The day of rest in Madikeri was put to good use by the padayatris: walking in a long procession through the streets of the sleepy town, they chose the opportunity to raise awareness about Manav Ekta and Walk of Hope. Not having to get up early, the extra hours lent a laidback air to the morning rituals everyone giving themselves a good care and indulging in an extra long shower. The weather can only be pleasant in a town like Madikeri—and the walkers soaked in the gentle sunshine, lost in their reveries.
After breakfast, the padayatris started congregating at the Holla Complex. At 10.30 am, they saw the Flag Off of ‘Walk of Hope, Kodagu’. The attendance by the local community was overwhelming and close to 500 people were part of the procession. Students from major educational institutions in Madikeri including Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kodagu Vidyalaya, Cauvery College, The Pre-University College, Lions Composite College, The Government School and General Thimmayya School joined the walkers. People from different religions participated holding banners and posters proclaiming the shunning of violence and oneness of humanity.
There was a festive air in the whole town with troupes of musicians and people in colorful costumes leading the procession. The whole town came to a standstill for an hour watching the colourful parade led by Sri M and some of the local dignitaries.
The procession winded through the narrow roads of Madikeri for an hour before it reached the venue for the morning public program—The Town Hall, Madikeri. Media persons from all major dailies and news channels from the region were present in full quorum to cover the event.
The event started with the dignitaries welcoming the Walk of Hope to the town and elaborating on its grand mission. Sri Shanta Mallikarjuna Swamiji from the Arameri Kalancheri Mutt, Virajpet, Sri K.C. Cariappa, Air Marshal (Retd.), PVSM, VM, Sri K.S. Devaiah, Chairman of Bharatiya VidyaB havan, Kodagu, Rev. Father Sudheer Anand, Shanti Church, Madikeri and Sri I. Muneer Ahmed, President of Madikeri Taluk Kannada Sahitya Parishat were the dignitaries who spoke at the event.
Sri M then addressed the gathering. He started with the collective prayer ‘Lokah Samasta Sukino Bhavantu’. He then greeted all the dignitaries and the people, thanking them for their attendance, recollecting his earlier visits and satsangs at Madikeri in the process. “I am reminded of a certain Capuchin monk who was walking with his disciples. After walking for a while, his disciples asked him, 'You have not given us a talk in a long while'. To this, the monk replied, ‘After some time.’ They walked quite a distance, he sat down and his disciples asked him, 'What about the talk you promised?'.The monk said, 'my walk is my talk'. I thought that I would say the same thing here but it is not the right thing to say it on this occasion, especially when I see so many children from school sitting here. This is the generation that is going to lead this world into the future. They must understand certain things.”
“They must understand the importance of matters, which persuaded me to take up this Walk. Please listen closely to this story. It is not about the Walk but rather the root cause for this Walk. But before this, I would say that we have been received with great love here in Kodagu and it gives me great hope. Please remember that united we stand and divided we fall. Everybody is waiting to see when we could be least united and if we were to fall, to see what a great fall it would be.”
Sri M then narrated the story from Rumi about the 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.
Quoting from the Rig Veda, “Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahuda Vadanti’, The Truth is One, the Wise call it by many names, Sri M continued, “It’s this spiritual experience in my heart that set me out on this journey and, fortunately, I have been able to study most major religions. Apart from the blessings of my master, I think, I have stepped on the hem of the garment of truth at least.”
“Why, in this short life, should we kill each other? If there are differences, we can have a dialogue. Avoid the violence. Do not let anybody persuade you to get into a violent mode. It is to make people understand this that I have ventured on this Walk.”
“With me, with this one mad man walking, there are many people walking. I sometimes think what is that faith that keeps them walking. I think it is the idea that we are all one that keeps us walking. And if others can notice this in some way in this Bharat, we can have a nice lake full of different flowers blooming. Each flower has its own beauty, each religion has it's own beauty, each idea has its own beauty. Let this be understood that each flower is beautiful in itself and yet connected to the other in some way. This is the only agenda that we have for Walk of Hope and none other. You may belong to different localities but you belong to the earth. In essence, this is a global Walk.”
“I will share some experiences we had on the Walk. When we were approaching the district of Mallappuram in Kerala, we were warned of impending danger and that we should have police security. But on the other hand, what we received was entirely different, a warm welcome on all fronts. There is another story which touched me. An old, illiterate Muslim lady watching the procession curiously, wanted to know why we were walking. When we explained that it was to spread the message of unity and oneness among humanity, her reply was, ‘There is no difference at all. We are all one… the only difference God has made is in Man and Woman’.”
