The lesson learned from a beggar

beggarWe visit Tirupati Tirumala once or twice every year with family members or with family friends. Few years ago, we were waiting in the Katpadi railway station for connection train to Tirupati.

It was morning time so our family members were distributing breakfast packets for all of us. As I was opening my packet, I heard a beggar saying: “Ayyaa, pasikkathayya… Dharmam kodungo…”(I am hungry, alms please).

I am not a generous man. I don’t entertain beggars. I have information from trusted sources about beggar mafia. It is one of the biggest industry that can be traced to biggies and VVIPs…

But seeing this physically-challenged man, I felt by intuition that I should help him…I offered him Rs 10. He refused to accept it. It made me bit angry.

He said he doesn’t want money; he wanted something to eat. That was very strange! Till then I believed that all beggars would take only money from you. And they spend it on drugs and arrack (strong and cheap alcoholic drink), after sharing their earnings with the local police and mafia don (who controls them).

Looking at his face, I felt that his need is genuine. I gave my breakfast packet to him: “Ungale kadavul kappathuvare…”(god bless you) he walked away with the packet.
I was curious, so I followed him. Few yards away, I saw a group of kids sharing the breakfast packet that was not at all sufficient for them. The beggar didn’t eat anything, though he looked very hungry. He was just smiling at them…

I felt somewhat. “Ungalodu pasangala?” (Your kids?) I asked him in broken Tamil.

“No sir…I don’t know them…They reached here yesterday night from somewhere…the policemen didn’t allow them to beg here. This is a different territory. I saw them very tired and hungry…” the beggar said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I gave him Rs 500 and asked him to get full-fledged meals for all of them. He said no. His logic is simple – people will assume that he has stolen the Rs 500 currency note. The police would snatch it from him. And the shops/restaurants in the station won’t allow him to come near the shop. Hence he is not able to buy food.

I took him to nearby catering outlet and got him 10 packets of breakfast. It cost me just Rs 200 then. He said thanks and flattered my generosity. I told him that I am neither generous nor rich. I belong to middle class family and wish to stay at that level throughout in my life.

“I have learned a new lesson from you. So I am paying my fee, that’s all.”
His reply was that:”Sir, let me tell you a secret. I don’t beg in front of rich, clergy and upper class.” He said they do not know about starving. According to him only lower middle class and poor people would understand the real value of money. All those who contributed towards art and humanity have experienced starvation, he added.
I left him. He is telling the truth – wisdom comes only from personal experience, not from reading a book or seeing in a movie or channel. Knowledge will just remain as information in the brain that won’t transform us. That’s why Shiv purana says “Jnanam Bandhanam” (Knowledge is bondage). Whenever I see people roll out ugly display of wealth or wasting money for living a luxurious life and show off, I remember this beggar. ( http://www.udaypai.in/ )

By
Udaylal Pai

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