Episode # 184 – Why do we give prime importance to “Anna-Dhaanam” (Offering food)? Vidura’s important message!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed an interesting and an important message of Vidura with regards to who is an “Adhama-Purusha”. Rather than explaining the characteristics of an “Adhama Purusha” directly, Vidura invokes an example of Ducchasana and Duryodhana to explain it. By that way, he lashes out at King Dhirdiraashtra for having such disastrous sons as his potential successors and says that an “Adhama Purusha” lacks trust in himself as well as in everyone around him, however senior or junior they might be with respect to age, knowledge and experience. Vidura fumes at King Dhirdiraashtra further that Hasthinapura Kingdom would be completely ruined if it was handed over to an “Adhama Purusha” like Duryodhana. Rather, if the reins were passed on to Yuddihstra who is an epitome of an “Utthama Purusha”, the kingdom would flourish and “Dharma” would be reinstated.

This is one of the most relevant explanations of Vidura for all of us in today’s world – In some way or the other, all of us tend to become “Adhama Purusha” at different times and situations, because we look at problems looming large and we get carried away by them. Eventually we start to crib about them, instead of taking them head on! Hence let us develop the habit of trust and treat problems as challenges and thus move ahead by breaking all the shackles with our will power (“Vairaagya”), coupled with our intense prayers towards Bhagawan.

Hence so far Vidura had described in detail about people who do not have any trust within them for anything and now he moves on to explain few important characteristics that would bring name and fame to a person. Vidura says thus:

“Tapaha damaha brahmavittham vithaanaaha!

Punyaa vivaahaaha satata anna dhaanam!!”

Here Vidura once again reiterates certain important characteristics that a righteous king or a leader should possess. This is applicable to all of us in our own ways too and hence let’s focus a bit more attention.

Vidura commences by explaining about “Tapas” – This might be known to many of us by now as I’ve explained about this under innumerable contexts. A person who is pious in nature with a calm and a balanced state of mind and with unending devotion towards Bhagawan and His “Gunas” is considered to be extremely high in “Tapas”. Next he says “Damaha” – This means that a person should be able to have complete control over all his five senses by using his sixth sense called “discrimination”. We’ve seen this in detail a few episodes back and readers are requested to recollect accordingly.

Third, Vidura explains that a righteous person should be a “Brahma-Vittham”. This means that he should be well educated and well versed in the Vedas. This would help him gain the knowledge as to how to deal with different things, people and situations in this world in a way that “Dharma” is protected. Fourthly Vidura says “Vidaanam” – This means that a righteous person should be able to control his mind and channelize it in the path of “Dharma”. This is where most of us fail today – We get carried away with the whims and fancies of our mind and this is why we describe our mind as a mad monkey! Hence we need to find ways to control our mind and it’s thought processes and should be channelized accordingly.

Next, Vidura explains “Punyaa Vivaahaaha” – This means that a  king should perform righteous actions that would earn the “Punya Karma”, both for himself as well as for his kingdom! Immediately when we see the phrase “Punyaa Vivaahaa” it doesn’t only signify marriage. Of course it does, but there are higher aspects in life that is also signified by this particular phrase. Here Vidura explains that a righteous person should be an epitome in performing good deeds for the benefit of the whole world and not only for himself and his family.

Finally Vidura explains, “Satata anna dhaanam” – This means that a person should give sufficient amount of food for those who are in dire need of it. Giving food (“Anna Dhaanam”) is one of the most important and the highest “Punya Karma” that we can perform – Even in today’s life. This is the reason why food occupies an important position in any function with respect to the Hindu Sanaathana Dharma. For instance even if we attend a marriage function today, the most important aspect is providing good food three times a day for all those people who have come to attend it. Even if we have to perform ”Shraadha Karma” for our departed parents, donating food occupies a prime place as part of the agenda. Thus for anything and everything, providing food for other people have always been part and parcel of our rich Indian culture and heritage for generations after generations and for thousands of years now!

But we may ask why do we do this. The simple reason is that, ample and tasty food is the only thing that can satisfy a human being in this world! If we offer money as a donation or as a gift, or if we offer something in kind as a gift to someone, people are always going to crib about it. For instance if we make an offering of 1000 rupees, people are always going to question us as to why did we offer only 1000 rupees and not 1500 rupees! This is an endless game! Whereas, if we offer tasty and sufficient food to people, even if they do not bless us directly, their stomach would bless us! This is because the stomach is the only part of our body that knows its limit! 🙂 That it, it can take only a limited amount of food and by that it gets full and can’t take more! If we are fed with sufficient food, we generally tend to get satisfied and happy and this is the reason why we have a tradition of offering good quality food to all those people who visit our home and also for important functions like marriage, “Upanayanam”, etc.

So for today, let us realize the significance of these important qualities that Vidura is explaining and let us introspect within us to check if we’re on the right track of a righteous person! We shall wait till the next episode to witness more of Vidura’s messages! Stay tuned! 🙂

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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