“Once, we were exiting Kottayam and I forget the name of the place. We found that little far away, there were lights. There are many churches and in front of the first one, there were many people who came to welcome us. They were waiting with lit candles and garlands in their hands - men, women and even children. And about 10 feet away, there were three or four houses that had lamps placed in front of them and the wicks were burning bright. They took flowers and showered them on us. When we see all this, we feel that there is something intrinsically beautiful in all human beings. Right now, this thing is submerged but it is possible to bring it out in all human hearts. This is why a band of people who look crazy are walking.”
“I plead that you all keep this in your hearts and pray for us. This is all the support we ask for.”
“People ask us how we are doing it. We say we are doing it on faith. I remember an auto driver in Kerala coming to me and giving me a hundred rupees saying, ‘You are doing a good thing, here is my day’s earning for the cause.'. I asked him, 'Will you not join us?'. He said, 'No, I have to earn the day’s money but I will join you when you stop.' It is because of such gestures that we have faith that something may happen. What happens, we may only know after we reach Kashmir. I pray that all of you stand with us. Please join us in the morning and walk, if possible, for as long as possible. We would consider it as a great encouragement. Thank you very much.”
Following this, prizes for the district level essay contest were given away by Sri M. The next item on the agenda was an interactive music performance where Sri Akash Chopra, composer and singer of Walk of Hope anthem, 'Chal Chalen', sang along with many children, providing foot-tapping moments for the audience.
There were about 700 people present and they dispersed after the music performance. The padayatris returned to the lodge and rested after lunch. In the evening, they assembled at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, about 250 meters away, for the evening Satsang. Sri M commenced the Satsang by saying,“It has been two months since we started and everyday, I speak on Walk of Hope, so today I will not speak much on Walk of Hope as there is already much that has been said and written on it. We will have my favourite kind of Satsang, a spiritual one. Everyday, we speak on Manav Ekta, which of course comes from my spiritual experience but today we will have a spiritual Satsang. For the last twelve years, I have been coming every year to Madikeri, usually in the month of January, and speaking on spiritual matters.This too is another reason to speak on spiritual matters today.”
“Today, I am going to talk about OM. Today, the Satsangis to be brief, since walking takes a lot of energy, so does talking. But, there is going to be some essence in it. Talking about OM is also dear to my heart because this primeval sound vibrated before Shrishti itself. Now, OM can be taken in a philosophical discussion, in a practical application and as a sound. The normal interpretation of OM is that OM is divided into three syllables - 'A', 'U' and 'M'. Starts with 'A', goes to 'U' and ends with 'M'.” “Today, I am going to speak about another interpretation. Normally, the sound 'A' represents creation, 'U' represents preservation and 'M' represents destruction. When you say destruction, it means transformation. Imagine, if no one died since the time of creation - there would be the same faces all around. So, when something is defunct, something who’s time is over, it is the work of the Supreme Reality to transform it. This is the destructive aspect of Shiva or Rudra. Physically considered, this destruction is important; psychologically considered, this destruction is immensely important for anything creative to happen. Creative, in the sense, if you have to create something new, you have to sideline the old. Brahman is spoken of as something that is always new, not something that is old, it is something that is always moving. It is not something which can be put in a box. It is new everyday. It is not a dead thing.
Therefore, 'M' of the Rudra, is so important in bringing out the spiritual aspect. What would it be like if we never forgot? What if we never forget a thought that needs to be destroyed? Suppose you have slapped me twenty years ago, I will not let it go – I am always thinking about it… when will I slap him back? The thought would consume everything and the individual is always unhappy.”
“Here is a different interpretation. 'A' represents the waking state of consciousness, the 'jagrata' state. We experience the outside world, we form frameworks based on the data gathered from our five senses. 'U' represents what the Upanishads call the 'Tejasa' or the dream state; the dream state is also common to all of us, sometimes we have lovely dreams, sometimes we have nightmares. This dream state is called 'tejasa' because we dream with our eyes closed yet everything is lit inside, thus 'tejasa' - that which is lit. It is such an important part of our lives.”
“To quote a simple example, I dream that the tiger is chasing me. While I am dreaming, the tiger is very real. I am actually running for my life. What do I experience during that time? I experience that a tiger is actually running after me but before the tiger attacks, we wake up in a sweat.”
