Bengaluru, May 21, 2016: A galaxy of dignitaries felicitated Sri M on the successful completion of the Walk of Hope 2015-’16 at a heart-warming function organized by the BhartiyaVidyaBhavanat the Khincha Hall within its precincts in the city this evening.
Chief Guest His Holiness Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji of the Taralabalu MahaSansthan, Sringere, Former Chief Justice of India, Sri M N Venkatachaliah, who presided over the ceremony, Guests of Honour,Sri M V Rajashekhar, Former Union Minister& Trustee, Loka Shikshana Trust, Sri Ramesh Arvind, renowned actor, Dr. Mahesh Joshi, Additional Director General, Doordarshan, Sri H N Suresh, Executive Director Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Sri Ashok Kamath, Chairman Akshara Foundation and ShriUmesh Bhatt, Chairman Loka Shikshana Trust, were among the distinguished invitees.
The ceremony began with a Kannada documentary on the Walk of Hope in Karnataka. Welcoming the illustrious guests, Shri H N Suresh said, “after seeing the film and the depiction of the work done, it is apt to say that there are a very few people who walk their talk; it is very difficult and most of them do not even attempt to walk their talk, but Sri M has made even the politicians walk. This, in my belief, has not done by anyone before.” He said he felt it was a privilege that the platform of Bharatiya VidyaBhavan was being used for the purpose of the felicitation.
His Holiness Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji honoured Sri M by presenting him with the “Manavshree Award” and a citation on behalf of the Chief Minister of Karanataka, Sri Siddaramaiah. The citation read, “Sri M is affectionately beckoning to all of us to understand and return to the ocean of love intrinsic to humankind. The need for such a visionary is a must for humanity…We offer him our humblest salutations and wish him all the very best.”
Renowned actor Sri Ramesh Aravind spoke next, narrating a story about how prejudice against each other was inculcated by two communities among their children, but the walls between them came crashing down once the children happened to interact with each other. “So we should be careful about the stories we tell our youngsters and now we have one lovely story to tell them – here is a man who walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to bring the communities together”, he said. These are the kind of the stories, you tell your children so that this world becomes a better place to live in, he added.
“Forget the physical strain, forget the blisters on his feet, forget the painkillers he would have taken, but the thought behind the whole thing, the wonderful thought behind the whole thing, about this great human being walking all across the country to spread the message of a blossoming brotherhood – not a broken brotherhood. That is the message; that is the story that we carry. Thank you for the story Sir,”he said.
Sri M. V. Rajashekharan said, “Last year, on January 12th, 2015, Sri M began a very special walk called the Walk of Hope and on 29th of April this year, he completed 7500 km of this walk. Today, more than at any other time, we require such people, such visionary leaders who bring different religious denominations together, kindling the hope of peace, brotherhood and harmony”.
Dr. Mahesh Joshi from Doordarshan, said, “Whenever I think of Kabir I am reminded of Sri M. I am also reminded of a song written by Kabir ‘Moko Kahan Dhoonde re Bande, Main toh tere paas mein’; meaning where are you searching for me O Man, I am very close to you. ‘Na tirth mein’ I am not present in holy places of pilgrimage ‘Na Murath Mein, Na ekaant mein’ I am not in idols nor in solitude. ‘Na mandir mein Na Masjid Mein’- Not in a temple,nor in a mosque. ‘Main toh hoon vishwasmein’ I am found in faith.”He said that the Walk of Hope was conducted with the same faith and it was this faith that had led him to become a follower of Sri M.
Sri Ashok Kamath said Sri M’s vision for the Walk of Hope needed to be amplified many more times over the next few years, so that all sections of society could work together to leave the world a better place than they found it. He compared the Walk to Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March and said it was an outstanding first vehicle to build an inclusive society.
The Former Chief Justice of India, Sri M. N. Venkatachalaiah, who presided over the function said“This walk is a metaphor. It is an internal journey…At such times as this, I think, Sri M is a fresh breeze and his simplicity conceals the intensity and depth of a sadhaka… He has demonstrated to us the beautiful principle that, after all status, wealth, authority, power, fame are all just wayside stops in the exciting exploration of the moral and spiritual dimensions of the human personality.”
