The walkers, refreshed after a restful two days at Bhagamandala, left for their destination point – Kottur Shri Gopalakrishna Temple. A cup of hot steaming Kodagu coffee set the tone for the day. The morning chill was very much in the air with mist shrouding the nearby hills when they left Kashi Math. As the sun moved up the eastern sky, the mist vanished and the whole panorama of Mother Nature stood unveiled – wide open lush green fields, patches of coffee plantations and woods in between, narrow twisted strips of tree lined roads! The refreshing forest air and a clouded sky with its colorful hues completed the picture.
The padayatris walked on the Talacauvery – Madikeri road with nary a vehicle, adding to the contemplative ambiance.The region of Kodagu or Coorg as it is more popularly called, is known for its coffee plantations and ethnic warrior people. Kodavu was the native name of Kodagu. The Kodavas were the earliest agriculturists in Kodagu. Being a warrior community, they always carried arms and had their own chieftains. The Haleri dynasty ruled Kodagu between 1600 and 1835, followed by the British from 1834—after the Coorg War until India’s independence. It was a separate state till 1956 and was then merged with the Mysore State, now Karnataka. The Kodavas have a unique culture and the language spoken here is ‘Kodava’. The Kodavas revere ancestors, arms and worship a number of deities, besides the River Kaveri, some of them being Igguthappa, Bhagwathi, Muthappa, Mahadeva, Bhadrakali, Subramani and Ayyappa. The influence of the British living in these lands is also quite evident. The British changed the agricultural pattern to the current coffee plantations in the region. Spices like pepper and cardamom have been part of the traditional crops grown here in the estates.
After about an hour of walking, the padayatris stopped at a memorial of two army officers from the region – Major M Chinnappa and Major Vinod Muthanna, who were felled by insurgent bullets in Kashmir. Sri M spent a few moments in silence at the memorial. Many brave men from the Indian army have been from Kodagu, including Field Marshal K M Cariappa, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. The walkers stopped for a water break in an area with ruins of an ancient Bhagawathy temple adjacent to it. The stone - worshipped at one time, a silent witness to the bygone days of worship, with no written history. Another village they walked through was Chettimmani where they saw a temple and a mosque facing one another, on either side of the road.
Walking on, the yatris were served breakfast on the roadside. There is a catering van traveling with the walkers in this part of Karnataka and the walkers are being served simple but hot food at a spot where the group can relax and eat their meal. They reached Aruna Upper Primary and Junior Pre University College at Kolagadalu—the halting point for the day. Sri M and the procession were greeted by a group of about 150 children and school staff. Sri interacted with the students briefly as annual examinations are in progress. Soon after, the school children dispersed and walkers were assigned their places of rest. Women were put up in home-stays and men were put up in a large hall in the school itself. In all, the stay is comfortable today. After an early lunch at noon, the walkers retired for rest. They walked a total of 17 kms today.
At 5.00 pm, after a cup of coffee, the yatris walked towards the venue for today’s Satsang, Shri Gopala Krishna Temple, Cherambane. It is believed that this is the oldest temple in the district, dating back to 1500 AD, and was built during the Gangaraja dynasty. Two majestic bronze coins belonging to this era were unearthed during the renovation. The temple has recently been renovated and Shri Gopala Krishna is the main deity here, facing the east. The temple, in its days, also acted as court for bestowing justice to troubled people. There’s a huge black rock (Pramaana Kallu) at the foot of the yard, believed to have powers such that accused people’s innocence could be proved while the accused or the culprits couldn’t stand anywhere near it!
Sri M started his address by thanking the temple authorities, the co-ordinators and the hosts for today. He added he would speak in English, adding that in Kerala he spoke in Malayalam everywhere and he knew that in this place (Kodagu), everyone knew English very well. “Since we are in Gopala Krishna temple, I will speak on spiritual matters as much is already written on Walk of Hope - in the newspapers, website, on the flyers. Manav Ekta Mission is about the oneness of all humanity, for we are born, we eat what comes out of the earth and we finally go to the earth. Though all religions are not the same - there are different faiths, different ideologies - whatever be the differences, we can live together. This country should be the one which gives this message to the world because this is the place that is the root of such a thought.”
“Since we are in the temple premises, I am going to talk about spiritual matters. Let me start from a small story. Listen to it merely as a story. There are many stories, which have a great impact on your spiritual evolution. The Bhagwatam consists of so many stories that speak of things that have been promulgated in very difficult terms in the Brahmasutras, for instance.”
