Inspired by a woman known only as “Peace Pilgrim,” Swami Sankarananda Saraswati — dressed completely in orange garb — made his way through Washington Wednesday, June 11.
Saraswati, who waved to all passers-by as he headed toward Washington on Highway 47, began what could be called a peace pilgrimage Jan. 1, in Pasadena, Calif.
The winter months were spent walking close to the Mexican border, where temperatures are warmer.
He spent the previous 1 1/2 years in India and is now a “yogi” or Hindu monk. Saraswati took the vows to become a monk one year ago. Orange, he explained, is the color of renunciation and the color monks wear in India.
Saraswati said he went to India to find the truth. He was in “ashram,” or living the lifestyle of a monk. And in India, Saraswati said he found what he was looking for on the inside, not on the outside
“Peace originates from inside, but it manifests outside,” he said. “Love is the same; love for a person develops into a broader love.
“You start with inner peace. When we find inner peace, all have a way of coming to us,” he added.
Walks on Faith
Saraswati walks “on faith,” meaning that while he carries a sleeping bag and a few essential items, kind-hearted people sometimes offer him a place to sleep or a small donation for food.
“This world is not a terrible place,” he said. “There is a force of love that comes through everyone.”
While Saraswati said it may seem random, it’s not.
“When it’s particularly stormy, I’ll be offered something inside,” he said.
Saraswati walks about 20 miles per day.
Peace Pilgrim walked for 28 years, from 1953 to 1981 — more than 25,000 miles.
Each September, a group in her hometown of Egg Harbor, N.J., celebrate her peace pilgrimage and the impact she had on people throughout North America.
Saraswati hopes to make it to New Jersey by this year’s celebration. After that, he isn’t sure what’s next.
“I expect I’ll end up doing something to feed or help people,” he said.
Saraswati uses Facebook like a blog, where he shares details from his walk and inspirational messages. He can be found online at facebook.com/shankar.ananda.11.