On this day, the padayatris proceeded on the Mangalore—Madikeri—Mysore highway, aka Highway #88 towards their destination point—Kushalnagar. Leaving Hoskote at the usual time of 6.00 am, while there was a nip in the air, the bleary-eyed walkers chased the sleep away with a cup of coffee. Soon, after they left on their day’s journey, the sun glowed a gentle golden yellow in the pleasant early hours, very soon to get scorching as the day progresses. Traffic on the highway was not heavy and they walked by many a plantation and woods on the way. The tree cover still persists but noticeably less dense than the previous days.
The walkers reached Palm Era Resorts, their camp the previous night, which served also as their breakfast point on this day. A customary stop for water or juice every 5 kms or so marked the walk. With more of plantations and forests, they did not encounter too many villages and towns today. It is definitely different from Kerala when receptions and greetings were sometimes as frequent as every half hour. The Walk thus proceeded in silence today—quite a welcome proposition.
Walking through a couple of small villages, they were greeted by students of the Aishwarya Pre-University College, Kushalnagar as they entered the town. Soon after this, there were about 200 college students lining the street welcoming Sri M and the walkers. Sri M visited Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Science College and addressed the students of the college briefly. Local media was present and they interacted with Sri M. They reached Radhakrishna Lodge at Kushalnagar—their place of stay. It was quite comfortable with all the walkers put up in the same building. The yatris had walked 23 kms today. Kushalnagar is a town on the banks of River Kaveri. Known as Fraserpet during the British rule, Kushalnagar has a twin town about 5 kms away—Bylakuppe. This has a settlement of theTibetan refugees who had fled Tibet during the Chinese aggression in the 1960s. Kushalnagar features Harangi and Chiklihole reservoirs and Kaveri Nisargadhama, popular tourist spots in the vicinity in addition to an Elephant Camp with whitewater river rafting.
After resting for a while, the yatris congregated again for tea and left for the banks of River Kaveri. An activity in line with the objectives of Walk of Hope, the padayatris involved in cleaning up of the banks and everybody did their bit with gusto for an hour. Having removed the plastic and other litter, the group headed towards Aiyappa Temple, Kushalnagar for a short refreshment break.
The yatris then walked to a hall, about 1.5 kms away for the evening Satsang. Sri M started the satsang with a prayer to The Guru
Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vishnnuh Gurur devo Maheshvarah,
Gurur eva Param Brahma Tasmai Shree-Gurave Namah
The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru
Deva is Maheswara (Shiva), The Guru is Verily the Para-
Brahman (Supreme Brahman); (Supreme Brahman); Salutations to that Guru
Also rendered was: Lokah Samastu Sukinoh Bhavantu – May the entire Universe be Happy.
Sri M commenced his talk thus: “Dignitaries and dear friends, I am not fluent in Kannada. I can speak in Malayalam but there are less number of people who understand the language. So, I will speak in English. About the Padayatra, there is so much information available. I have already talked about it and will not go into much detail except we have started from Kanyakumari and are proceeding towards Srinagar for one and a half years. Of the 6500 kms, we have completed a little over 1000 kms and this is for Manav Ekta – Oneness of Humanity. I will not speak about the Walk because this is to be a spiritual Satsang, where we will talk about the inner realm, the heart of the matter, which is the sole reason behind this padayatra.
First of all, all the knowledge that I have, whatever the experience I have, whatever I am is because of the experience of my Guru, Maheshwarnath Babaji, whose hands blessed me when I was 9 years old. If you have read my autobiography, you will know the whole story. Do you want me to go into the details?” He asked the audience and they replied in the positive.
