Into an hour of walking, they stopped for a tea break enroute and reached Nithyananda Ashrama by 7.30 a.m. The head of the Ashrama accorded Sri M and the walkers a warm welcome who then proceeded to take them around the ashram and performed arathi to the idol of Swami Nithyananda of Ganeshpuri. The ashram also served as the breakfast point.
Enroute the padayatra touched hamlets like Vadanahalli, Rayabommanahalli, Adivala and Patrehalli before reaching Hiriyur. At Adivala, they stopped at a temple dedicated to Kariyamma (literally meaning Black Mother) the resident and protecting deity of the village. Refreshments were served here.
People often connect in extraordinary ways with Walk of Hope. Today, people from a local community donated a crate of mangoes and about 200 coconuts for refreshment breaks. The most touching incident, however, was a small wayside shop owner coming up to Sri M, shaking his hand and giving him a packet of biscuits. These are people who do not know Sri M nor have they heard about Walk of Hope in advance. Many of them come to know about the padayatra a few minutes before the walk approaches, through the announcement vehicle and the flyers that are handed out by volunteers. The response is spontaneous and this connects them to the walkers. People they meet on the way relate to Sri M and the message of Walk of Hope and there is incredible support where they least expect it!
When the padayatris approached the outskirts of Hiriyur, a group of 60 villages greeted Sri M with garlands and an elaborate puja. They accompany the walkers into town.
With the summer at its peak, the sun is up and burning by around 8 or 9 in the morning, a mere 3 hours into the daily walk. Trees are rare, the skies clear and the terra firma bristling. As with the previous days, the coconut groves enroute - several villages around Hiriyur, like Adivala, are major growers of coconuts - provide succor for the eyes and hearts. During the walk, they often stop in coconut plantations for refreshments. They reached Ranjith lodge, Hiriyur at around 11.30 a.m. and rested after lunch. The padayatris were to stay here for three nights at a stretch till they left for Chitradurga. There are three to six people in a room and the stay is comfortable.
Hiriyur is a town near Chitradurga and was earlier known as "Ghanapuri". The "Yeppattu Kannina Setuve" (the seventy-eyed bridge) located near Hiriyur is noted for its architecture and the patterns in the bridge resemble a human eye and there are seventy of them. The town is renowned for having the oldest dam in Karnataka, built on the Vedavati river, and named 'Mari Kanive'. It is an architectural masterpiece constructed during the rule of the Mysore Wodeyars. Hiriyur is equally popular as a centre for regional markets. The 'santhe' (weekly market) attracts people from all over the district.
Hiriyur is also famous for it’s over 500-year old temple of Lord Shiva. Known as "Tirumalleshwara temple" it is also called "Dakshina Kashi" by devotees. Folklore has it that a famous devotee of Shiva "Hema Reddy Mallamma" was a resident of this town. Every year she travelled to Varanasi by foot. As she grew older and weaker and was unable to walk, she prayed , "O lord I have become old and weak and unable to come and see you in Varanasi! What do I do? How do I come to you?" That night, Lord Shiva appeared in her dream and told her that she need not walk to Varanasi and that He would come and reside in Hiriyur. As promised, Lord Shiva was believed to have incarnated in the "oralu kallu" (the traditional grindstone from Indian households). That stone which was worshipped by Mallamma later became known as Tirumalleshwara.
The evening saw the padayatris being ferried into the town – Jain Sabha, for an evening public function. There were about 200 people in attendance. There were bhajans, a Harikatha and also a folk dance performance by locals. There was a short address by Sri M.
Sri M began his address thus,
“Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheshwara
Gurur Sakshat Parabrahma Tasmai Shree Guruvey Namaha"
The Guru is Brahma (the Creator), Lord Vishnu (the Preserver) and Lord Shiva (the Destroyer)
To that very Guru I bow, for He is the Supreme Being, right before my eyes.
Loka samasta sukhinoh bhavantu – May the entire universe be happy”.
