Day 50 | 2 March 2015 | Pazhayangadi to Payyanur | The Walk of Hope 2015-16

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Starting out on a particularly beautiful day at 6.00 am, the padayatris led by Sri M walked towards Payyanur—the destination point of the day. The sky was overcast with rain clouds and a light drizzle accompanied the walkers.  They walked through small town roads with very few houses and fewer vehicles.  The sun was up within an hour and the day gradually warmed up.  An enduring cool breeze made the walk a pleasant one.

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The padayatra passed through small hamlets like Velapuram, situated close to the Arabian Sea, and Kalliasseri, significant for contributing politicians like E K Nayanar (former Chief Minister of Kerala) and Sri K P R Gopalan, a freedom fighter. Kalliasseri played a prominent role in the Indian freedom movement and is seen as the emerging point for Communism as a leading political movement in India. Today also marked the 50th day of the walk.  They also had the maximum number of receptions in a day until now – 12 to be exact! At 7.30 am, the walkers reached Pilathara, a small town known for it’s traditional, cultural and religious character.  They visited St. Joseph’s College and Sri M had an interactive session with a group of about 70 students.  Breakfast was served in the college campus. Walking on, Sri M was received and greeted by a large group of around 100 people. A Senior Citizen Forum organized this at Ezhiloti Junction.  They walked through a small town, Parassinikadavu, home to the famous Muthappan temple located on the banks of the Valapattanam River. This is the only Hindu Temple in Kerala where a Theyyam performance, a popular ritual form of worship, is a daily ritual offering. Parassinkkadavu is also noted for the snake park, which is committed to the preservation and conservation of snakes. There are about 150 varieties of snakes including the spectacled cobra, King cobra, Russell's viper, Krait and Pit Viper living in the park. Proceeding further, they passed through Taliparamba—another municipal town.  Originally a town inhabited by Brahmins, now mostly Christians and Muslims, living long in peaceful co-existence, populate the town. The yatris were then greeted by a group of students from the Edat Capuchin Church at Kunhimangalam. Around 9.30 am, the NSS Unit of Payyanur College welcomed Sri M and the padayatra. He planted a sapling on the campus, which was followed by an interaction with the students in the auditorium. The auditorium was packed with more than 500 people present.From this point onwards, Sri M and the walkers were accompanied by vadyamelam (a group of musicians playing various percussion and wind instruments) right up to the halting point in Payyanur.  For a while, people holding ceremonial umbrellas also accompanied them in a procession. The padayatris were accorded a reception at the Edat Mahavishnu Temple by a group of about 30 people at around 10.30 am.  They passed through another beautiful small village, Narikode, surrounded by the Kuppam River on three sides. This stretch has one of the most delicate ecosystems of the country—marked by the Mangrove Trail of Malabar. This is a coastal jungle trail and tidal creeks and waterways mark the breathtaking landscape. The flora and fauna is inhabited by a variety of fish, shrimps, crabs and also varied varieties of rare birds. With a unique ecosystem of two high tides and two low tides each day, this terrain is tough to negotiate and conserve. The local community has been employed in the Mangrove Trail and has been roped in as guides and oarsmen who also oversee the conservation of the mangroves. Around 20 people greeted Sri M and the yatris at Perumba. This was followed by another reception at the Mukunda Hospital Junction, by around 40 people.  Two groups of school children greeted the padayatra – the first batch, numbering around a hundred,from the BEPLP School, Payyanur held at Central Bazaar and the second by about 30 students from St. Mary’s Girls’ School at BKM Junction. The walkers arrived at Ayodhya Auditorium, Payyanur by 12.20 pm, their halting point for the day.  This was also their place of stay with both men and women provided accommodation in halls and rooms. The distance covered was 16 kms, and due to the frequent stops, they did not feel any stress even though the sun was scorching in the later hours of the morning. After lunch, the yatris rested for a while.  Sri M interacted with the local community at 4.00 pm for a short time, following which they all walked 2 kms to Gandhi Park—the venue for the evening program. The evening started with a mellifluous musical program – nadalayam. After waiting for the evening prayers from a nearby mosque to be completed, Sri M’s address started at 6.15 pm. He commenced his talk with the initial prayer -
Om, Sarvebhavantusukhinaḥ Sarvesantunirāmayāḥ Sarvebhadrāṇipaśyantu Mākashchitduḥkhabhāgbhavet Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ
May 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
“I will not speak much on the Padayatra as my plan for the evening is a spiritual Satsang but still I will mention a few basic facts about the idea behind the padayatra. We started the padayatra at Kanyakumari, which is a sangamam, a confluence of three rivers. Kanyakumari is also the Zero Point because India's land ends there. Zero is ‘shunya’ in Vedantic terminology. The reason why we are not often able to do good things is because of our ego (ahamkara). I told my Sahayatris that from Zero Point to Srinagar, we would think that we are zero and not anything big. It also means there are so many more things to learn. Though zero is valueless, put it to the right side of a digit, andthe value becomes bigger and bigger.” “The padayatra involves a spiritual journey as well; where each of us must look inwards, find out what to change, and how to improve oneself. Shankaracharya and Mahatma Gandhi, who also undertook similar padayatras, must have thought of this. Only if the internal journey is successfully undertaken, can one become capable of undertaking change in the world. Otherwise, neither your neighbours, nor the world at large can be improved. So the effort must be to change yourself for the better. Look inwards–ask yourself the question, ‘Am I self-centered? Should I change? Know this, only if I change, can I reform others.” “Beliefs may be different, religions too. But basically, we are all human and therefore, one. We have people from all over India and abroad walking with us but while walking we are all one. Faith is private and individual.  