Episode # 219 – “ATITHI DEVO BHAVA” – Sage Sukhaachaarya’s beautiful explanation!!!

Little Krishna

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of an important “Dharma” as to why should we respect the food that we consume. We had witnessed few important aspects pertaining to food and why should we consume only the food that is cooked at our home. Moreover, as Sage Sukhaachaarya and eventually Bhagawan Krishna explain, we should cook at home and consume that cooked food within four hours of preparation. We should never preserve cooked food for later consumption. This might also be a jolt to many of us, as we’re now in the situation wherein we get “readily-cooked” food or “processed food” or “frozen food” items in the open markets! We should understand that in these cooked and preserved food items, possibility is very high that these food stuff might get stale. What is worse here is that, if the food is frozen, we would never even know whether the food has gone stale or not. It is very difficult to identify. If we consume stale food, all of us know what would happen to us and our digestive system. Our human body cannot take such food items and would result in unwanted health complications.

This is where, some people are smart enough. In order to ensure that the preserved food items do not get spoilt quickly, “preservatives” are added to them. Of course, there is a specified quantity of preservatives that are prescribed by the government as part of “Food safety regulations” and food processing companies are bound to follow the rules and regulations. Even otherwise, preservatives are nothing but some organic chemicals and if we happen to consume these chemicals, it might cause harmful side effects in our physical body as we progress in age. We might not be able to view symptoms of such health complications immediately, perhaps due to our young age at the moment, but as we progress in age, we might realize the ill-effects. Hence, we’ve to be extremely careful with the food that we consume.

Moving on thus, Sage Sukhaachaarya narrates an allied, but an important aspect of “Dharma” for women in a family – Whenever a guest comes knocking at our door, the woman of the house should make sure that the guest is fed well with quality food, until the guest’s hunger subsides. This is a very important aspect of “Dharma” that all of us should note here. This is often referred to as “Atithi-Samskaara” in Sanskrit. When we have a visitor at our place, irrespective of whatever time of the day, we should make sure that the visitor is comforted duly with adequate food, water or milk or whatever for him / her to consume. This is an important tradition of our “Bhaarata Desha” and our ancestors and forefathers were an epitome of this aspect of “Dharma”.

However in the present day, all or many of us are living as a “nuclear family” comprising of the wife, husband and kids. In the earlier days, people used to live amidst joint families and there used to be heavy influx of visitors every day in the form of some friends or relatives, etc. However, as we’ve virtually “separated” from joint families at the moment, even if one or two friends or relatives knock at our doors today, we feel offended or burdened to serve them! Such is the situation today!

Moreover, in the olden days, there was no telephone, emails, etc. and people would directly knock at our doors, just like that! As they come, our parents or grandparents would receive them with equal love and affection and serve them with whatever food or water they had, without any sort of hesitation. But nowadays, with the advent of technological advancements and our “self-isolation”, even if one of our closest relatives or family friends have to pay a visit to our home, what do we tell them? We would often say, “Please give us a phone call before you arrive, so that we would be prepared!” This is where we’ve landed ourselves in today’s “busy scenario”! Even if someone gives us a call and says that he / she is coming to visit us at our home, what would be our reaction? We would immediately start scrambling only at that very moment to get things in place. Moreover, we would heave a big sigh thus, “Oh! Why should this person come at this time of the day? Why shouldn’t he come tomorrow or why at all should he come all the way? Why can’t he talk over the phone about what he wants to convey about?” Such is the mindset that we’ve moved into in the present day!

Hence, the point here is that, it is our bound duty to take adequate care of the guests who visit our home. We should make sure that we feed them with good food, water, etc. until a point wherein they are happy and contented. This is one of the most important and paramount aspects of “Dharma” of our “Bhaarata Desha” and we should make sure that we follow it! We shall wait for the next episode to take this discussion forward as we move on to the next important aspect of “Dharma” that Sage Sukhaachaarya narrates! 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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