This post today is to acknowledge and applaud the kind and selfless act of a couple of teenagers here in our own Saadi Dilli. But at the same time it is also meant to put across a question about why we should help the poor and the needy.......kya sirf apna parlok sudharne ke liye?-only to secure a place for ourselves in heaven?-so that we do not have to suffer in hell after death?
While going towards Delhi's famous shopping destination, Lajpat Nagar Central Market with my daughter and sister a few weeks ago, we spotted a well dressed elderly woman sprawled on the footpath. Perhaps the heat and humidity had affected her badly. A couple of concerned looking teenagers stood near her. Assuming them to be her relatives, we walked on but as we passed them by, we heard the children ask her who she was, if she had anyone with her, if they could do anything for her etc. Concerned about the old lady who was barely conscious, we also stopped and helped her sit. We offered her sips of water from the water bottle we were carrying and waited for her to gather her breath. A couple of other ladies who had stopped by out of curiosity, very casually suggested we should call the police and hand her over to them. But the teenagers and we politely refused to do that. We were sure she would not have come to the crowded market alone. The children offered to look for her friends and relatives in the nearby shops. One of the children picked up her purse and put it in the lady's lap. As we sprinkled some water on her head and wiped her face with a wet kerchief, the owner of the opposite shop came out to inquire what the commotion was all about. A couple of middle aged ladies also came out........ Shocked as hell, they asked us what had happened to her. Relieved to find her acquaintances, we told them all we knew and asked them to take her to a doctor immediately. Thanking the teenagers and us, they rushed her to a nearby hospital in their car. Now that the lady was in safe hands, we, the teenagers and us, too, went our own ways.
That evening, as we narrated this incident to one of our friends (so called) she reprimanded us for getting embroiled in other people's matters. She tried to remind us that we could have landed the teenagers and ourselves in unnecessary trouble. But her mother-in-law who was listening to our conversation, checked her. She blessed us for our good deed and reminded us that we will be rewarded for our selfless act with a place in heaven.
This incident reminded me of a parable I had read. A man comes across a sick old man but instead of helping him, he goes his own way. Later, when he himself dies and knocks at the doors of heaven, he is denied entry and is asked if he had met any messengers of God in his lifetime. The man declines, saying that he had never come across any such person. Then God reminds him of the poor, the old, the sick and the disabled people he had met but failed to recognize them as messengers of God and help them. As a consequence of his selfish deeds he is denied entry to heaven.
The moral of the parable was that we should always help the poor and the needy in order to attain salvation and earn for ourselves a place in heaven.
But isn't this a selfish motive again? Should we take care of our fellow human beings because they may be a means to be sent to heaven as a reward for our good deeds or simply because they are human beings like us? Doesn't this amount to religion compelling people to be kind and helpful only under the threat of being sent to hell if we act otherwise? Doesn't this teach our children to be selfish, the very thing we preach them not to be? Why can't a genuine desire to help people in need, be taken as that only?
And pray, why should we need to help and take care of only the human beings? What about all the other creations of God-the animals, the birds, the trees and so on?