452 days and as fresh as ever - Kathunangal Amritsar
Inside the Gurudwara janam Asthan Baba Budhaji Sahib - Kanathungal
Sri M receiving prasad at the Gurudwara Janam Sthan Baba Budhaji Sahib
Karsevaks at the langar Gurudwara -
The walk left Amritsar and moved along GT Road towards Gurdaspur today. The end point was the Gurudwara at Kathunangal. It is named after one of the greatest luminaries of Sikhism, Baba Budhaji, Kathunangal being his birthplace. Legend has it that the Baba, then 12 years old and named Bura, accosted Guru Nanak who was on a visit and asked him a deeply philosophical question. The surprised Guru said "You are just a small boy, yet you ask questions fit for a wise old man!" From then on, Bura came to be called 'Budha', meaning old in Punjabi.
Baba Budhaji was given the honour, of anointing the next Guru by Guru Nanak, a task he continued for the next four Gurus as well. Budhaji who lived the ripe old age of 125, had the privilege of seeing seven out of the ten Sikh Gurus and anointing five of them. He was actively involved in the construction of the Harmandir Sahib and was the first 'Granthi' or custodian of the holy book, there.
Sikh legends are replete with stories relating to Budhaji's devotion and the respect with which he was treated even by the Great Gurus. It was with great reverence to this blessed soul that the padayatris moved around and worshipped at the Gurudwara. After partaking of the langar lunch, they returned to the Hotel.
Sri M and the padayatris visited Milvartan, an old age home in Amritsar in the evening. Built by a socially conscious couple, the place has developed into a haven for people who want to spend the evenings of their life in comfort and dignity. With many young people unable to take care of the requirements of their parents due to various reasons, institutions like these seem to be the only viable alternative. Sri M addressed the inmates, trustees and the padayatris and an intimate Satsang was the result.
"First of all I thank all of the trustees and the people who run Milvartan, the staff and the inmates who are here for inviting us to visit them.
More than the walk.....see, we call the walk the Walk of Hope. Please do not confine the Walk of Hope to just this padayatra which we are doing. The Walk of Hope is meant to ignite hope in all human beings, in whoever we come across, in the good work they are doing wherever they are, whatever they are doing. It's not just this walk. This walk is a symbol or a manifestation of that energy called hope, without which this world becomes a terrible place to live in. You know actually the word hope is so important. We don't realize it, we live with the hope that we will wake up tomorrow morning, because there are people that have not woken up, they've gone. So this itself is hope, that the next minute we will get food is hope, that the next minute we will be able to walk is hope, the next minute we will be able to breathe is hope. So, it is this hope that has made us move forward.”
“And, when I was with my master, my guru Maheshwarnath Babaji, with whom I spent many years in the Himalayas, one day in Uttarkashi, along the banks of the Ganga he said to me, if you do tapasya, because I was then fighting with him saying that I want to do 'kathin tapasya' without drinking water and so on. First of all he said,’That's not done in this Yuga. We are talking about Treta Yuga, not done in Kali Yuga.’ Then he said, ‘When I am there with you, why do you want to do it? But you know when you are young... I was only 22 years old. But you know he was such a great person, who according to me I believed if he wanted this tree to grow tomorrow by 10 inches he would have just had to touch it. Such a person, I used to argue with him regularly. I don't know whether it is an argument or discussion. To his credit, except sometimes when it got too much and he would say 'arre chup karo' he never said anything to me. From there I developed this idea that dialogue is always healthy. It's good to explore, to find out. So anyway, one day we were sitting there and he said to me – ‘If you do some kind of tapasya, 20 years, maybe 3 hours a day... if you come out of your cave, and on the way in a small hut, if there is a little child crying of hunger, and you can't hear this, all your 20 years of tapasya will have 'gone to dogs'. Instead of 'gone to dogs' he said 'shoonya'. This is the basis of our work, that when the mind gets spiritual, it doesn’t get hard. We are not doing tapasya to make ourselves stone-hearted. Some people think that, Oh, this is a Yogi whose mind has become calm. Calm is different from stone-hearted.”
“I will give you an example. Swami Vivekananda walked the length and breadth of India when he was an unknown man. He became known only when he went to the United States to the Parliament of Religions and people said, 'Oh, such a great man'. Until then, very few people knew about him. He wandered without money, without clothes, without a place to stay. So, one day in Maharashtra somewhere, he met someone who told him that one Chatterji who was a very close friend of Swamiji's since college days, had died, passed away. And the man who said it was shocked because Swamiji burst into tears, Swamiji who was a sanyasi. He burst into tears and he wept and he said, 'O my God!' He had some pet name for him. He addressed him as that and he said, ‘Oh we were such close friends... He's gone. This guy was very shocked, surprised. He said, ‘Swamiji, you are a monk, you are a sanyasi, you are supposed to be away from all this’. Swamiji turned to him and said, ‘Do you think I did so many years of tapasya to turn my heart into stone?’”
