Humble Beginnings: The Early Years

Published By : Admin | May 24, 2014 | 17:39 IST

Narendra Modi’s journey began in the by-lanes of Vadnagar, a small and nondescript town in North Gujarat’s Mehsana district. Born on 17th September 1950, 3 years after India attained freedom and within months of India becoming a Republic, Narendra Modi was the third of the sixth children of Damodardas Modi and Hiraba Modi. Vadnagar is a town that is steeped in history. Archeological excavations suggest this was a vibrant centre of learning and spirituality. The Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Vadnagar. Vadnagar also has a rich Buddhist history with as many as 10,000 Buddhist monks inhabiting the town centuries ago.


Vadnagar station, where Narendra Modi's father owned a tea stall and where Narendra Modi also sold tea

Narendra Modi’s early years were far from what a fairy tale upbringing is like. The family belonged to the marginalized sections of society and had to struggle to make ends meet. The entire family lived in a small single storey house (approximately 40 feet by 12 feet). His father sold tea at the tea stall he set up in the local railway station. In his early years, Narendra Modi too lent a hand to his father at the tea stall.

These formative years left a strong imprint on Narendra Modi. As a child, Narendra Modi balanced his studies, non-academic life and his contribution at the family tea stall. His schoolmates recall Narendra as a diligent student with a penchant for debating and reading. He would spend hours and hours reading in the school library. Among the sports, he was very fond of swimming. Narendra Modi had a wide range of friends from all the communities. As a child he often celebrated both Hindu and Muslim festivals considering the large number of Muslim friends he had in the neighbourhood.

Humble Beginnings: The Early Years
As a child Narendra Modi dreamt of serving in the Army but destiny had other plans…

Yet, his thoughts, and dreams went way beyond a conventional life that began in the classroom and ended in the environs of an office. He wanted to go out there and make a difference to society…to wipe tears and suffering among people. At a young age he developed an inclination towards renunciation and asceticism. He gave up eating salt, chilies, oil and jaggery. Reading the works of Swami Vivekananda cover to cover took Narendra Modi to a journey of spiritualism and laid the foundation for his own mission to fulfill Swami Vivekananda’s dream of a Jagad Guru Bharat.

If there is one word that characterized Narendra Modi’s childhood and stayed with him for the rest of his life, it is service. When floods wrecked havoc in the Tapi River, 9 year old he and his friends started a food stall and donated the proceeds for relief work. When the war with Pakistan was at its peak he set out on the railway station and served tea to the Jawans who were going and coming from the border. This was a small step but it displayed his firm resolve to answer the call of Mother India, even at a remarkably young age.

As a child Narendra Modi had one dream- to serve in the Indian Army. For many youngsters of his time, the Army was seen as the ultimate means of serving Mother India. As luck would have it, his family was dead opposed to the idea. Narendra Modi was very keen to study in Sainik School located in nearby Jamnagar but when the time came to pay the fees, there was no money at home. Surely, Narendra was disappointed. But, fate had different plans for this young boy who was disappointed on not being able to wear the uniform of a Jawan. Over the years he embarked on a unique path that took him across India in pursuit of the larger mission to serve humanity.


Seeking the blessings of his Mother


It is part of an endeavour to collect stories which narrate or recount people’s anecdotes/opinion/analysis on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi & his impact on lives of people.

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PM Modi’s Bond with the Sikh Community
December 05, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always connected deeply with the Sikh community, one rooted in mutual respect, admiration, and shared values. His heartfelt gestures and unwavering commitment to their well-being have touched the hearts of Sikhs across India and the globe.

A testament to this special bond is the historic opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in 2019, a long-awaited dream of the Sikh community. This groundbreaking initiative has facilitated seamless access to the revered Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, enabling devotees from India to pay their respects without the hassle of visas and cross-border restrictions.

In another significant move, Prime Minister Modi designated December 26 as Veer Baal Diwas, a national day to commemorate the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh Ji and Fateh Singh Ji, the sons of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Professor Simrit Kaur, Principal of the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), concurs that this recognition of their sacrifice has resonated deeply with the Sikh community, solidifying their sense of belonging and national pride. It is of great pride to her that young children have started asking questions to learn about the Sahibzadas and their immense sacrifices.

Next, the Prime Minister has taken decisive steps to enhance connectivity to Hemkund Sahib Gurdwara, a prominent Sikh pilgrimage site in the Himalayas. By prioritizing infrastructure development in the region, he has made it easier for devotees to undertake this arduous yet spiritually enriching journey. Sant Singh Chatwal, an NRI from the USA, seconds this as he has witnessed this journey becoming more comfortable and accessible now.

Further demonstrating his unwavering support, Prime Minister Modi has also played a pivotal role in the evacuation of Sikhs from Afghanistan. His swift and decisive actions ensured the safe passage of hundreds of Sikhs, showcasing his unwavering commitment to protecting the community's interests.

Beyond these specific initiatives, Prime Minister Modi has consistently championed the Sikh community's welfare. He has supported initiatives to preserve Sikh heritage and promote the Punjabi language and culture. His genuine empathy and understanding of Sikh aspirations have fostered a deep sense of trust and admiration among the community.

As a former judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice GS Sistani recalls, there is a little-known but enormously significant Lakhpat Sahib Gurdwara in Kutch, Gujarat, where Guru Nanak Dev Ji stayed twice during his travels. This Gurdwara was damaged during the Gujarat earthquake, and PM Modi led its restoration efforts to bring it back to glory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unwavering commitment to the Sikh community has fostered a special bond of mutual respect and admiration. His initiatives have addressed their needs and reinforced their sense of belonging and national pride. The Sikh community, in turn, has wholeheartedly embraced Prime Minister Modi as a leader who values their contributions and protects their interests.