Sri M—spiritual guide, social reformer and educationist—was born as Mumtaz Ali on November 6, 1949 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. His transformational journey, from a young boy to a living yogi, is a fascinating story symbolized by single-minded discipline and dedication. He travelled to the Himalayas at the age of 19, meeting saints and sages, eventually gaining his spiritual fulfillment under the guidance of Maheshwarnath Babaji. He is married and has two children. His autobiography, Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master—A Yogi’s Autobiography, is a bestseller. Based in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh (a three-hour drive from Bangalore), he leads a simple life—teaching and guiding the Satsang Foundation and Manav Ekta Mission. Currently, he is leading the Walk of Hope 2015-16, a 7500 km padayatra for peace & communal harmony from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Sri M tweets at @SriMspeaks and more info about Walk of Hope is available at www.walkofhope.in.
While my mother did the customary Namaz five times a day, my father used to attend public lectures on Vedanta and other related topics by eminent experts. He got up early in the morning and did his yoga rituals. Being a Muslim did not preclude him from practising it. In fact, if you look closely, Namaz (Salat)--the daily prayers of Islamic religion--incorporates many simple asanas. The resemblance between Namaz postures and Yog-asanas like Qiyam and Namaste, Ruk'u and Ardha Uttanasana, Julus and Vajrasana, and finally, Sujud and Balasana are quite striking.
The <em>Padayatra</em> is purposeful in intent yet soulful in execution -- in essence, a walking pilgrimage. For centuries, seers and saints in India have used the concept to reach out to the society -- the innumerable towns and villages -- to spread awareness of their message.
I am often asked why, at the age of 66, I am walking across India. A total of 7500km through 11 states, charting 15-20km a day in gruelling and fast-changing climatic conditions. It's a 500-day soul-seeking journey through the villages and towns that constitute the world's largest democracy. The Walk of Hope is a prophecy come true.