The walk today was one of the shortest, a mere 7 kilometers through the heart and happening parts of Bangalore city. Congregating at Ashirvad, the starting point of the walk, Sri M and the walkers started at 9.00 a.m. Passing through Vittal Mallya Road, Cubbon Park, State Central Library, K R Circle, Nripathunga Road where the RBI has its offices, Hudson Circle, K G Road and Race Course Road, the padayatris reached Freedom Park by 11.30 a.m.
Being a Sunday, most of the business areas was quiet and traffic was manageable. The walk had a ‘habba’ – festive atmosphere with a lot of traditional music and dance , with the dollu kunitha and kamsale dancers leading the walk with a lot of energy. Folk artistes in traditional costumes added colour to the atmosphere, attracting onlookers’ attention to the message of peace and harmony. A school band joined towards the end of the Walk and accompanied the walkers into Freedom Park.
The destination point was Freedom Park. Ironically, Freedom Park was formerly the city's central jail and was thrown open to the public in November 2008. The central prison was moved to a new location on the outskirts of Bangalore. When a state of emergency was proclaimed in India in 1975, several opposition leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani were arrested and jailed at this venue. It also hosted the India Against Corruption supported indefinite fast for governmental action in the enactment of the Lok Pal bill.
At Freedom Park, volunteers accorded Sri M a traditional warm welcome with flowers. A chanting session of Hindu prayers was organized. This was followed by a children’s choir and then prayers by the Ahmadiya community, bringing the inter-faith message of the walk to the fore.
The walk in Bangalore brought Sri M’s message about youth getting involved to reality with many young people actively taking part and reaching out to many of their peers. The hope of the land's future, the city youth's wholehearted participation in the walk was most welcome, to take forward the ideals of sustainability, education, peace and harmony along with personal transformation.Students from many college having heard of the Walk of Hope through media and word of mouth, voluntarily reached out to the organising team immediately after exams for volunteership. They came forward as individuals and contributed immensely for all the Walk days & events in Bangalore.
The many members of the student organization TILT (Tomorrows India Lies with Today (www.tiltindia.co.in) volunteered in various activities to support participants in the walk. This was highly appreciated ad their committed involvement ensured that walk moved ahead successfully.
AIESEC is the largest international organization of its kind, focused on student empowerment, promoting "Peace and fulfillment of humankind's potential". Its local branch officially partnered with the Walk Of Hope - Bangalore Team for the Youth Outreach efforts and actively supported Walk of Hope in spreading awareness among their members, online student portals, and sustained social media activities aimed at the youth, over the past few weeks.
The evening program was one that was looked forward to as the grand finale for the Bengaluru events. The gathering was large, much beyond expectations with over 2000 people gathering at Freedom Park. The open setting was a welcome one in the summer with the almost full moon adding the final touch to entire proceedings.
A Bharatanatyam dance recital by disciples of Guru Satyanarayan Raju started the evening followed by the regular videos screened to spread awareness of Walk of Hope and it’s progress so far. This was to be followed with ' A Celebration of Hope' - a music concert by Raghu Dixit presenting the poetry of Shishunala Sharief, the Kabir of Karnataka. Dignitaries those present included Sri Rajeev Chandrasekhar- an Independent MP in Rajya Sabha from Bangalore, Karnataka, Sudeep Sanjeev, popularly known as Kiccha Sudeep - film actor, director, producer, screenwriter, playback singer and his wife Priya Sudeep - a TV actor and an entrepreneur, along with Chandrashekhara Kambara - a prominent poet, playwright, folklorist, film director in Kannada language and the founder-vice-chancellor of the Kannada University in Hampi.
After each of the dignitaries spoke, Sri M addressed the audience briefly.
“My humble namaskaras to everyone here. I cannot speak in Kannada, sorry! First of all, I want to thank Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, our MP from Rajya Sabha and the brilliant way in which he put forth the aims of Walk of Hope and his personal beliefs which are very much part of our walk and just before me Sri. Chandrashekhara Kambara spoke. He is a Jnanapeeth awardee and has many more things associated with his name. I could understand all that he said, it was so simple and it was, really, something to do with my heart.”
“Many years ago when Basaveshwara started the movement, he said that we generally subside into what we call 'sthavara' - becoming stale, if the water becomes stale there are mosquitoes. He said instead of that, we have to be 'jangama', this does not mean a caste – this means that we have to move forward, change. What the Ishavasya Upanishad describes as 'Jagatyam jagat', this Jagat is because there is Jagatyam - always in motion. All our problems are because we fail to move, we get stuck to something and it becomes very stale. This is also the problem with many of our religions, we get stuck with the outer and generally forget the inner essence of it. So, thank you very much Sir for being here.”
“I have a request for both of you, that even if you walk with us for ten minutes, we will consider it wonderful. Anywhere in Karnataka.
“I was pleasantly surprised because I have not met or encountered this young man, Kiccha Sudeep, who is a superstar in Karnataka. I was amazed at his humility and his understanding of the core of what we are trying to do. I was not familiar with this person and when I met him and found out how his mind works, I begin to have more hope because if young people think this way, there is some hope.”
“All young people, please talk about this to others because there is no hope other than you. This is what also Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar said. I can tell you that my hair maybe greying but my mind is still quite young. So, let's walk together in this Walk of Hope. If we get together, no one can stop us because united we can stand and divided, definitely we will fall”.
“I am not going into philosophy at this time except the ancient three thousand year-old saying which comes from the Rig Veda, "Ekam Sat, viprah bahuda vadanti" - there is only one truth but the wise call it by different names. Understand this that we are all different. If you and I are not physically different, we cannot be identified, because everybody looks alike. But because we do not look alike, it does not mean we are not human beings. This is the message of Walk of Hope.”
“Let me take the opportunity, with all humility, to thank all the people who have walked with me from Kanyakumari to Karnataka right now for a thousand and four hundred kilometres, with all difficulties, the least of which are blisters on the feet and the heat of the sun and they will be with us for six thousand kilometres and reach Srinagar. Srinagar means the village or the land of Sri, the Supreme Being. I do not want to say anything, I would have gone on for a while, I am more eager to listen to the wonderful music of Shishunala Shareefa, that is going to be conducted here. I am looking forward to this and I want to cut short my speech.”
“But before that, let me tell you a small story. Do not worry, it is not a long story! There was this great Christian saint called St. Francis of Assisi. Once they were going somewhere and his disciples said, ‘Why don’t you say something ?’ and he said, ’When we finish the walk, then we shall talk’. The walk was over, they sat down at a beautiful place and he was very quiet, his disciples asked him, ‘Why did you not talk, you said you would talk’. He said ‘my walk is my talk.’”
“So, my walk is my talk. Thank you and let us look forward to this wonderful evening of music. Namaskara!”
Raghu Dixit's music concert soon followed and the evening was filled with foot-tapping, meaningful music. The next three days were declared as days of rest and the walkers would gather again on 9th April in preparation to leave Bangalore on the 10th of April.
Walk of Hope 2015-16 in Karanataka | Celebration of Hope Freedom Park | April 5, 2015