you in the language of the land I was born, if I ask you something...(Sri M says a few words in Malayalam). So we have over 23 languages in this country. And so many religions. From ancient times anybody who has come here, has been welcomed with open arms. There's one country and so many dharmas, so many religions, so many sampradayas. You think Islam is a united religion? It has so many divisions, Shias, Sunnis, Syyed. So many. You think Hinduism is one religion? I know in the South, Shaivites who won't enter a Vishnu temple, I know Vaishnavites who won't look at a Shiva temple. Then in Hindu philosophy, we have Adi Shankara's advaita, we have Ramanuja's Vishishta Advaita, we have Madhwa's dwaitha. So many sampradayas. It's a wonder and beauty of this country that all coexist. Because we have understood the fact that different people look at truth from different angles”.
“It may not be what you see but the fact is that you're looking at one aspect of the truth. It is also my understanding that ‘That’ all pervading truth, a small part of that, resides in every living being's heart. Especially human beings because human beings can recognize it, animals may not be aware of it. Inside every human heart resides That Supreme Being. In your prayer you said, ‘Isavasyam idam sarvam, yat kim ca jagatyam jagat, tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridhah kasyasvid dhanam’. It's from the Isavasya upanishad which is so ancient. If somebody could even think of this in those ancient days, it's quite remarkable. That Supreme Being pervades everything here - that's is what it says. The world is called Jagat because it is Jagatyam, it's always moving. ‘tena tyaktena bhunjitha’ - let go and rejoice. ‘Ma gridhah kasyasvid dhanam’ - whose wealth is it anyway, who does it belong to? This is not socialism, this is what the communists say but the way of getting to that wealth is changed completely. So here is an ancient teaching. If it's all pervading, it's in every one of us. All of us are walking temples of God.”
“How do you worship this God in us? You can't do it with Arati. The ancients said the only way to worship this God inside us is through service. In the Land of Guru Nanak, I don't have to say anything about seva. Is there any dharma which feeds people 24 hours like the langar? The Gurus knew. In fact in the Granth, what I said just now is said in such a way that one Maulana who came with me for the first time in his life to a Gurudwara, asked me if they were reading the Quran. ‘Avval Allah Noor upaye, Qudrath ke sab bandhe’. That's why we should go out. There are many places to go, many things to see. The Quran says, wherever you turn your face, there I am. This is not confined to any one religion, that's why I'm quoting several. Of course Buddha didn't talk about God, he talks about compassion, love and he defined the ultimate reality as 'shoonya'. Please don't think shoonya means nothing. Shoonya means that which nothing can define. And Nirvana is freedom, freedom from what? Freedom from all negatives and all selfishness. It's not easy, it's a tall order. Everybody is selfish is some way but keep that in mind. Somewhere in the horizon keep this in mind.”
“Swami Vivekananda was fond of saying, 'Atmano Mokshartha Jagat Hitaya cha' - Moksha for the soul and also welfare of human beings, these two have to go together. You know in every tradition if you look closely, there is a link. In Punjab, great Sufis like Bulle Shah, and I don't know how many people know that the famous Qawwalli that you just sang, ‘Duma Dum Masth Qalandar’, has something to do with pranayam. ‘Duma dum masth qalandar’ means dum ke upar dum, breathe in and out till your heart becomes masth. Masth means mad in ecstasy. So, with little bit of gleanings from these ancient texts and from my personal experience, we decided to take this walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.”
“Many great people have walked, the other day somebody asked me, ‘8000 Km! you're 67 years old'. I said, ‘67 years old is my body, not my mind. You're 60 years old and if you have already become like that, you're a 100 years old’. It's a state of mind, remember this, young people! Don't give up, ever. Of course obstacles come. Whenever we try something new, people may call it mad. All great Sants and even scientists were sometimes called mad. Believe me if you do something different people might think you're crazy. Don't give up. Sacrifice is essential, you get nothing without sacrifice. The Vedas say, prajapati sacrificed himself to create the world. So remember these things, this is the reason why we are walking, because as a nation we are one, as human beings we are One and we should not allow it to break into pieces. Forces are working from outside the country and inside the country, both. But we should not let this happen. This is why I'm very happy when we come to schools. This is Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School, believe me when my autobiography has been translated in any language it's always launched at some centre of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, mainly in the South. The great vedic dictum, I'm sure you must have read, ‘ā no bhadrāḥ kratavo kṣyantu viśvato adabdhāso aparītāsa udbhidaḥ’ - May auspicious thoughts come to you from all sides. This is what I want to tell you, the future of this country is in your hands. Our generation might have committed mistakes. So we are very happy to go to schools and colleges, where we can sow the seeds of Manav Ekta, Shanti and Sadbhavna.”
“Everybody wants peace. You cannot function without it. You may have crores but if you don't have peace, you have nothing. In Punjab you don't have to say this, because the older generation has passed through partition. I also know that if you plant a seed it doesn't grow into a big tree tomorrow. It needs to be nurtured, looked after by parents and by teachers. That's the responsibility of the grownups and the acharyas. If this is done, tomorrow the future of this country is assured. There's nothing left to be done. Please remember this, talk about it to everyone. I know you can't come with us and walk till Srinagar, it's not practical. But if you lend your minds to us and discuss this matter with your friends, neighbours, then we would think that the walk has already succeeded. Before I close this talk, we've been in Punjab for many days, the energy levels I see in the youngsters here, it gives me great confidence that great things can certainly be done. In fact I was talking to our good friend, that maybe I should settle down somewhere in rural Punjab and have a Manav Ekta Mission Ashram there. Because people understand it here, they have gone through much. They've learnt a lot. It's also the land of the great Sikh Gurus who tried to bring people together".
