Auto raja: Bengaluru’s street king
Life for many, is not fair. It brings uncertain turns and twist in your life that may cause a little mishap that drive some towards bad and some towards good. But does these hardships really define who you are? Well certainly no. Auto Raja from Bengaluru is a great example for hardships, struggles, odds, evens and among it- life! This man despite of facing several failures, didn’t lost his hope in humanity and love for manhood. He opened an old age home for poor people who are left abandoned on the streets and provide them with proper care. What’s his story and how life threw him in the pit of darkness only to rise as a phoenix, let’s check that out!
The journey of Auto Raja
“What I do is God’s work and I am just an instrument in his mission”. Abandoned by his parents at a very young age, T. Raja was left on his own on the streets of Aniyambadi in North Tamil Nadu. To feed the needs of his stomach, the young child turned towards the dark roads of gambling and stealing. Almost three decades before from today, the 16 years old, Auto Raja was locked inside the shallow prisons of Chennai, where he underwent the transformation from rogue to saint! But this transformation didn’t happened out of nothing but maybe because god has a much better plan for the kid!
“I was a trouble-maker at home and outside. I was into thievery, street-fights and petty crimes. When I landed in the jail, I realized the miseries of life there. That’s when I sat in prayer one evening and vowed to reform and lead a sincere life,” said Auto Raja, recalling the past.
When he was released from the jail, the man choose to opt for a better life and borrowed Rs. 1000 to start earning as an auto driver. This was exactly where his life started taking a different turn, spending his nights on the pavements of Bengaluru, T. Raja closely observed the inhabitants of Extreme Street shores. The unkempt beggars, mentally ill who have been abandoned by their families, penniless women, kids and elders. After riding auto rickshaw for quite a time, he was able to get a small home for himself. During his trips across the streets, he provide the poor with water and whatever food possible, he also decided to give then blankets and clothes. But all of this wasn’t enough, and the man desired to do something bigger for them, he wished to provide these people with love and care they have been longing so far to have. And one day, he finally carried an ailing man to his house for proper treatment. And from here started his journey as Auto Raja.
“I provided him shelter in the 6X3 parking space, gave him a haircut, cleaned his maggot-infested wounds, treated him with antiseptic solutions and gave him food and water.” Said Auto Raja.
His family and people in the neighborhood used to ridicule him for bringing home a beggar, but that didn’t let his spirit down and he continued doing this noble job. When, after all these years of loneliness, he saw the smile on that old beggar face- the world seemed to be complete for the Auto Raja. That one smile triggered him to do more good and he ultimately rented a place where he opened an old age home for poor people, starting with 13 inmates. This was the start of New Ark Mission of India at the Doddagubbi Village in Bengaluru city back in 1997. With the help of some donations, he constructed a 2000 sq.ft building on half an acre of land, impressed by his dedication, the Karnataka Government gave him an acre at a subsidized rate. Initially he used a bike created by himself as an ambulance to carry such people to his home, but later he was gifted with an ambulance by local NGO’s and government. His old age home only survives on donations and therefore it sometimes get tough to even meet the basic needs, however this never stops T. Raja from doing what he wants to do. Keeping his prison history in mind, the Local police keeps an eye over his work so that there’s no case of organ transplant or forgery. Though ever since he started his campaign, there’s no case of any illegality.
Today he has managed to rescued almost over 10,000 beggars and cremated several abandoned dead bodies. He also rescued a 6 year old baby, who was thrown on the streets of Bengaluru, after taking him to the hospital, T. Raja learned that the boy is HIV positive! Though, despite of his medical conditions, Auto Raja was determined to raise that child and took him with himself to his home! Auto raja has bagged several awards in his pocket including many form the government itself. Auto Raja has been conferred with “NDTV Man of The Year” and the “CNN-IBN Real Heroes” award!