Sri M thanked all the dignitaries for the felicitation and said, “I walked but the effort was not only mine but that of all people, including all those who are sitting in front of me who contributed in many ways for the walk.” He then spoke of how, when he was only 21 years old, his Guru Maheshwarnath Babaji had predicted that he would walk the length of country with a whole lot of people. At that point, he narrated, he had demurred saying he would rather stay with his Master than do anything of the sort and his Master had said he should quietly do as he was told. “So, when people say he did this, he walked, I know they are saying it out of love and affection, but I think it is Babaji who walked. Otherwise, I don’t think I could have done it. It is not possible.”
He spoke of how the walk had started off with a very small budget and how support came pouring in as they made their way forward due to his Guru’s Grace. He also spoke of other obstacles along the way, including states where the Governments insisted that their armed commandoes walk along, despite his insistence on it being a padayatra for peace. “So this was the walk and it took us to so many states, eleven states, 16 months, 500 days almost,” he said.
He said the essence of his talks everywhere was this: “There is no country in the world, which has 26 languages, 150 dialects, so many religions and among them so many sampradayas and yet generally, this is the impression I got after meeting 15-20 lakh people, we still think we are one. So that is the uniqueness of the country that with so many streams flowing into the ocean of manavekta – we are one. But there are fissures here and there. Things break when you feel sad, your heart breaks when you see people saying I belong to this religion and you belong to that religion so we are different.
“So this was a walk, not so much of a cure, but a prevention. It was a preventive walk. We said lets find an inoculation by which at least the future generations are safe,” he said. In terms of the follow up, he said, the walk had just begun. He mentioned that in another one and a half to two years, another walk would probably traverse the Northeastern parts of the country.
“This was from K to K – Kanyakumari to Kashmir and I am convinced that it did have some effects,that at least we have sown the seeds of harmony. Now the seeds that have been sown have to be nurtured. That nurturing is not in my hands it is in your hands,” he added.
Sri M indicated that the next walk would be from Madanapalle to Mizoram in the northeast. He said he planned to call all the coordinators from all over the country together, have a brain storming session and decide how in local areas others can do the walk. “There is a small communal problem coming, go out and walk… and anytime you think there is a danger of the persons who are doing it getting murdered, I will come. I will come with you wherever you want me to come.”
He pointed out that he could do the walk at the age of 68 because his mind was young and he bore no enmity to anybody. He also attributed this to practicing Yoga regularly since the age of 10 and having a controlled diet. “Be kind to people. Kindness and having no enmity towards others actually increases your strength and energy,” he said.
He concluded by once again thanking everyone and saying each and everyone who participated in the walk, including those who could not physically participate but encouraged the walk with their minds, were responsible for its success. He specially thanked all the coordinators and Dr. Venkataraman who had organized an ambulance, medicines, driver and staff from BGS Hospital right from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. “I did not expect so many people will come and felicitate me… I just walked,” he concluded simply.
Dr. Venkataramana then proposed a brief vote of thanks, bringing the function to a close.
Felicitation of Sri M and Walk of Hope by Bharatiya VidyaBhavan, Bangalore
21 May 2016 | Khincha Hall, BharatiyaVidyaBhavan, Race Course Road, Bangalore
Address by Sri M
“I thank you all for felicitating M for this Walk of Hope. Now many of the dignitaries here mentioned that I walked 7500 km, 16 months and so on, which is true in a way, but I want to remind you – I have said this many times before – that we started this walk from Kanyakumari.You know Kanyakumari is called Zero Point. There is no land after that. For us, the land mass ends and the sea begins at Kanyakumari. So, the Highways department calls it Zero Point. I said to all our friends who walked with us – consider yourself absolute Zero and start this walk. Believe me, we did not know how we are going to walk. Well, I have some good friends here. I don’t want to name them again; they run into many numbers, at least, 7-8 of them who formed the core committee that worked so very hard to make this yatra a success. I mean there are others also, but these people worked day and night for two years before we started this yatra. So, why I am saying this is, I walked but the effort was not only mine. All people, including all those who are sitting in front of me who contributed in many ways for the walk, did it. I am not talking about financial contributions. Actually, when we started the walk at Kanyakumari, we had a small budget of about 20-22 lakhs and some people told me you must be out of your mind. They were saying you are mad. How can you walk till Kashmir with this budget? It is not possible but we walked and, as we walked, help came and we kept walking. I personally think, this is the fulfillment of the prophecy by Maheshwarnath Babaji, my dear Guru.”
