Exemplary Maniben Patel…

The word exemplary means “serving as a commendable pattern to be imitated.” A question in this context, what about your life as a devotee of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai would others say is exemplary? As you are left to ponder on, we have a beautiful story from Bhagawan Himself, illustrating the exemplary, principled life of Maniben Patel, daughter of “Iron Man Of India” Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

Today much effort is wasted on ostentatious living. Students should learn the value of leading a simple and unostentatious life. You may be aware of Sardar Patel, who was Deputy Prime Minister in the Government formed after Independence. One day, a colleague of his, Mahavir Thyagi, went to Patel’s residence. While talking to Patel, Thyagi noticed Patel’s daughter, Maniben, doing the household chores. She was wearing an old sari, patched up in some places. Thyagi asked her: “Maniben! You are getting a bad name for your father. What high position is he holding in the government; he is the Deputy Prime Minister of the country. Being his daughter, if you are like this, you will be taken for a beggar. The dress you are wearing is not befitting at all.” Maniben was indignant and told Sri Thyagi: “Thyagiji! It is only those who have earned money by foul and unjust means that should feel sorry for the clothes they wear. I am not ashamed to wear the clothes made out of my own labours while I am carrying on my legitimate duties. Those who spend lavishly on their comforts the money earned by their parents have to feel ashamed about themselves. I have nothing to be ashamed about. In looking after my aged father, I do my work, wearing the clothes I choose. I do not hanker after anyone’s wealth. I know how to maintain my dignity and self-respect. No one need teach me how to conduct myself.” Maniben left after saying these words.

Dr Sushila Nayyar, who was seated on the same sofa as Sri Thyagi, told him in unmistakable language: “Thyagiji! You do not know Maniben well enough. From the time she wakes up in the morning right up to going to bed in the night she is ceaselessly working without any rest. Although her father is the Deputy Prime Minister, she attends to all the household work herself. She cleans the vessels and washes her father’s clothes herself. She spins on the charkha whenever she has some spare time. She stitches the clothes for her father. She makes saris for herself out of the discarded dhotis of her father. It is difficult to find anyone to equal her in the ideal life she is leading.”

Such was the dedicated life led by Maniben in those days. It is hard to find today any young woman or man who can live like that. Most young people lead ostentatious lives, wasting the hard earned money of their parents. Students! Realise what you owe to your parents and act in a manner which will not grieve them. Avoid waste of money, of food, of time and energy.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II