As the full moon glowed in a sky waiting for dawn, the padayatra left from the Golden Palace Auditorium, Chullikkara, at the scheduled time of 6.00 am. This was another red-letter day as they crossed over to Karnataka from Kerala, having completed two states of the slated eleven.
They walked on State Highway 56 the whole day and passed through many small villages. Each village was characterized by a few houses and shops, a bank or two, a customary town or community hall, a couple of educational institutions, a few commercial and trading buildings and a bus stand – a reflection that life in these places may be as uncomplicated as the simplicity of the structure of the hamlet itself!
The landscape is still green but there is a noticeable change with fewer coconut trees. It is also noticeable that the roads are no longer as well maintained since this is a border area with a status of an orphan, falling between two states! It is also interesting that the prosperity that they had seen in interior Kerala is not so evident in these regions – the houses, clothes and shopkeeper’s wares all pointed towards a lower economic order.
The yatris walked through Rajapuram, Kallar and Malakkallu. Sri M was greeted by a group of about 20 people about 2 kms from their starting point at Rajapuram. After about an hour of walking, they stopped by a roadside shop for a tea. Around 8.00 am, the walkers stopped at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Malakkallu where Sri M spent some time in prayer. This small village is a mining village and has a stone quarry, attracting a floating population of labour.
Around 9.00 am, they reached Kolichal and were received by a group of about 20 people there. Soon, they arrived at a satsangi’s house in the town, for breakfast. Kolichal, a small town is located very close to hill stations like Ranipuram and Maruthom, known for their bio-diversity. Kasaragod district, being a part of the Western Ghats, is dotted with such hill stations.
Walking on after breakfast, the padayatris reached Panathady, where they were greeted by a group of 20. The Chandragiri river flows through this place and has been traditionally considered the border between the Malayalam and the Tulu lands. Being a part of the Western Ghats, it is surrounded by forests and is also the land for three major tribal communities – Mayilan, Malavettuva and Kudiya. On the way, they visited St. Mary’s School where 300 school children were waiting to receive Sri M and the walkers.
Nearing the Karnataka border, they reached Balanthode, where Sri M and the walkers were greeted by around 120 school children, who joined the walk for some time. Soon, they reached Panathur, the borderland between Kasaragod, Kerala and Kodagu (Coorg), Karnataka. Dense forests surround the land with rich wild life including elephants and tigers.At Panathur, Sri M and the yatris stopped at St. Sebastian Church around 1.00 pm in the afternoon. This was their halting point.
Lunch was served soon after and they were then driven to their lodging house, a few people at a time, where they were put up in very comfortable rooms. Some even had air conditioning - a luxury! The lodge was about 4 kms away.
At 5.00 pm, the walkers re-assembled again at the church after a cup of coffee and set off to the city square, which was to be the venue of Satsang today. The Satsang, for the first time, happened in open space on a busy road in the middle of a market. There were about 200 people in attendance. An event where Walk of Hope was given a formal send-off from Kerala was also organised. Sri M thanked the organizers, volunteers and the people of Kerala for their support.
The satsang started at 6.15 pm, and Sri M started his address with the universal prayers –
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ
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
Followed by the invocation,‘Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu’ – ‘Let the whole world be prosperous and happy’.
Sri M greeted thus: “Namaskaram to all. Speakers who preceded me have spoken many things about me. Really, I am a normal person like you. Before we started, our people approached for assistance for our padayatra. Some obliged but some did not. But during the padayatra, we have had most touching moments when auto-drivers at two different places approached me and handed over their day’s collection saying that they know about the padayatra and it's relevance. Seeing all this, my conviction that all human hearts have love and compassion within is strengthened. These qualities disappear once in a while and one of the objectives of the padayatra is to remind people about it.”
“In this world and in our country, there are many religions, beliefs, ideologies and many ways of worship. There are also people who do not believe in God but the big question is whether we are all humans or not. Is it possible to move shoulder to shoulder and live together happily? The answer, right through our padayatra, has been an emphatic YES so far.”