“Many years ago, as a young man we were sitting looking at the Ganga, in Uttar Kashi. He said – ek din tumhe Kanyakumari se Kashmir tak chal napadega. I got frightened. I said,Babaji kyon, why should I walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir? I am happy to walk with you in the Himalayas – wherever you go, I will go. I will wash the clothes, I will look after you, I will do what you want, but I can’t walk like this. And, his next words were a bombshell, because I – as many of you know – am generally of a retiring temperament. I like ekant. He said, tumahare saath bahut log challenge. I said, Babaji No. I said this is the line you should draw; I cant. Then he asked me – when you first came here, one day I asked you what do you think of yourself in relation to me: apne aapko kya samajhte ho. I said yes. Then what did you say? I said I consider myself as your dog / puppy. You know I was only 21 and I did not know the importance of what I was saying then. So Babaji said, “You said that.” He said, kutte to ho sakte ho par duumm jyada mat hilana. He said you may be a dog but don’t shake your tail too much. Then he said don’t shake your tail too much and do as I told you. For years, it didn’t happen and now it happened. So, when people say he did this, he walked, I know they are saying out of love and affection, but I think it is Babaji who walked. Otherwise, I don’t think I could have done it. Impossible. It is not possible.”
“Now, when I think of it, I don’t know how we reached Srinagar. Everywhere, there were warnings – oh, people will attack, and there are people who don’t want communal harmony. In some states, the governments were so scared that their commandos were walking along with us. I begged them saying why are these gunmen walking when we are walking for peace, but they said – no it is our responsibility. So the walk went on. I am not going to talk too much, as I said earlier, “My walk is my talk.” There was a leader who did terrible things also, but one of the good things she said was ‘kaamjyada bate kum’. So this was the walk and it took us to eleven states in 16 months, 500 days almost. In Kerala, I escaped with Malayalam. In Tamilnadu, I did Tamil. In Karnataka, I got into the problem of not being able to speak in Kannada. So, I started talking in Hindi because people in rural areas said,hindimeinboliye and it went on and on and now I have to brush-up my English a bit. It went on and carried on till Srinagar. I used to start the walk by saying – Namaskaar, bharat jaisa rashtra kahi nahi hai sansaar mein, and go on.”
“Actually what I want to tell you is this – the essence: There is no country in the world, which has 26 languages, 150 dialects, so many religions and among them so many sampradayas and yet generally – this is the impression I got, we met more than 15-20 lakh people – we still think we are one. So, that is the uniqueness of the country with so many streams flowing into the ocean of Manav Ekta – we are one. But there are fissures here and there. Things break and you feel sad; your heart breaks when you see people saying I belong to this religion and you belong to that religion, so we are different. So this was a walk, not so much of a cure, but prevention. It was a preventive walk. We said let’s find an inoculation by which at least the future generations are safe. It is the youth who are responsible for the unity and integrity and oneness of this country. It is the youth. We might have committed the mistakes; our hair is gray. Believe me, my hair is gray but I am not old please. If you think that the walk is ended, like Justice Venkatachalaiah said we have to restart the rasagullas.”
“When I was sitting here, Mr. Kamath was talking to me and he said so what are you going to do about the follow-up. Before the walk, I went to see Mr. Hamid Ansari, the Vice President. He asked me the same thing before the walk started. He said after the walk, what will you do to follow it up? So, believe me friends, the walk has not ended. The walk has just begun. After another one and half years to two years, we will probably walk into the Northeast. Before the walk we went to meet Dr. Kalam, a wonderful man. I have witnesses who came with me. Balaji was there with me and Dr Kalam said, you have left out the Northeast. I said, Sir yes – because this walk is already going to take us 16 months. If we go to the Northeast and if the walk becomes longer, probably I might get a divorce notice from my wife. Well I didn’t say that. But now, this walk is over. The next walk will certainly begin. This was from K to K – Kanyakumari to Kashmir and I am convinced that it did have some effects. At least, we have sown the seeds of harmony. Now the seeds that have been sown have to be nurtured. That nurturing is not in my hands, it is in your hands. So we wish to meet you at some point and discuss how to further this.”
