Shouldn’t Mendicants Work to Earn Livelihood?
Mendicants clad in shades of saffron, white and sometimes other colors flock almost all the Indian holy cities to eke out a living by leveraging religious and spiritual psyche of devotees. And Manikaran, a popular pilgrimage center located about 4 kilometres from Kasol in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh (HP), is not an exception. When our Bhunter-bound bus starting from Barshani, HP stopped at Manikaran for a brief break and picking up more passengers, two mendicants in late 40s or early 50s, expecting a free ride until Kasol, boarded the bus. True to form, when bus conductor asked for their destination, one of them told him with a wide teeth-baring smile that they were “baba”, to avoid spending meager money they had on the bus ticket.
However, the bus conductor, unfazed by the reply, insisted on their buying tickets, which resulted in a verbal spat initiating an exchange of caustic remarks about secret indulgences of the two parties involved. The mendicants ultimately succumbed to the dominance of conductor, realizing the bus is not their cave or makeshift “office” where they command.
By the way, is expectation of free access to cloth, food, shelter and everything else by mendicants, who always remind their followers and / or devotees about their duties, justified?