– Jayanti Ravi IAS
Travelling by the Delhi Metro last week, I was experiencing the efficiency and comfort of being ferried across the capital city. Sitting in the women’s coach, I also got a crash-course on the latest fashion trends, colours, patterns and styles. Most young women with manicured fingers were also busy texting away on their smart devices. Yet, most seemed completely disconnected, in fact, light years away from their friends or co-passengers that they were travelling with. Most eyes and the general demeanour radiated feelings of fatigue, stress, cynicism and sadness. In stark contrast, the few young children, were playing round the poles, with laughter and sounds that wiped away the uncomfortable quiet.
I imagined most of these young women hurriedly rushing and reaching their destinations and slamming their doors shut to brood over the loneliness and hopelessness in their lives. This disquieting silence often gives way to anger, abuse, arguments and bitter fights. These differences and divides seem to be present in most sectors and walks of life, from villages to cities, families to market places, hospitals to hotels, as one walks through the pageant and mosaic of life. ‘What can be a balm to comfort these lives, release the stress and unburden them to relish the simple joys of life?’, one wondered.
Earlier this week, I found a beautiful answer to this question. Listening to a talk by Sri M, who is on a ‘walk of hope’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, gave a near-perfect solution. Originally born Mumtaz Ali in a Muslim family of Kerala, Sri M had some deep spiritual experiences from a very tender age. His journey of life took him to the Himalayas, where he met his Guru, Mahendranath Babaji. At the behest of his Guru, he wrote his autobiography, “Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master: A Yogi’s Autobiography”, a bestseller, which took his life-story far and wide, inspiring millions of lives across India and the world.
Sri M, a householder and Yogi, is now on the walk of hope to connect people across the country. His walk and talk inspire us to connect with ourselves.It also seeks to connect us to nature, keeping us and our surroundings clean and connect people of different faiths, castes and regions. Reaching out to the poor and rich, disabled and exceptionally talented, illiterate and the highly erudite, roadside tea stalls and humble village courtyards to top educational institutions or the Governor’s residence, Sri M is sowing the seeds of hope and harmony.
His talk at the packed and palpably peaceful auditorium of Nirma University was a rare treat. He articulated that the seeds of his thoughts, words and action would grow to be huge, majestic trees of human excellence. In the shade of these trees, people would collectively build and inhabit this nation as a place of excellence and wealth, both material and spiritual. His words come straight from his heart, instantly reaching and touching the hearts of the listeners. Marked by simplicity and purity, his stories, songs, anecdotes are greatly relished yet deeply elevating treats.
This Walk of Hope has clocked over nine months and 3,600 kms so far, covering six states of India. Starting at 5.30 each morning, a distance of about 20 kms is walked daily. Simultaneously, meeting and interacting with a multitude of citizens, this is a simple yet very powerful attempt to connect all. Thousands have been directly or indirectly touched and inspired by this great effort.
At a time, when newspapers and TV channels often churn the stale, nauseating fare of media murders and sickening intrigues on their front pages for days on end, could we resolve to give the walk of hope for each of us and our country the pride of place at the centre of our heart and being? Whether in a metro-coach, mall, home or office, wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us decides to participate in the great walk of hope, in letter or spirit, making up our minds, taking a step towards human fraternity and harmony?
Jayanti Ravi IAS of the Gujarat cadre has worked for many years as an educational administrator. A Nuclear physicist by qualification, she holds a PhD from MS University Baroda and an MPA of Harvard University. An alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, she is a Column Writer and a visiting Professor at Harvard Kennedy School. She has worked in various sectors ranging from development to energy, in different districts of Gujarat and has also worked in the Prime Minister’s Office as Director in the National Advisory Council. She has a rich experience in the Labour and Employment sector and the Development sector. Her talks on Indian culture and heritage in the modern context are well received too. She has been a Mason Fellow & awarded the Littauer Fellowship at Harvard University. She has also been a Chevening Scholar and is a performing classical vocalist.