Shravan Kumar of our age
Shravan Kumar of our age

Shravan Kumar of our age

In this age when elderly parents are facing problems living with their grown up children, Kailash Giri from Hinota village of Jabalpur district in Madhya Pradesh provide a modern example of ‘Shravan Kumar’ ( a man who carried his blind mother and father on his shoulders in the ‘Ramayana’ time ).
“A few years ago I met with an accident and recovered from it because of the prayers offered by my mother. It was then that the fire inside me to serve my mother was kindled and the journey that began in 1996,” he said.”We are living in a wild society, a society where old-age homes are the fashion of the day. But, today’s youth fail to understand that nothing other than serving their parents would give them the satisfaction of leading a meaningful life. What I do may not be practicable for all, but they should pay their gratitude towards their parents to the extent that they can,” adds Brahmachari.Brahmachari has been carrying his mother, Keerthi Devi (80), on a `kanwar’ (wicker basket) for the past twelve years and visiting temples at several places including Allahabad, Ayodhya, Kashi, and Chitrupur. “Mother is no less than God; she is truth with flesh and blood and children owe their life to her,” says Kailash Giri Brahmachari (34), shouldering his blind mother on a pilgrimage to significant Hindu shrines all over the country. The frail 36-year-old, wearing the saffron dhoti favoured by Hindu pilgrims, his torso bare and his long hair tied on the top of his head, has become an object of admiration and awe in places he arrives..The journey has not been easy. Kailash has had to battle poverty and the sheer physical difficulty of the task, but his spirit has been unfailing. Usually he covers 15 to 20 km a day and takes shelter wherever it is offered. The youth, who thrives on offerings made by the public on his way, wants the Government to make a law making it compulsory for children to take care of their parents till their death. May be a law to love parents!Kailash’s mother is happy that her wish is being fulfilled but is also concerned about the huge struggle her son is putting up.

“Only a mother can feel the pain of her son. On several occasions, I told him to stop the journey. But Kaliash has decided to complete the pilgrimage,”‘ said Kailash’s mother

Kailashgiri said he and his mother were treated well. “Only near Ananthpur [in Andhra Pradesh], my money and a bag were stolen.”

His Spartan possessions included a stove and pots, a couple of rugs, some clothes, a gold-plate wristwatch and a mobile phone.
Is this to keep in touch with relatives?

“The entire Sansar [world] is my family,” he said.

Kailashgiri ended his spiritual quest at the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in the holy city of Varanasi this year.

Caring for aging parents can be challenging and difficult at times, but it is also an honor and privilege to do so, as well as a God-given responsibility for everyone in the family. By working together as a family, being supportive and helpful in caring for the many needs of the elderly parent, families will have the joy and pleasure of knowing that their efforts were greatly appreciated by the aging parent or grandparent, as well as knowing that they fulfilled the requirement to “honor your father and mother” while they were alive. But, with our changing values and concepts, it is becoming common practice to abandon the ailing parents to some old age homes or geriatric hospitals and then, not even go to visit them anymore.

Kailash Giri is a great example for people who do not care about their aged parents. What Kailash has done is unique, and cannot be done by everyone.

But how many of us would put in the effort to take our elderly parents to the places they would love to visit ,and to people whom they love to meet? Learn to care for them in our own families. We will learn to be patient. To love in the face of anger, and we will see our children develop compassion, gentleness, and a respect for old people. They will spend time talking to the grandparents, laughing and joking with them. They will learn that death and dying is a natural part of life and living, and that sometimes we lose ourselves in the process. Even small gestures matter, and will be counted ultimately.