By : RACHNA TYAGI
Paeans have been written about 44-year-old, Mysuru-based Dakshina Krishna Kumar Murthy, the ‘modern-day Shravan,’ who embarked on a journey in January, 2018, to show his 73-year-old mother, Choodarathna, Temples across India on his 2001 Bajaj Chetak scooter, the “only gift” from his Father, Dakshina Murthy. Now, in 2023, the duo has travelled not just across the length and breadth of India, visiting Temples and other places of religious interest, but have also visited our neighboring countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. Four days back, on September 17th, 2023, when Murthy, along with his mother, while passing through Mumbai, pulled into my apartment complex’s two-wheeler parking area, he said, his scooter’s odometer, read 77,082 kms! What’s more, with a book deal and a film deal already signed, Murthy, one may assume, is laughing all the way to the bank. Not quite!
Murthy, a sharp observer and a bit of a philosopher claims to be in the Vanaprastha Ashram stage of his life, having skipped the Grihasta Ashram stage altogether. “Shankaracharya didn’t enter Grihasta Ashram stage either,” he quips. “We lead a Rishi Jeevan (Hermit’s Life) and eat only for survival,” he explains. We have no Moh (Attachment) says the self-proclaimed “spiritual child” who as the eldest son in a large joint family, has known a sense of “detachment from his childhood.” About the book deal and the film, he says, “My mother’s story is going to be made into a film, that itself is a very big and happy thing for me.” However, on being probed further, Murthy remains tight-lipped about the details of the publisher, the producer as well as the director of his book saying “It would be unethical on my part to talk about it. Let them reveal the details in a Press Conference.”
We ask him about what it has been like driving a 22-year-old scooter across India and also to the neighbouring countries with a 73-year-old mother as a pillion rider? “My mother, whom he refers to as the “greatest mother” is a “tigress,” he says. “She is not only ten times stronger than me, but she has the body and strength of an 18-year-old” he claims. The duo has travelled sans any “bedding or cushions” throughout their trip. “Just two ISI marked helmets, a spare tyre and my tool kit, of course,” says Murthy. “We sleep on the floors of Temples and Ashrams and we firmly believe in the adage “While in Rome do as the Romans do” and that has worked supremely well for us so far,” says Murthy. The duo who has been drinking faucet water throughout their journey from their own water bottles and do not consume any hot beverages such as tea or coffee either. “How do you cope in the biting cold without any hot beverages during your travel,” we ask. “We are beyond summer and winter,” says Murthy.
Murthy, a student of Computer Science, and who worked at three different places over a period of 13 years in Bengaluru, Karnataka, before embarking on this spiritual journey with his mother, speaks six languages fluently. Besides Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and English he says he has also been easily able to manage things with a smattering of Bengali, Gujarati, and Marathi across India and in fact, when you hear him speak, the manner in which he manages to get the tenor and tone of most languages almost right is truly remarkable. It is perhaps the mother-son duo’s soft and friendly nature that has earned them several fans, not just in India but also abroad. “We have a few invitations from NRIs abroad to come and visit them,” says Murthy, but he appears to be undecided about whether he wants to embark on that journey anytime soon.
Murthy claims that he hasn’t faced any major obstacles on his long journey yet. Besides a regular servicing of the trusty old Bajaj Chetak scooter at the regular 10,000 kms interval and replacing the worn-out tyres, six-seven times during the lengthy journey so far, the scooter which gives him an average of 35-40 kmpl has been absolutely trouble-free. Did the OEM contact him on learning of his feat, we ask. “No,” he says. “I don’t expect them to either,” he says, adding “I am happy with the Bajaj Chetak and to my mother and me, it almost seems like an incarnation of my Father. No complaints.” And how has he been using the KUV 100 NXT that Indian billionaire and businessman, Anand Mahindra gifted him on learning about his story, considering he has been on the road since. “After that announcement, it took me almost 14 months to go and receive the vehicle,” says Murthy who admits he was very reluctant to accept it. “I am not on ‘Matru Seva Sankalp Yatra’ for all this,” he says. However, I must say that The Mahindra management was corresponding and following up with me regularly. Finally, after 14 months, my mother and I were invited to their showroom, in Karnataka, and handed over the keys to the SUV. Back home, that SUV, however, is now being mainly used for people who need to be transported to medical centers or hospitals urgently or for unforeseen emergencies only,” explains Murthy.
Did anything scare you on your long and arduous journey, we ask Murthy. “No, nothing,” he says calmly. “We drove through some really dangerous places such as Chhattisgarh and Dantewada but we were fine,” says Murthy who believes in “living in the present.” During COVID-19 though, he says he drove 2673 kms from the Bhutan border and entered Karnataka border in three days flat. “We had to break our journey during COVID-19, for obvious reasons,” he explains. “But then once COVID-19 was behind us, we resumed our journey soon enough,” he says.
On the Sunday that the duo visited us, Murthy told us that he had begun his journey from Jammu & Kashmir and that after visiting a few people and showing his mother a few Temples in Mumbai and after watching Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations, his mother and he planned on completing their journey by returning home, to Mysuru, via the picturesque Konkan coast.
*RESPECT* for this duo, we say.