The walk left the Bishop’s Pastoral House at 7.45 am after breakfast since only eight kilometers had to be covered today. Before departure, Sri M was bid farewell by the resident nuns and monks from the Pastoral House. He posed for photographs with them before leaving.
Mandya, a town about 45 kilometers from Mysore, was the day’s destination point. It is the first city to introduce hydroelectric power in the state. It is called the Land of Sugar as well as the Land of Rice. The irrigation waters of two rivers – Kaveri and Hemavathi ensure that half of the district’s countryside is lush with various hues of green through the year. More than half the district receives assured water from Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) and Hemavathi reservoirs. Mandya is also the hotbed of Karnataka politics. It is a small city with sugar factories, jaggery making units, rice mills and good educational institutes. It is also culturally rich with folk art and temple jathras or fairs.
As they neared Mandya, the walkers could see small hamlets, from where people came and greeted Sri M and the padayatra. They were well informed about Sri M and Walk of Hope from the local newspapers and television. It was gratifying to see these unassuming people from such humble backgrounds, welcoming the padayatris with humility and serving hot milk and biscuits. Sri M greeted each one of them.
The place of stay today was Haripriya Hotel, which was right on the highway’s side, and they were assigned comfortable accommodation with attached bathrooms – three to a room. Lunch was served at 12.30 pm. There was a city walk of about 5 kilometers scheduled at 4.00 pm. The whole walk lasted about two hours and culminated at the venue of the evening program – Kalamandira (auditorium). The procession had a representation of major folk music and dances from this region of Karnataka:
Dollu Kunitha – a group dance named after the dollu (drums) used in its performance and performed by men of the Kuruba community. Each dancer wears a drum and plays different rhythms while dancing. The beat is directed by a leader with cymbals. Slow and fast catchy rhythms alternate and the group weave a varied pattern. Costumes are simple with the upper part of the body usually left bare while a black dhoti covers the lower body. The sacred marks of the vibhuti and the kumkum – white and red, decorate their foreheads.
Beesu Samsale and Kamsale Nrithya – This is again a dance performed by men, who are worshippers of Shiva connected to a tradition of worship of Male Mahadeshwara (Shiva). This is again performed by the Kuruba community, from which most of the dancers come from. The Kamsale is a cymbal in one hand and a bronze disc in the other, producing a rhythmic clang. It is performed to rhythmic, melodious music sung in praise of Lord Shiva and is part of a deeksha and is taught by a spiritual leader.
Veeragase - A dance from the Lingayat community. It involves vigorous energy-sapping dance movements based on Hindu mythology. These are mainly drawn from Veeragama – one of the 28 key Shaiva Agamas and convey stories from Kannada Veerashaiva puranas like Girija Kalyana, Prabhulinga Leela, Basava Purana and Chennabasaveshvara Charitre. The most popularly conveyed story is of the DakshaYagna when Veerabhadra cuts off Daksha’s head.
The procession, with pomp and splendour, slowly weaved its way through the main streets of Mandya lending a festive air to the whole town and attracting a lot of attention.The venue for today's public function and Satsang was the Kalamandira and there were about 400 people in attendance. The event started off with prayers and music recitation by members of the Bharat Scouts and Guides, Mandya Chapter. A list of dignitaries present on the stage were:
Sri Sri Sri NirmalanandanathaSwamiji, Head of Adichunchanagiri Math
Reverend Father Prakash, representing the Christian community
Sri Purushottamanandanath Swamiji,
Sri Chiranjeet Singh, IAS (retd)
Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh IPS (retd)
Sri AchutaRao IPS (retd)
Dr. Venkatramana, Neurosurgeon and Head of Neurosurgery, BGS Hospitals
Sri Amar Narayanji
Sri CMK Gowda
The dignitaries, in their address, welcomed Sri M and Walk of Hope and endorsed the Walk’s message ofoneness of humanity.
Sri M started his address with his prayer to the Universal Guru:
“Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vishnnuh Gururdevo Maheshvarah,
Gurureva 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);
Salutations to that Guru.
“Om, Sarvebhavantu sukinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maa kashchit 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“
“Dignitaries on the stage, I will speak in English. Sri Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji, Reverend Father Prakash, Sri Purushottamanandanath Swamiji, Sri Chiranjeevi Singh, Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh, Sri Achuta Rao, Dr. Venkataramana, Sri Amar Narayan ji and Sri CMK Gowda; first of all let me thank all of you, especially Swamiji for taking out his valuable time to come on this occasion. He said that he wanted to see me but I had to come to Mandya to meet him. Maheshwarnath Babaji said to me that if someone cannot come to you, go to their footstep and knock at their door. You have to go to people, not ask peopleto come to you.”
“For me, my life's desire, I have no ambition actually, is to share with others the spiritual experience I have. And that experience happens to be one of unity. This walk is not merely an external walk. Many people are walking. This walk, I keep reminding the core group who have been walking with us, is a walk of self-discovery. If the mind's quality has not improved after reaching Srinagar in 500 days, covering 6500 kms and walking in the sun everyday for 25 kilometers, I don't think it can be said the hope of the walk has been fruitful.”
“So with this unity in my heart, I greet you all. My Salaam and greetings to those who belong to other dharmas. Also, as the Sikhs say, Wahe Guru. Wahe Guru doesn’t mean the personal guru; it means the Supreme Being. So, with all these and the Shalom of the Jews, which also means peace, I greet everyone.”
“I want to tell you that I won't take much of your time for two reasons. Firstly, because much of the things,including the internal spiritual growth have been described by many of the dignitaries. I have very fewthings to say also because, after walking for 1200 kilometers, it is difficult to stand for a long time. I haveto admit that the body is 66 years old and even though the source of energy is not ordinary, the body hassome limitations. This is also one of the reasons why we are equal, we are born on this earth and finallywe descend into this earth.”
