Begging Bowl Versus Bread of Dignity
As a weekly routine on Thursday morning, I was little late to visit Shri Sai Baba Temple. It was about 10 o’clock, but weather was quite warm during fag end of February month in Nagpur. On my vintage scooter Lamby ,I got out to temple located on busy Wardha Road. The slope of fly-over had obstructed a clear view of temple from other side of the road. In spite of this, the temple continue to attract not only local devotees but tourist as well. On reaching, I found usual parking mess around the by-lanes. I preferred to keep the vehicle away from this mess, though I had to walk a little distance.Then came the barricade erected to prevent 4 wheelers entry.After crossing that on either side of this by-lane, umpteen beggars were found squatting. This line continued,well past shops / restaurant on left side and boundary wall of temple on right side up to main gate of temple.While entering, I passed through an unmanned/unserviceable door frame metal detector , mocking the so called security . I deposited my shoes in collection centre. Bought a single rose flower and entered the main temple after touching the steps. Sizable number of devotees were already there. It was obvious being Thursday coupled with office/business hour rush and increased footfall of students to temple as the annual examinations were closer.
I went closer to platform where Shri Sai Baba statue is placed.Whole back drop and statue was very nicely decorated .Beautifully crafted silver mukut ( crown) studded with precious multi color stones and saffron silken shawl added to his charismatic personality, seated with symbolic crossed legs posture. Beauty of his expressive eyes is, if you see him from any direction, you will feel that he is looking at you and beckoning “COME, I SHALL HELP YOU”.
After paying obeisance with a flower , I prayed for a minute, in midst of avoidable repeated loud and irritating hauling “aage badho”(move forward) by priest and the security guard posted for manning the crowd . Made one pradarshana and paid again obeisance by laying down with the support of nearby steel stump provided for barricading area for ladies. As usual dropped Rs. 11/- in donation box and on return,picked up only one small coconut piece as prasad kept in the tray near table and was being distributed by a aged volunteer. After paying a tip to volunteer looking after foot-gear section,left the temple with enlightened feeling.
Moment I came out of the gate, and turned left on to the by-lane, I was virtually mobbed by more than ten beggars for alms. Many were healthy who were able to move briskly . They were all having torn,dirty clothes due to obvious reasons with trained expression to create pity with container outstretching for alms. I pushed my right hand in my trouser pocket and took out some coins. Just then I got hit on my right elbow from the back and all the coins fell on the ground scattered all over the place. I do not know whether it was an accidental or by mischievous design. Nevertheless, whole lot of beggary mob got busy collecting the fallen coins. It was blessing in disguise and I could get out of this melee. But it left a sore feeling in my mind.
I started my Lamby but after some distance driving, felt that rear wheel tyre pressure is low. Frantically, I looked for some shop where I could get the air filled. After about half a kilometer, I was happy to see one foot pump kept under the shadow of the tree and a man working in make-shift puncture repair shop. I took a sigh of relief and parked the vehicle closer to foot pump. The man came promptly towards the wheel & plugged the tube to the nozzle .This man was about 25 years old, came crawling and dragging himself from his seat about 5 ft away from the scooter. He was physically handicapped from hip below, but he used his both the hands on the foot pump to inflate the tyre and measured the pressure with gadget. I was dumbfounded. The promptness and agility shown by him was remarkable. I was tempted to pay more than required charges, but resisted myself . It would have hurt his self-esteem and self respect who was standing on his own dignity. After paying required amount I drove back home. All throughout I was comparing the BEGGING BOWLS, which I had just passed across and the physically challenged man who is earning BREAD of DIGNITY under the shelter of the neem tree in scorching sun – beckoning “COME, I SHALL HELP YOU”.