“I am not interested in saying that ManavEkta mission or Satsang Foundation is doing it. Not required. See the idea is, between people who are doing good work there should be no competition. If there is a competition like that, then nothing works. Then,it’s just a competition. Akshara Foundation is doing work; why can’t we join them and help them out? Why should we say that this should be done only by us?? This is also division. So I am saying, lets put our heads together; you may be having your own little ways of working this out and see how to bring about a change to follow up this walk. And, the next walk will probably be…. All our coordinators (they are smiling many of them), they know how hard they worked. Balaji is hiding behind. This was K to K, Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The next one would be from Madanapalle to Mizoram in the northeast. Dr. Kalam said, if you go to the Northeast, I would also come with you. Unfortunately, he is no more and it is very interesting that he passed away in the Northeast. At least thinking about this, we should not give up this walk. I am saying this because some people are a little worried. Apart from that, we are going to call all the coordinators together, have a brain storming session and decide how in local areas others can do the walk. There is a small communal problem coming, go out and walk.”
“I am telling you, Anita is sitting there. She has been doing a lot of work in the rural area. She walks, she talks. This should spread as a movement in your own group and anytime you think there is a danger of the persons who are doing it getting murdered, I will come. I will come with you wherever you want me to come. There are a few schemes that we want to workout. We will try and work it out soon. I especially thank every one of you and all our coordinators. Special thanks to Dr. Venkataramana, who got us an ambulance, medicines, drivers, and staff from the BGS Global Hospital – right from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. And, all who helped us and who did not walk with us, couldn’t walk with us, but with your minds encouraged us on to this walk, I thank you all.”
“Before I conclude, I want to tell you how this walk became a success and how I at the age of 68 was able to walk. You might say that I was born in 1949, believe me my mind is as young as the youngest of you here. This is mainly because I bear no enmity towards anybody. It is also because I practiced Yoga from the age of 10 and I have continued it till today, even today morning. Dr. Pandav came to the hotel in Kathmandu to wake me up at 6. I was already up and had finished my Yoga. So, I am again saying please practice Yoga, and control your diet. Don’t take things, which are not good for you. I don’t want to specify. What I mean is don’t fill your tummy and make it like a barrel. Be kind to people. Kindness and having no enmity towards others actually increases your strength and energy. So we walked, all of us. This walk of hope – I think we did it; all of you did it. Everybody did it. Everyone, who has joined for the walk, is responsible. Not this person. Well, I might have ignited it. That’s okay. Ignition comes through many sources including Bosch. So, I don’t want to say anything more. Thank you very much. I did not expect that so many people would come and felicitate me. I just walked.”
“Thank you very much. Namaskar, Sat Sri Akal, Salaam.
Government Of Karnataka
The city of gardens is proud to present the “Manavashree” Award to Mumtaz Ali—popularly known as Sri M—who has successfully completed the Walk Of Hope 2015-16. Walk of Hope is a 7500 km padayatra organized by the Manav Ekta Mission from Kanyakumari to Kashmir – covering 11 states of the Indian Subcontinent over 474 days.
The Founder of Manav Ekta Mission, Sri M, started the padayatra for peace and communal harmony from Zero Point in Kanyakumar, Tamilnadu on the 12 January 2015 and concluded it in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir on 29 April 2016.
Couple of months back, two events reported in the media influenced my mind. In the first event, a wild bear which wandered from the forest into the human settlement area was brutally killed by people with sticks and sickles and whatever they could lay their hands on. It was an incident in which men behaved like animals.
In the second event, a thirsty elephant was quenching its thirst on the banks of a lake situated in Chamarajanagar forest area. A tiger, also thirsty, came and drank water next to the elephant and retreated quietly after it finished drinking. In this instance, animals refrained from behaving like animals.
Which of these two incidents depict intolerance? It is a beautiful example clearly depicting who follows the rules of tolerance. Why is the level of humanity depleting in humans? The time when one human used to look at another as human is gently easing its way out.
In this background, Sri M is affectionately beckoning to all of us—to understand and return to the ocean of love intrinsic to humankind. The need for such a visionary is a must for humanity.
We all know that walking is excellent for our physical health. Sri M has proved that this is also the best endeavour to protect community health. We offer him our humblest salutations and wish him all the very best.