Like many people before him, Dr Uday Modi, moved to Mumbai, from his home state of Gujarat, in search of better prospects. An Ayurvedic doctor by profession, he settled down in Bhayander where he started a clinic to practice alternative medicine.
A 78 year old man visited the clinic seeking help for the many maladies that ailed him. He informed the doctor that his wife was chronically ill and that they were extremely poor. Hearing this, Uday Modi decided to treat him and his wife for free. The visits continued as did the good doctors pro bono work.
What Dr. Modi did not know at the time was that these meetings were destiny setting the stage for his transformation from a kind-hearted Ayurvedic practitioner to a Karma Warrior who would go on to serve many people in the years to come.
One day, the old patient showed up at the clinic in tears. He informed the doctor that he while he had three sons, they did not give him and his wife food to eat. He was penniless and didn’t know where to go in search of food. Dr. Modi was very upset on hearing this and told the man that he would get a square meal every day and that he would provide for it.
The good doctor rushed home and told his wife to make some extra food that night as they had two extra mouths to feed. Kalpana, a simple kind-hearted woman, took on this task with enthusiasm. Every day she would ensure that a dabba (tiffin) filled with piping hot food, reached the elderly couple.
The word of the couples kindness soon spread. Many other men and women showed up at the clinic, telling tales of neglect, leading to Dr. Modi promising them help and Mrs Modi cooking for close to 20 more people. She did it uncomplaining, looking at it as a opportunity for her and her husband to serve people who had no where to go and no one to care for them.
As the numbers of elderly being fed by the couple grew, Dr. Modi realised that he did not have the infrastructure to reach all those who needed help. So, he set up the ‘Shravan Tiffin Service” named after the character of Shravan from the epic Ramayana. Shravan’s devotion to his parents became the benchmark for parental devotion for centuries to come. In order to sustain his efforts, he withdrew his savings and brought a transport that could take the dabbas (tiffins) to the elderly.
12 years on, his tiffin service and Trust feeds 200 people daily. The tiffin contains 6 chappatis and a vegetable along with dal and rice. On Sundays, they serve a home-made dessert and farsan, which is a Gujarat savoury snack.
It is not a mean task. Dr. Modi spends an average of 3 lakhs every month to do his seva. He admits that it’s not easy but his intent to serve the elderly far outweighs all other concerns. He also acknowledges the contributions of many souls who’ve come forward to contribute to the work he is doing.
He speaks with unbridled joy of his two young children coming to him with their small savings in the hope that the money can be channelled into doing more seva. He has now brought a piece of land to build a home for the aged. He doesn’t want to call it an old age home. He plans to call it “Maa aur Pita ka mandir” (The temple that belongs to parents).
When we asked him what his message for the readers was, he said “We spend all our life worshipping stone idols when real worship lies in service to others. We all owe our parents a huge debt of gratitude and it pains me to see so many elderly people treated with neglect and left to their own devices. I cannot possibly stand by and not do anything about it. The path is not easy but there is no greater joy that the joy in making someone else’s life better. It’s really that simple and with the grace of the Almighty, we will reach more and more people everyday.”
An exemplary tale of an exemplary man whose cup of good karma runneth over.
Let us all find inspiration in his tale and share our good fortune with others for in their elevation lies our own.
Let us all become Karma Warriors!