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Article Published in The Tribune on 26th August 2011 on 101st Birth Anniversary of Mother Teresa
She moved the rich and the powerful but served the poorest of the poor, remembers the biographer on the 101st birth anniversary of the remarkable nun who embraced poverty and made India her home
COMPASSION BEYOND BOUNDARIES
Navin B Chawla
A few weeks ago I visited one of Mother Teresa’s Sisters who was admitted for surgery in the PGI hospital in Chandigarh. The Chief Secretary of Haryana Smt. Urvashi Gulati and the Secretary to the Governor Mohinder Kumar accompanied me that morning to Sister Ann Vinita’s bedside. Attending to her in the hospital were two companion Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. In the course of conversation, one of them said that she was really happy to meet me. She went on to explain that as a young woman in Kerala, she had admired Mother Teresa’s work , but it was when she chanced to read my biography of Mother Teresa that she decided to join the Order. That a young Catholic woman should have read a book written by one, who while he was unmistakably close to Mother Teresa, yet did not share her faith stunned me into silence. It made me reflect on a number of issues related and unrelated: of the strength of secular values; and of true compassion knowing no religious, ethnic, caste or geographical boundaries, and indeed being able to transcend altogether the formal contours of religious practice.
Mother Teresa was a tiny figure who strode her century like a colossus, and in the process made her name a synonym for goodness and compassion the world over. She was invariably received in the halls of power, but her mission lay in the meanest streets and slums over all the continents. She built brick by brick, a global infrastructure with the help of five thousand Sisters and Brothers of her Order, and also had the capacity to enjoin millions of ordinary people, who came forward to help her in her mission to alleviate loneliness, hunger and suffering.