The walkers were transported at 5.30 am in a bus from the Good Shepherd Church to the Neelakanta Shiva Temple, Nileshwar. The Walk started promptly at 6.00 am. The route to Kanhangad was circuitous, taking a narrow path of 17 kms instead of a 6 km walk on a busy highway and other roads including one passing through a crowded city.
The town was still waking up and there were very few people on the streets. One hour into the walk, a family greeted Sri M, andjoined the procession subsequently. The yatris walked on accompanied by a southern wind throwing up a chill now and then. Around 7.15 am, the walkers reached Good Shepherd Church again which was their place of rest the previous night. A Mass was in progress and they proceeded to the canteen. After a cup of tea, Sri M addressed the gathering of hundred people, where he introduced the objectives of Walk of Hope, stressing on the essential oneness of all humanity despite the different religions of Man. He went on to add that all religions speak of love and compassion towards another. He said that all Men have the Supreme Spirit within themselves, and quoting from St. Paul, he said: “Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” He concluded his address by requesting the gathering to pray for Walk Of Hope.
From here, the walkers proceeded to Swami Nithyananda Ashram. The Ashram is located in Hosdurg Taluk of Kanhangad District. This was the abode of the Avadhoot Nithyananda in his younger days, when he constructed the 43 holy caves carving a single laterite stone, adjacent to the Hosdurg fort. Breakfast was served after which Sri M addressed the gathering.
Swami Nithyananda, was one of the greatest yogis of modern times and was a 'janma siddha'—one born with the full realization of his own divine nature. He was an Avadhoot possessing incredible yogic powers and was a silent Yogi, who communicated through eloquent silence. He taught no one through words, did not preach or give lectures. Sri M, in his address spoke about his experience with Swami Nithyananda when he was a boy of twelve.
“When I was twelve years of age, my father’s older cousin, visited our house. He remained unmarried due to a funny incident, which happened during his intended wedding ceremony. Some of his ‘would-be bride’s friends’ threw a banana peel at him in jest, which so enraged him that he came off in a huff saying that if things are as bad as this before marriage, after marriage it could possibly be sheer hell, for all one knows! He never agreed to getting married again. A school teacher based in Punalur, he was a voracious reader, quite erudite and progressive in his beliefs. It was he who first mentioned Kundalini to me. He was a master of Kalari, and was delighted to know that I too had started my training at the C V N Kalari. During one of his visits, he told me that he would take me somewhere and asked me not to tell anyone at home about the destination. We decided to tell my father that we were going to his house in Punalur for Kalari training. My father readily agreed.
After six days of travelling in trains and buses, we reached Ganeshpuri in Maharashtra. Our destination was Nithyananda Avadhuta’s ashram. We got his darshan at 4.00 pm in the evening. The Swami was heavily built, dark skinned and resting in an easy chair while we all stood in a queue to meet him. I got scared of him, by his looks and was getting worried. He spoke something to everyone. As I went near him, he hit me hard on my cheek, so hard that I fell down and started crying. He asked me to get out as well. I wept bitterly and complained to my uncle that I wanted to go home quickly. He took me to Punalur first so that nobody got suspicious. After 3 or 4 days I was taken back home, while deciding never to follow my uncle anywhere again. As you may know, by the age of 19, I had left home, and eventually ended up at Babaji’s lotus feet after many adventures. After a year with him, he told me that I should practice a particular pranayama so that the Ida Nadi, which was closed, would open up. After 3 months of practice, he said that it had opened up completely. Out of curiosity, I asked about my Pingala Nadi. It was then he said to my great surprise that it had already opened at the age of twelve, through that whack by Nithyananda Avadhuta. This is how the greats are connected and how they work.”
Walking back into town, the walkers found it bustling with life. Kanhangad is a big town,a municipality and its primary source of income are agriculture and fishing. The coastal town has numerous lush green farmlands. The produce is primarily sent to bigger cities like Kannur. Many markets and warehouses were visible as the group walked through the town. The famous Goud Saraswat Brahmin temple is situated here. Mahakavi P Kunhiraman Nair, one of the greatest poets of Kerala and also known as 'Soundarya Kavi', hailed from here.
The number of receptions increased as Sri M and the yatris reached the town area. As they entered, a group of about 60 students from Priyadarshani School of Nursing joined the Walk. Here, a troupe of almost eight traditional drummers, playing the Chendamelam, accompanied the walkers right up to the end. A group of 30 school children were the next to welcome Sri M and the procession; then, it was the turn of another team of 30 staff members from Deepa Nursing Home. Students of SRM Vidya Mandir, numbering around 60, received Sri M and the walkers subsequently, followed by another group of 40 school children from the SSR Upper Primary school, and then, finally, a group of about 20 doctors and nurses from the Sanjeevani Hospital. All this happened in quick succession in less than 2 hours, between 10.15 and 11.55 am.