“The tombstone says RIP, Rest in Peace. Babaji used to say that it need not be‘Rest in Peace’; it can also mean ‘Rise, if Possible’. The idea is to tell you a few things and not carry on for a long time. The core group must have heard it many times. So the first one is…”
“There was a great saint named St. Francis of Assisi who used to wander with his disciples. Once while wandering, his disciples requested him to address them with a few words. He said he would do that later and they walked on. At the end of the day, when they rested at a place after a long walk, the disciples again reminded him about his talk. St. Francis replied –‘ My walk is my talk’.”
“The fact that we are walking, not only me, these people who have been walking with me, day in and day out, leaving their houses and families, leaving their air conditioners and cars, itself means something.” “This is not a new concept. 2000 years ago, the Vedas declared –‘Ekam Sat, Vipraah bahudaa vadanti’ meaning ‘There is only one truth but the wise men may call it by different names’. This should not just remain philosophy. It emerges, as Swamiji also mentioned, when the heart is clear, pure and kind; then compassion and kindness will automatically flow. It is to share this compassion, kindness and goodwill that we are walking together holding hands and spreading this message of peace.”
“Now, I will tell you a small story which was one of the favourites of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, a Sufi story.” “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 – ‘water’ in English, ‘aqua’ in Greek and ‘jala’ in Sanskrit, not knowing that they all wanted the same thing. Soon, there 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 object they all wanted badly.”
“Now, this desire for peace, harmony, love and affection comes from a divine source in itself, which Vyasa defined as 'Asti bhati priyam' –‘That, because of which, we get the quality of love’. In the higher sense, it is not different from Bhakti which is not different from Jnana either.”
“Therefore, one should understand that to quench the thirst, the source is one. But, we call it by different names, we search for it in different directions, we find it in the rivers and ponds and the lakes. So, this is the idea with which we are walking. This idea of love, affection and goodwill to others is an idea taught in all religions but is forgotten.”
“When a Muslim greets a Muslim, what does he say? 'Saalam-Aleikum’, ‘May the Lord's peace be upon you’. What do we do? In the ancient language, we say 'Om Shanti Shanti Shanti', which means the same thing. The Jews say 'Shalom', which means peace. But people of different faiths are always fighting each other. So how do we forget this message of oneness and get caught up in these matters ?
Walk of Hope is to make people aware that there is an essence which is the same and it can be approached in different ways. But unless and until we find peace within ourselves, we cannot find any peace outside.” “While we are walking to promote peace and harmony, we ourselves have to be peaceful and tranquil and, then alone, it is possible to bring peace to others. I want to go to the Bhagawat Gita now. This is one text, which I think everybody should read. It is one of the earliest scriptures that declare many paths lead to the same goal. Every chapter is Yoga - Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Sanyasa Yoga - except the first chapter which is the Arjuna Vishada Yoga—the yoga of Arjuna's sorrows and dissatisfactions. I think we are all in that situation, in that whirlpool of unhappiness.”
“Now, there are eighteen chapters in Gita. Each chapter is a description of Yoga, Vedanta, Brahma Vidya and so on.”
Samniyam Indriya graamam Sarvatra Sama
Buddhayaya Tey Prapnu-vanthi Maameva
Sarva Bhootha hiteh rathaha.
Those who have control over their senses, who
have equanimity in all situations, and who are engaged in the welfare of all the beings,
verily, they all come to Me.
“Please see that in all religions, in all great dharmas, this has been the core. Jains say, 'ahimsa paramo dharmaha'. Buddha talked about love and compassion.”
“Here, I want to tell you a story of Prophet Mohammad. Once he was sitting at a place and talking, when a cat came and slept on the side of his robe. It was time for prayer. Someone came and tried to shoo off the cat. The Prophet said that the cat is sleeping, it is not good to disturb any being who is asleep, because that is the only time when one is at peace, so get me a pair of scissors. So he cut his dress and let the cat sleep. What do you think of this?”
“As far as Christianity is concerned, I don't have to say anything. There is no one in the history of mankind who has said openly, 'Bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you and pray for them that spitefully use you'. It is not easy to practice this, I wonder how difficult it is to be a good Christian.”
“As far as the Sikh dharma is concerned, it is said that Guru Nanak was at one time appointed as a store keeper in one part of Punjab by the Nawab. He was supposed to measure grains and give it out. So he measured - one measure, two measures, three measures - when he came to thirteen, which is 'tera', he suddenly forgot that it was numbers he was counting because 'tera' also means yours. So he continued to give away rice and wheat saying 'tera, tera, tera'. Someone went and told the Nawab and when he came, Guru Nanak told the Nawab, ‘It does not belong to you, it belongs to everyone’. What do you think of this?”
“The essence of all these teachings is love, forgiveness, compassion and that all humans are one. This is the message of Manav Ekta Mission and, from a spiritual point of view, I am trying to translate it into action. From the lowest people - the lowest strata of the society, to the highest - it is a message for all.
We have passed through so many villages, the people from villages are interested in the message, and it is not just the city people. We saw some poor villagers today who came and gave us hot milk to drink. They did not know who I am. So, it gives us hope that this Walk of Hope with the blessings of all spiritual leaders and teachers and the blessings of people like you will have some impact. We seek the blessings and the co-operation of all the people for Walk of Hope. Anyone can join Walk of Hope at anytime, even if you walk for 10 minutes, we will consider it a contribution to Walk of Hope. Thank you very much!”
“Om Shanti ShantiShanti.”
Following the Satsang, the gathering dispersed; the padayatris walked back to the hotel and turned in for the night after dinner.