Saints Show The Way.
India, Sept. 5 -- It is heartening when you read of some great hoteliers in Pune who provide free breakfast to people near Pune railway station. Another noble soul Narayanan Krishnan, a chef-turned-social worker, declined an elite job offer in Switzerland and feeds the homeless and mentally-disabled in Madurai daily. He narrates the spark behind his venture, "In 2002, I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli, which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness."
Among such less known social workers, stands out one man: T Raja, lovingly called 'Auto Raja' by the people of Bengaluru. Incidentally, Raja got his inspiration from Mother Teresa's work and charisma.
Thomas Raja picks up the destitute from the streets of Bengaluru and brings them back to his home in his autorickshaw, where they are washed, fed and allowed to die with dignity or recover. That is where his nickname is derived from - the auto he drives and uses to reach out to the people.
Raja, son of a telephone lineman, became an alcoholic and a petty criminal at the young age of 16. Fed up of his thieving, his father threw him out of the house. He ran away to Chennai where he began to work in hotels washing plates, but even there he stole and lost his job. Finally he was thrown into jail where he got very sick. Then his parents came to his rescue. "They got me out of prison and I asked for 1000 rupees to build up my life from scratch," Raja recollected in one of his interviews.
He was making a living as an auto driver and a bodyguard for an auto union leader. "I would see so many homeless people dying on the streets. It was the same time when Mother Teresa had passed away and I wondered how she had left such a huge void in this world. That's when I prayed to God and requested Him to give me strength to do at least some good for the people dying on the streets."
Raja volunteered with a church and learnt a few first-aid basics. He started out of the small garage at his home, and brought two homeless people and tended to them. Later, he started the New Ark Mission of India, a centre for destitute people in Doddagubbi village near Kothanur in North Bangalore.
"When I come across such people, I bring them to our Home of Hope," is what Raja says.
The more we rejoice when we see such people, the more we must realize that they have a struggle to face in their selfless dedication to build a better world. Today Mother Teresa's elevation is a call to all of us to be missionaries of mercy and hope. Let us be one, or at least support such missionaries of mercy.
O selfish soul! Ignore not thou a selfless soul!
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.
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