A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

When I see a beggar August 29, 2007

Filed under: Ethics and Values,India,life,love — gurdas @ :

In India, beggars are more visible than honesty. And it seems I have come a full circle on how I view beggars. Long back I used to give generously, then I held back ferociously and now I give selectively.

It is not uncommon for people to see beggars as a nuisance. They are not to blame fully since we have this sea of beggars. They can be found at traffic lights, outside shopping malls and temples amongst other places. But surely we can do better than getting agitated at the very sight of a beggar? Not all of them deserve our anger. Remember, we see more beggars in India because we have created more beggars in India. Decades of government apathy, social boycott and lack of opportunities have led to their creation. Agreed, many beggars are cheats who chose to take the easy path of begging rather than toiling.

Some of us have been duped by beggars who extracted money by concocting lies about hardship, hunger, and even death of a relative who needs to be cremated. Once in a while the dirty beggar’s lie is exposed. Then we return from such incidents promising never to give alms. But how does that change anything for the old crippled beggar who has reached a point where only mercy can keep him breathing? When I see such a beggar I feel ashamed thinking of how little my country and I do to better their lives.

Yesterday, while coming out of a multiplex, I looked into the face of aged, wrinkled beggar. I saw exhaustion, sorrow, and despair in her face. With cars honking for way, I could not stop and ask if she needed anything. Maybe I could have parked somewhere ahead and walked back. But my little self chose to do otherwise. Her face remained with me for quite sometime. I failed to make the right decision.

And I now find myself begging for answers.

Let me ask you: When you are approached by a beggar who deserves your help and you chose to look the other way, who is the lesser beggar? The one who is begging or the one who is refusing? Because the only reason to refuse, IMHO, is when you are a greater beggar and need help more than the beggar in front of you.


7 Responses to “When I see a beggar”

  1. chirjot Says:

    your vision is larger than life and you have ability to use your intellect in the right perspective


  2. gurdas Says:

    Chirjot, I feel honoured. Life is the ultimate teacher.

  3. Eric Says:

    I have a similar outlook. This evening, a fellow approached me and claimed that he was trapped in the city with his wife and child and could not afford to leave. This same man approached me three weeks ago with a similar story, and in such a lucrative town for beggars, I found such a tale of woe hard to believe. I therefore felt justified in refusing this liar. Things became heated, and he struck me. As he walked off, I felt pity for him, and a bit of rage, but a dim realization tempered this: I am partly responsible for his behavior. And if he is an unsuccessful beggar, he has the means, youth, and capacity to be a criminal. I feel as though I may have pushed him towards criminality. Do you agree?

  4. gurdas Says:


    Beautiful question! You take more than your due guilt here. I believe our responsibility is limited to having honest intentions and justified action. The results of those actions are beyond us, and we are simply too small in the grand design of things to be responsible for all the consequences. You refused a liar, and so your action is justified. You did not intend this person any harm, so your intentions are honest. I would leave it there.

    In a way we are all responsible for the practice of begging. The failure of our systems (capitalist, socialist, autocratic, whatever) and all pervasive apathy are major factors. Sadly we refuse to acknowledge this and so diminish the chances of correction. But hope lives strong, and we will as a race some day pledge to provide basic living standards to everyone.

    Until then, my friend, keep loving and keep hoping.

    – Gurdas

  5. Eric Says:

    Thanks for the answer. I believe I’ll continue to read your blog, there seems to be a lot of good stuff in here.

  6. gurdas Says:

    Eric, thank you for the kind words! I look forward to your feedback, criticism, and questions.

  7. i may not have supposed this had been awesome quite a few years in the past but yet it’s amusing just how time evolves the method by which you have an understanding of completely different concepts, thank you with regard to the post it is actually great to go through anything sensible occasionally in lieu of the routine rubbish mascarading as blogs and forums on the internet, i’m off to enjoy a smattering of rounds of zynga poker, adios for now

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