The padayatra left Periyapatna at 6.00 am in the cover of darkness. A cup of coffee just before commencing the walk perked everyone up. Walking on the Mangalore – Mysore highway, the yatris set out on a 25.5 kms stretch for the destination of the day—Hunsur.
Passing through small hamlets like Mellahalli, Kiranalli, and Kampalapura with a general population of no more than one thousand each, the padayatris noticed that some of them have good infrastructure, thanks to the proximity to the state highway. Hunsur Taluk of Mysore district is known for its timber trade. There are many businesses here based on the timber industry. Hunsur Teak is known for its quality and durability. Positioned strategically on the crossroads of two major highways, Hunsur is a hub of activity—connecting Mysore and Bangalore to the Nagarahole National Park, Kodagu and Mangalore.
Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri D DevarajUrs, hailed from this place. The walk now is on the great plains of Mysore. There is a slight nip in the air in the morning but it is gone with the first rays of the sun. The days are hot and long. Walking in the hot sun for 5 to 6 hours is enervating and saps the walker’s strength. The landscape has changed quite dramatically now, there are fewer trees, no water bodies to be seen for miles and the road is long and straight with barely any turns; there is nothing but blistering tarmac till the eyes can see.
The walkers stopped for breakfast in a paddy field by the road. Part of the schedule, it is also a blessing that they stop every few kilometers to quench their thirst. The padayatra reached Hunsur by 1.30 pm and the men and women were put up in different lodges. The place of stay today was old and decrepit with the paint peeling off the walls. The walkers are glad to see that the official photographer of the walk, Saji Chunda, is back with the Walk. He was away to see his newborn son, Mahesh – now just about ten days old.
Retiring soon after lunch at 2.30 pm, the padayatris re-assembled at 4.30 pm at the Gandharva lodge and walked to the Rotary Club hall for the evening program. Sri M’s Satsang began after the congregation of local religious leaders spoke about their religion’s perspective about humanity and oneness.They welcomed Walk of Hope mission of spreading Manav Ekta. About 120 people, many of them locals, attended the Satsang.
Sri M commenced with his customary invocations:
“Om, Sarve bhavantu sukinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maakashchit dukha bhaagbhavet
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantihi
May all be prosperous and happy
May all be free from illness
May all see only the spiritually uplifting
May no one suffer in any way
Om Peace, Peace, Peace
Loka samasta sukhinoh bhavantu – May the entire universe be happy“
Sri M addressed the dignitaries on the dais and thanked them for their presence. He commenced his address thus:
“Unfortunately, I cannot speak in Kannada, but I can understand Kannada. Having understood all the discourses given just now, it was so beautiful and so nicely put by all the dignitaries on the stage. Each one touched a different point but all the points came together at the end, to the same meaning. I have asked Nayana Kashyap to translate what I speak; she has translated my autobiography to Kannada, so I think she will be able to do it.”
“First of all, I want to tell you a story. There was a great saint named St. Assisi who used to wander with his disciples. Once while wandering, his disciples said, 'Let us have a talk'. The saint said, ‘After I finish my walk, I will talk’. As the walk finished and they rested, his disciples asked him about the talk. He said, “My walk is my talk’. (Audience laughs). Now, I cannot say this because I have to speak.”
“Actually, true spiritual experience cannot be put into words. In Keno Upanishad, you will find these lines, ‘Yan manasaana manute, yenahur manomatam.Tadeva Brahma tvam viddhi, nedam yad idam upaasate’ meaning “That which cannot be comprehended by the mind, and (on the contrary) by which the mind comprehends, you realize that alone as Brahman, not this which people worship.”
“This walk started on 12th of January in Kanyakumari on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and is proceeding towards Kashmir, travelling more than 7000 kilometers. We have finished 1000 kilometers. It is an expression of my inner understanding.”
“I am not the type of person to wander about in the midst of the society. If you give me a chance, I will go into solitude, into the happy bliss that is felt in the heart. It is actually because of Babaji, that I am doing this walk. Once he asked me, 'What did you say when I asked you who you were to me?' I said, ‘I am your dog’. Babaji said, ‘If it is so, do as I say’.”
“I have the spiritual understanding that we are all one -different faiths, different religions, different ideologies, and different ways of expression. There can be disagreements between people. But we are all part of the one reality with a spark of the divine residing in every heart. The spark is full of bliss and happiness. It is the all pervading reality.”
“Every human being is a walking temple, church or mosque. Inside every human being sits the divine spark like this. We forget this sometimes. This walk is only to remind us that basically we are all human beings and we can live together without the violence and the troubles that we create among ourselves.” “This is not a new thing. More than two thousand years ago, the Rig Veda said, ‘Ekam Sat, Viprah bahuda vadanti’ translated as ‘The truth is one, the wise call it by many names’. The desire for peace and harmony, for love and affection does not belong to any particular religion. Religions are different. I am not saying that all religions are the same. Every religion, in its essence, says that we have descended from divinity and we will go back to divinity. Therefore, we as human beings can live together as one. This is the message of this padayatra.”
“Also, this external padayatra should be accompanied by an inner padayatra where, while we walk in the outside world, we also walk in the inside world. This is a yagna, a tapasya. We should learn from the heart, so that when we reach Srinagar, we should be able to purify our minds. If the inner yatra does not happen, the outer yatra remains only a half.”
“Now, I will tell you two or three stories.”
Sri M then narrated the story about four 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. A passer-by, with eyesight, enquired into the reason for their fight and concluded thus after listening to their story, ‘All of you are right but also wrong in the absolute sense as each one of you has defined only one aspect’.
“How do we move on this padayatra - walking in the hot sun like mad men? It is all based on faith. Kabir's song says - 'Moko kahan dhunde re bandhe, mei to tere paas mein' translated as “Where are you looking for me, oh friend, I am right next to you”. This can be found only in faith. It is only faith that is making us move. We are walking like parivrajakas.”
The second story he narrated was from Prophet Mohammad Nabi’s life. “Once Mohammad Nabi had to get away from Medina with only Omar as company, to escape from being persecuted. They were fleeing and the fear of death hung over them. They travelled through the desert and came to a cave that they entered for rest and prayer. A little later, Omar who was used to warfare, said that a group of twenty horsemen were in pursuit and that the two of them had no chance against them. To Omar’s surprise, Mohammed Nabi told Omar to trust in him since they were actually three!. As they hid in the cave, the horsemen came right in front of the cave, stopped and turned right around and went back! Mohammed Nabi then said to Omar, “I told you not to worry”. As they went to the entrance of the cave, they saw that large desert spiders had woven a web right across the cave mouth giving an impression that the cave had been unoccupied for long. “The third one who I said was accompanying us” said Mohammed Nabi, “was Allah”—God or whatever names you would like to call him.”
“Jesus, who was a great parivrajaka himself, said 'blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God'. He also said 'lay treasures in your heart that thieves cannot break in and steal'. It is this treasure that is the source of happiness and bliss.”
“Now, I want to conclude with a quotation from Bhagawat Gita. Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, ‘Who do you consider to be your greatest devotee?’
Te prapnuvanti mam eva
With all the sense organis withdrawn
Being equally disposed to everyone
Engaged in the welfare of all beings, reach me
“One who has the welfare of all human beings in his heart… This is from the twelfth chapter of Gita - Bhakti Yoga.”
“Last, I must thank the people of Hunsur for welcoming us here. I think the seeds of peace and harmony must be sown in small places. The seeds of peace, we hope, will be nurtured and grow into beautiful trees.”
Following the Satsang, the padayatris walked back to the lodge, where they had dinner and retired for the night.