“Remember that Veda Vyasa divided the Vedas into Rig, Yajur, Sama and Athrava Veda. Before that it was one body and not even written down. It was what Rishis, or seers, received in higher states of consciousness. Vyasa was the one who compiled it, which is why he is called Vyasa. Vyasa actually means compiler. Thus Veda Vyasa is the compiler of Vedas. The story is, after having divided the Vedas, including the most important Brahmasutras, which starts with 'Let us start with the study of Brahman',
Veda Vyasa found that he was not fully satisfied.”
“So, the story goes that Narada came to see him. Narada is supposed to have said, why after all this do you look unhappy? Vyasa said, ‘My brain has worked so hard, I have done everything, something is missing in the heart.’ Narada is supposed to have advised him, write the Bhagawatam - stories of the Lord, from the starting till the end. So, this became the background story of the genesis of the Bhagawatam.
“The Bhagwatam begins with, ‘This is the study of the Ultimate Truth’. Even though we think these are stories, the essence is the Ultimate Truth. How do we teach children? We teach them through stories. While listening to stories, you have two choices; either to listen to it as a story or to absorb it in such a way that it brings about a change in your mind. Thinking with your critical mind, you cannot say that this happened and this did not happen because the mind is very limited. The brain is quite limited.”
“In the days of yore, there was a boy who lived with his mother. They were very poor. The mother wanted to educate the boy in a Gurukul, located far away, with the route passing through a deep forest. The Guru there accepted the little boy as his student. The first day, the mother took the boy to school & walked back with him. After this, the boy had to walk alone through the fearsome forest. The boy cried and conveyed his fears to his mother, about having to walk through the fierce forest on his own. The mother consoled him and asked him to call upon Gopala, a little boy who lived in the forest, to accompany him every day. The little boy, Gopala Krishna, was dark-complexioned and used to play on the flute. “Call him and he will protect you”, she said. So, the boy, walking through the forest, called Krishna every day.
Gopala came with his flute, walked and played with him, and they soon became friends. As days passed in this fashion, the teacher’s birthday was fast approaching. The boy was sure that his classmates, who were very wealthy, would offer rich gifts to the teacher and he had nothing to give because he was poor. Finally, the mother and son decided they would offer milk to the Guru as their tribute. The day soon dawned and the boy took the milk in a vessel. As he walked, troubled with doubt, Gopala appeared and asked him why he looked so worried. The boy told him about his gift that, he felt, was not good enough for his teacher. Krishna drank some of the milk and asked him to proceed; consoling him that everything would be fine. When the boy reached the school, his classmates made fun of him and his offering of milk. The teacher asked all the children to drink the milk and give the boy back his vessel. They started pouring the milk into containers and, lo and behold, the milk remained unfinished even as they kept pouring. The Guru was amused at first and thought it to be a prank. He repeatedly questioned the boy and his replies remained consistent, saying it was because of Gopala. The Guru, disbelievingly, asked to be taken to this Gopala Krishna. The boy willingly took his teacher and the other children to the deep forest and called out to Krishna to appear.
Krishna did not appear even after repeated calls. The heartbroken boy, in tears, finally cried out, “Oh Gopala, Oh Krishna, where are you? Why are you not coming? These people do not believe you are my friend”. A voice was heard from within the forest. It said, “These people have no faith. Even if I appear, they will not be able to see me.” “Why is it that only the little boy saw? Why is it that the learned teacher did not see? Why is it that the mother who told the story did not see? The reason is that the boy was experiencing something that was beyond ordinary thought. It is the same that the Vedanta speaks of when it says, 'The eyes cannot see it, the ears cannot hear it, even the mind cannot reach it'. The mind here is the ordinary mind, the mind that is not trained, the unprepared mind. The boy was operating beyond our limited intellect.”
“See, our intelligence is quite limited. We think that it is extraordinary. We think what our brain formulates is the highest. Let us look at this. What are the senses through which we know the world? Eyes - we can see only in the daylight, bats can see in the night too; nose - the smell, which of course the dog has better sense of smell than us; ears to hear - we can only listen up to a certain frequency, the dog can listen to a dog whistle, we can't; taste - which is so relative, you can give the tastiest food to a jaundiced man and he will not be able to enjoy it.”