“I feel that this message has to emanate from our country, which for more than thousand years have always welcomed foreigners asking them to come live with us and treat the country as their own. The Rig Veda, which is more than 2000 years old says ‘Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudaa Vadanti’ meaning ‘The Truth, is One. The wise call it by many names’. This great truth also gets forgotten sometimes when people behave and act like horses with blinders. The aim of our padayatra is also to change that. Our padayatra, which has covered more than 900 kms in Tamil Nadu and Kerala has proved that it is possible to walk together peacefully and there is no need for violence in our lives, despite all the outward differences we might have. I am sure once this realisation sets in deeply, India will regain our lost glory and once again become a destination where people from all over will come in search of knowledge, devotion and love.”
“This development and realisation should not be restricted for us Indians as our prayer, 'Loka Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu.' means ‘Let everyone, everywhere be happy’.” Narrating a Sufi story to reiterate the point of oneness in all religions, he said, “There were three people from three different countries traveling together and were thirsty, Each traveler tried to express their need saying it in their own language – ‘paani’ in Hindi, ‘âb’ in Persian and ‘nero’ in Latin. There soon started an argument, which resulted in a fight. A passerby, trying to gather the reason for their fight, soon understood what they wanted and took them to a water body!’ Here, the fight was over the “name” of the same object they all wanted badly.”
Sri M said, “At the end, once we have spiritual knowledge, we realise that what everyone seeks is the same thing though the name maybe different. I have experienced this. We keep talking about this and we don't need to change our beliefs. Let us remain different so far as belief, caste, rituals, etc. are concerned, like a pond which has lotus, lily and many other flowers blooming. The only prayer is that all flowers should be beautiful and in bloom.”
“Many people ask, what does Sri M mean. I say - M for Mumtaz Ali, M for Madhukarnath and M for Manushya. I would like it to be an acronym for Manushya as I realise that a small portion of the ever-present Almighty is in all of us and it's innate nature is eternal bliss. Due to accumulated impurities, this is not clear to many of us. “How do we remove this? Through ‘Daridra narayana seva’, as Gita describes that everybody has divinity present in them.”
“The body is the ‘Kshetra’, the temple or the dwelling house and ‘Kshetragna’, the indweller or the divine being residing within. According to Gita and my personal experience, we are all walking Kshetras. And once we realise this, we cannot even dream of hurting others and we will try to help others in sorrow. To this end, we started the padayatra from Kanyakumari, which is a sangam (confluence) of the three seas and also a zero point, which is India’s land end. I think in our life's journey, we should all start thinking that we are all zero, thinking that we do not know anything. If you think that you know it all, it is extremely difficult to progress.”
“I keep telling my sahayatris (co-travellers) that we have to undertake an inner journey along with our physical padayatra in which we examine our minds, understand our blemishes and work on them. This is the greater yatra. I want those who are unable to do a padayatra along with us to do the internal yatra; it is easy to undertake the inner yatra while walking as you will be constantly tested while you brave heat, combat periods with very little rest.”
“Please do walk if it is possible. What I mean is, even if you can’t, it is fine. I would be thankful if you all can join us, but not tomorrow as it is a very long walk.”
Sri M then said that his Guru, Sri Maheshwarnath Babaji had told him that he would walk one day from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, accompanied by many people. “I said, I would walk but alone, like he did”. He was reprimanded and told to just do what he was told. “I feel that God is willing our journey on as at times when we meet with difficulties on our way, some things just happen and our way is cleared. I leave tomorrow but I will return to all the places we have visited. My only message to you is to remember, whatever happens, to live like humans and not to resort to violence at any cost.” He concluded the satsang saying “Kindly do as per your scriptures and obtain the guidance of your religious leaders in this. This is all I have to tell you.”
After the evening satsang, the walkers walked towards the lodge. This was the time when they actually stepped into Kodagu district, Karnataka. The Manjanadukkam Puzha River separates Kerala and Karnataka and to cross over into Karnataka, one has to walk over a small bridge. Crossing over, they reached the lodge by 8.10 pm, after covering 23.9 kms through the day. Dinner was served soon after. The yatris retired late today at 10.00 pm.
When the heads hit the pillows, there was an excitement in the air about the next day. The padayatra is set to pass through the Brahmagiri range and the long walk crosses dark and dense forests.
The daily Satsang with Sri M at panathur, karnataka