स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता – Be thy leader, in action!

नाभिषेको न संस्कारः सिंहस्य क्रियते वने ।
विक्रमार्जितसत्त्वस्य स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता ||
Not through any official coronation ceremony does Lion become the king of the jungle. But through his own heroism and deeds, he assumes that leadership role (and sustains it)
स्वयमेव मृगेन्द्रता – Be the leader; is one of the founding principle of RSS. I have been fortunate to meet some of the leading pracharaks of Sangh and have seen how this plays out in real life. Whenever someone has a cause dear to his/her heart, they are encouraged to take the initiative and do something about it. That is how the innumerable sangh affiliates have come into being. From Samskrit Bharati, to Vivekanand Foundation, to Vanvasi Kalyaan Ashram and many more.
But this post is not about Sangh, it is about a friend I met due to Sangh who is another living example of Svayameva Mrigendrata. A guy who felt so strongly about improving the lives of children in tribal village around his home town that he gave up a luxury of London and comforts of a high flying corporate life to come back to Bhopal and work with the Bhilala kids in Kekadiya. Pretty much single handedly (along with some motivated young lads from the village) he revamped the primary and secondary schools there – Amitabh Soni
His passion and love for kids is so infectious that I had to go meet them. Got that chance last week. About 45 mins out of Bhopal, driving through the kaccha roads we reached Kekadiya, and I didn’t need the board to tell me we had arrived. Out of nowhere I heard a kid scream “Jai Hind Sir”, the salaam was accompanied by the perfect salute gesture. Even before I could get over the awe, other kids started shouting “Jai Hind Sir”. A few spotted me in the car and said “Jai Hind Didi”. Whoa! I was in a Tribal village, I really didn’t know what to expect, but here this was beyond what I would have ever expected. The “कल्लोल” of Jai Hind, was beyond uplifting.
Over the next 2 days, I got a chance to interact with the kids – in their classrooms, in the jungle as we trekked to see the caves the kids wanted to show me and later as we played Garba and celebrated Navratri. It felt as if I had known them forever. They opened up about their routine, their ambitions and dreams, they were curious about my life, about what I did, whether I was married (yeah 5th class girls asked me that, and also when was I planning to get married, they wanted to attend 🙂 🙂 I think now I will have to, if nothing else, for them 😀 ), they wanted to know how people in the “Shehar” danced. They knew the name of every tree and every plant that came our way, they knew which plant cow ate, which the goat preferred, which shrub none of them ate and why. Amazing how much I learnt that day about Vanaspati, knew absolutely zilch.The girls were way more enthusiastic, active, vocal and sharp than the boys. Their eyes shone as they spoke about their future plans. Half of them wanted to become Police Officers, the rest a mix of doctors and teachers. Then there were some who wanted to work in the Army! Wonder how many of our shehar ka kids even consider a life in Police or Army!


All along the trek, the girls held my hands, they literally fought to hold my hand – Why? Because “Sir” had asked them to take care of Didi and they wanted to ensure I don’t fall or hurt myself. Kid you not, these chutki 10 years olds didn’t leave my hand even for a second. These girls (and boys), dear friends  don’t really  have it easy. They attended school in the school hours, helped parents with farm related work especially in the sowing seasons, tended cattle, cooked, cleaned, looked after their younger siblings, when to fetch dry wood for the chulhas early every morning, but they still smiled easily, they laughed like there was no sorrow, they lived fully, completely. Such innocence, such अनघता, such pure love is a rarest of rare experience. I got that from these girls!

Kekadiya now has schools catering to kids upto class 8th, post which they have to travel 7 km to the neighboring village. Efforts are on to eventually extend the schol in Kekadiya itself upto Std. 12th. Amitabhji also mentors youth of the village to help them choose their future career path. He doesn’t spare a chance to tell them that whatever they become, they should never forget their roots and serve their land and their people. What he has effectively done, is created a rung of future leaders of Kekadiya who can carry his mantle further. But it couldn’t have been easy, it wasn’t . None of us will even randomly trust a person who suddenly shows up at our home and tries to help out. It took patience and perseverance of over 8 months for Amitabhji to finally get some traction with the villagers. Today, he is their Sir and their Son. As the elderly Bhikla Kaka mentioned to me one evening while we were sipping chai on a khatiya, sitting under the starry sky– Inke karan hamare bacchon ka bhala ho gaya, bhagvan ne bheja hai inko”.

Thank you Amitabhji, May your breed grow, may we all be inspired by the likes of you to do our bit for the society that has made us what we are.

And Jay Vijayadashmi to all and to Sangha and Samiti on its foundation day – building characters and personalities, since 1925!
P.S.: Abhedya (Amitabhji’s NGO) also helps out the village folks to manage such government related issues related to farms, dams and anything else that would help make life in the village little easier. Amitabhji now spends his time between Indore and Bhopal, having taken over some Villages in Indore area too. For those who want to know more/get inspired/support please feel free to reach out to him (I haven’t asked his permission to promote, but then a good deed needs none)14570341_10155300768619689_2634271446315349825_n
As they say
मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर,
लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया।

More information about Abhedya


Some more pictures from Kekadiya


ॐ शान्ति |


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