Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s life is an inspiration for anyone who aspires to do great things, overcoming obstacles of poverty and hardship in the process. Resolve and determination to sail against the wind have made the child chaiwala from Vadnagar the most powerful leader of the largest democracy in the world.
As the third child of Damodardas Modi, he did not have to bear the burden of family responsibility, unlike his elder brothers. Yet, he took upon himself the task of getting up early and opening the tea stall by the Vadnagar Railway Station so that his father and he could serve tea to the first passengers to arrive. In the afternoon, he would rush from school to attend to other trains, before returning to class. Watching his mother, Hiraba, work at the houses of others encouraged him to work harder; this was his contribution to the family income.
Serving tea to passengers as well as the sadhus who stayed at the Vadnagar Railway Station helped him gain worldly experience. He was always contemplating how to make his life more meaningful. He found solace when he came in contact with Laxmanrao Inamdar, the RSS Pracharak who visited Vadnagar when Modiji was only seven years old. Modiji was so impressed by the intellectual might and cheerfulness of Inamdar, popularly called Vakil Saheb, that the young child would accompany him on his visits, even on a Diwali day, to learn more about the man he admired so much. Under his influence, Modi became a bal-swayamsevak (child volunteer of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS) at the age of seven. His sense of patriotism was imbibed during those formative years.
This sense of patriotism further intensified when he met soldiers going to war. As a young child he would serve tea to soldiers as a mark of his respect for them. Later, he visited army camps and spent time with soldiers. He understood that they were the real heroes.
Modi was brave from his childhood days. He used to swim in the village pond that had crocodiles in it. Once he brought home a baby crocodile, only to be scolded by his mother, who told him to return it to the pond. On another occasion, he was hit by the tail of a crocodile, making him ill. Undeterred, he was soon back at the pond to swim.
There was always some higher purpose that guided his destiny. Astrologers had predicted that he would either become a recluse or do something great for the country. He rebelled against injustice and was opposed to social inequality, which became the theme of some of the plays he staged. His father feared that he would become a recluse. Following the tradition of the Ghanchi Caste to which they belonged, child marriage was arranged for him at the age of six. However, it could not prevent him from becoming a wanderer. The marriage was not consummated and he left home in search of truth at the age of 17 after taking his family’s permission, inspired by Gautam Buddha.
The days of wandering that followed took him to the Himalayas, the RK Ashrams and various sadhus, only to learn that his salvation would come by working among people. This period, however, gave him the spirituality that allowed him to detach from his family and thus treat every Indian as his own.
As a young boy he had come to realise that to incite change, you have to become a part of a large organisation. He had already joined the RSS shakhas as a child. He fell at the feet of his guru Vakil Saheb and became a member of the RSS. He served Vakil Saheb with devotion, washing his clothes and cleaning his room to attain inner happiness. The guru realised Modiji’s potential and encouraged him to study more and more. He began his journey, one that continues today.
Sudesh Verma is the national spokesperson of the BJP and the author of Narendra Modi: The GameChanger: Early Life, Emergency & the Sangh. Read it on the Juggernaut app here.