“Actually, life never stops. One thought now and the next one just after. The human being has the tendency to want to freeze everything. Photography is its current manifestation and note that this is not a fact. The fact is that it is moving. We love to freeze time, because rarely do we get good moments. So, when there are good moments, we want to freeze it. Before photography came, there were artists. Anyways, I was moving away from the subject. I have what they call attention-deficit syndrome, I think laterally. Nowadays, any child that does not study, they immediately say he or she has attention-deficit syndrome. When these people come to me, I say that I also have it. Anyways….”
“So the tiger is chasing you. When you wake up, what happens? There is no tiger. Some rishis said that this is so real and perhaps we will wake up and say, ‘Ah! What a dream!’. This dream is so significant that it shows you many things.”
“I want to tell you a story. One day, King Janaka had a vivid dream while he slept in the luxury of his palace bed. He dreamt that he was hungry and had to beg for his food. The dream was so real that he woke up with a start to realize that he was still in the palace and in his familiar surroundings. His confusion then was whether his life in the palace is real or his dream is real? He then invited the Rishis to help clear the confusion and Sage Vasistha told him that both were illusions. Neither was a reality and only He was ‘real’.”
“'M' is the last sound. It is the temporary end. When AUM is finished, it is the complete end for a duration. 'M' represents 'Shushupti' or deep sleep where there is not even a dream. In this state, there is no cognition of the outside world and there is no cognition of the dream world. There is just consciousness which you are not even aware of. In deep sleep, you do not even know who you are." “Problems start because I know that I am so and so and in the dream state we do not know who we are. Therefore we all require deep sleep and if we don't have it, we are not rested. If we do not have deep sleep, we take tablets, or we have spirits. The chemical forgetting is temporary and it damages your liver.
This state of deep sleep is also called swarga, or heaven, because there is ecstasy. It is common to all –to the labourer who carries the sacks and to one who drives a Mercedes.”
“Apparently, there is something that knows we had deep sleep. Because when we wake up, we say we had a good sleep. Consider the situation when in deep sleep, you are aware of what is happening. This state is called the Turiya state.”
“Unfortunately, one cannot enter Turiya through shushupti but Turiya is very close to shushupti. It is that which remains in all other states. It is there when you are awake. It is there when you are dreaming. It is there when you are in deep sleep and it is also there when none of these exist. It is the pure witness of all these states, watching everything.”
“The Upanishads say that this is your true essence. The Upanishads say that you are THAT which is beyond the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, the pure witness. When one realises this, then life is completely different. Why? Because it is that essence which is in the Supreme Being; it is the same essence in you and in every living being. This is what is to be found. When this is found then all are equal, not socially equal or financially equal but in essence.”
“Every living being is a ‘Kshetra’ or the dwelling house and the‘Kshetragna’ or indweller is the divine being. Every human or living thing is alive only due to this indwelling spirit’.” “We have to understand that 'IT’ is the individual behind the personality. Different personalities have different forms. The word 'mask' in Greek is called persona and the word personality comes from the word 'persona'. So, we all play different roles - father, mother, husband, wife. But, the person who plays the role is the true self.”
“We should understand that when we go into deep sleep, we are not the person, rather we are the individual that plays the roles, which is a spark of the divine, whose qualities are itself 'Sat-Chit-Ananda'. Understand this through the study of Upanishads.”
“Now, you may say that this is fine but is there any practical way to go about this? You may say that I will do this after retiring, what about now? The actual fact is that it is not something for the retired. It is something for the young. When you see someone go to a teacher in the Upanishads, you see him go with fuel in hand. Fuel here is not to light a fire. It means that he or she is young and still possesses enough fuel in him or her; IT is found when there is still enough energy left in us.”
“The Mandukya Upanishad says that, use the Brahman as the target, use OM as your arrow and fly straight to your target. This Om is the Pranava that can take you to the Supreme Being. The chanting of OM or PranavaSadhana is the easiest. When we do KriyaYoga, we have the chanting of OM. I am not going to keep this technique hidden; you don't have to sign a check for me in return for revealing this. What you do is you chant OM and hear the vibrations internally in silence. It is one of the important Sadhanas. We focus more on the last part of the 'AUM', the humming of 'M'.”
“Why is this so? It has a healing effect on the whole system. When you go into a hospital where people have pain, the most common sound you hear is a cry of pain, which ends in 'M'. There is an unconscious healing effect on the whole system. It destroys the old and the new arises. You have to practice it to find out if and how it works. Practice it five minutes every day. I am going to sit with you, chant OM three times and meditate for a few minutes.”
The entire audience then chanted OM three times with Sri M and meditated for a few minutes.
Following the Satsang, the walkers proceeded to the boarding house and retired after dinner.