The yatris reached Ananda Ashram (Abode of Bliss) on the outskirts of the town at 12 noon and were received by a group of about a hundred people here. After the reception, Sri M led the walkers to a hall full of ashram inmates. Sri M and a small group of walkers joined the ongoing 'Ram Naam' chanting for about half an hour.
Swami Ramdas (1884–1963) was an Indian saint, philosopher, philanthropist, and pilgrim. Giving up worldly possessions at a young age, he became a wandering monk. His story and his teachings have been presented in several different books and he has a spiritual following from all over the world. Born as Vittal Rao in Kanhangad, he encountered Sri RamanaMaharshi in 1922 and received his grace. As a result of this, he went into his first retreat, living for 21 days in solitude in a cave in Arunachala. Upon leaving this cave, he was filled with the realization that, “All was Rama, nothing but Rama”. Swami Ramdas and Mother Krishnabai, also called Papa Ramdas and Pujya Mataji, founded Ananda Ashram in 1931. The Ashram upholds Swami Ramdas’s ideals about universal love and service based on the divinity in all beings and creatures of the world.
Lunch was served soon after and the walkers were assigned their resting places. The fairly comfortable accommodation today was in three large dormitory halls—the men in two halls and the women assigned one hall.
They congregated again for the Satsang at 6.00 pm. Sri M began his address saying, “All friends, brothers and sisters. I will now speak in English because from the time we started, we have been talking in Malayalam. First of all, I don’t want to speak too much about the padayatra. There is so much material available. I would rather go into spiritual satsang as this Walk is a result of a spiritual experience.”
“The Walk comes from my heart. It is apt that we are sitting here in Ananda Ashram of Baba Ramdas. After Baba Ramdas, Mataji Krishna Bai led it. I am an unfortunate soul because I have not met either. Swami Satchidananda was here, and I have met him before. I was able to understand a little bit of what was conveyed here.”
“In the Mandir on the left side, one can see excerpts of Swami Ramdas’s work. All I am attempting to do is to walk among people and bring about the feeling of oneness. We are living in a situation today where there is violence all over the world. We are in such a state that people say now that violence is our normal way of life. So, this is the time when we should be on guard and remember that all human beings are basically good. Sometimes, it gets a little bit clouded and we forget this. It is our duty, especially of those who have had some kind of spiritual experience, to remove these doubts. Then, the aim of this padayatra is also fulfilled.”
“There are so many people living in this ashram peacefully. They are walking with us. Walking is not just on the outside; it is also on the inside - from hatred to love. If this inner journey does not take place, we will just be walking to Srinagar and come back. It will remain just a symbol.” “The essence is that, ultimately, if I do not change, I cannot change the world. If I change, I don't have to do a thing, people will change on their own. When people come into contact with you, they will change. It is possible to do so in the midst of all circumstances.”
“Look at Baba Ramdas, he wandered for 26 years. While wandering, he understood many things and,upon settling down, he brought them into expression. I have wandered for years with Babaji. The idea is that this is a yagna, a tapasya. We purify ourselves and then we pass it on to other people.” “From the point of view of the spiritual understanding, there is nobody other than us. In essential matter, nobody is different. This is the mission of ‘Manav Ekta’. This silence in the heart has to happen through the search for the Ultimate.”
“When one starts searching, there is a lot of churning. When you seriously begin, a churning takes place and it is possible that a lot of poison comes up. Shiva is waiting to take it all away so that we are saved.” “The whole of our life revolves around that. Every one of us is seeking that state and most don’t know about it. I have met hundreds of people, rich and poor, and not yet met one who does not have a problem. Let me tell you a story of a gentleman who later came to be known as Tapasviji Maharaj. He was the Maharaja of Patiala and wanted to expand its boundaries. He realized only conquering the neighbouring kingdoms could help do it. For this, he needed the permission and assistance of the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. Therefore, he went all the way to Delhi. The Emperor listened to him and was not sure if the King’s endeavor would result in his happiness increasing. He suggested that it could be done but he wanted to show him something and took him to the ramparts of Red Fort. From there, he pointed to a fakir who was sitting in tattered clothes under a tree with a blissful expression on his face. He asked the King of Patiala if the fakir or he, the Emperor, was happier. He also told him that if he still wanted to fight, he would extend all help to conquer the neighbouring states. The King of Patiala said that he would return after thinking about it, but he did not. He went to Rishikesh, met a guru and was not to be seen afterwards. In his absence, his younger brother became the King of Patiala. Years later, the current Maharaja had a desire to go to Badrinath and started off with his retinue. Since the journey was very difficult and fraught with dangers, his courtiers requested him to take the blessings of a Sanyasi. In a cave near Lakshman Jhula, the King went to the Sanyasi, and after addressing him as ‘Samrat’, offered pranams and sought his blessings. The Yogi blessed him uttering, ‘Tathastu’.
