Hira Modi, once a chain smoker, would puff away 13 cigarette packets a day. He now spends that money on providing clothing to the poor, feeding birds and even arranging pilgrimage for those who cannot afford the tours.
Modi, a septuagenarian, used to work as an electrical engineer with the Indian Railways.
The turning point of his life was a spiritual function that he attended in early 1994. While the function was on, Modi would get up and go out for a quick smoke every half hour. Among thousands who were present in that function, the spiritual leader asked him where he was headed. He admitted in public that he went for a smoke. The leader looked down and continued reading. Modi felt so bad that he quit smoking from that day.
He realized that the money he spent on cigarettes could actually be of some help to needy people. He used to spend Rs 520 a day on cigarettes, which can also make a one way ticket on train for a poor man going from one corner of the country in a reserved bogie . It could also provide food for 10 people in a hotel. Or a month’s supply of tea and poha.
E ve r y t h re e months, Modi tours villages in the tribal areas and provides them clothing. He has been doing this since 1990s. Modi even visits village schools and provides books and wall clocks where there are none.
“I have just learnt one thing in all these 80 years of my life. It’s no use holding on to material things. I will be alone when I am gone”, said Modi in an interview to The Times Of India.