Selfless Service Cannot Be Monopolized
Serguei Badaev (10-26-02)
When Sathya Sai Baba boasts about his unique qualities of generosity, boundless love and limitless charity it can't sound authentic to matter-of-fact attitude. It sounds impossible that in the whole world no one except him and his organisation can do selfless service motivated by pure love. But without concrete examples to show the opposite those words seem to cast a sort of spell on Sai Baba's followers making them either believe that it is true or at least ignore absurdity of such claims.
An example presented below is taken from the Indian Embassy site and clearly shows Sai Baba's futility to present himself as the only true example of service. This example seems to be very graphic due to two points. (1) The location is Andhra Pradesh, the same Indian state where Sai Baba runs his charity projects. (2) The project is run by a single person who spends his own money, not funds accumulated by donations or solicitations.
Indians settled in the US have several dreams. Some dreams of a successful career or an opulent lifestyle, yet some others have ideas of constructing palatial houses back home with the newly acquired dollars. But for a young New York businessman, it was a different dream and it has come true successfully.
Dr. Pailla Mala Reddy, President and CEO of Bactolac Pharmaceuticals, wanted to build a model village in his native Andhra Pradesh and has allocated more than 20 per cent of his annual income to help his fellow, illiterate villagers. To start with he has constructed two temples- one for Lord Balaji and the other of Lord Shiva- and a rest house for travelers, laid new roads, renovated the school building and helped solve the perennial drinking water shortage. He has laid the foundation for a women's technical training institute to teach computers among other subjects, a primary health care center and a community center to make it a model village, and all of it without any Government assistance.
When Dr. Reddy was wondering how to use the underemployed labour and youth force of the village, some village elders advised him to construct temples as they had to trudge several miles to worship deities. He converted the idea into an excellent income-generating opportunity for the villagers. "I never went in for donations and spent money from my pocket." The construction work also helped the villagers to earn a living. "We employed masons, carpenters and plumbers - skilled and unskilled workers from the village. All the eligible adults took part in the construction work and also earned their income. "Thus, the temples for Lord Balaji and Lord Shiva came up on a 12 acre plot in Sunkhisala village in Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh, symbolising the co-operative spirit of the villagers.
A temple for Lord Rama is now being constructed as the temple in the complex and Dr. Reddy has spent quite a fortune for the noble case - $ 250,000 so far for the entire project. " I am spending the money given by Him for Him." The construction of third temple has again helped the villagers earn a decent living. : It two-in-one. The villagers are happy that new temples are coming up any they get paid for the job. "The biggest of its kind in the surrounding districts has already been attracting devotees from far and near.
It has also helped those unable to visit Tirumala to fulfill their prayers and offerings. Built in memory of his father, Pailla Sathi Reddy, the temple complex has granite idols of deities chiseled by noted temple architects attached to the internationally renowned Mamallapuram Sculpture Institute in Tamil Nadu. "Fixed deposits to the tune of Rs. 5 lakhs have been made and the interest will take care of priests' salary, maintenance and daily poojas."
Since Dr. Reddy is a resident of New York, a local committee has been set up with village elders for day-to-day administration. Once the temple work was over, he utilised the services of villagers to repair and re-lay roads, desalt water tanks and undertake other developmental activities. Since the temple has become very popular, several of Malla Reddy's friends from the US who visit India now make it a point to visit the temple. In the absence of any accommodation, he has constructed a guest house with all modern facilities for the visitors. Enthused by the Co-operative spirit of the villagers, the Government has sanctioned several developmental works and more bus routes for the village.
When the Chief Minister, N. Chandra Babu Naidu visited New York recently, he congratulated Dr. Reddy and showered praise for his love and affection for his native village. "Andhra needs more NRI's like Dr. Reddy who have brought glory and pride to their State," he was quoted as saying.
Besides, the NRI has set up a trust with a fixed deposit of Rs. 5 lakhs and the interest is used to pay old age pension to 50 village elders who are either infirm or too old to work. Similarly, he has set up a scholarship fund with Rs. 5 lakhs to help poor students of the village attend college. He is planning to set up small-scale industry in the village so that none would remain idle.
"What I am today is because of my family and my village. I owe a lot to my motherland. Everyone should give something back to his family, village, state and country. I have started in a very small way." Dr. Reddy, who has a very humble beginning, worked in Nigeria for a while before moving to the US. He is very actively involved with the American Telugu Association and is among the largest donors among the Telugus in the US for any good cause locally or in Andhra Pradesh, Recently, he donated $ 12,000 to a cancer hospital to be constructed in Hyderabad in memory of the late Chief Minister, N.T. Tamarao's wife. He has also given $12,000 to set up scholarship fund on behalf of Reddy Jana Sangha to help poor students. He also donated $ 10,000 for this year's annual conference of the American Telugu Association at Detroit.