Episode # 220 – “ATITHI-SAMSKAARA” – Fulfilling expectations of our guest is a great “Punya Karma”!!!

Little Krishna

In the previous episode, we had commenced witnessing “specific” aspects of “Dharma” that are specific in nature for specific categories of people. In that aspect, we’ve witnessed an important aspect which is referred to as “Atithi Samskaara”, otherwise referred to as taking adequate care of our guests who visit our place. As part of our rich culture of our “Bhaarata Desha”, it is our bound duty to ensure that our guests are well-fed and taken care of in such a way that they are satisfied both in terms of appetite and hospitality. As we’ve witnessed during the yesterday’s episode, this was a great tradition during our yesteryears wherein the concept of living amidst a “joint family” was the order of the day. However, in the present day, as we’ve moved on to live as nuclear families and as we’re currently hard-pressed for time every day, many of us have started hesitating to host people at our place. Even if we’ve to host our relatives or friends for more than a day or two, we start feeling that they are a burden to us. Such has become the mindset in the present-day scenario.

Thus, the point here is that, we should pay our due respects to our guests and serve them food and water in such a way that they are contented and happy to be amongst us. In other words, we should be a great “host” in such a way that people should feel happy to visit us often. Only if we honor the people who come to visit us, we would get the same honor when we visit their place some other day. We should always remember that man is a social animal. We are designed by Bhagawan to “co-exist” with each other. We would never be able to live all by ourselves all the time. We would not be able to live with complete independence from the society. The more we give to the society, the more we can get. Whereas, if we’re hesitating to give anything to the society, what right do we have to point out at people and get something from them? Hence, we should develop the habit of “giving” and this is very important.

Especially during this hour of crisis, it is very saddening to note that there are few people who use this opportunity to play “petty politics” to gain some brownie points for their existence. This is totally uncalled for and unprofessional. At this critical juncture, all of us should only focus on how can we help ourselves (self-protection) and our fellow citizens (by staying at home as much as possible and by donating whatever we can to people who are suffering due to the lockdown). Rather than this, there are some people who neither do both, but keep pointing fingers at governments to find loopholes and faults! Such things should be avoided for the benefit of the nation and for the world.

Moving on further, Sage Sukhaachaarya now talks about certain small aspects of “Dharma” that all of us as “Grihastas” should follow. As a continuation of the previous aspect, in olden days, there used to be a practice – Every house will have a front portion dedicated for accommodating people who undertake “Yatras” (Journeys) of visiting temples and other places of worship. In those days, there was no culture of staying in a hotel. Many of them, especially Sanyasins used to walk all the way to visit important places of worship, and all along their way, they used to rest themselves in the front portions of houses along the path. If the households see somebody resting in their front portion, they used to receive them with utmost respect, offer them food, water and whatever hospitality is required. This gesture, without a doubt is one of the greatest “Punya” (Good deeds) that we can do in this lifetime. However, having said thus, this culture has slowly started to change now, and in the present day, how many houses have their front portions designed to accommodate and host people like these (Yatrikas)? We’ve now started living in apartments and every apartment today has minimum 100 houses in it! In this already crowded situation in cities and towns today, where do we have the space to host such people who go on such religious and spiritual Yatras? Given this limitation, isn’t it our “Dharma” to atleast host those one or two people who come to visit us once in a blue moon? This is the bare minimal thing that we can do, given the present situation, isn’t it? Hence, we should never shrug off and shy away from performing our duties to our guests.

Another aspect of looking at this “Dharma” is that, whenever a guest comes to visit us, he / she would most probably come with some expectation from us. For instance, there might be people who are financially weak and would step into our house to seek some monetary help at a time of need. If such is the case, can it be our “Dharma” to turn them down? If we do so, Bhagawan says that they take away all our accumulated “Punya” that we’ve hard-earned for so many years now! If a person asks for a critical help and if we’re denying it, we’ve to face the wrath of Bhagawan in a hostile way. Thus, the point here is that, if a guest knocks at our door, not only should we ensure that they are well-fed, but also in terms of their expectations and purpose of their visit being fulfilled. This is very important. Feeding our guests with good quality food and hospitality is one aspect of “Atithi Samskaara”. But more than that, the expectations with which the guest has approached us should also be fulfilled. This is more important than the food aspect. Readers must understand this point very clearly.

So for today, let us understand this important extended discussion on the aspect of “Atithi Samskaara” and let us do the needful henceforth. With this discussion, we thus come to the end of the seventh “Skandha” of Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana. Of course, there are much more in-depth and detailed discussions apart from whatever we’re witnessing here in this blog and those can be taken up for discussions for a different day. At the moment, we are just witnessing the key aspects that are discussed by Sage Sukhaacahaarya to King Parikshit. This, as I’ve mentioned in the earlier episodes, is an extensive and exhaustive text and can be discussed on and on for our entire lifetime! However, many of us might not have the right mindset to have such a huge discussion going on and on for years together! This is why we have the customary practice of having this as a “Saptaaham” (Seven-day discussion). We shall thus wait till the next episode to commence the eighth “Skandha”. 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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