To understand the significance of the Walk of Hope, it is important to understand what a padayatra is. Derived from Sanskrit, padayatra comprises two words — pada meaning foot and yatra meaning journey. A journey on foot — purposeful in intent, soulful in execution — a walking pilgrimage in essence.
For centuries, holy men and saints in India have used the padayatra concept to reach out to the society, to the towns and villages, in order to spread awareness of their message. It involves sharing of one’s personal experience and knowledge, while also understanding the problems of people and learning from their wisdom and experience. The feedback sharpens the potency of the message; the truth ameliorated by the power of experience.
Mahatma Gandhi, father of our nation, used the concept of padayatra to power his satyagrahas (search for truth). His padayatras, including the famous Dandi Satyagraha, united the nation in a way so consummate that it gave birth to a soul force that decimated the yoke of colonial rule. More than hundred years ago, Swami Vivekananda crisscrossed this great nation, from Kanyakumari where he had his ‘vision of one India’ to the North and the rest of the world, spreading his message of oneness and peace.
The core concept of a padaytra is the act of walking. Various religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism propound walking as a form of meditation in action. The nations of the world are thus strewn with numerous pilgrim routes—a historical testimony to the role of walking in humanity’s pursuit of the inner truth.
The image of a walking pilgrim or the padayatri is a symbol of sacrifice — a selfless will to undertake a strenuous physical walk, singular in purpose to transcend the limits of the body and the material world, to achieve the noble goal of one’s inner betterment. A human being, thus clarified,in turn contributes to a better human race. The connectedness of everything means that a single act of good purpose would set off a chain-reaction— leading to a better world and a better tomorrow.
Indeed, it is for this better world and a better tomorrow that the Walk of Hope padayatra is being undertaken by Sri M, founder of Manav Ekta Mission.Traversing the varied landscape of India, it seeks a significantly restored nation — fit enough to be bequeathed to our future generations.
In Sri M’s words:
“We must start with our country first, naturally. We must work for this country’s well being to heal its soul, so that our nation can progress for the sake of our future generations. Therefore, we will walk together carrying a message of true faith, to restore the spirit of hope, love, peace, harmony and oneness.”