परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षाः परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः ।
परोपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परोपकारार्थमिदं शरीरम् ॥
Trees bear fruit for the sake of others, rivers flow for the sake of others, cows produce milk for others. Likewise, this body is for doing good to others.
Today, I want to narrate an everyday incident, where I saw humanity shining bright.
The heat is at its peak these days with temperature rising up to 47 º Celsius (116.6º Fahrenheit). Many people are falling sick due to heat and the others feel restless. We could feel the seriousness of the matter when the government too asks the people to take special measures to keep safe. Some can afford staying in air-conditioned rooms. And many cannot. As I sit in my burning chamber at my working place, I think of those less fortunate ones who don’t even have a roof above their heads or a bottle of cool water brought from home. And then carry on for the rest of the day. However I am doing nothing to provide relief to others from heat. (This actually triggers me to do something.)
It was just 2-3 days back, when I saw a pot of water on the wall of a road side dhaba (any roadside restaurant, which generally serves local cuisine) on my way to home from work. The idea behind it touched my heart and I slowed down my two-wheeler and stopped by to take a picture of this wonderful gesture.
When I asked for the permission to click a picture from the workers working in a corner (making dough for the evening preparations), they consented. After I was done, I started a conversation to make sure that what I believed was true. So, I chatted with this kind lady, who told me that they have actually put that pot (covered with a wet cloth) for the passers by. So that they could quench their thirst.
This gesture was a replica of the wonderful tradition of providing water for travelers on their long and tiring journeys.
There is a beautiful word in Sanskrit ‘प्रपा’ Prapa, which means ‘a place for watering cattle or a shed on the road-side containing a reservoir of water for travelers’. Etymologically, it means ‘drinking in the finest way’. This word reflects the culture it belongs to.
Under the shady trees, surrounded by a round platform, there often were these kinds of Prapas. Some benevolent people would take trouble to build such a place and maintain it. Long back, when people lived their life gently, without any hurry; they would rest at such places; instead of rushing to the next destination in the matter of hours. They would share their joys, sorrows and future plans with other travelers; instead of leaving the place like strangers. And many new stories would begin from there. Oh what those days must have been!
As of now, when that culture is surviving in some rural areas, I can only hope that they would be revived. Or be satisfied with this kind of replica.