It feels like yesterday… I was about 6–7 years old at the time, and I was playing with my buddies in the temple premises (Bull temple, Sthana Devata of Sedam). There were a few pilgrims, as usual. And I recollect seeing someone wearing a dhoti and pyjama top with Vibhuti on his forehead, who is in his 70s. He approached me and asked what my name is, I introduced myself as Narendra. “Do you know who Swami Vivekananda is?” he questioned. Yes, I replied, “many stories about him were told at my school.” He chuckled and added that “Before entering sanyasa, Swami Vivekananda’s given name was Narendra by his parents.” He then handed me some chocolates.
We became best buddies after that. Whenever he came to the temple and saw me and my friends, he would always offer us chocolates.
Later, when I grew older, I learned that his name was “Bidappa,” and that he was known as “Bidappa Sahukar” because he was a land lard and very wealthy (Sahukar means rich man in rural kannada). He was one of the notable persons in our area who worked for our society selflessly, notably when he led a large march against the encroachments of the Birla group’s companies. The magnitude of his leadership was evident in the fact at hundreds of men and women would voluntarily join him in a strike if called one.
He subsequently stopped coming to the temple as regularly and eventually stopped coming going entirely, and we all missed him tremendously. And when I inquired about him, I discovered that he had left his body many days before.
A humble being
Munyappa’s father was awarded the title “Huli/Tiger” for his bravery while working for the municipality. His mother was a deeply religious and innocent woman. Munyappa was the oldest of three sons. They were staying in the same complex lane as us.
He was a quiet, nice man. He was very inventive, creating various works of art out of paper and chalk pencils. He was exceptionally skilled at painting portraits of people and animals.
He was around 25–27 years older than me. He used to own a bookstall where he sold books, pens, and chocolates. Whenever I went to his shop for stationery, he would joyfully offer me a couple chocolates for free. I used to cling him to tie threads to kites whenever I wanted to fly them since he knew how to do it properly. He also used to give me the paper arts he made.
He was a kind and generous person. The entire family eventually migrated to Yadgiri, 60 kilometres from Sedam. It’s been roughly 20 years, and I’ve never seen him since.
Yesterday, on November 10th, while out on personal business, I came across a small and frail figure wearing a very loose and soiled shirt and pants, no slippers on the feet, scattered hair, and a dull face. He was between the ages of 55 and 60. And he was walking along the road with his head down. When I initially saw him from the side, I was overcome with sympathy. And as I approached that individual to speak, I was taken aback since it was none other than Munyappa. Oh my god, what happened to him? Why does he appear so frail? Seeing him in such a horrible condition broke my heart.
Time to show gratitude for those kind treats
By seeing him, I can tell his life is not what it used to be. So I decided to do something about it.
Me: Munyappa, how are you? Can you recognise me?
Munyappa: I am well, but I do not recognise you.”
Me: I am Narendra, son of Bheemreddy sir.
Munyappa: Oh, okay. Now i got you. How are you, Narendra? It’s been a long time since we met.
We talked for quite some time. He was hesitant to tell me the truth about his condition. So I didn’t even try to force him. But I decided to assist him in some manner. So I took some money out of my pocket to give him, but he refused, saying, “I don’t feel like taking it, so I can’t take money.”
I said, “please consider me as your brother, don’t hesitate, please take this money”. But he politely declined my offer.
Then I asked him if I could buy some new dresses for him, but he respectfully declined. Then I proposed to buy new chappels. But he wasn’t convinced either.
If anyone else in his situation had been there, they would have accepted my offer. But he was absolutely detached.
“How can you survive without money?” That is not possible, Munyappa. So we’ll take some action. I’ll give you some money; please take it and create a small business so you can earn money on a consistent basis. “Don’t waste your money on me,” he replied, “since there is a lot of rivalries and a lot of industrialists have entered the market, and it would require a lot of money and time to develop it to a certain point, and my body does not have such potential.”
But I’m not the kind of person who gives up easily. So I said “Is it okay if I find you a job that will feed you and pay you on a consistent basis without asking you to lift a single weight? Is that appropriate?” Then I noticed a small smile on his face. After he said, “OK,” we departed.
But I felt tense because of the promise I made. I prayed to Maa Devi to grant my wish.
I spent the entire day after meeting Munyappa thinking about how to get him a job where he would be treated with respect and care.
Then I decided to speak with my father. He was, however, extremely busy that day, attending numerous meetings and meeting people who had come to meet him. So I decided to talk to him in the morning when I was dropping him off at his office.
So, on our way to his office, as planned, I asked him, “Baba(my father), do you recall that tiger(munyappas’) family who was staying in the same complex near the temple?” He said, “Why not?” Then I mentioned that I had seen his elder son Munyappa the day before. He is in critical condition. I offered him money to assist him, but he politely declined. He is a truly noble individual. Baba listened to me calmly till we arrived at his office parking lot. Then I asked if you might offer him a job at your office. Baba looked at me and said, “Bring him to me in ten minutes.” He then went to his office.
Then I rode my bike to where Munyappa had stated he would be staying. He was there. As soon as he noticed me, he approached me. I told, “Munyappa, could you accompany me? Baba asked you be brought to his office.” He gladly consented and accompanied me to Baba’s office.
We then proceeded to Babas’ office. I went straight to the temple (Sthana devata, “Basavanna”) after parking the bike, worshipped, and took Munyappa to Babas’ office. However, he was not in the office. Then an office lad arrived and invited us to the headmaster’s office. We then relocated there. Baba was sitting alone and asked us to take the chairs. He then inquired about Munyappa’s health. Then I discovered that there was no one left in his family but Munyappa and his younger brothers’ wives and sons and Munyappa took refuge in them.
Following morning prayers, the school’s headmaster entered the office. Baba introduced Munyappa to the headmaster, telling him that he was from a nice family, but that after losing everyone, he broke down and became this way. So I thought I’d offer him a job in my office, and I feel you too could use his help if you have any office work in school because he studied until 10th grade. Ningappa sir (Headmaster) happily agreed.
Baba employed Munyappas’ younger brother as a drawing teacher in the same school some 20 years ago, but due to his unethical and unprofessional behaviour, baba fired him. It’s now Munyappa’s turn. However, he is not like his brother. He is honourable and trustworthy.
Munyappa surprisingly requested, “Can I stay at the school at night, sir?”
Baba responded, okay, we’ll take care of it, and summoned Shantamma, the office girl, to bring Basavaraj, the hostel warden. The warden arrived within a few minutes. Baba introduced Munyappa to Basavaraj. And was asked to take Munyappa as a nighttime student caretaker in the hostel. He will stay at the hostel every night and do any minor jobs like switching off lights and fans and filling the water in the tank. But he can’t do weight lifting works as his body doesn’t support it. And must pay him a wage in exchange. I’ll also speak with Swami ji about it. So he’ll be joining you starting tomorrow. Basavaraj nodded and said, “OK, sir.”
So Munyappa found two jobs and made arrangements for his stay in a matter of minutes.
Baba told Munyappa not to worry about the meal. I’ll communicate with the temple authority to make sure you get your two meals in the Dasoha (Meals served to devotees every day).
I was filled with gratitude. Baba gave him moral support, demonstrating true humility and respect, letting him know that someone truly cares about him and is working to change his situation.
I asked for a basic employment, but Baba made all the necessary arrangements for him to live his life. I was flooded with gratitude for making it possible in a matter of minutes.
Baba offered him the opportunity to change his circumstances on his own, which will boost his self-esteem and assist him in overcoming the challenges he experiences on a daily basis.
Love and Peace,
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