The padayatris left Thalassery on dot at 6.00 am, after a cup of coffee. A long walk awaited the yatris towards today’s destination—Kannur. The route extended along National Highway 66 (old # 17) – the Kochi-Mangalore road.
They soon passed through the towns of Dharmadom and Muzhappilangad. Dharmadom is home to the famous Andaloor Kavu—an annual festival that draws thousands of devotees during the weeklong festivities in February. It also has a private island – Dharmadom Island - that is 2 hectares in size, green and just 100 metres from the mainland town. It also houses India’s premier circus training centre—Circus Academy, Thallassery—which keeps the circus tradition alive.
Muzhappilangad is a small coastal village and is renowned for its 5 km long pristine beach. The Dharmadom Island, also known as Pacha Thuruth, is visible from here. The Anjarakandy River meets the Arabian Sea near this place.
The route was picturesque and the walkers enjoyed it—despite the blazing sun.
The padayatra, after covering 9 kms, reached Sree Kurumba Bhavani Temple, Mayyanoor around 8.00 am. They were served breakfast here.
An hour after breakfast, they had a brief lemonade break. At 11.45 am, there was a large reception enroute with more than 100 people, many of whom joined the Walk. The now customary percussion ensemble, Chendamelam, led the procession.
Some of the towns passed along the route have interesting backgrounds. For instance, Edakkad was earlier known as Prashnamargapuram (a treatise / branch of astrology). Panakkattu Namboodiri wrote the seminal horary treatise of Prashna Margam around 1649 A.D.
Another town, Thottada, has a virgin beach, just 2.5 kms from the highway (route of Walk). This is another point where a small river flows into the sea. A little away from the sea, in the estuary of the river, there is a profusion of swamps that are home to a large number of birds and fishes.
The walkers reached Kannur town at 1.15 pm. Sri M and the walkers were received by a group of about 30 people at the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce building. This was the congregation point for today. Sri M had an interaction with the local media for a while, after which lunch was served in the same venue.
Both men and women were assigned stay in Shikshak Sadan, just 500 metres away from the congregation point. The number of walkers swelled close to 200 by the time they reached Kannur. The padayatra had covered 24.85 kms today.
Kannur is the penultimate district before the padayatra reaches the Karnataka border. Kannur town, also called Cannanore (the land of Lord Krishna) is known as the Land of the Looms and Lore due to the ubiquitous presence of loom industries and ritualistic folk arts in temples in this region. It is also famous for its pristine beaches.
The satsang venue was the Town Square, just a kilometer away from the place of stay. The setting was an open Amphitheatre amid grassy lawns with a gathering of more than 500 people.
Sri M commenced his address with the prayer:
Om, Sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
Sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
Sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
Mā kashchit duḥkha bhāgbhavet
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shānti , Shānti
TranslationMay all be prosperous and happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is spiritually uplifting
May no one suffer
Om peace, peace, peace
Greeting the audience with ‘Namaskaram’ and ‘Salaam’, he said, “Nothing more about the Padayatra needs to be said as flyers and pamphlets are being distributed. The Padayatra is the physical manifestation of certain spiritual experiences, which I had in my mind. It is also an experiment based on certain spiritual experiences. There has to be an originating root for everything. People who have read 'Guru Samaksham' know about my guru, Maheswarnath Babaji and me. I have come to Kannur several times for small events earlier."
“Many years ago, when I was 22, I was sitting with my Guru, Sri Maheshwarnath Babaji on the banks of the river Ganga, and he told me that thirteen hours a day of meditation for thirteen years would be a ‘zero’ or a waste, if I could not hear a hungry child’s cry. Another time, he told me, ‘You will walk one day and many people will walk with you’. Hearing that, I got a little bit agitated, as I am not the public type. My mental structure is that of one who craves solitude. I get nervous when I see a gathering like this and I feel like hiding. I even try to delay the Satsang by screening the documentary of Padayatra.”
“I realised what Babaji meant after years of Sadhana and several blissful experiences which continue even now. These had nothing to do with sense organs or anything external. Once you reach this stage, when you see misery, you will empathise and try your best to alleviate the suffering.”
“When I was 9 years old, before I met Babaji for the first time, a Sufi used to come to our house to teach Quran. But before he taught the Quran, he used to tell my sister and me Sufi stories as well. My sister learnt the Quran very well, in fact she studied well and went on to become an IAS officer, whereas I was more interested in the Sufi stories. I remember the Sufi teacher telling me about Prophet Mohammed saying that if your neighbouring kid goes hungry, your prayer is of no use. I could easily make a connection between these two stories – the one that Babaji had told me in my later years and this Sufi story”.
“The ability to love and empathise is a true indicator of the maturity of a Yogi. Bhagavad Gita talks about Kshetra and Kshetrajna. All human beings are like Kshetra (temple) within which the Kshetrajna, the ‘parabrahma’ (Supreme Cosmic Spirit, or Godhead) resides. We need to love and respect all Kshetras, maintain and take care of them. I am fully convinced about this.”
Sri M narrated why Kanyakumari was chosen as the starting point— the reasons being that it is a sangamam, confluence of three seas, and also the place where Swami Vivekananda had envisioned his mission for India.
He continued, “We have completed 47 days of the padayatra. Some of the experiences we had during this period have really uplifted us. We were told before we entered Malappuram district that travelling through it could be troublesome and dangerous. But we were welcomed with such warmth, not just me but all of us padayatris, and the warnings seemed so foolish.”
“One particular heartwarming incident during our travel through Malappuram was when we met an old Muslim lady who asked us, ‘Why are you doing this padayatra?’. When we explained, she replied ‘There are no differences in religions, there is no difference at all, except between men and women. We need to live together.’ At her age, she must have seen many things and must have experienced so much and I felt her message is very similar to ours.”
