At the age of 67, Sri M or M, is leading the 7,500 Km ‘Walk of Hope’.
The walk which started last year in January from Kanyakuari will culminate in Kashmir with the aim to spread peace, humanity and message of oneness in the times of growing intolerance.
Born as Mumtaz Ali Khan in a Muslim family in Kerala, he went to Himalayas at the age of 19 inspired by tales of spiritualism to discover himself. He met his Guru there who named him Madhukar Nath.
Sri M started ‘Walk of Hope’
He says, “I have not converted. My name on my passport remains the same. I am Mumtaz, but Sri M can also be Madhukarnath or just Manav.” Stating that we are a country where people from different religions can live peacefully, he said
“I have visited mosques and temples with equal ease; the average Indian doesn’t have anything against those from other communities. I remember going to a temple in Madhya Pradesh where they put a tilak on me and I forgot about it. Later that day, I visited a dargah where the imam politely asked me to wipe it off. It wasn’t complicated.”
Sri M, a social reformer and educationist, through his walk want to reach out to 10 million Indians to spread the message of united and inclusive India for themselves and the future generations.
He will cover 7,500 kms and 11 Indian states in one-and-a-half year under the aegis of Manav Ekta Mission. He is accompanied by his core group of 70 people and locals from towns and villages they walk through. They walk 15-20 km daily spending the evenings engaging in dialogues with local populace. They also carry portable toilets as some women accompanies them in the tour.
The walk, which is in its last leg, will reach Delhi soon. He points out,”My walk has told me many things. People are essentially good. They do not want strife. They can, given the right incentives, be willing to learn about one another and live in peace. The lessons of compassion from the life of Buddha are as relevant today as they were in his life.” Sri M, with his interest of helping people, started the Satsangh Foundation. It promotes meditation and runs various health centers and schools. He also started Sarva Dharma Kendra, which is a spiritual retreat, to initiate dialogues between religions and achieve unity.
Sri M meeting the people of Muslim community
Though he believes that things have changed for the better, more needs to be done. He says development should be holistic.
M, who is married and lives with his family in Kerala, said:
“Development doesn’t mean more industry or a consuming society. It is when a person has the freedom to project his thoughts. Environmental issues, climate change, goodwill and morality are also part of development. A wholesome, holistic approach is needed when we speak of development.”
A popular figure, Sri M has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. He has persuaded them to act in the right direction.
Saying that taking up the walk wasn’t easy, he felt that this was now or never. “My advancing years convinced me I should not wait. I saw that as a people our mental ghettos are only deepening,” said