Q: You walked the entire length of India on foot and spread a message of Hope. Was it a process for Sri M to convey a message or was it to assimilate various experiences? Is the present communal situation in India conducive for a Guru to just walk into the places of worship? Do you think others can emulate this act? Is the Walk a medium for you? When we have vehicles in this age, why this walking?
Sri M: For me, it was a bit of both – to convey a message and also to assimilate experiences. It can be considered a symbiotic process since the message that I am walking and propagating is the message of “Manav Ekta” or the Oneness of Humanity. Whatever be your caste, your religion – as stated by great beings like Sree Narayana Guru – one needs to just focus on improving oneself. Then we can all live together harmoniously, despite our differences. This is the idea I am spreading. Also, by visiting a place on foot, we can understand a lot of things, which we were unaware of, originally. This was a big learning experience for us – for my fellow walkers and I. We usually depend on standard descriptions and media reports that “this community is like this, that place is like this” and when we go there, the ground situation may be different. This was the biggest learning experience for me. When we visited places that had faced problems before, the people there were fed up of the issues and were looking for change. They were asking, “Can’t we move forward, forgetting all this?”
Of course, the Walk was a huge learning experience as we walked 7500 km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. In Srinagar, we reached on a Friday. After Friday prayers, 450 of us walked through its streets. We were not stoned. I was expecting maybe one or two stones but it didn’t happen. This was our learning experience—everything is our interpretation.
Whether others can emulate this, I cannot speak for all. I hope they can continue it. The padayatris, who were with me, share this experience. We went to all religious places – be it the Gurudwara, the Dargah, the Masjid, the Temple, the Church. The Parsis usually won’t allow anyone from outside their faith within the Fire Temple. However, in Delhi, we were welcomed to the Fire temple. If, some one is walking with an open mind, without any vested interest, and if people are convinced about this, then all doors will open. This is my belief.
Walk is indeed a medium, a means. It is not that we don’t have a vehicle. Even when there is a vehicle, to walk to a place is a gesture. Walking such a long distance is a gesture. From the perspective of a common man, walking along with them is a concept. Even a common man has motor cycle or cycle, nowadays. When we walk, our foot touches the earth; but while travelling in a vehicle, we do so without touching the earth. There is a huge psychological difference between the two. The people who walk get to know this difference. When we walk, we feel lots of energy, even if we are walking with our slippers on. Hence, it is a medium.