I remained posted at Kanpur for full six years. This period marked a turning point in my life from many points of view. In this period I developed close relations with many people which led to the formation of the Kabir Peace Mission. Most of these contacts began in my official capacity but turned into personal relations. Some of them are now closer to me than my blood relations. One such relation is a nephew of mine who used to play tennis with me regularly. Naturally, he became very close to me. Apart from playing tennis, we used to exchange views on many subjects. As a result we developed a mutual liking.
This boy subsequently shifted to Mumbai for business. His father bought a flat for him in the posh area of Cuffe Parade costing over a crore of rupees. The flat is not very big and has only two bedrooms. I was very happy with this development and was keen to visit him in Mumbai at the earliest opportunity. And this opportunity came in March 1993 when I visited Mumbai on my way to Kudremukh. At Bombay I stayed in a Guest House which was located in a building adjacent to the one in which my nephew lived. In the evening I went to his flat. He very fondly took me to every corner of his flat and described its positive features. What amused me most was his statement that apart from other features, the good thing about the flat was that it had sunlight and also air. I lightly commented that if even after paying over a crore rupees, the flat would not have air and light then of what worth would it be to? Then he explained me that air and light were luxuries in a city like Mumbai and he was lucky to have such a flat. He also gave many examples where fresh air was not available even after paying larger amounts. The matter ended there.
I got another opportunity to visit Mumbai after a year or so. That time I stayed in our own Guest House which was located in Bandra. I reached there late in the evening. Mumbai remains quite warm even in the month of November and the use of air-conditioners is quite common. Since I was tired I also slept with the air-conditioner on and woke up a little later than my usual time. When I opened the windows of my room, I saw a cluster of multi storeyed buildings all around. Then I closely looked at the building opposite to ours. The sun had risen and for many it was the office-going time. What I saw was once again amusing. In some of the flats of the opposite building, the residents had tied ropes for drying washed clothes. Since the rope was outside the window, they were using special devices for putting clothes over the rope and the same exercise was being done for removing the dried clothes.
When I talked about it with my local officer over breakfast, he told me that the residents of that building were lucky to have sunlight at least on the outer walls of their flats. In his flat sunlight was not available at all. As a result the clothes had to be dried inside the rooms.
This set me thinking about the bounties which nature provides us in abundance. For most of us, things like air and sun go unnoticed and we take them for granted. We affix no value to them unless we live in places as mentioned above. Our whole value system is based on material acquisitions only and it is no wonder that we deprive ourselves of the wealth, nature has given us. In the process we also lose the pleasure of our material wealth to a great extent. In fact, a balance between these two aspects of wealth must be struck for a truly enjoyable life. So we should equally respect the wealth of nature and those who do not have much of the material wealth should not feel unduly poor. In all probability they enjoy a bigger share of nature’s wealth, though they may not be attributing any price to it. Even if we look into the subject purely from the economic point of view, it can be established that what nature provides is priceless. For survival, the gifts of nature are more essential than the creation of human beings. In fact, all wealth originates from nature including the wealth created by man. Looking from this point of view a poor man is wealthier, since he enjoys a bigger share of the priceless wealth of nature.