“Many countries, especially India, have several castes, religions and beliefs. They cannot all be the same but Man is one. The Rig Veda, though it’s debatable when it was written (though some say 5000, it is at least 2000 years old) says: ‘Ekam Sat. Viprah bahuda vadanti’ meaning ‘Truth is One. The wise call it by many names’. These Rishis must have had many experiences before coming to such a conclusion.”
Sri M moved to one of his favorite stories—Rumi’s story of the four visually challenged men who go about describing an elephant. One touches the feet and describes that the elephant is like a pillar, the second man feels the trunk and explains that it is in the shape of a hosepipe, the third one touches the tail and explains that it is a stick with bristles, and the fourth person feels the ears and describes them as fans. They start fighting amongst themselves claiming that their personal version of the elephant, as sensed by them, is indeed the right one. Noticing their agitation, a passerby with clear sight enquiring on the reason for their fight, laughed and explained that while each one was correct in their way, they had missed completely ‘the whole’, the elephant in its entirety. He said that varied religions were also like this. Each one sees only one perspective and concludes the truth from that whereas the essence was vast and infinite.
He continued: “Ishvara (God, Supreme Being) is beyond the comprehension of the human brain. Thus, our definition of the same will have limitations. Therefore, we cannot dispute other definitions as Keno Upanishad says 'yan mansana mannate'- That, which is beyond the mind but which the mind is made of. This being the case, why fight among ourselves unnecessarily. This is one of the messages of our Padayatra. Since a portion of the parabrahma is in every being, he will always think of every one’s joy and sorrow as his own. He will not be able to think of hurting anyone. If someone hits you, the physical hurt usually disappears in a day or two. But it is very common for us to remember the hurt and ruminate upon it for days on end. Rishis say that sleep is a type of death and when you wake up, you start another life. If you realise that tomorrow is another day and a new life, we can live peacefully.”
“In the press meet today, people were mentioning Kannur is a violent place and were enquiring if I had made any security arrangements. I said that my only security is God himself, which I think is very important. I am protesting against these forces of violence and if anything happens to me in this quest, let it be.”
He narrated the story of Swami Vivekananda and his service to ‘Daridranarayana’ (To serve Narayana, we have to serve the starving millions of the land). In the early days of establishing the Belur Math, his co-monks expressed their displeasure to him about his serving the poor as one of the main activities of the Mission. They felt he was moving away from the precincts of Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings. Swamiji was annoyed and, while preparing to leave the Math as a result, spoke about Sri Ramakrishna’s pilgrimage along with Mathur Babu (Rani Rasmoni’s son-in-law) to Deogarh, Varanasi, Allahabad and Vrindavan. At that time, the town of Deogarh was undergoing a severe famine and the people were dying from hunger and thirst. Sri Ramakrishna, seeing the plight of the villagers, was deeply anguished and refused to move from the place unless Mathur Babu organized a supply of rations for their survival. A reluctant Mathur Babu had to accede to his request. Sri Ramakrishna ate only after the villagers were fed. The fellow monks immediately realized their mistake and asked Swamiji to step into his leadership shoes again.
Reiterating it through Bhakti Yoga, the Twelfth Chapter of the Bhagavat Gita, Sri M said, “One who has control over his sense organs, is equally disposed to all and has the welfare of all beings at heart is the ideal devotee or ‘bhakta’, according to God Krishna. If you have to face some sadness, you must face your sadness, than only it will vanish. Many people avoid it by resorting to drinks, cheap entertainment and similar escapist diversions.” He remarked humorously, “If you are able to look within and not depend on external things as a solution to your sadness, companies manufacturing anti-depressants will have to be closed.”
“Everyone has said this, Jesus, who in Vedantic terms could be termed 'Aniketa parivrajaka' (A wandering, homeless monk) walked all over Jerusalem. In his Sermon on the Mount, he said, ‘Lay treasures in your heart, where thieves do not break in or steal’. He also sad “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God.”
“I am keen that we set such an example in our country, since it was here that people from all over the world used to flock to learn the great truths. Now, we Indians are going abroad in pursuit of various things. We need to reverse this trend.”
While the satsang was on, the muezzin’s call was heard from a nearby mosque, Sri M and the gathering maintained silence during this time. After the call concluded, the satsang continued.
He mentioned another incident about Sri Chandarashekar Saraswati of Kanchi. “Some people went and complained to him that the nearby mosque was using loud speakers, thus disturbing their routine. The Swami was a great scholar in Sanskrit and Tamil but very few people knew that he also knew Arabic. He asked, ‘Are you in a resort? Can't you get up earlier at 5.30 or do you want the Mosque to wake you up at 5.30? Do you understand what is chanted over the loud speaker? They are saying that it is better to meditate than to sleep.”
“All of us have the great responsibility of spreading happiness, peace and ‘manav-ekta’ in the community. We cannot depend only on our padayatra for this. Belonging to different political parties is fine, but there need not be violence.”
“This is an internal ‘yatra’ (journey) as well and many people ask me where I get the energy to undertake such a task at the age of 66. Many of the youngsters in our lot ask me this. If you realize there is a small portion of the Almighty ever present within us, impossible things are possible. Sufis say the same thing, ‘Noor in your Qalb’ (the light in your heart).”
Sri M concluded on this note: “St. Francis of Assisi once took his disciples on a long walk, at the end of which a long discourse or Satsang was scheduled. At the end of the Walk, his disciples enquired about the discourse. He answered that his walk was his talk.”
Sri M then called five padayatris to relate their experiences of the Walk. He then led the chanting of OM thrice followed by a brief meditation.
Dinner was served at 7.30 pm and the weary walkers retired early by 9.00 pm.