The walkers gathered at Sarva Dharma Kendra, Kanakapura Road, where Sri M was staying for the past week. A formal traditional farewell was accorded at the Rama Temple with puja and prayers. There was a large gathering of people waiting to join the Walk.
Today the walk was from Sarva Dharma Kendra to Shankaraa Foundation. A grand show was being planned for the evening at the Foundation. Alumni and current students from Peepal Grove School, Satsang Rural School and staff members were present in plenty. Children and youth from communities associated with Ramanarpanam Trust and AVAS (Association for Voluntary Action and Service) were also present.
Over 700 people, led by Sri M, joined the walk at 7.00 am. The distance to be covered was 16 kilometers. The pace was hectic in the first phase with the walk proceeding fast leaving gaps between walkers who could not keep up. At 8.15 am, the walkers reached Suryodaya Kalyana Mantap, the breakfast point. There was also a media interaction with Sri M.
The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Siddaramaiah, was scheduled to meet the padayatra at Thalaghattapura, a semi-rural village on Kanakapura Road. The address by the CM was arranged at the Government Primary School here. Sri M and the walkers reached the venue by 10.45 am to be welcomed by a traditional vadyamela as well as folk musicians in the form of ‘DolluKunitha’.
Being the beginning of the Assembly session, the Chief Minister arrived at the venue only after 12 noon and the event was underway immediately with Sri Siddaramaiah addressing the audience briefly. The Chief Minister said that peace and harmony is imperative for the society and without them, progress or growth of any kind in the society means nothing. He added that Walk of Hope is an adventure and he is delighted to see Sri M lead the padayatra without any personal agenda. He congratulated Sri M on taking up the noble cause, which will definitely have a major positive impact on India and wished him and the padayatra all success. He also spoke about the enormity of the task taken up by Sri M and the people walking with him. He recalled the days when they went on a political padayatra from Bengaluru to Bellary - 320 kilometers, where many could not keep up, and the frequent stops required for foot massages! He ended his address saying that he would walk for a short distance with Sri M.
Sri M, in his brief address, thanked the Chief Minister for taking time off from his busy schedule to join the padayatra. Sri M said religion is one’s personal experience and it was important to live one’s life without harming anyone. He drew attention to the Rig veda where it says: “Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudaa Vadanti ” (There is only one truth, the Wise call it by many names) and the Bible where it says: “Lay treasures in your heart, for no thief can steal it.” He said that India is a splendid example to showcase communal harmony as we have, over the last two millennia, consistently welcomed all our visitors with open arms, helping them assimilate in our encompassing culture. ‘Manav Ekta’ is a concept of oneness to share with people all over the world. This is a completely Indian thought and this truth has not totally disappeared from our country. This wisdom can help us erase disparities arising from a misunderstanding of our diverse culture and religions, thus uniting the humanity of India through a spiritual approach.
Sri M then invited the CM to join the Walk and they set forth with the crowd following them. Sri Siddaramaiah accompanied Sri M for about 2 kms.Walking through Pattareddypalya and Saluhunnase and many suburban areas of Bangalore, Walk of Hope reached Shankaraa Foundation. The Shankaraa Foundation is a charitable trust to preserve traditional Indian art and forms and was founded by Rashme Hegde Gopi. Shankaraa, dotted with contemporary and timeless sculptures, is an open space that preserves, promotes and propagates art and craft in all its forms. Kanakapura Road is known for the number of ashrams and spiritual retreat centers in the vicinity. It also features the famous Roerich Estate which houses paintings and is now with the Government.
The padayatris dispersed at 1.30 pm and congregated again in the evening at the open grounds of Shankaraa Foundation. A movie screening was organized for the community members in the afternoon. There was a festive air about the whole venue with exhibition stalls of artisans’ work and children playing in the open grounds
An interactive session with residents from urban poor and rural communities across Bengaluru was held in the evening. This event was organised by AVAS (Association for Voluntary Action and Service) and the Ramanarpanam Trust.
Sri M’s evening Satsang was quite brief. He enumerated the objectives of The Walk of Hope and how it could be translated to meaningful action in our lives. He then said that he would tell them a couple of stories.
He began with the first story: In the days of yore, there was a boy who lived with his mother. They were very poor. The mother wanted to educate the boy in a Gurukul, located far away, with the route passing through a deep forest. The Guru there accepted the little boy as his student. The first day, the mother took the boy to school & walked back with him. After this, the boy had to walk alone through the fearsome forest. The boy cried and conveyed his fears to his mother, about having to walk through the fierce forest on his own. The mother consoled him and asked him to call upon Krishna, a little boy who lived in the forest, to accompany him every day. The little boy, Krishna, was dark-complexioned and used to play on the flute. “Call him and he will protect you”, she said. So, the boy, walking through the forest, called Krishna every day. Krishna came with his flute, walked and played with him, and they soon became friends. As days passed in this fashion, the teacher’s birthday was fast approaching. The boy was sure that his classmates, who were very wealthy, would offer rich gifts to the teacher and he had nothing to give because he was poor. Finally, the mother and son decided they would offer milk to the Guru as their tribute. The day soon dawned and the boy took the milk in a vessel. As he walked, troubled with doubt, Krishna appeared and asked him why he looked so worried. The boy told him about his gift that, he felt, was not good enough for his teacher. Krishna drank some of the milk and asked him to proceed; consoling him that everything would be fine. When the boy reached the school, his classmates made fun of him and his offering of milk. The teacher asked all the children to drink the milk and give the boy back his vessel. They started pouring the milk into containers and, lo and behold, the milk remained unfinished even as they kept pouring. The Guru was amused at first and thought it to be a prank. He repeatedly questioned the boy and his replies remained consistent, saying it was because of Krishna. The Guru, disbelievingly, asked to be taken to Krishna.The boy willingly took his teacher and the other children to the deep forest and called out to Krishna to appear. Krishna did not appear even after repeated calls. The heartbroken boy, in tears, finally cried out, “Krishna, where are you? Why are you not coming? These people do not believe you are my friend”. A voice was heard from within the forest. It said, “These people have no faith. Even if I appear, they will not be able to see me.”
The second story he narrated was Rumi’s story about the elephant and the four blind men who go about describing an elephant when they come across one. 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 completely ‘the whole’ completely, the elephant in its entirety.
This was followed by the dance program – Atmotsava - The Voice of Hope, directed by renowned dancer Smt. Rashme Hegde Gopi, The children and youth of the community participated in the program, which brought alive the objectives of the Walk of Hope through folk dances.
The gathering dispersed after an eventful day and retired for the night.