Mother Theresa: 1910-1997
In some ways, Mother Teresa was Gandhi´s avatar. Like Gandhi, she too championed the cause of the diseased, the destitute and the dying.
Soon after Gandhi death, Mother Theresa became an Indian citizen and initiated her own Charitable Foundation. Four years after its inception – June 1952 – in a blinding monsoon, she skirted the perimeter of the local Medical College Hospital in search of the sick and dying. As if expecting it, she stumbled upon a moribund mass with toes gnawed to the bones and wounds infested with maggots. Scooping up the bedraggled bundle she scurried to the nearby hospital only to be callously dismissed. Undismayed she gathered up her human cargo setting off for another hospital. En route, she heard a clear rattle as the pain-racked body stiffened and died.
The very next day she stormed City Hall demanding a place for the dying to appear before God in dignity. Miraculously, one-week later permission was granted to occupy a Hindu hospice, reserved for visitors to the local Kali Temple. But as word of a Christian missionary usurping a Hindu hospice spread, suspicion grew to irritation erupting into a downpour of stones, sticks and bricks on the hapless missionaries.
In this real-life drama of good-versus-evil, Mother Theresa became the unwitting victor. En route to the hospice one day she noticed a curious mob milling around the Kali temple. Bursting through the swarming mass, she discovered an influential Brahmin with up turned eyes and ashen face lying prone on the ground. Grabbing up the near lifeless body, she rushed to the hospice where she patiently nursed the Brahmin back to full recovery. Unable to contain his gratitude, the Brahmin reportedly exclaimed: For thirty years, I have worshiping the Goddess Kali……but here is the real Kali, a Kali of flesh and blood. A happy ending to the barrage of stones, sticks and bricks.
To say both Gandhi and Mother Teresa were similar is an understatement. When they spoke, India listened. Their statures belied their authority. It flowed from their spirituality. As the unelected spokesmen of the underprivileged and undernourished, they highlighted the hopes and underscored the despair of the masses. They were different however: Gandhi, was a politician working on his sainthood; Mother Teresa, a saint, dabbling in politics.