“These are not only limited, sometimes they are also quite misleading. Eyes - they say that seeing is believing, I say that seeing is not believing. Why? Take the example of the 'sunrise' and 'sunset'. Every morning we say that the sun rises and every evening the sun sets. A high school child will tell you that it is not so. The sun does not rise nor set, it is the earth that spins. Can you believe your senses? It is the same with all the sense organs, they are often misleading and sometimes wrong outright. When we say we are intelligent, the data, the source, comes from only these five senses. The rational framework comes only from these senses and is thus very limited.”
“Is there something else? Do human beings have another sense of perception? The Rishis have said, yes, there is indeed another sense. That, when activated, can see beyond the ordinary, see that which the brain cannot even formulate. It is unlimited. That hidden instrument of perception, is opening of the heart, it is the opening of the eye. When we say opening of the third eye, people think it is a real eye somewhere. It is a symbol, an image. Third eye means, additional power of perception. It means, the power of seeing through knowledge - 'jnana drishti' (the eye of knowledge).”
“It has to do with feelings, with love. It is beyond ordinary logic. When you love somebody, you give, you do not expect anything from that person, you want only to give. Where there is no give and take, logic does not work. Normally, people give only when you can receive. Even normal love is like this. There are two people in love ready to jump in the well, what is that, what is that overpowering feeling? Logically, they should not be doing it, why are they ready to do it? There is a powerful force apart from ordinary thinking. That is called the third eye.”
"When ordinary love becomes greater, becomes mature, it becomes Bhakti (devotion). One loves the Lord and does not want anything. Normally, what happens when we go to pray? It is quite okay, it is fine - please give me a promotion, please see my son is okay, please see my daughter is okay. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, who else is there to complain to? True Bhakti is when the Bhakta says, I want to experience you, I want the divine and nothing else. This is not easy."
“Now, that can happen only when that which is beyond your sensory organs begins to function. The simplest extra sensory perception is feeling. Feeling - you don't rationalise anything, you just feel. When the mother looks after the child, does she expect anything in return? It is built-in, but it is built-in all animals - even the monkey looks after it's own child. If you evolve, you look after another’s child too. Otherwise, there is no big deal. We humans, you know how we are.”
“So, this Para-Bhakti is when you are asking for the Lord and nothing else. The strange thing is, if you find the Lord, you have found everything else. Nobody thinks about that.
“I'll tell you another story. I think we learn better from stories. I wanted to learn the history of Romans and Gauls, for the longest time. I read history books but found out little, then I read Asterix and I got it!” “After the Kurukshetra war, Yudhisthira was crowned the King of Hastinapura. Krishna wanted to go back to Dwarka. He bade farewell to each one there and to each elder in the Palace. When he was bidding farewell to the matriarch, Queen Kunti, her prayer to Krishna was, ‘Let all the world’s sufferings and calamities come to me; let me suffer as that is when you will appear before us, giving us your darshan’.”
“This, everybody cannot do. Please do not even try it. We should know where we stand and ask for only what little we can handle. The real bhakta is one who says that it does not matter what happens, I want to see the Lord. When the Lord starts shaking the rug from under our feet, we will shiver. Some people think they are great Sadhaks, they think others have not reached the depths they have; in reality, they are like everybody else. Only a few people can be bhaktas.”
“In the heart - the core of our consciousness - there resides the Lord in the minute form. To reach there, there should be an inordinate desire to reach there. This comes when one sees the impermanence of life. We think we live for a long time, but our lives are really very short. For us, we think it is a long life and we think a great deal about it. There is something anchored which is the ‘antaryami’. If I can do it, you can do it. You do not have to run away anywhere.”
Sri M concluded with a technique: “So, the first step to live in this tumultuous existence is to calm the mind. It is the nature of the mind to move, you know how the mind is. The mind has to be occupied by something. There are two options - there is ‘japa’ and there is the watching of breath. In Kriya, we watch the breath. Link the mind to the breath, so that it is not thinking of a hundred things but of the breath. You can freely learn this.”
“Everyday, if you practice for 10 to 15 minutes, it will make a difference in you. Close your eyes and watch the breath. There are many ways to do this. When we breathe in, we chant the sound of 'Hum', when we breathe out, we chant the sound of 'So'. 'Hum' means ‘I’, 'So' means 'that'. It is like saying 'tat tvam asi' - I am that. This can bring about a calm mind. You have to practice for some time. When the mind is quiet, visualise lighting a lamp in your heart, sit quietly and enjoy.”
The session ended with Sri M and the gathering chanting OM thrice followed by a short meditation. After Satsang, the yatris were transported back to the school for dinner. They retired to bed around 9.30 pm.