I got an opportunity of visiting South Africa in July 2001. A few months before the visit I had read a book titled, ‘Satyagrah in South Africa’ written by Mahatma Gandhi on his life in South Africa. In fact, his stay in South Africa had converted Mohan Das into a Mahatma. Overall, it was a very inspiring book and since then I had been entertaining a wish of visiting South Africa. In South Africa, our main programme was in Johannesburg but we got an opportunity of visiting Durban also, which had been the main centre of activity of Gandhiji in South Africa. At Durban, the state agriculture minister was of Indian origin and he had hosted a lunch for our delegation. During this lunch I met the Director of Agriculture of the state who was also of Indian origin. Somehow we developed a liking for each other and he invited me for a cup of tea at his residence. I readily agreed and he took me to his home in the afternoon. This home visit gave me a good insight into life in South Africa and the role of Indians in the progress of that nation.
During the course of our interaction, I asked my host to make available or suggest a book, which could give me an insight into the life of Indian migrants in the early days. On this request, he presented me a book on the life of a great social worker named Ram Bharos whose parents had come to South Africa towards the end of the nineteenth century. His parents died when Ram Bharos was not even 10 years old and also left to his care a younger brother with unsound mind. Both these boys found shelter in an orphanage after the death of their parents. Soon, the younger brother also passed away leaving Ram Bharos alone, to be brought up in the orphanage.
The young Ram Bharos turned out to be an intelligent and hard-working boy who endeared himself to the management of the orphanage very soon. The manager in charge of the orphanage was himself a very good person and could notice the talent of Ram Bharos. So he gave him full support and encouraged him for higher education. Ram Bharos not only contributed his services in the running of the orphanage, but also paid attention to his education thereby passing the necessary examinations. So much so, he was appointed in the orphanage itself on a responsible post. Further noticing the talent of Ram Bharos, the manager in charge also married his daughter to him and subsequently gave him the responsibilities of managing the orphanage. Ram Bharos not only carried out this responsibility very well but also contributed to the field of social service so much, that his name and fame spread all over the country. In due course, he became a famous social worker not only in South Africa but in other countries also. The book on his life was written very objectively and I found it not only informative but touching also.
While I was going through the book in my hotel room, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I became very emotional on realising that we all are under divine care but due to ignorance we feel that we take care of ourselves. If an orphan boy in a country thousands of miles away from his native place could grow so well, where is the need of worrying for those who have no such uncertainty? My view is that we should do our best in our present and never worry for the future. Eventually, it is the divine power within ourselves, which takes care of us.