The padayatris, after their morning coffee, left Maddur Tiffany’s at 6.00 am. The highway was still in the cover of darkness. The destination for the day, Mallur, is situated on the outskirts of Channapatna town. The walk proceeded along the Mysore Bangalore highway with no deviations and no let up in terms of the busy traffic. The early morning, as is customary in these areas, is cool and pleasant. The sun at this time is at its most benign. The padayatra thus leaves Mandya district on this day and enters Ramanagara, the 4th of the ten districts being covered in Karnataka.
Today again, there were a few unscheduled stops with the local community offering milk, buttermilk and fruit at regular intervals on the comparatively short walk of 16.2 kilometers. These offerings started just 45 minutes after the walk started. Sri M was hosted for a short while at a local community person’s house located on the highway. The walkers had their breakfast here. Around 9.30 a.m, when Sri M and the yatris entered the village of Mathikere, a group of 60 people were awaiting their arrival with garlands and refreshments.
Walk of Hope passed through the small hamlets of Somanahalli, Rudrakshipura, Nidaghatta, Belakere and Mudagere before reaching Mallur. Walking on, at the entrance to Mallur, there was a large contingent of around 300 children waiting to greet Sri M and the walkers. They were led by a school band, which walked ahead of the procession to the halting point of the day – Lord Apprameyaswamy Temple of Channapatna, also the abode of Ambegalu Sri Krishna. The padayatris went to the temple and offered prayers. Soon after, they walked another hundred meters to their place of stay, a Mutt very close to the temple, and were assigned rooms and halls for their stay. The women were accommodated more comfortably with a maximum of 3 to a room with attached bathrooms while the men had to manage with basic accommodation.
Mallur, also known as Doddamallur, is famous due to the presence of this ancient temple. It is situated on the highway just 3 kilometers from Channapatna town on the banks of the river Kanva. This is again a very important Vaishnavite centre. The Temple houses Lord Apprameya (The Infinite), Lord Rama and Ambegalu Sri Krishna (Krishna depicted as a crawling infant with butter in one hand). Mythology says that Sri Rama visited this place and worshipped Lord Apprameya and hence this is also known as Sri Ramaprameya. Historical evidence cites that Sri Ramanujacharya worshipped the Lord when he visited this area on his pilgrimage and so did Purandaradasa. The latter was so moved and ecstatic at the sight of Ambegalu Krishna that he penned the famous kriti ‘Jagadoddharana Adisidilu Yashode’. There is a
structure to commemorate his visit and his works, called the Purandara Mantapa. The temple for Aprameya was built in the 11th century by Chola emperor, Rajendra Simha. The architecture of this temple is built in such a way, that in April and May, the sunrays at sunrise fall directly on the sanctum sanctorum. Brahmotsavam is held every year at the temple during these months.
Channapatna is also famous for its wooden toys. As they enter the town, the walkers see outlets with colourful wooden toys and many an artisan engaged in the making and painting of these toys.The venue of the evening program was the open quadrangle of the Ambegalu Krishna Temple. Bhajans were organized and they set the tone for Sri M’s Satsang.
Sri M’s address began thus with his customary invocations:
“Om, Sarvebhavantusukinah, Sarvesantuniraamayaah
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
Lokasamastasukhinohbhavantu – May the entire universe be happy“
“First of all, we are very happy to be here in Mallur, since I have passed through this place many times. Every time I see the Gopura, I used to ask myself,‘Should I go, should I not go’. Today, when we had breakfast, I was told - that gopuram you see, you are going to stay there today. I was shocked because many times I had thought of coming here and finally, I came without my knowledge. It is strange and amazing, many such things have happened in my life.”
“The Padayatra, it started from Kanyakumari on 12th of January, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. I heard that Swami Vivekananda also came and spent some time here, right next to the house where I am staying now - which is quite amazing. We started from Kanyakumari because it is a Sangama of three oceans - Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Also, Kanyakumari is the Zero Point, the land's end of India. So, we also started from zero - throwing all our egos out and walking with an empty mind so we can go to Srinagar and talk to people.”
