While reading following verses from Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) this morning, I asked myself answer to the query of “What is the purpose of life” and later in the morning I remembered true story of a Street Hawker, one Mr Khairaty, of my village Chawinda Kalan ( Punjab, India) which gave me the answer to my query.
“ ਏ ਸਰੀਰਾ ਮੇਰਿਆ ਇਸ ਜਾਗ ਮਹਿ ਆਏ ਕੈ ਕਿਆ ਤੁਧ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇਆ “ (SGGS Page 922)
“ And what true actions have you committed, O my body, since you came into this world”
Nobody knew the actual name of Khairaty, in fact no one ever tried to inquire from him. Everybody just called him Khairty. Khairat in urdu language means “one who lives on charity” or receiving alms. Nobody knew his religion whether he was Hindu or Sikh? He was a small time street hawker who used to sell “Pakoras” (Indian spicy vegetable snacks) and “Fruit Chat”. Every day at about 4 PM we would hear a familiar hawking chant “ Bade Karare, masale wale Pakore le lo.” Means “Come buy spicy and crunchy vegetable rolls”. I was 10 years of age then and we eagerly awaited arrival of Khairaty. He was a medium statured man with a thin beard and old looking face. Children would throng to him with little money which they obtained from their parents or with wheat /corn which would be bartered with steaming hot snacks. Some kids who could not afford snacks would watch the proceedings with hungry eyes. Khairaty did not disappoint them too as he gave one or two small morsels for free.
Khairaty had one small house consisting of one room and a kitchen outside and he lived with his wife Ram Piari. The couple did not have any children of their own. Ram Piari was a good tailor and she would hand stitch clothes for the toddlers. The couple never visited any temple or Gurdwara. The couple sometimes prepared good dishes at their home and offered them to some needy kids. Whenever a child was born in the village, Ram Piari would make it a point to visit that house and gift clothes to the new born. The family did not have many belongings not even a cycle (It was times of 1960s). They had a few utensils and basic household necessities. The couple ensured that they offered tea/meal to any needy passerby who would happen to cross their house. Khairaty would walk to the nearest town Chogawan to buy his grocery for making snacks in the morning and in the evening go for street hawking in the village to sell these. Sometimes he would go to nearby villages also to sell his merchandise. The couple was well contented who spent their life peacefully. One day Khairaty fell sick and the next day he died. We never heard that crackling hawking sound thereafter in the village.
Ram Piari came to our house and spoke to my father who was the village Sarpanch and was also managing the renovation of a historical Gurdwara called Baba Sadhu Sikh near our village. She told my father that she had a last desire and wanted to help in renovation of this Gurdwara. She wanted that her house be demolished and the bricks be used to construct a guest room in the Gurdwara after her death. She also gave some money which was to be used for renovation work. My father promised her to fulfill the last wish . After about six months, Ram Piari also joined her husband in the next world. At her demise my father made sure that her wish was fulfilled and a guest room was made at the Gurdwara.
Such people show us the true path of life and they are far better than most of us who run after materialistic possessions, luxuries and chase the mirage of happiness which often eludes us. We show scant regards for others, believe that “End justifies the Means” and take recourse to all sort of tricks to become successful. We often loose the game of life as one verse from Sikh scripture puts it.
“ ਬਾਰਹੋੰ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜੀਅਹ ਤ ਮੈਲੇ ਤਿਨੀ ਜਨਮ ਜੁਏ ਹਾਰਿਆ “ (SGGS Page 919).
“ Those who outwardly look clean but are polluted within, loose the gamble of life “
And for unsung, unknown persons like Khairaty and Ram Piari, Sikh scriptures speak the following.
“ ਬਾਹਰੋ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜੀਅਹ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਮਣੀ, ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨ ਜਿਨੀ ਖਟਿਆ ਭਲੇ ਸੇ ਵਣਜਾਰੇ “
“Those who are outwardly and inwardly pure, through Guru’s grace perform good deeds,
Those who earn the jewel of this human life, are the best merchants.”
I had got answer to my query .