“I will tell you this as a very simple story. When I was nine years old, as I was playing alone in the backyard of my house in Thiruvananthapuram, my eyes were drawn to the jackfruit tree, under which stood a tall man with matted hair, his bare body with just a kaupin to cover it. He gestured at me to approach him. I could not help but walk towards him. He placed his right hand on my head and asked in Deccani Urdu, my mother tongue, ‘Kuch yaad aaya?’. (Do you recollect anything?)” He continued ‘ Samay aane par sab theek hoga’. (When the time comes, everything will be fine). He gestured to me to return. I walked back and when I did turn around, there was nobody there. This incident changed my life. Even when I was young, I would think of the Himalayas whenever I saw the clouds. And at the age of 19, I ran away from home. I felt as if I was in a cage. It was a good golden cage, I know. But a cage is a cage. My favourite hobby is to let caged birds out when their owners are not looking. You have no idea how it is to be inside a cage. And then…..it is a long story, please read the book.”
“When I walk now, walking is not a problem for me. I have walked many years, many kilometers, uphill in the Himalayas, so walking is not a problem. But at that time, I was 19 or 20, maybe 21 and now, I am 66 years old and there is a difference in the body.”
“All that I have learnt is the essence of the Upanishads and the Bhagawat Gita. I will put them in simple words. All of us human beings, whether we are religious or not,whether we belong to this religion or that, we all have one thing in common—which is that we are all searching for happiness. Is there anybody not looking for happiness?”
“Even people who suffer, suffer because they think that there is happiness at the other end. People sometimes try to find happiness through pain. Sometimes, people sit with a peg of whiskey in the night, turn on the record player and listen to the sad songs of K L Saigal. What is that about? When somebody commits suicide, why does he or she commit suicide? Because he or she thinks they will be free of sorrow, pain. The want of relief from pain is in itself seeking happiness.”
“When a Yogi goes to the Himalayas and meditates in a cave, what does he seek? He seeks a happiness that is not temporary; he sees that the temporary happiness does not give any satisfaction. There is a happiness that is not temporary, that remains even after death. One thinks if I have two houses, I will be happy; if I have three cars, I will be happy; if I have a beautiful wife, I will be happy; if I have two children, I will be happy. These are normal desires which, if fulfilled, people think will give them happiness. Or there are statistics—if I have 10 lacs in the bank, I will be happy. When I have accomplished that, I begin to think that if I have 20 lacs in the bank, I will be happy. This goes on, there is no end. In the end, what happens? All the things that we wanted are there but we are not there! Tell me of one person who does not die? Then, it is rest in peace.”
“Rest in peace, RIP; Babaji used to say - Rise If Possible. So in this bleak scenario, what is one to do? There was a great saint in Benares who was a weaver by profession. His name was Kabir Das. He used to talk about the Kasturi Mriga to drive home this point. He said that we search for happiness outside us all the time while it is always within us. The musk deer emanates a beautiful fragrance during a certain season. Not knowing that this fragrance emanates from its own body, the deer searches all over, pushing its snout into shrubs and getting itself tangled in thorny brushes wherein it starts to bleed; even then, it does not stop looking for that elusive smell. This is the all-pervading Supreme Being, which the Upanishads refer to as:
‘Isha Vasyami dam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat,
tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridhah kasya svid dhanam’
‘Whatever is here is pervaded by the Supreme.
Surrendering to that Supreme, enjoy.
Do not covet anyone’s riches’
Also, the PurushaSukta describes it as
The Purusha (the Supreme Being) has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He has enveloped this world from all sides and has (even) transcended it by ten angulas or inches.
“Even though IT pervades the whole universe, it resides in us, it is the size of the thumb. In the heart of every living being, there resides a spark of the divine whose nature itself is happiness and bliss. It does not have to get happiness from anywhere. Its very nature is happiness, 'ananda'. Its nature is peace - which remains when there is nothing else.
And, everything else does get destroyed. It is the nature of awareness. The Yogis and the Rishis say that the happiness we seek is nowhere outside and is to be found within when we turn the mind inwards from its normal disposition towards the external.”
“We have been misguided that all this - our body and everything associated with it - is our true nature; which is here today and gone tomorrow. There is a spark of divine within and its very nature is happiness. When the Yogi or a Rishi discovers this happiness, he or she has nothing more to be achieved or attained from the outside.”
“What happens when there is nothing to be attained from the outside? When one is full from the inside? One wants to share it. Such a person's heart is –“Purnamadah, Purnamidam, Purnat Purnamudachyate, Purnasya Purnamadaya, Purnamevavsashishyate”.
