Narayanan Krishnan, an award winning chef at the Taj, a five star hotel in India, was on his way to take up a job in an elite hotel in Switzerland after being shortlisted from thousands of hopefuls.
In 2002, Krishnan witnessed an incident which had lead him to give up his dream job and dedicate his life to provide support and food to the homeless and destitute people in his home town of Madurai, India.
Narayanan Krishnan caring for the homeless - ©T. Nazeer
Krishnan was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu in 1981. At the young age of 20, on a quick family visit home, Krishnan made a life changing decision, after witnessing a homeless man, desperate for food and hiding under a bridge.
"I saw a very old homeless man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "It really hurt me to see his desperation. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man myself and decided this is what I should do the rest of my life. It was an incident which touched my heart and sparked an inner voice which inspired me to take the path of giving".
Krishnan decided to quit his job that same week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny to provide a better life for the hundreds of underprivileged people in Madurai. The talented gourmet chef began cooking from a small rented kitchen and delivered the hot food personally to the homeless, feeding them and giving support in shaving and grooming.
"That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitute and people who cannot take care of themselves. For me everybody is the same. Every individual in this world is entitled to receive help in their life .So I personally feel that we all are responsible to give back to the society to our maximum "Krishnan said.
Cooking for over 450 homeless people a day, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner Krishnan has spent the last 12 years of his life serving more than 1.2 million meals to the people of India.
Narayanan cooking for the 450 + homeless- ©T.Nazeer
In 2003 Krishnan founded his non-profit charity the Akshaya Trust, which not only provides meals but also gives care and support from Krishnan and his team.
"I started off as a one man army in the year 2002 with the money I had as my savings. Then when the public started supporting the cause I registered an organization called AKSHAYA'S H.E.L.P. TRUST in June 2003. I consider the strength of the trust as being the dedication from the staff and volunteers of the organization; because I enjoy what I am doing I don't see any difficulties upfront" Krishnan said.
The Akshaya Trust is currently building a shelter home for the deserted and helpless and working towards providing medical and water facilities with the help of voluntary donations.
Krishnan's day begins early morning at 4 a.m. and finishes at 11p.m. He and his team cover nearly 125 miles in a donated van, routinely working in temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Krishnan had approached a team of barbers to help give haircuts to the homeless, however they declined and he decided to take matters into his own hands."I decided to attend a hair cutting training school for six months and have done more than three to four thousand haircuts for people on the road." Krishnan said.
Narayanan Krishnan giving a homeless man a shave - ©T.Nazeer
Krishnan on his daily rounds comes face to face with the growing gap between India's burgeoning affluent class and the poor. Most of the homeless people that Krishnan and his team provide help to are elderly people, abandoned by their families or mentally ill without anyone to look after them on the streets.
Narayanan Krishnan feeding the homeless on the streets of Madurai- ©T.Nazeer
"We feed the homeless, mentally ill, destitute, and old people who are ignored by society regardless of their religion, cast or any other factors, everyone is equal. To serve such people keeps me going day in and day out. They should feel psychologically that they are also human beings and they deserve human care. The food that we give them provides the physical nutrition, love, and affection shows the mental nutrition. The ultimate purpose of life is to give. Start giving and you will feel the joy of giving. This keeps me going."
Krishnan has been recognised worldwide for his charitable work and humbleness in helping the homeless in India and won the CNN Heroes Award in 2010 as well as having a growing number of supporters worldwide. He continues to strive to provide a better life to those who are in need and is working towards building an ultimate shelter home to cater for the underprivileged in India.
For more information on the Akshaya Trust please visit their website at: www.akshayatrust.org