1996. A few days later, I met a retired gentleman living in the same locality. He was a Lt. General in the Indian army and had retired from the post of Vice-Chief. I had heard of his simplicity from others but meeting him was a very pleasant experience. His house was a moderate one but maintained very meticulously with a lot of greenery inside as well as outside. In fact, our first meeting took place while he was taking care of the greenery maintained by him outside his house along the road. This scene left a deep mark on me and we gradually became very close to each other.
In due course, I also learnt about the important positions he had occupied in the Indian army. Not only this, he came from a very good background with many friends and relatives in important positions. Against the background of these facts, his simplicity assumed an even greater meaning. My regard for him only grew with time. He also became a life member of the Kabir Peace Mission and contributed a lot to its activities. Once, this gentleman was invited to an important function of the mission. We had earmarked a prominent seat for him in the front row but our guest was nowhere to be seen, though he had promised to come. Surpisingly, he was spotted sitting in the back row and could be brought to the front row only after great persuasion. For him, sitting at the back appeared to be quite normal and there was no gimmick behind it.
Later also, such a situation arose several times. This set me thinking about those who occupy or try to occupy the front seats, in whatsoever field they are, fully knowing their place. Such persons at times have to be reminded of their place and when this is done, they feel insulted and may even become our enemies. A wise or great person never does so. On the other hand, they feel more comfortable in giving the front place to others. In this way, they make themselves more honourable than those occupying the front seats. At the same time, they pre-empt any chance of being insulted or made to feel small.
The gentleman mentioned above is one of them. Every time, when he does so, he goes up in my esteem. The name of the gentleman is Lt. General Vijay Singh and even after crossing 75 years, he is healthy and happy. One of the secrets of this is the honour he gives to the back seat.