Sri M then introduced himself and why he likes to be called M and ended the talk.
In the evening Satsang at Khalsa College, Sri M firstly thanked the college authorities, officials of the NSS, the students and staff of the college and the padayatris. He started with a small description of the yatra and mentioned that there are many padayatris accompanying him on a long-term basis. "There is someone with us who was working in Dallas, US, who sought leave for a year to join us. Nobody gives leave for one year in the US, so he resigned and came. He walks in the sun, does lot of hard work and has been given such a job that sometimes padayatris pick up fights with him. Still he is walking. Thus there are many of us walking, from different states, religions and also some from outside India.”
“We have by now covered about 6000 Km and we have to go up to Srinagar, by the 1st May or 30th April. By then we would have covered more than 6500 Km. Then the question arises, why are we walking? As we are moving ahead, my Hindi is keeping on improving. Now, in Punjab and that too at the Khalsa College, what do I tell about Manav Ekta? When people ask me how we are walking such a big distance, I ask them to have a look at Guru Nanak's travel all over the world. It is part of our ancient culture to walk. Adi Shankara, Guru Nanak, Chinese travellers Fa Hien Huien Tsang, Swami Vivekananda, not so long ago Mahatma Gandhi, have all walked all over the country. This is a great way of taking your message across, because, when you walk, the common man thinks that you are one of his lot. If you travel in a big car and get down in a village, the first impression is that ‘look, someone has come to acquire our land’. But if you walk, have tea with the villagers, speak to them under the banyan tree in the evening, they will tell you, as they have told us, ‘you are telling the truth, we also think like you but none has come and told these things openly to us for a long time’.”
“So, the object of the walk is Manav Ekta, which has been part of our ancient tradition. Vedas have said that ‘Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti" - Truth is one, but the wise call it by different names. Swami Vivekananda said 'Atmano Mokshartha Jagath Hithaya cha' - Search for deliverance of the soul, but keep the welfare of the world at heart. Guru Nanak's dictum ‘Avval Allah noor....’. During the walk, a Moulvi came with us to a Gurudwara and asked us, ‘What are they reading, is it not the Qoran?’. I told him ‘No, it is the Granth which they are reading’. Thus, this unity is in our blood from time immemorial. Which country has more than 23 major religions, 150 dialects, many sampradayas, castes, creeds? But, if we are asked, we will proudly say that we are all Indians!”
“We have to maintain this unity. Sometimes, this harmony is unsettled and there are riots. Once such a thing happens, it is very difficult to douse the fire and bring back normalcy. In a hospital, when a patient is brought in, he is given medicines. Sometimes one survives, sometimes, one dies. What we want to do is, give an inoculation which will prevent the disease itself, this disunity, so that Manav Ekta is always intact. To spread this message of unity and Manav Ekta we are walking and I want to tell you the happy news that wherever we have gone, people join us, there has been no time when less than two hundred to two hundred and fifty people have not been with us. In some places, it would go up to a thousand, two thousand even!”
“But this job cannot be done alone. I have the padayatris along with me, that is another matter. But, if you all think that our effort is genuine and worth pursuing, then our job is almost as good as done. We consider it very important to visit schools and colleges. Even if it is a remote place and a small school, we go there, sometimes we go to big colleges like yours as well, because I believe, I am sure everyone will agree, that the seeds of unity and Manav Ekta are to be sown in the minds of the young because, the future of the country is in your hands. Our time is getting over and we may have made mistakes. But, you will not commit those mistakes as nowhere in the world would you find a country like ours and keeping it safe is our duty.”
“Seeds once sown will not germinate in a day or two. Protecting and nurturing the seeds sown are the responsibility of the teachers and parents. If they do that and you are with us in spirit, I feel we will be successful. I consider India to be the spiritual Guru of the world and if this is not possible in India where will it be possible? Some people ask me about ISIS and I tell them that we will keep our house in order first. People are also asking me when we are walking in Pakistan. I tell them let us finish our walk in India first. We have been asked not to take India's map along as we walk from Jammu to Srinagar!”
“We want to keep India united, with all our different communities living together peacefully. If we succeed in this, I think we would have won our game and none can touch us. We could become so strong that the old glory of our country would return. It is in your hands, think about it, especially the young ones sitting in front. We are walking to bring this message to you. It is not easy, we have walked in the sun, rain, maybe we will have snow in Srinagar! But we will keep walking.”
“I strongly believe that a minute portion of Almighty God resides in all of us, which has no caste, creed or religion. This being the case, we are all walking temples or Gurudwaras of God. Harmandir Sahib has four gates, one for each faith. Thus we are going ahead with this belief and faith. I know that you cannot walk with us. But, let these thoughts settle down within you. Let there be a discussion on these issues in your neighbourhood. Tell that since it is a democracy, there could be differences of opinion, but there is no need for violence.”
“Sri M once again exhorted the students to lend a shoulder to his efforts and wound up the Satsang with an explanation about how he calls himself 'M'.”