“So, we have to walk nearly 7000 kilometers. We have covered roughly 1300 kilometers till here. Roughly, another 6000 kilometers to go. This is a padayatra, not a ratha-yatra; we are actually walking. Why is this a padayatra? Because all great beings, I am not comparing myself with any of them, who wanted to spread the message of love and affection have walked. Only when you walk, do you get in touch with ordinary people—the people that matter.”
“I will not speak on the padayatra now; I will speak on the roots and the origins of padayatra. Many years ago, my Guru, Sri Maheshwarnath, whom I used to call Babaji, told me on the banks of River Ganga at Uttarkashi, ‘Even if you meditate for thirteen hours in a day for thirteen long years, everything will come to a nought if you do not hear the cry of a hungry child in the neighbourhood.’ Anyone who moves towards the spiritual realm, towards God, finds that the heart becomes more kind, loving and affectionate towards everyone. You must be wondering, since we are here, the root of this affection comes from experience.
This Walk is a manifestation of my inner experience and this Walk has no other agenda.”
“The most spiritual thing is to realise that in the heart of every human being there dwells a small spark of the divine as the antar-yami (indweller). When you see that, you see all beings as temples of God, because of that Atman within, which emanates from the Supreme Being. We are all walking temples of God, so nobody can hurt a temple of God and we only have to give each other equal respect.”
“Many people are born into the Vaishnava Sampradaya, characterized by a mark on the forehead. It is actually a symbol that indicates you are a temple of the Lord and the Lord is sitting inside. These are the symbols that indicate that in the heart, in pure state, sits an emanation of the Supreme Being. It is to manifest That, that we have to love each other and understand each other.”
“There are different religions; there are different approaches to Truth. 3000 years ago the Vedas said, ‘Ekam Sat, Vipraah Bahuda Vadanti’ –‘There is one Truth, but the wise call it by many names’. You may call That, Allah, or you may call That, Sriman Narayana, it is all One. Therefore, as human beings, we are all one. There can be difference of opinions, discuss it, but there is no need to resort to violence.”
“We are here to spread this message, not only me, but there are many people from many parts of India. Some are responsible people in responsible positions, there are others who have switched off their business and come, there are some people who have left their wives and are walking, there are some who have left their husbands and are walking. Why are they walking in this hot sun instead of sitting in an air-conditioned room? Because, I think, they feel that together they can bring about some change in human beings.”
“Unfortunately, in Kali-Yuga, we live in violence, we think only of violence, is it possible to change? This is the Walk of Hope. It is a hope that something will happen. Will something happen? We can only say after we reach Srinagar in April of next year and come back.”
“I am sixty-six years old, so I decided that if I do not walk now, I would never be able to walk. When I finish the walk, I will be sixty-seven and a half. Maybe after the walk, I can retire and do my things. I don't say I will take sanyasa because I will have to take permission from my wife.”
“Now that we have spoken about the Walk, and we are in this temple - this temple is run by the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. It is generally believed that Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya was started by Ramanujacharya - this is not correct - it existed many years before that, although Ramanujacharya was the most well known Acharya of this Sampradaya. The 'Divya-Prabandam' was written much earlier. In fact, people including the Natha munis considered it to be the Tamil Vedas. It is written in Maniprabha, the old Tamil script. It is basically a book based on devotion, temples and deities.”
“There has been Ramanacharaya, then comes Ramanujacharya. Ramanujacharya wrote perfect dissertations on Vishista-Advaita philosophy. It is Advaita but with a little vishesha - a little different. It is Advaita in the sense that there is only one being, the Supreme Reality, but this philosophy refuses to believe that the Supreme Reality is without characteristics. This teaching is very similar to the teachings of the Sufis, who also believed in one God, but said that he has 'gunas' like kindness, love and affection. So this was the Vaishnava teaching.”
