In the previous episode we had witnessed Vidura’s explanation on two important categories of people whom the world appreciates and regards very high – A person who is extremely rich and wealthy, yet is patient and down-to-earth and a person who is extremely poor yet, focuses on donating even that small amount of wealth he has to the needy! This second characteristic is of prime importance in today’s world. In Sanskrit we call this characteristic as “Aathithyam” and in Tamil it is called “Virundombal”. What does this mean? Let us have a deeper insight of this noble characteristic before we move further to the next sloka.
If we’ve to talk a little more on “Aathithyam”, in olden day culture, people used to donate the leftover of the consumed food to people who wander on the streets. We might easily call and brand them as “beggars”, but in those days there were saints who make their livelihood only by wandering on the road and going house after house by asking “Bhiksha”. In fact, according to the “Sanaathana Dharma”, asking for “Bhiksha” is considered to be extremely respectful and sacred. However in the modern day, things have changed and we’ve started to wrongly project this term called “Bhiksha” because of various reasons – In today’s scenario we live in multi-storied skyscrapers in cities. In that case we don’t even realize who is going on the road and who is coming in need of food, etc. Hence there is no chance that we would be able to give “Bhiksha” to those who wander on the road in search of food. Of course, there are also not many people today in cities who knock our doors seeking “Bhiksha”. Even if someone comes, we’re not even aware of his or her arrivals! Hence at this point I’m not going to go deep into this because there is going to be a dedicated episode on this important topic called “Bhiksha” very soon.
Now the point of discussion is different here – We’re talking about the significance of “Aathithyam” or “Virundombal”. Atleast, if someone comes to our place with some need, we should be ready to help him or her with whatever best we can. Especially, if the need of that person is “food”, we should never deny it! This world should never be devoid of food (“Annam”). The Upanishads explain this in a beautiful way:
“Annam bahu kurveetha!! annanna nindyaath!! annanna parichaksheetha!!”
Here, the Upanishad explains that “Annam” (Food) should never be insulted! We should ensure that “Annam” should be made available to every living being in this world. We should never ever claim that the food served to us is bad! In the modern day, we find lot of people wasting food so casually! Whenever I go to restaurants or big star hotels, it really gives immense pain when so-called rich people waste the entire plate of food just because they did not like the taste of it. My question to them is that, if you do not like the taste of that food, why can’t you make sure that this food is donated to someone who is in dire need of this food? How many people in this world are struggling to get even one meal a day? Are we thinking about all this? Just because we get food in abundance, it doesn’t mean that we insult food and waste it!
If we happen to visit any of the African countries that are poor, we would see innumerable children whom are just “skin and bones” struggling to get even one glass of milk a day! We see such scenes often in the television channels and in the Internet many a times. Upon seeing such scenes, our hearts should melt with tears from our eyes and we should take a vow as to not waste even a single grain of food! Every hotel and restaurant should take a pledge that they would not dump the leftover food to the dustbin. Rather, this food can be donated to those who are poor and badly in need of quality food to eat.
Also many of us have a notion that we would give lot of milk, curd, etc. for the “Abhisheka” (Divine bathing) of Bhagawan in any temple. However, we can also think of donating a majority of this milk and curd to those poor children who are struggling with hunger! Bhagawan never asks us to bathe him with enormous amount of milk or curd every time. If we have the heart to donate this to the needy, His heart would melt instantaneously.
So for today, let us think about this extremely important attribute of “respecting food” and let us take a pledge together today that we would join hands in not insulting and wasting food in future. Vidura explains here that such people are highly respected by all the people in the world. I’m sure all of us would agree to this. We shall wait till the next episode to explore Vidura’s explanation of the next attribute. Stay tuned! 🙂