Compassion for the lowliest is the highest form of service to god. Kuttawala baba looks after needy stray pups and dogs from the alms he gets
This is my familyInside the Kkuttawala baba’s world
Tell me a little about yourself. My name is Surkarnath Ogad. I am a footpath dweller. When I was a child, we were so poor that my mother used to beg for the rotis that my rich neighbours used to carry for their dogs. After she died, I was free and wanted to take up renunciation. I found a guru who inducted me into the Gorakhnath tradition of austerity. I have been living on the streets since then. I have never been married. These dogs are my children.
Is this your permanent place?
No, I have no such thing as a permanent place. I was living in a little jhuggi at Triveni ghat near Rishikesh, but the authorities broke it down and threw me out. I found a little patch of grass here near some fresh water and me and the children have settled down here for the moment. Of course, if I am shunted out again, the dogs will all come with me.
Do you miss the joys of being a comfortable householder?
Never, this is my family. I am a contented man for I am free. Looking after these dogs gives me unbounded joy, and a spiritual high. We share all the food – we eat absolutely the same food.
How do you feel when the pups and dogs die?
Sad, of course, especially for those that I have fed and bathed with my own hands since they were tiny. I must have buried about 60 dogs by now. When a dog comes to me, I cannot do anything if it gets sick and dies. If it survives, it is with me for life. I have developed a form of detachment, which I must cultivate if this is my mission.
You say that little pups die under cars all the time. Do you know that you can actually prevent the birth of stray dogs by having them sterilised?
There is a government policy for this. Yes, I know that they can be operated. However, no one bothers about strays in these parts. All the money that is supposed to go into this project goes into various pockets. I am a poor sanyasi, who will listen to me? Rather than fight with the authorities, I carry on quietly, doing my own little bit for these creatures that have no one in this wide world. This is my contribution. The Dog Baba, popularly known as "Kuttawala Baba" lives on Virbhadra Road near Seema Dental College, on the bypass road between Haridwar and Rishikesh.
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