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'My Father Never Left The Path Of Truth And Honesty'

June 16, 2024 17:02 IST
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Father's Day: Bharatlal Soni

Photograph: Kind courtesy Mukesh Soni

My father, Bharatlal Soni, is not only my ideal but also my spiritual support.

His early life was very difficult and full of struggles.

He was born in 1933 (approximately) to a family of poor goldsmiths. The youngest amongst three brothers and one sister, he lost his father when he was 11 years old; his mother died when he was 12.

Though he had a brilliant mind, he had to stop studying after Class 5. His elder brothers placed him at their brother-in-law's shop so that he could learn the family business of making gold jewellery.

He used to work the entire day; this included cleaning the house, bringing the grocery, taking care of his sister's children and assisting the karigars at the shop.

Despite his efforts, he received abuse and beatings from his brother-in-law.

Whenever my father shared these memories with us, he would also say he received valuable teachings from Jain saints residing in the nearby Upasrya (ashrams where Jain saints live and preach).

These saints regularly, and especially during the four months of the rainy season, preached truth, non-violence, patience and morals.

As a result, my father never minded what happened to him. In fact, throughout his life, he supported and loved his sister and her children.

My father started his career as a goldsmith at the age of 22 and soon got married.

We are three brothers; I am the middle one.

My father worked hard to earn a livelihood and, because he loved education, which he could not pursue himself, he invested his hard-earned money in our education. He never borrowed money from any relative or friend.

Some examples of his honesty and adherence to truth in difficult situations is enough to inspire my life towards spirituality.

In 1960, my father faced a severe financial crisis. He had a two-year-old son, my elder brother; I was born in 1966.

My mother regularly kept fasts on Ekadashi and broke her fast with sabudana khichdi. She requested my father to bring potatoes, green chilies, coriander and sabudana, which could be bought for Rs 2-3 at that time.

However, my father did not the money and struggled to arrange for these items.

Once, when buying vegetables in the market at Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, he found a bundle of 10 hundred rupee notes (a total of Rs 1,000 rupees, it was a year's income for him).

He informed a shopkeeper that someone had lost the money and handed it over with instructions to give it to the real owner.

As my father was leaving the market, he saw a man crying and saying he had lost Rs 1,000. My father told the man he knew where the money was and brought him to the shopkeeper. However, the shopkeeper denied having the money.

My father, being muscular and courageous, fought the shopkeeper and retrieved the money. He handed it to the real owner who wanted to reward him with Rs 100 but my father refused to accept it.

I remember he once told me about the day when he saw a man selling caged birds. This made him sad because he believed in freedom for all living beings.

Despite not having sufficient money at that time, he arranged for it anyhow, purchased all the birds and set them free.

This act of compassion left a lasting impression on me.

Many such incidents marked my father's life. He never left the path of truth and honesty even in times of financial crises.

My father also taught us morals by never taking any extras from shopkeepers or accepting anything for free.

He gave me a strong sense of honesty, passion, love and morality. It is due to his values and example that, in 1992, became a Central excise and customs inspector and later rose to the rank of superintendent before taking voluntary retirement in 2013 at the age of 46.

Now, I practise as an advocate specialising in taxation matters.

My father's lessons continue to guide me and my family, bringing us immense satisfaction and a sense of spiritual fulfilment.

Thanks to my father, I have been influenced by the Jain and Buddhist way of life, in addition to embracing the true Hindu tradition of love, passion, and truth.

Though my father passed away in 2010, his legacy lives on within me.

Thank you, father, for giving me an invaluable inheritance of honesty, truth, love and passion.

Mukesh, your father is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing these memories.

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