“There is a problem. I do not know Kannada, so this gentleman here will translate and I will speak in English. But I am picking up a little of the language. Namaskara. First of all, I would request two minutes of prayer and silence , in memory of one of my good friends and his brother - a promising young lad, drowned while swimming and his life ended. He was trying to save his brother who could not swim. His parents lost both their sons. They have no other children. Today - a year when Ashwath and his brother left this world; even when I cannot forget the pain, what about the parents? His father called me today and the only thing he said was they are gone and he cried. He said that there is no other way for him but to cry. But I am sure they will come back someday.
The padayatra started in Kanyakumari and we are going towards Kashmir. We have completed 1500 kilometres. This is a padayatra and not a rathayatra. We have 6000 more kilometres so hopefully by April of 2016, we will reach Srinagar. The aim of this Yatra is to prove and to talk to these people, the ordinary people that we may belong to different religions, different castes, different beliefs, different ideologies, we do not want to change their religion from one to another and that we are all human beings first. So, if you are kind, you are kind to every human being and not kind just to a Hindu or a Muslim.
We are walking 20 to 25 kilometres everyday; in the hot sun, not to win any elections or to become a leader but mainly to convince people that we are as humanity, ONE. The Rig Veda said, Ekam Sat,Vipraah Bahudaa Vadanti – The truth is One. The wise call it by many names. This is my personal experience - that in the heart of every one, there is a spark of the divine. Therefore, every human being is a walking, moving temple of God and therefore to serve is the greatest worship. To serve the lowest of the low, which the Gita describes as Sarva bhuta hite rataha – having the welfare of all at heart is the most important thing we should do, even as a personal Sadhana in our day to day lives.
This is not only a physical walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, this is also an inner journey to go through the problems and difficulties that one goes through the walk. So, as we reach Kashmir, if we don't improve ourselves, the aim of this yatra is not successful. So, unless I change, I cannot change others. Also, unless I change, I cannot change the world. It is my personal experience, that all religions, in essence want love, affection, peace and tranquility. When we sit for a Satsang, at the end of it, what do we desire? We chant 'Om Shanti Shanti Shanti'. If there is no shanti, or peace, it is not a Satsang, it is a Dursanga.
When we go to a temple, we are offered prasada. Now, 'prasada' in Sanskrit mean peace. It is another word for peace. Prasadam means peace. When a Muslim meets a Muslim, he says 'saalam'. It means peace. When a Jew meets a Jew, he says 'shalom', which is the same thing. It means peace. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God."
The aim of this yatra is to convince and make people remember that basically we are human beings; and don't let anybody make you violent against other human beings. Because, in every house there are mothers, daughters, and little children. The same pain I feel if the mothers, daughters and little children in my home are caused harm, the same pain other people also feel. So, we must understand and not let anybody persuade you otherwise. By remaining as human beings, you can find peace, and also find God.
In a good garden, there are many kinds of flowers. A good garden does not contain only roses, or only lotuses, or only jasmine creepers, there are many kinds of flowers. All religions are different kinds of flowers in this garden. We don't have to always plant only one kind of flower in the garden. So, when we see all the different flowers in the garden it is the most beautiful sight. Let this country also, and the world, be the garden with so many flowers. When the breeze blows, we will all have the wonderful fragrance of peace.
The message has to go from India because from hundreds of years, from ancient times, people of all religions have come here and have stayed together. So, the message has to go from here. Although the ultimate message is Loka Samasta Sukinoh Bhavanti… not only our little country; but the entire world should be happy. This is the only agenda of Walk of Hope. We are carrying the flag of peace, which is the objective of Manav Ekta Mission. So, Manav Ekta Mission stands for bringing people together. You are welcome to walk with us any time. Men and women, all are welcome. I think there are more women walking with us, I am not so sure.
I suggest, I plead that you walk with us even for 10 minutes, or half an hour, or one hour, the whole day, or up to Srinagar if you would like to. There is no qualification. The only qualification is that you will get shoe bites, you will get leg pain. Every day, I also put oil on my feet because my joints are paining. I want to stop talking now; I do not want to talk too much because my walking is my talking. So, I want all of you, whenever you have time, 5 minutes or 10 minutes, please walk with us, so that we can prove to the world that we are ONE.
Thank you very much, Namaskaara, Saalam, Sasriyakaal, Good evening, thank you very much.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!
The padayatris were ferried back to the lodge for dinner after the Satsang, and retired for the day.