Following is an inspirational and worth-reading story of an elderly Gandhian couple Arunbhai and Miraben Bhatt in Baroda. Now in their 80s, their entire life has been rooted in generosity. As students of Vinoba, they have never put a price tag on their labor. Their presence speaks to a life-long practice of equanimity, trust and compassion.
Nine years ago, they have shifted to Baroda. The week they moved in, they noticed that their front-yard was filled with food items and alcohol. It turned out that the neighbor was a drunkard, prone to fits of violence. He ran a catering business and use Arunbhai's front yard for storage space. Arunbhai naturally protested and somehow managed to convince the catering staff of their error.
But that night, at 12:30 a.m., the gates of his bungalow shook violently. "Who is Arun Bhatt?" a loud voice screamed. Arunbhai put on his glasses and walked out to the gate.
"Hi, I'm Arun," he said while greeting the ominous drunk man. It was the next-door neighbor bent on inflicting fear and punishment. While cursing vehemently, he struck Arunbhai's face, knocking his glasses to the ground which he then tossed into a nearby creek. Undeterred by the violent actions, Arunbhai compassionately held his ground, "My friend, you can take out my eyes if you'd like, but we have now moved into this house, and it would be great if you could respect our boundaries" After some more verbal assaults, the drunken neighbor gave up for the night and left.
The next morning, the neighbor's wife apologetically approached Arunbhai and Miraben. "I'm so sorry. My husband gets very unruly at night," she said offering some money for a new pair of glasses, but Arunbhai wouldn't accept the money.
A few days later, during the day, the neighbor and Arunbhai crossed paths on their local street. The neighbor, embarrassed, hung his head and looked down at the ground, unable to make eye contact. A common response might be one of self-righteousness ("Yeah, you'd better look down!"), but Arunbhai didn't feel good about the encounter. He went home and reflected on how he might be able to befriend his difficult neighbor, but no ideas surfaced.
Weeks passed. It was still challenging being neighbors. For one, the man next door was always on the phone, negotiating some deal or another, and every other word out of his mouth was a curse word. One day, after one of his routine conversations peppered with foul language, the neighbor concluded his call with three magical words: "Jai Shree Krishna". An homage to Krishna, an embodiment of compassion. At the very next opportunity, Arunbhai approached him and said, "It would be nice if we could say the same to each other, every time we crossed paths." It was impossible not to be touched by such a gentle invitation, and sure enough, the man accepted.
Now, every time they passed each other, they exchanged that sacred greeting. 'Jai Shree Krishna'. Pretty soon, it became a beautiful custom. Then, as he left home in the morning, 'Jai Shree Krishna' he would call out. And Arunbhai would call back, "Jai Shree Krishna". And one day the customary call didn't come, prompting Arunbhai to inquire, "What's wrong?" "Oh, I saw that you were reading so I didn't want to disturb you," came the response. "Not a disturbance at all! Like the birds chirping, the water flowing, the wind blowing, your words are part of nature's symphony." So they started again.
And the practice continues to this day, nine years later.
Arunbhai said, “Vinoba taught us there are four kinds of people. Those who only see the bad, those who see the good and the bad, those who focus only on the good, and those who amplify the good. We should always aim for the fourth."
Amidst the sea of negativity, physical threats, and curse words, Arunbhai found those three magical words of positivity and amplified it. ‘Jai Shree Krishna’.