From that poorna, this poorna has come. In such a state, the only thing possible for a Yogi is to give and not to take;to give without any expectation, out of pure love.”
“So, we believe that every human being has a right to THIS. There is no human being that does not deserve THIS. There is no bad or good here. Valmiki was a bad person before he became a Rama bhakta. Ravana was a Rakshasa and in his heart, he was a great bhakta of Shiva. When Ravana died, Valmiki Ramayana says he was a great warrior who died a brave death. His only problem was arrogance.”
“The only thing that stops us from finding THAT, the inner treasure - the part of the divine, is our ego and our arrogance. If we can get rid of that, then it is possible to find that treasure. You know how it is - I think I am so and so, everybody thinks I am a big man. From the point of Vedantic understanding, there is no high or low, therefore, everybody is part of the divine, part of the Brahman”.
“See, the thing is that we have to start with something. The mind is constantly moving. Do not expect to reach that treasure by running away into a cave because when we run away into the cave, we also take our minds. We cannot leave our minds behind. Wherever you go, your mind goes with you”.
“Also, if you go into a cave and meditate, how will you know if you are arrogant or angry? Will you be angry in the cave? Sometimes we get angry at the milestones because it changes slowly. It is in the world that we know ourselves. When somebody steps on our feet, then we know where we stand. Probably, we will fly into a rage. Sometimes, the Yogi who has gone to the Himalayas will get more angry on the lines of: ‘I have gone to the Himalayas, I am a Yogi, how dare he!’.”
“Let us not escape. Babaji sent me back. One day, he said, go back, your work is spiritual. He said, go back, have children, live a normal life, most people who come to you will be house-holders and you know nothing about being a house-holder.”
“I found out that one of the best ways to eliminate your ego is marriage, because you know and understand the problems of the other person. We might have a beautiful Satsanghere but, at home, the opinion maybe - why did you come so late! Here, in this situation, if your heart is not silent or tranquil, then it will be a disaster.” “Therefore, what I am trying to say is we have to try to find this inner peace and happiness. Please set apart some time from your daily life unless it cannot be done at all. So, how do we do it? Don't you work very hard to make money? Can’t we give ten to fifteen minutes to it? The grace of the Guru is always flowing. What I am saying is that the Sadhana that you do is to merely ready yourself. It is like keeping the window open in a house for the breeze, nobody knows when the breeze will come. When the breeze comes, if the window is closed, where is the chance for something to happen? Spiritual practice needs to be done every day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.”
“So, we have to find some practice. In ancient times, people were taught mantras, which hascontinued till now. If you are already doing something, some practice, by which you think the mind is calming down, keep doing it, the mind is not calmed overnight. If you have not calmed the mind, I will freely give you the instruction. You have to sign no cheque for it. You have to give a dakshina to me, and my dakshina is that you have to practice regularly.”
“I am going to describe a simple technique. We will chant OM and watch our breath. The breath is so important that, without it, we cannot live for even a minute. We do not even give a thought to breath because it is automatic. For a change, observe the breath. Observe the breath. Normally, when the mind goes to the outside world, it creates all kinds of mischief. So, we will have to find something inside. Occupy the mind by watching your breath, at the same time, doing this gets rids of worldly thoughts. See in your mind – the breath is going in, now it is going out. In our parampara, when we breathe in, we chant 'hum' and when it is exhaled, chant 'sa'. Afterwards, forget about 'hum-sa' and think there is a beautiful lit lamp in the middle of your heart and the light is spreading all over your body. Sit in this way quietly for a few minutes and do nothing. At the end, bow down and say 'Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah'.”
Taking a cue, the audience of around 200 people chanted OM thrice and meditated, thus concluding the evening Satsang. After the satsang, the yatris walked back to the lodge. Dinner was served by 9.00 pm and the yatris retired to bed around 10.00 pm. Their tiredness notwithstanding, they cogitated upon the words spoken by Sri M today, as they drifted off to sleep.