“Apart from that, from the early days, in those times of orthodoxy, Ramanujacharya, who is close to our heart, one of the reasons for our Walk, had a catholic outlook in that he welcomed everyone into his fold. Wherever he went, he built temples. From Perambadur, he went to Melkote, from Melkote he went to Srirangam. Where ever he went, he built temples. And when the temple was built, he said that all the people who built the temples should be given preference to enter the temple. This was in 1127, much before Gandhiji’s Vaikom Satyagraha. In those days, he said that no matter who, if he has contributed, must be given preference to see the Lord. This outlook is very close to our heart.”
“There is also a story related to one of his teachers teaching him a special mantra. The mantra was supposed to grant Vaikunta or moksha. When it was given to him, Ramuanujacharya was told that whoever chants this mantra would attain moksha and it should be given only to people who are qualified. Ramanujacharya said, ‘Suppose I give it to those who are not qualified, what will happen?’ His teacher said that if you give it to those who are not qualified, then they will attain Vaikunta but you will go to hell for a hundred lives.”
“So, he went outside and called people and told them, ‘I have something which, if you practice, will give you moksha.’ Whoever was interested took the mantra from him - not everybody, only those who were interested took the mantra from him. When it was reported to the teacher that this is what his favourite disciple was doing, the teacher asked Ramanujacharya, ‘Did you do this?’ He replied in the affirmative. The teacher said, ‘What about your going to hell?’ Ramanujacharya said ‘ I do not mind, as so many people will go to Vaikunta’.”
“See this heart. This heart is filled with kindness and compassion because it has understood the meaning of Sriman Narayana—the teaching that a human soul, which is the atman, is part of the Supreme Narayana, but also different because it is limited. It can merge in Vaikunta but it will not be the Supreme Being. This is how Visishta-Advaita is different from the Advaita philosophy.”
“This large heart is something we all need to cultivate - to progress spiritually and also to bring people together in India. If people come together and say we are one, it will be based on this understanding that there is only one Supreme Reality and we are all small parts of it.”
“If the parts are the same, are we the same? No! Water, maybe it is water in the pond, maybe water in the river. If you keep it in a glass on a table, you cannot run a ship on it. You can run a ship only in the ocean. This is the difference between Ishvara and Jiva. They are the same but different - qualitatively same but quantitatively different.”
“So, this is what we are also trying to do in some way. Let me tell you a story now. But, before that, listen to what Gita says.” “Why is it that Bhakti Yoga was introduced only in 12th Chapter? The first one is called Arjuna-Vishada-Yoga because it represents all of us. We are suffering in one way or the other, we are confused, we cannot decide, there is dissatisfaction. This represents all human beings. Till the 9th Chapter, everything is going okay, Arjuna is listening, Krishna is speaking. Krishna is a sarathi–Arjuna’s charioteer, and they are good friends apart from being brothers in law.”
“Then, suddenly, in the 10th Chapter, Krishna does a quantum jump. He says that, ‘Among the Munis, I am Kapila, among the mountains I am Meru and among the Vedas, I am Samaveda’. Arjuna was wondering, ‘This Krishna is a good friend; he is my charioteer and so on. What is this shift, why is he changing like this?’ This is the beginning of the breaking up of Arjuna’s rational mind. There is no reason, he cannot find any reason to explain this.”
“This is when he begins to understand the concept ofYato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha…. that which the ordinary mind cannot understand. Till then, he is in anordinary relationship with Krishna. Their old relationship is gone. There is a churning happening in the 10th Chapter. Then, in the 11th Chapter, finally after Vishwa Rupa darshana, all of Arjuna’s logic is shattered. Everything is over. Now he can only say:
tvamadi-devah purusah puranas
tvam asya visvasya param nidhaanam
vettasi vedyam ca param ca dhama
tvaya tatam visvamananta-rupa
You are the Primal God, the Primordial Purusha.
You are the Knower and what is to be known, the
Supreme abode; all this universe is pervaded by
You with Your endless forms.
