Edhi: touching hearts beyond borders

Edhi: touching hearts beyond borders
Indian woman, Geeta (R) takes blessing from Abdul Sattar Edhi, the chairman of Edhi Foundation in Karachi, October 15, 2015. Photo: Rizwan Tabassum / AFP

Eulogy to Edhi in Hindi newspaper, translated by retired Pakistani civil servant

By Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik

By Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik

The following article, penned in Hindi by a senior Indian journalist Dr Ved Pratab Vaidik, has been translated into English by Rashid Latif Ansari, a retired former Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Pakistan now residing in Canada.

“Since not many Pakistanis, except those who finished their schooling in British India can read Hindi,  I am translating it,” writes Mr Ansari. “To the best of my knowledge, it is for the first time in the history of India and Pakistan that someone has touched the hearts of both Indians and Pakistanis simultaneously. Generally, any one revered on one side of the border is either hated on the other side or ignored, but Edhi’s towering personality transcended the political animosity. On his demise, apart from bringing tears to every Pakistani’s eyes, he has earned the greatest respect from Indians. This article has also attracted over 200 eulogies from that newspaper’s readers.”

Translated from Hindi by Rashid Latif Ansari

Translated from Hindi by Rashid Latif Ansari

Mahatma Abdul Sattar Edhi

By Dr Ved Pratab Vaidik

The name of the Mahatma (Great soul), born in Bharat and died in Pakistan, was Abdul Sattar Edhi. He was 92 years old. Both Bharat and Pakistan should be proud of Edhi. In 1947 when  Edhi, along with his mother, migrated from Gujrat to Karachi, he was Penniless. They, somehow, like millions of refugees, managed to survive. He was not an educated person, but his mother was a great philanthropist. Whatever she could save, she would hand that over to Edhi and instruct him to distribute that among the poor. Since then Edhi got dedicated to social service.

Today he has left behind a conglomerate worth approximately Rupees one billion, which is the greatest philanthropic organisation of its kind, in South Asia, that looks after poor, sick and needy people through a network of hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, shelters and rehabilitation centres. 1500 Ambulances are serving humanity without any discrimination towards religion, caste or creed. The affection and care Edhi bestowed upon a female Bharati child, called Geeta, was the zenith of humanity. That deed alone puts him in the ranks of Devtas (gods).

While looking after Geeta, he did not overlook even the minutest details. Her meals, her bhajans (Hindu devout songs), and the ambiance around her was exactly what she could only get in a Hindu Ashram (religious shelter). That girl is now in Indore.

Mr. Edhi not only served Pakistan, but also rushed to help countries struck by natural calamities, such as Bangladesh, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. When Gujrat (India) was hit by an earthquake, he did not lag behind.

Edhi Hindi articleEdhi, being a Gujarati trader, could have easily lived an ostentatious life, but his simplicity matched that of Mahatma Gandhi; even a greater dervish. He did not own a house; his apparel comprised only two pairs of clothing. Over the last twenty years, he managed with only one pair of shoes. He was the darling of the entire Pakistani public. Hubris was no where near him. Squatting on the pavements, he would collect the donations. Many leaders pressurised him to enter the field of politics but he did not give up his religion of serving humanity.

In 1994 he was forced to leave Karachi and settle in London, as he had refused to bow down before some of the leaders. He never looked for any publicity. On several occasions, he narrowly missed receiving Nobel Prize. He was much above dozens of Nobel Prizes. Upon his demise Pakistan gave him a State funeral and very rightly so. His stature was far higher than many Presidents and Prime ministers. Mian Nawaz is in London but Pakistan’s President, COAS and many Chief Ministers joined the thousands who had swarmed to pay their respects to the departed soul. Wasn’t he the real Mahatma!

​Originally published in the Hindi newspaper, ‘Naya India’, July 10, 2016.

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