The start of the padayatra was 9.00 a.m. today as the day's itinerary stretched through the heart of the city, it was decided that they should provide enough time for people from all over Bangalore to congregate at Shankaraa Foundation and proceed to Ashirvad on St. Mark’s Road. Also, being a long weekend with Good Friday and Easter, the city would be more relaxed and would catch public attention only around this time.
Shankaraa bid farewell to Sri M and the walkers with a cup of coffee. The walk was through congested and loud traffic on busy, dusty city roads of Bangalore. The clouds did come up to provide respite to the walkers once a while. Volunteers had arranged for refreshments every few kilometers and they reached Ashirvad by 1.30 p.m. The Marwari Yuva Morcha had hosted one such pandal where the walkers were provided a short break. The walk touched many residential and commercial areas of Bangalore – J.P. Nagar, Jayanagar were the residential areas while K H Road, more popularly known as Double Road & Lalbagh areas were some of the commercial areas. Around 500 walkers were part of the padayatra today with some people joining and leaving in between.
Reaching Ashirvad at 1.30 p.m., which was the halting point for the day, the padayatris dispersed for the day. Many people gathered for an evening service organized at Ashirvad at 4.00 p.m. today with Father Ronnie Prabhu heading the prayer service for Walk of Hope. After this, Sri M and the walkers gathered at The Good Shepherd Auditorium for the evening program. The event today was ‘Isha Rumi – Beyond Form’. The same group had earlier performed at Trivandrum during the padayatra’s journey in January.
About 700 people gathered in the evening for the show. “Isha Rumi- Beyond Form” is a theatrical juxtaposition of the Ishavasya Upanishad and the Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi, sung in Dhrupad by Sunaad, an eclectic group of singers from Bengaluru, with music composed by Padmashri Gundecha Brothers.
Sunaad is an eclectic group of singers from Bangalore city composed of the school-going and retired, professional performers and hobbyists, home makers and working professionals, all of whom share a common passion – a love for Hindustani classical music. It has conceived and presented 7 shows since its inception in 2002, all in the Hindustani Classical Music style, interwoven with narrative in an effort to make classical music accessible to lay contemporary audiences of all ages. Tara Kini, a classical singer and educationist, leads Sunaad.
Dhrupad is the most ancient form of Hindustani classical music and it originates from the Samaveda. Since the essential nature of this music is spiritual, it lends itself very naturally to the deeply philosophical nature of the text. This synchronicity was taken still further by the musical metaphors devised by Padmashri Gundecha Brothers when they composed the music. The 18 shlokas from the Ishavasya Upanishad were sung in Sanskrit and set in 14 different ragas. A Shloka Narrator conveyed the meaning of the shlokas in English and engaged with the doubts and questions of the Sutradhar who is an avid listener trying to absorb the wisdom of the Upanishad. The evocative couplets from The Masnavi were set to 10 different ragas and were sung in Persian. Its captivating stories have been woven into the script as and when they echo the sentiments expressed in the shlokas, and are narrated by the Rumi storyteller. The interweaving of the Ishavasya Upanishad with Rumi’s Masnavi, and the expression of the resulting tapestry in Dhrupad is a confirmation of the universality of the basic truths that these three great works of art expound.
The show held everybody riveted to their seats in rapt attention. The simple, quiet, beautiful music and rhythmic movements of the show with the contemplative setting of the Isha Upanishad was beautifully woven with Rumi’s works to pass on the evocative message of the Supreme Truth.
Sri M then addressed the gathering and spoke thus -
“This Isha Rumi, which you have produced and which we saw today, I have seen it before. If you remember, I have seen it even before it was put out, it is a tremendous effort and it is not so easy to define that undefinable. So, the attempt has been, in our own way, to define, to come to terms, something that is more vast than the ocean. If you give me two minutes, I will tell you about Jalaluddin Rumi, he is also a part of this because you have used the Masnavi. Masnavi is in Persian and the Persian language is something very similar to Sanskrit. When Ms. Tara Kini came to me and discussed these matters and we picked out some verses from the Upanishads and the Masnavi, she said it fits into Dhupaad. It was then I realised that Masnavi, which I have been reading, also fits into it.”
“Now, the story is, this man Jalaluddin Rumi is so respected among the Sufis that he is called the Maulana, the master. He lived in Turkey, he came from somewhere else and settled down there. His full name was Jalaluddin Rumi. He was already a great scholar and an expert on Islamic prudence and knew the Quran by heart and all the Haddis and everything connected with this. This was how he was, a respected scholar working, respected by the kings and the Sultan.”
“What happened was that one day on a street he met a person who looked totally mad. His name was Shams-e Tabrizi, it means 'who came from Tabrizi'. So, when Jalaluddin Rumi, the great scholar set his eyes on Shams, who by all means was mad, he fell in love. He went mad and the result was that he threw all his books that he carried with him into the ocean and declared that from then on he was only a lover. When it (Masnavi) ended, the last verse was that - 'I am nobody, I am just a poor disciple of Sham-e Tabirizi'.”
“Shams-e Tabrizi, whose name itself was 'the son', burnt away all the acquired knowledge that he had and purified him in that fire and when he came back, he was completely different. He started this dance of the whirling dervishes. You can see this dance in Turkey, but this is now only a tourist attraction, for entertainment. Jalaluddin Rumi himself said that if after 200 years you see a Sufi system surviving, know that it is only the shell, the core is gone.”
