23 mar, bharata yatra 2009, sriranga pattinam, karnataka
en route to bangalore from mysore, we stopped at sriranga-pattinam for lunch. it was sangama of kaveri river. its a beautiful place; the river flowing around the tip of the land, big banyan trees shading the banks, serene atmosphere of the temple, chanting of the mantras by people doing the rituals for their ancestors…
amma came and sat on the steps leading down to the river. she sat on the very uppermost step. people rushed to get a seat near amma as always. sometimes i see that the old adage is true after all: love is blind. love for amma makes our eyes blind to the surroundings. in their rush to be near amma, some of the devotees accompanying the tour knocked down the small table of an old man who was selling puja items there. 3, 4 small bottles of sweets, nuts, a few coconuts, betel leaf, arecanut.. all that you can fit in to a big-shopper bag.
this was on the right side. on the left there was a coconut seller. the tour group nearly sat down on top of his stand in their eagerness to be near to amma.
amma was there for over an hour. we had lunch, storytelling and bhajan before we left. as she was leaving, amma asked that 100 rs be given to the seller of puja items, saying that his business was blocked for nearly 2 hours by the group’s presence. but the coconut man?? our people have bought a lot of coconuts, so he didn’t need a bonus.
lingappa, the old man in his seventies, wearing half a dothi and a torn banyan, and eking out barely a living selling puja items on the banks of the river here, was amazed by the amount of money he was given without selling anything at all.
lingappa came forward to amma with a coconut, betel leaf and an arecanut and presented them to amma. you do that when you see a mahatma, or any one great. and when you are giving some thing to the greatest giver on this earth. it will come back to you in manyfold.
receiving his gifts, amma immediately said to give another 500 rs to him, and gave darshan to him before she got up from her seat.
after amma got into the camper and drove away, the devotees accompanying amma on the tour made their way back to the buses. having witnessed the scene between amma and lingappa unfold, they also felt they should give something. many gave the old man 50 or 100 rs as they passed.
i am sure he cannot forget this beautiful day and blessing he received.
to me, he was reflecting the culture of india. even if you don’t have anything, you still give like the kuchela of bhagavata. that was the wealth india had. seeing today’s scene unfold, my heart was saying victory to india and her culture who taught this attitude of giving.