“He cannot say anything more, he is completely speechless because he finds that this man who was my charioteer and my good friend who was till now talking to me in intimate terms has become Apprameya, Narayana—that which cannot be measured.”
“The Upanishads declare it as ‘Yadvachaa nabhyuditam yena vaag abhyudyate. Tadeva Brahma tvam viddhi nedam yadidam upaasate’ that which the words cannot describe, that which the eyes cannot see but because of which the eyes can see, that which the ears cannot hear but because of which the ears have the capacity to hear.
Suddenly, Arjuna discovered this. This is why Bhakti Yoga is in Chapter 12, till then you cannot introduce bhakti. People think it is easy, like singing some bhajans. Only when the ego is shattered, does surrender happen.Then only Bhakti begins. We have to wait till then.”
“I am referring to the 12th chapter because it is the root and essence of why we are doing this padayatra. Arjuna asks Krishna (12th Chapter is one of the few chapters in Gita that start with 'Arjuna-vacha' meaning 'Arjuna says), what is the qualification of a great bhakta, who do you consider to be the nearest to you, who do you consider to be a great yogi, please give me the qualifications for this. Krishna gives three qualifications, which are so important for all of us:
“Those who have control over their senses, who have equanimity in all situations, and who are engaged in the welfare of all the beings is a true bhakta. This is also the message of this Padayatra.”
“Now I will tell the last story because I have spoken too much and we have to start at 6.00 a.m tomorrow. It is better to sit facing the temple quietly; I have to also put some oil on my legs and allow them to become normal. I will tell you a story which has some connection with Srirangam.” “Malik Kafur attacked and destroyed so many temples. He attacked Srirangam too. The priest managed to keep them at bay for three days. There was nobody to help them. Meanwhile, they covered up Ranganatha so they could not see the main idol. But when they finally plundered, they took away many ornaments, jewellery and other things. There was one small utsava moorti of Ranganatha, which they took along with them. The main Ranganatha idol was buried under a Neem tree, safe.”
“When they reached Delhi, the utsava moorti was kept in a treasure room. Malik Kafur’s daughter wanted something to play with. She liked the utsava moorti very much so she asked, ‘Give me this, I want to play with it, I like it very much’. So the Nawab said, ‘All right’. So she took him and kept him in the bedroom - feeding him, looking after, washing, putting him to sleep, playing with this Ranganatha moorti. Finally, she fell completely in love with the moorti.”
“Meanwhile, people from Srirangam disguised as a dance troupe went and performed in Delhi. Malik Kafur was pleased and asked them, ‘What do you want? I will give you many things.’ They said, ‘We don't want many things, please give us that Utsava Moorti. So Malik Kafur told them to take it and they took it.”
“The daughter found out that they had taken it while she was asleep. She was completely attached to it and couldn’t be free of it. Infact, in a dream, she became a consort of the moorti. So they went looking for the moorti. The daughter also followed them. These dance performers found the army following them. They ran off into the forest and hid themselves somewhere. This poor girl reached the Ranganatha temple and, at the gate of the temple, she realized that the moorti is not there too. So she died in front of the temple – at the steps.”
“Meanwhile, after many years it was found. But, that is a different story. Continuing with the story of the girl who died, the priest of Ranganatha temple had a dream. Ranganatha said to the priest in the dream that the girl is one of my consorts, so build a temple for her. So, they built a temple for her. If you go to Srirangam, you will see a temple for the consort of Sriman Narayana, who is called Thulukka Naachiyaar.
And in this century, we are talking about communal harmony!” “I wanted to tell you this story because we are sitting in front of a temple run by the Vaishnavites. When there is love and affection, there are no barriers. Even the Lord accepted a consort. This is something I wanted to tell you before we wound up this Satsang. So, thank you very much.”
Om Namo Narayanaya, Om NamoVasudevaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi,
Hari Om, Tat Sat.”
Following the Satsang, the padayatis retired after dinner.