“Whirling started like this, Shams-e Tabrizi told him at one point, that this whole world, this entire universe is always in motion, goes round and round. He used a word used here by Basaveshvara, the Kannada saint and social reformer, which was so far away from there; that the whole world was 'jangama' – movement, that which moves, in opposition to that which is still. This is what Ishavasya Upanishad says - Isha vasyam idam sarvam, yatkimcha jagatyam jagat. So, he said, that perhaps if we move - the mind is always in movement - if we move physically, perhaps we will reach the center which is absolutely still. Like the eye of the cyclone where there is no movement, it sucks up everything but there is no movement, it is the most powerful part of the cyclone. So, he tried to find that silence spot in the middle of cyclone in this 'jagatyam jagat'. But it did not come to him, he had a great friend who was a gold smith. So one day he went out and was passing the goldsmith who was with a hammer hitting a piece of gold to shape it.
He went 'thak' and Rumi who was outside the shop said 'thak' and turned. Then he did one more 'thak' and Rumi turned again. As he went 'thak, thak, thak', Rumi started spinning. The knockings were forgotten. In this whirl, something flew off and he was free - not physically, he was not dead - from the centre came something and he understood, perhaps, what It meant.”
“I think I will stop. Your attempt at bringing this out with the Rumi's whirl and Ishavasya Upanishads' yatkimcha jagatyam jagat,was the best one can do. What else can you do with mortal hands?”
After Sri M’s address, Tara Kini invited a few distinguished guests from the audience for a panel discussion with Sri M answering questions.
On Walk of Hope, the journey outside and inside:
“Not only as I said, that this Walk is a Walk from Kanyakumari to Srinagar - that itself is not easy, it is how we can stay together as a group and get on with the inner journey. In different circumstances, people react in different ways. Every night we live in a different place, like the ancient parivrajakas. Every day we meet different people. How this core group, which is walking from Kanyakumari and walking with me till Srinagar, how we react to happenings around us and how in spite of the differences, like the rainbow, we understand that it comes from the same white light. This is the inner journey for us. If you finish till Srinagar and come back and the inner journey does not take place, I think we would have done only half the journey. I suggest that as many people as possible get on to this. You need not necessarily walk with me, but at least have the idea about what the walk is about. I must tell Tara that you are a good inspiration for us. Sunaad has been great, it has impacted the minds of many people. To talk is something, to walk is another! I want to quote Rumi himself, Rumi was a great iconoclast. When people used to go to him, he realized that his tomb will be worshipped and people will not do as he did or as he said. So, when he was still alive, he said, 'why are you knocking your head on the tombstones, do what they did who are under the tomb and you will be celebrated for ever'. This understanding that we are all linked together, as the Ishavasya Upanishad says
kurvann eveha karmani jijivishec chatam samaah
evam tvayi numyatheto 'sti na karma lipyate nare
- you can work a hundred years and do your work if you know that you are doing nothing actually but are part of this whole movement and you will be free and not get caught up. This is the central theme for both Isha and Masnavi.”
A message for the children:
“I have only message, which I would like you to give to the children, which is let however much knowledge they acquire, let their minds remain like a child's and not change. When we grow and when we acquire, when we are in relationships, many times due to our bad experiences also, we become kind of narrow. The children are nothing like that. A childlike innocence in their minds, the feeling that they won't mind playing with another mind and they wont' look at the child's background unless we tell them. If you can maintain that, I think we would have done our work, the future is with these young people. This, I think, with our generation - it failed. Can we make them think about this? This would be my message.”
On the mind, religions and the modern age:
“The thing is that finally everything is in the mind, if it was not with the mind, how and why would religion prescribe certain things so that the mind becomes calm. So that is correct. We are only saying that when the mind becomes calm and quiet, it can be transcended, if one so wishes. That is all. But of course, the mind has to be purified. Now, what happens is that technology goes one way and you can invent, you can innovate but there are no morals to it. Can you imagine that today we have so many nuclear weapons, some monkey sitting there with buttons at his fingertips, one press of a button and the whole world goes up in smoke. So, technology should be aimed at bettering the lives of human beings. We have internet and I can send my good thoughts, that is fine. Not thoughts that create problems amongst people. This much is required - that we should be able to share with others. Now, I personally having gone into many religious concepts - deep down the idea is peace, goodness. Gita, for instance, says that the closest devotee as one who has the welfare of all living beings in his heart. Now you can easily turn this around and say, 'only me' or 'only my circle and not all', it is not like that. The ancient Vedic prayer, Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha - Let all be happy these are things that are usually overlooked. We, in this country, have a rich heritage where we welcomed all kinds of people from all places.
In ancient times, there were atheists who were known as Charvakas, even they were welcomed into the system. Some of the Charvakas were respected as Rishis. These things are very important. I think if we send out this message from this country, the world will sit up and listen. The message should be Loka samasta sukhina bhavantu – Let the entire universe be happy. As the Jains say, 'Ahimso parama dharmaha', there is no dharma higher than non-violence, not only physically but in thought, word and deed. So, I think if you concentrate on that, this problem can be there but we can hope. Never lose hope. This is my take.”
Following this, the padayatis dispersed and retired for the day.