Om Sri Hari
Annapoorne Sada Poorne, Shankara Pranavallabhe
Gyana Vairagya Sidyartham, Bhikshaam Dehi Cha Parvati
Mata Cha Parvati Devi, Pita Devo Maheswarah
Baandava Shiva Bhaktyascha, Svadeso Bhuvanatrayam
O Mother Annapurneswari, Who is the darling of Sankara,
Please give me alms, Of Knowledge and renunciation.
My mother is Goddess Parvathy, My father is God Maheswara,
My relations are devotees of Shiva, And my country is the universe.
Closing my eyes, I recited this shloka and automatically my hands took the first spoonful of food towards my mouth while my mind was like a chatter box recollecting my conversation with Meena.
Meena (name changed) is a lady auto driver, single mother rising two kids in the city of Chennai. She said that she is unable to earn anything for two weeks due to total lock down and for months her profit has been almost nothing, after paying up 250Rs rent per day for the auto and filling up the fuel, in spite of spending more than 10 hours on the roads waiting for the clients via OLA/Uber/direct customers. I was appreciating her positive outlook when she said “my clan (women auto drivers) could tide over the first wave and this too shall pass”.
She said that she buys breakfast paying Rs.6 per Idli (A south Indian breakfast staple) and for a family of 3 at home she buys 6 Idli’s paying Rs. 36 (50 cents i.e. One half of a dollar). She waits until her children eats so that she can give her share of food to them if they eat more and fill her stomach with water. Lunch and dinner is usually rice and most of the times the spice box being empty, salt and butter milk comes to their rescue. Needless to say that the money been borrowed from a pawn broker at higher interest rates. This is the reality that 100 plus “Meena’s” in Chennai who have taken up auto driving as their profession, considered a traditional male bastion, to sustain their family. Just imagine the number of people from many other professions whose livelihood has been affected in a similar way?
God has given me an opportunity to meet thousands of underprivileged and also many wonderful souls who give their time, efforts and money to lift them up. I have noticed that the philanthropist’s bag is always full. The more they give, the more they get. Still, there is so much poverty around and more during the pandemic times. We may not be able to eradicate at once however when all of us come together and decide to share a small percentage from what we have in abundance, the world will be more beautiful with less misery. Is it difficult for 78% of Indians to lift 22% who are in below poverty line? Can we identify any one individual (in our neighborhood) be it an auto driver, flower vendor, tailor, electrician, painter, carpenter, cook, home care giver etc and pay their two months expenses and help them to tide over the most difficult months during the pandemic?
When we consider the universe as our country and help the needy without any expectations, we can infer that the mother divine has granted our wish by giving us the Gyana and Vairagya that we are seeking by reciting the shloka just before eating food.
Thank you my dear fellow bhandava (devotee/relative) for reading my article. You are a lucky person if you are in a position of giving. It’s a powerful tool that can bring loads of happiness and please use it.
I offer my obeisance at the lotus feet of Parama Pujya Om Swamiji.