Being a small place, most of the people of this little township were involved in some way or the other in the running of the famous Mansa Devi Temple of the Goddess. A tourist wanted to meet his old lady relative who was sick and ailing. She had told him, “When you get off the bus at Mansa Devi, just ask anyone, where the house of Pandit Shiv Kumar is. He is very famous. Once you get to his house, just climb the stairs from the side access. I live in the flat above his flat. This is a small town and Pandit Shiv Kumar is very famous for he is very learned and he is a great palmist too. You will not face any difficulty in finding the house.”
So the tourist alighted from the bus and asked a bystander, “My friend, can you direct me to the house of the famous Pandit Shiv Kumar?” The man said, “Sorry, I haven’t heard of him.” He asked another person, “Please help me to locate the house of the famous palmist Pandit Shiv Kumar.” This man too shook his head and said, “Don’t know who he is.”
The sun was right overhead and its burning heat added to his helplessness as he asked person after person about the whereabouts of the so called famous Pandit Shiv Kumar.
Eventually he asked a man dressed in a dhoti and wearing a tilak. You seem to be a Brahmin. Do you know where the famous Pandit Shiv Kumar lives?” “Yes, indeed I do. What is the matter?” The visitor heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Please lead me to his house. I have been asking about him for the last two hours, but no one seems to know him.” The Brahmin said, “Alright, I shall take you to his house, but tell me did you really ask a lot of people and they hadn’t heard about him?” “Yes, I did; but no one knew!” said the tourist. “Hmm, why do you want to meet Pandit Shiv Kumar?” asked the Brahmin.
The tourist said, “Ah! Actually I don’t want to meet him. I just have to reach his house. You see my aunt Bhagwanti lives in the flat above his.” One of the bystanders heard this and said, “Oh! So you wanted to meet Bhagwanti, did you? So why didn’t you say so earlier? Everyone here knows her. Hey friends, don’t you know Bhagwanti?”
A couple of people standing around nodded in agreement. The stranger said, “Bhagwanti is the noblest soul in this township. She is always there to help anyone who is in need. Her good nature and helpful disposition is known to all. Unfortunately, she is indisposed since a couple of weeks. Come, I’ll guide you to her house.” The Brahmin interrupted, “No, No, I’ll take this man to her house. Come my friend, come with me.”
A few minutes later the Brahmin stood in front of a double storey flat and pointed towards it. “This is the house of Pandit Shiv Kumar and the one above is Bhagwanti’s.” The tourist said, “Thank you very much.” He looked on in surprise as the Brahmin took out a key and unlocked the door to the flat below. The Brahmin said haltingly, “I am Pandit Shiv Kumar.”
The story tells us that our name and fame relates more to the kind of person we are. If we are able to reach across to people and offer love and compassion, that is more important than being well read or intelligent or holding many degrees.
If you sit back and think about the people who you value most or the people who have touched your life, who would you name?
Cricketers? Politicians? Scientists?
Or your family, friends and teachers?