The belief that we are all human and the thought that what must hurt others will hurt us as well is the basic belief of our Yatra.” “I am also sure that we can very well live without violence and hurting others. Bhagavad Gita has got 18 chapters, out of which the first is termed Arjuna Vishada Yoga. I think that we are all at the same juncture where Arjuna found himself in Chapter One. Don’t you think that others are also facing a similar plight?” “The Bhagavad Gita says ‘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’.  Arjuna also wanted to know whether Nirakara (without form) or Sakara Brahman (with form) is greater.” Sri M then narrated a story when Guru Nanak, on a pilgrimage, visited Mecca.  One day, while resting, a traveler told him that it was improper for him to rest with his feet towards Mecca.  Guru Nanak gently asked him to show him where ‘Mecca was NOT’.  Sri M said that God is everywhere and it is for us to discover and experience this truth. He then quoted from the Bible, “Lay Treasures in your heart where thieves do not break in or steal.” And also,  “Blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God”. “Jesus Christ was a ‘Aniketa Parivrajaka’ and the only Niketa (dwelling) he had was his ‘shudhahridaya’ (pure heart).” Sri M then narrated another story about Mohammad Nabi, who was leaving to offer prayers on Ramadan day. The place was a little far away from a small mosque and he was getting late. It is usual for followers of Islam to buy good clothes for children on this auspicious occasion. On the way to the mosque, Mohammad Nabi found an orphan child in tattered clothes. He asked the child if he had any new clothes for the occasion. When he came to know of his plight, he took the child with him, bought new clothes, had them stitched for him and made the child happy. All the while, his followers were reminding him that he was getting late for the prayer. Mohammad Nabi told his followers that what he did for the child itself is the greatest prayer possible and, even if his prayer gets a little late, it is not of greater importance than this act of his. “I am mentioning these stories just to tell you that this idea is prevalent in all religions. But we very often forget the same. Can’t we live remembering these noble ideals?   I see many scenes as I walk which I have missed when I drove from place to place. I visited several houses belonging to fisher-folk. They were warm and insistent that they cook for us. Their only concern was if I would be ready to live with them. I told them, Veda Vyasa’s mother was a fisher woman.” “During the Padayatra, we get many opportunities to experience, empathise and solve many problems. I think we are more 'down to earth' as we walk.”  He said he was warned that walking throughMallappuram would be dangerous but he encountered only the local community’s hospitality in plenty. “When I first went to Dubai to give discourse on Gita, I had similar warnings. I have gone there for 12 years and nothing untoward has happened”. Sri M then recounted the incident in Malappuram where an old Muslim lady had asked them the reason for their walk. When thereasons were explained in detail, she said there were no differences inreligion or anything else. The only difference was in man and woman. This he said, was a message he cannot forget. “We will leave tomorrow from Payyanur. I would like you all to reflect on what we discussed today. I would like everybody to go for a walk in the morning regularly as it is an excellent way for keep oneself fit. Most people seem to forget this excellent form of exercise as we all are using motor-vehicles like never before.” He continued, “Assume that we have planted a sapling. Help to nurture and make it grow. I have come earlier to Payyanur and I will come againafter my Padayatra. I would like to see the sapling grow into a fully grown tree.” “There have been many padayatras, including those undertaken by Shankaracharya, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda,Vinoda Bhave, etc. I am sure that once we complete the Padayatra, both the physical and the internal, good things will happen, Man will improve and India will progress and prosper.” Sri M concluded his talk thus, “All this can be achieved without anyone changing their faith or belief system. I would like this message to go from India because it was from here that, 2000 years ago, the Rig Veda declared: 'Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahuda Vadanti.’ meaning the ‘Truth is One, the Wise call it by many names’.” He then called upon stage three padayatris to relate their Walk of Hope experience. The evening session concluded by 7.30 pm with the chanting of OM thrice and a few minutes of meditation.  Sri M and the yatris walked back to Ayodhya Auditorium, where they had dinner and retired by 9.30 p.m.

4 Comments

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  1. Thank you !!! For another well written journal!!!

  2. Dirk Gysels says:

    Very inspiring like always?! Will the yatra also visit Amritapuram, Mata Amritanandamayi’s ashram?

  3. Sreeranjini Sreenivasa Shenoi says:

    Excellent narration. WE FEEL as if we are with Guruji ,walking in the hot sun. I make it a point to walk in the hot sun in my premises, talking to the villagers abov ‘woh’

  4. Sreeranjini Sreenivasa Shenoi says:

    Talking to villagers about Walk of Hope

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