“You know, when you actually go closer to the truth, closer to your inner essence, actually you become more compassionate, more loving and if that is not present, you can be sure that this guy is pretending, or there is something wrong with his sadhana. This is what I believe. It cannot be otherwise.”
“Kabir said, ‘dhai akshar prem ki...’. If that 'prem' is not there, all our sadhana, everything is useless. So, out of this understanding and feeling, this walk started. I am not saying I started the walk. Seeing many things, including people in the name of religion, in the name of politics, in the name of various things, I am deliberately using the term 'in the name of' because communal riots are not actually communal. It’s a facade used by people to bring about a kind of personal gain. There is a vested interest somewhere. You can't get over it because no one really wants to fight and kill everybody.”
“So, seeing all this, it came into my heart. For many years it has been there, but then I said I am turning 67 years old and if I don't walk now I will never walk. And walking has always been a great way of expressing your idea, from ancient times. In fact, in the Rig Veda itself, Indra says to his disciple, 'walk, oh disciple, walk. For he who walks, his destiny walks with him'. So, take Adi Shankaracharya, before that the Buddha, before that the Jain Tirthankaras, after that Swami Vivekananda. Take the Chinese traveller, Fa Hien, Huien Tsang, everybody walked. On the other side in a lighter way I must say, half our diseases today are because we don't walk. We have people who are now walking with us, who when they first came, said we'll only walk for a week or two because I have a bad stomach, I have a heart problem.”
“So, this is what it is. With this in mind, we started the walk in Kanyakumari. On January 12th, 2015 we have done more than 14 months, about 6000 Km or more walking. It's not a big deal. I'm looking at the long itinerary of Guru Nanak 500 years ago, much more than we did and he didn't have a big group walking with him. He and Mardana walked. So it was a great thing you know, Guru Nanak, he's been to so many places, you go to Sri Lanka, you go to Azerbaijan, to Afghanistan, to Mecca, he’s been there. So, this is very important, in fact in ancient times a Yogi was also called a parivrajaka. That means one who always went from place to place, walked from place to place. So, we have all become parivrajakas, at least for a year and a half almost. And we have walked, and we have tried to convince people, at least sow the seeds in the hearts, especially the young, students, schools colleges. But please remember that when I say young, it doesn't mean just physical age. I'm sure there are people here older than me whose minds may be younger than mine, how do you know? The moment you accept that you are old, we are finished, don't accept it. Deep down I may be 67, we have somebody who is 80 years old, Commodore Ravindranath is walking with us, he is a retired Naval pilot, from Kanyakumari. He turned 80 somewhere near Nasik I think. He is still determined to walk with us. There are many people older than me, younger than me, so age is not to do with your body, it's to do with your mind and if you feel young in mind, much healing can take place in the human body. So we also talk about this, so we go to young people especially, and plant the seeds of Manav Ekta. Shanti and Sadbhavana in their hearts and I tell them the destiny of this nation is in your hands. We might have committed mistakes, it's quite possible, you will not. And if you hold on to this and say first we are human beings, we are all born from the wombs of the mother. Nobody falls from heaven and we go back to the same earth, could be a kabristhan or a smashaan. In this intervening period between birth and death, why the drama of violence and discord, communal disharmony. Can't we live together? And this is an ancient nation whose very culture is unique, not now, but thousands of years. Would we now spoil it? This is what I ask people. And if you spoil it in this nation, there no nation in the world from which it can come again. I personally feel that India is the spiritual Guru of the world. Like Jesus Christ said, ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ If the salt has lost it's savour, where with will it be salted.”
“If I have lost my saltiness being salt, who else can keep it? In this country we should preserve this unity .There is no country in the world which has 23 languages, and so many religions and so many dialects and so many sampradayas. We shouldn't allow it to break. We should keep it together. This is the mission of this walk. The walk is not over, physically yes, we will enter Srinagar on the 29th or so in Kashmir, it's K - K, Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and we would think that the walk is over. But No, the walk still continues. The seeds that we have sown, we need to preserve and nurture them until they grow into great banyan trees under which we can all sit in peace and harmony and it takes time. So this is just, I would say, the beginning. People who think that this age is the beginning, I say Yes!! If I have to come back on this earth reborn, I will continue to. So this has been the walk.”
“And what you are doing here, looking after the elderly, is one of the greatest works possible. Just as you look after orphans and the differently-abled, to look after the old is one of the best things that you can do because even in India today, unfortunately looking after older people at home is slowly moving away. We are becoming like other countries. Our old people are sent away, not looked after. If they have an independent place to stay and they are happy, there is nothing better than that so that they go in peace. They live in peace, they laugh they move around, they have everything that is required for them. If you are providing that then I would say that you are part of the Walk of Hope. We are not different from you. Thank you very much."
The padayatris got to interact with the inmates and got valuable insights into the working of Milvartan. They returned after a delicious dinner.