The Real Gods – Harakhchand Sawla
A young man in his thirties used to stand on the footpath opposite the famous Tata Cancer Hospital at Mumbai and stare at the crowd in front- fear plainly written upon the faces of the patients standing at death’s door; their relatives with equally grim faces running around.. These sights disturbed him greatly..
Most of the patients were poor people from distant towns. They had no idea whom to meet, or what to do. They had no money for medicines, not even food. The young man, heavily depressed, would return home. ‘Something should be done for these people’, he would. think. He was haunted by the thought day and night. At last he found a way- He rented out his own hotel that was doing good business and raised some money. From these funds he started a charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building. He himself had no idea that the activity would continue to flourish even after 27 years. The activity consisted of providing free meals for cancer patients and their relatives. Many people in the vicinity approved of this activity. Beginning with fifty, the number of beneficiaries soon rose to hundred, two hundred, three hundred. As the numbers of patients increased, so did the number of helping hands. As years rolled by, the activity continued; undeterred by the change of seasons, come winter, summer or even the dreaded monsoon of Mumbai. The number of beneficiaries soon reached 700. Mr Harakhchand Sawla, for that was the name of the pioneer, did not stop here. He started supplying free medicines for the needy. In fact, he started a medicine bank, enlisting voluntary services of three doctors and three pharmacists. Toy banks was opened for kids suffering from cancer. The ‘Jeevan Jyot’ trust founded by Mr Sawla now runs more than 60 humanitarian projects. Sawla, now 57 years old, works with the same vigour. A thousand salutes to his boundless energy and his monumental contribution!
There are people in this country who look upon Sachin Tendulkar as ‘God’- for playing 200 test matches in 20 years, few hundred one day matches, and scoring100 centuries and 30,000 runs. But hardly anyone knows Harakhchand Sawla, leave alone calling him ‘God’ for feeding free lunches to 10 to 12 lac cancer patients and their relatives. We owe this discrepancy to our mass media!
(A relentless hunt on Google failed to procure a photograph of Mr. Sawla.)
Crores of devotees hunting for ‘God’ in Vithoba temple at Pandharpur, Sai temple at Shirdi, Balaji temple at Tirupati will never find ‘God’. God resides in our vicinity. But we, like mad men run after ‘god-men’, styled variously as Bapu, Maharaj or Baba. All Babas, Maharajs and Bapus become multi-millionnaires, but our difficulties, agonies and disasters persist unabated till death. For last 27 years, millions of cancer patients and their relatives have found ‘God’, in the form of Harakhchand Sawla.
As you forward interesting jokes and poems instantly, do forward this message. Mr Sawla deserves his fair share of fame.