Hearing his voice, the King had a vague suspicion that it was his elder brother’s voice. As the Yogi opened his eyes, he was absolutely sure that it was his long-lost brother. He requested him to come back to Patiala telling him that he was ruling only because there was nobody to rule the kingdom. The Yogi, who later became famous as Tapasviji Maharaj, replied, ‘What did you address me as earlier?’ You addressed me as ‘ Emperor’. When I am already the Emperor of the universe, why should I come back and rule over a small kingdom?”Sri M then spoke about the ‘Kshetra’ (the dwelling place) being the body and the ‘Kshetragna’, the indwelling deity. He said, “The Supreme Being resides in every one of us.” He then quoted from the Bible, specifically from St. Paul, “For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”
Illustrating this, he narrated what Kabir Das said about the Musk Deer, “The musk deer emanates a beautiful fragrance during a certain season. Not knowing that it emanates from it’s own body, the deer searches all over, pushing its snout into shrubs and getting its snout tangled in thorny brushes wherein it starts to bleed; even then it does not stop looking for that elusive smell.”
“The greatest obstacle to realizing IT is the sense of possessing things. What can you possess anyway and how long can you possess something? 50 years, 60 years, 70 years, and today with medical help, 80 years, then what? You look at the history of any living being. One man was a pauper, he became rich. Then what? He died. One man was rich, he became poor, lived on the street. And then, what happened? He died.”
“This beautiful world that you see with your eyes,how long will it last? Is there something in us that is immortal?”
Quoting from the Isha Upanishad, he said:
[ All these, what is around us is only God. Renounce all that is unjust and enjoy all that is pure delight. Don’t covet/grab unjustly the wealth of any creature existing. ]
He continued, “Once this is found, then there is unending happiness inside. Once you have this, there is an irresistible urge to share it with others. I have become like a machine, every evening I have to speak. It can also be taught through silence.” Jocularly, he added that the organisers say, 'Not here'!”
“I am reminded of another story here. It is easier to express these truths through stories.” He went on to narrate an incident from Ramana Maharishi’s life when the much-learned Sri Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni met the sage for the first time. Ganapati Muni, though a scholar very well versed in all shastras and tantric practices, had not found ‘The Ultimate’. On his travels to Thiruvannamalai, he was told about a certain young ‘Brahmana’ Swami on the hill. He went to have his ‘darshan’ and immediately spoke about the various practices and the books he had studied while introducing himself. Ramana Maharishi’s response to this was the crisp, ‘Koncham chumma iranda’ (Could you be quiet and be still for a while?).
Maharishi sat with his eyes open – he was one who realised that there was no difference between inside and outside and everything is one.” “I will give you an example of total annihilation of the ego in a living being. This is about Swami Satchidananda. What was the medicine he used? He only used Ram Naam. He used nothing else. Of course, he had the great advantage of serving Mataji, that grace was there.”
“Babaji always told me that if you ever meet a holy man, bow down and take help. One day, I drummed up the courage to say to Swami Satchidananda that I had not taken 'Ram Naam' from Babaji and whether he will give it to me. He laughed and said, “You really want it? He said that I did’nt need it. He added further that he doesn’t give it, Papa Ramadas gives it. He then played a tape with the recording of Papa Ramdas chanting Ram Naam. Within half an hour, I was in bliss.
When I thought I had lost myself, he said, ‘Go’. “These are things not written in text books. There are still people like this living today. Lest you miss a teacher, bow down.” Sri M then recounted a Sufi story. A young man was interested in spirituality and pursued spiritual studies for a while.Then, he felt that he should pursue a material life. He worked hard, earned a lot of money, got married, had children and led a wealthy and prosperous life. Once his sons grew up, he suddenly felt the urge to start his spiritual pursuit again. He gave away all his wealth to his sons and moved to the desert where he built a small cottage and spent his time meditating and studying the scriptures. He had a cook and the cook would faithfully cook and serve all his meals. After seven years of studying, the man realized that what he was looking for could not be found in books and he needed a teacher/guide. So he went into the desert searching for a ‘Guru’. After a long search, he saw a holy looking man and asked him if he could be his Guru. The holy man said, “No, as I need to find my Guru and check with him. The problem is that I am unable to find my Guru and I have been looking for him for more than seven years.” The man said, please describe how your Guru looks so that I can help you in locating him. When the holy man described him, the man felt that it fit the description of his cook and took him to his house. The holy man was ecstatic that he had found his Guru and took his permission to teach. The Guru gave his permission and left the house. Sri M said the man needed seven years to even discover the fact that he needed a Guru.
Concluding his address, he said, “Nobody knows where a spiritual teacher comes from. There will be one distinctive feature; he will not consider you different from himself. No ego, no sense of agency. The agent is always the Supreme Being.”
Sri M led the chanting of the Ram Naam, which was followed by a short meditation.
Dinner was served at 7.30 pm and the padayatris retired for the night by 9.00 pm.