Sunday, October 24, 2010

Motilal Gupta : A Beacon of Light

The serpentine queue outside the Sai Baba Temple in Lodhi Road in N Delhi was growing longer by the minute.  An affluent businessman from  South Delhi passing by the temple had  a sudden wish to enter the temple of Sai Baba.  So he got down from the car and bought a basket of pooja  items.... a rose garland, nariyal, incense sticks and prasad,  and stood patiently in the line. Twenty minutes later as he stood in front  of the statue of Shirdi Sai Baba, he felt goose pimples all over  his body, and in that moment he beacme a devout Bhakt of Baba  This was a divine intervention of Baba's blessings,  as this incidence was to change the course of his destiny from a businessman to a philanthropist.

The businessman belonged to the prosperous Mehndi traders of Faridabad though they lived in Greater Kailash in  South Delhi.  They had several agricultural lands in Faridabd.  A year after having visited Baba's temple,  the  man had a calling to build a Sai Baba temple in Faridabad.  So he announced to his family that he would be donating 3 acres of agricultural land to build a  temple of Sai Baba. Fortunately for  him, his whole family - wife, children and brothers stood by his noble calling and encourgaed him to go haead with the task. This was the beginning of the transformation from a businessman to a philanthropist.

Motilal Gupta
This was 22 years agao in 1988 and the man was none other than Motilal Gupta, the founder and Chairman of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Society in Tigaon in Faridabad, popularly known as Sai  Dham.  Today Sai Dham is a leading  socio-spiritual NGO of Faridabad, since its inception in 1988,  striving to foster education, wipe out hunger, alleviate poverty, organize mass marriages and provide medical care to otherwise neglected segments of the society.

 Motilal would frequently visit Faridabd to spend time at Sai Dham.  It had become very popular with the poeple of Faridabad as it was set in a spacious piece of land, with a beautiful Pipal tree in the compound and a Lendi bagh, amidst the fields, away from the hustle and  bustle  of the town. 

He would often see kids loitering about in the complex, fighting with each other over getting khichdi, the prasad of the temple.  They would have their share and come again and again for more,  being a nuisance.  At first Motilal was upset by this unruly behaviour of the kids, and then it dawned on him that it was not the fault of the kids but their circumstances.  There we no one to teach them manners how to behave in a temple and make good  use of their time.  Most of the kids came from the neighbouring villages and slums and did not get 3 square meals a day.

It was then that  he decided to open a school for the underprivileged children and since then he has never looked back.   He knew, convincing the parents of these children to send their kids to school would not be an easy task, so he came up with the idea of mid day lunch for the kids,  as an incentive to study.

One day, he observed a kid swallowing food in a rush.  When he enquired  the reason for the kid's behaviour the child replied, " i did not eat anything  since last night" Motilal realized that many of the kids did not have breakfast as their parents could not afford,  and so he  introduced breakfast too as part of the facilites in shirdi Sai Baba School , as one couldn't expect children to study on an empty stomach.

 The school which started off as an open school with classes being held in corridors of the sprawling temple complex ha s a proud building today with 750 students being offered free education with Books, Uniforms, Lunch, Breakfast and Health care.

The second school building is already under construction and the target is to introduce classes from the present 7th to 12 th , for enrolling 2000 students.

People from different walks of life , both in India and around the world have contributed to the functionings of  Sai Dham by their continued  generous patronage. 

As you enter the complex there is a huge bill board  with  a picture of the students of the Shirdi Sai Baba school with none other than the President Shrimati Pratibha Patil.

The school also organizes  excursions to Taj Mahal and other places. As the children  are from the weaker sections of the society, many of the students do not have a TV at home.  So the school arranges to show inspirational movies for the kids like 'Taare Zameen Par'.

Receiving an award   from Governor of Haryana
 As an ex teacher i have volunteered a bit of my time with the students in the school.  I found the kids highly motivated about their studies and future.  They are already aware that in order  to break away from the cycle of poverty  they need good education to fulfill their dreams.

Motil Lal Gupta regularly counsels the parents on the need of educating  their children for a better future.

As you enter the premises of the school within the complex of Sai Dham,  a board proudly displays the results of class 5  Haryana Board  exams.

 Sai Dham is truly an organization in the service of humanity.  For it is not only running the Shirdi Sai Baba school for underpriveleged children but running a gamut of other activities .

Besides the  Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, there is also a beautiful Panchmukhi Shiva Temple in black stone within the complex.  The temple has a bhandara every second Sunday.  The Bhandara typically begins with cultural items from the schoold children, bhajans of Baba, taking the  distinguished guests to the school building where Motilal addresses the guests about the various activites of Sai Dham and appeals to them for theirt continuous patronage, followed by a sumptuous lunch in the spacious Dining Hall of  Motilal's office within the complex .

Bhandaras are also held on other auspicious days like Ramnavmi.  Dussehra, Gurupurnima etc.

Four times  a year,  it conducts mass marriages for the weaker sections of society and gives every couple the basic gifts needed  to start a happy marriage. 

 I attended a mass marriage a few months back this year and it was an electrifying experience as hundreds thronged to witness the event, mostly relatives of the bride and the grooms. You can read  more about that in my earlier  post  Discovering Sai Dham 

Providing Health care is also one of the thrust areas of Sai Dham. It provides Medical assistance to 1200 patients daily through a network of 16 dispensaries. Other activities include Industrial Sewing  training  to poor girls and getting them placed in Export Houses.

Sai Dham also has Home for the aged within the complex in the form of 3 rooms with attached toilets and kitchen.  Plans are in the pipeline to open a Home  for the aged.

How is it possible for a single person to do so much in a lifetime,  that too as a septuagenarian?.  Yes! Motilal Gupta is not a day less than 76 years.  Undoubtedly it is Baba's blessings that  have given him the nuances of running Sai Dham for the pass 22 years. And everyone who visits the complex is impressed by the activities and donates generously,  from the common man to Politicians, Industrialists, PSUs, other NGOs and even the Bollywood actor Rani Mukherjee , to name a few.

He has been honored with several  awards for his contribution to society.

Motilal Gupta is a living example of a karamyogi who believes that we are on this planet to go beyond our domestic needs and personal goals, and  work towards providing succor to the underprivileged sections of society and thereby creating a better society for all of us.

I had visited  Sai Dham several times and had seen his photographs and photos of the various activities  of Sai Dham  in the complex. I had an urge to meet the man behind the project.  A  chance meeting with his daughter Mamta made it possible for me to know Uncle ( as i call him ) from  close quarters.

For me it is sheer joy to be writing this post and telling the Blogoshpere about this amazing person.  Uncle, you are a true Beacon of Light, inspiring everyone who crosses your path with your unwavering commitment and exemplary zeal towards the activities of Sai Dham.   You are a living example of choosing ' 'Good Over Bad', the message of the festival of Dussehra. 

I hope my post which is an entry  for the contest 'Good over Bad' by Blogadda, will inspire the residents of NCR and those visiting NCR to visit Sai  Dham at least once.  I strongly recommend that you visit Sai Dham on the day of mass marriages as you'll be a witness to a great event  where hundreds of people come.  The next mass marriages are on 21 Nov 2011 and 20 February 2012.

I end this post with prayers that Baba blesses you with good health and a long life,   so that you can continue to make a difference to society by your philanthropic ways.  Kudos!

[When Blogadda brought out this contest , about writing a post on the topic 'Good over Bad' whereby a blogger could write  a post about having witnessed a person who  has brought a difference to society, i thought of Motilal Gupta. He is truly an inspiration to all,  especially to the people of Faridabad who are indebted to him for giving 22 years of his life to philanthropy. ]