Beginning within the conversation Jayeshbhai was having with his wealthy friends, and then spilling over into a conversation with me, many interesting snippets related to his anonymous monthly cash deliveries arose. Below is a compilation.
Jayeshbhai has been making it a habit to tell everyone he spends a little time with about the acts of kindness that his friends have entrusted him to do with their money. Some time ago, Ishwarkaka’s (Jayeshbhai’s father) 84 year old guru, Amrutkaka, came for a visit. Jayeshbhai takes special pleasure in sharing stories with this man, as he has spent a lifetime working on the concept of ‘waste to wealth’. Jayeshbhai notes how most people who have money do the reverse process, ‘wealth to waste’, and so sharing the stories of his handful of friends who are spending their money from such a deep space of values makes him feel as though he encourages Amrutkaka that the legacy of Gandhi will not snuff out when the last of the Gandians pass on.
Last Friday, he was sharing stories with Amrutkaka, and then took him to the slum to meet the mason and several other characters from prior stories. Jayeshbhai was carrying on about how small things are beautiful and how small things have the most important impact throughout their conversation. Amrutkaka agreed, and was pleased that Jayeshbhai was thinking along these lines. Somehow the conversation drifted into other topics, including Jayeshbhai’s regret at missing the peak of the mango harvest during his Kashmir trip, and a recent beautiful concert put on by the kids of MS at one of Ahmedabad’s premier venues after only one month of music training by a British NRI musician. Amrutkaka mentioned that the best kind of mango was a rare one called the langro mango. Jayeshbhai had never tried such a mango. Four days later, Amrutkaka and Jayeshbhai met again. Amrutkaka produced a box of out-of-season langro mangos, and an audio cassette of patriotic songs sung by children. His own small act of kindness toward Jayeshbhai. He then shared a story about Gandhi’s famous Dandi Yatra—his march to the sea to collect salt in violation of the laws of the empire. It was a well-known fact that Gandhi would begin walking at 6 am every morning, and he was a stickler for being precisely on time and not deviating from his schedule. The Dandi Yatra had been shaking the nation and the empire, and thousand across the world were following the news of Gandhi’s progress with bated breath, fearing that the Brits may crackdown hard. In the midst of this, Gandhi had snuck off one morning at 5:30am, unbeknownst to everyone who was walking with him, because he heard news of a sick girl in the village he had stopped in. Some weeks later, after the drama had subsided, it became known that Gandhi had visited this sick girl in the middle of his headlining journey. The impact was tremendous and penetrated deep into the heart of villages across India. That a man on such a big mission saw the welfare of the small sick girl as part of the same cause he was working towards shifted people’s minds towards the importance of doing small things. Amrutkaka said that small acts of kindness change people’s thoughts, and from a change in thoughts come a change in speech, which then manifests in actions. Actions performed from beneficial thoughts cement into values, which collectively form people’s characters. Their characters are the fundamental drivers of their destinies, and so from these small acts of great love, whole destinies are shifted for the better. Amrutkaka went on to praise what Jayeshbhai was doing with this money, but then challenged him shift destinies without money donated by his friends. He challenged him to make destiny-shifting a way of life, and to think about how to transform his friend’s money into everyone’s money.
Amrutkaka shared a story about some boys who had run away from home to join Gandhi’s movement. The trio stowed away on a train before arriving at Gandhi’s ashram. Gandhi told them that though their desire to help was admirable, they had begun on the wrong foot by stealing their train journey; that a journey toward truth and freedom cannot begin with deceit and theft. Still he agreed to keep them in the ashram on a probational basis. When asked what worked would be assigned to them, he tasked them with feeding flour to ants. They protested, pointing out that ants get their food regardless of human assistance. Gandhi agreed, but told them that in looking after the ants, their mindsets would shift toward universal compassion. And only then would they be prepared for working towards freedom.
Amrutkaka has spent a lifetime dealing with human and animal waste. One of his favorite activities is to collect human and animal waste from the streets and to find a spot where he can plant a tree using the waste as fertilizer. In this way, there are hundreds of trees towering trees across the nation that began from the waste that Amrutkaka had collected. Even at his advanced age, he still likes to collect waste off the streets because he believes it has multiple effects: cleaning the street, reducing illness, growing trees, and changing people’s behavior after feeling guilty about watching an old man clean their waste off the streets!