In the previous episode, we had witnessed the last of the various aspects of “Dharma” as being narrated by Sage Sukhaachaarya to King Parikshit, in the form of “Atithi Samaskaara”. Here, Sage Sukhaachaarya clearly elaborates how should we take care of our guests who come searching for us to our homes. It is our bound duty to feed them adequately with whatever quantity and quality of food that needs to be given to them. More than the food aspect, we should also look at the expectations with which they had come to us, and try our best to fulfil them. We should never let a guest go back empty-handed. When I use the term “empty-handed”, it is not to be mistaken by readers that we should give truckloads of money and materials to the guests every time. The crux of this point here is that, the guest should feel satisfied at the end of the day with the feeling that they have got what they required from us. It might be in the form of money sometimes, or some materials, or even just kind words of love and affection. For instance, if someone comes to us to pour out their feelings and emotions, we should not turn them back or avoid them. We should always be prepared to lend our shoulders for them to cry and vent out their emotions. This is also one form of ‘Atithi Samskaara”. Thus, it is not that everytime we should give money and materials. Even with some kind words of love, compassion, assurance, etc. can weigh more than money many a times in life. Hence, we should realize this importance at this juncture.
Moreover, when we talk about expectations and fulfilling the expectations of our guest, it should be noted here that if we give an assurance to someone, we should make sure that we fulfil it, without ditching the person mid-way! For instance, if someone is coming to us with a request that they’re unable to pay the school of college fees for their son or daughter and they’re requesting our help for it – Of course, we can first analyze our financial capacity and then give a commitment accordingly. For instance, if we’re financially fragile too at that particular moment, we can very well tell them that we might be able to help them in the short-term, that is, for a few months or maybe till a year, but not more. If we have limitations thus, it is always better to be open about it in the beginning itself, rather than ditching them midway after giving a long-term commitment. If we’re upfront in the beginning itself, then it gives the other person ample time to think of other options. Whereas, if we’re giving a long-term commitment now and if we’re backing out in the middle, it leaves the other person clueless all of a sudden! Hence, we’ve to be careful here.
Thus, the point here is that, it is important for us to fulfil the expectations of our guest, however, subject to our capabilities and limitations. It is important that before we give a commitment of fulfilling of the expectations, we do a quick analysis of our own strengths and weaknesses. Once we become sure about ourselves, we can very well give commitments and assurances based on what we can. This is the way in which we should take care of our guests.
In fact, this is where we invoke the example of King Dasharata. Readers might remember, when we were discussing Valmiki Ramayana two years ago, (Episode archives are available in our blog page), we had witnessed that when Sage Vishwamithra entered the courtroom of King Dasharata, out of surprise and a rush of emotions, King Dasharata tells Sage Vishwamithra thus, “Oh Great Sage!! You’ve taken the pains to come all the way to see me! Now I shall declare – You can ask me anything whatever you want, and I shall be ready to offer you and be of service to you!” Of course, King Dasharata knows the Sage Vishwamithra being a highly spiritually realized person, is not going to ask him any worldly aspects like money, material, gold, etc. But he did not expect one thing though – He didn’t expect Sage Vishwamitra to ask for his little son Rama! As Sage Vishwamitra replies thus, “Oh King Dasharata! I’ve come here to ask you for a favor! Now that you’ve committed yourself to offer anything that I ask, I hereby request you to send your eldest son Rama along with me to the forest, to protect the spiritual offering that I’m currently undertaking, from the clutches of the Raakshasas!”
Upon hearing this from the great Sage, King Dasharata was shocked beyond words! How can he send a twelve-year-old boy to the forest and that too to fight the might of the Raakshasas? Hence, King Dasharata requests Sage Vishwamitra that rather than sending his little boy, he himself volunteered to come along and kill the Raakshasas. But Sage Vishwamitra was adamant in his request. He’s not going to take back his words! He warns King Dasharata that if he doesn’t fulfil his commitment here, it is going to be a great crime for the entire “Ikshvaaku Dynasty” and he is going to be known in the world for “cheating Sage Vishwamitra”! Saying thus, the Sage started walking out with anger! It is only at this time, Sage Vasishtaachaarya intervenes and advises King Dasharata to send Rama with him. He explains to King Dasharata that Sage Vishwamitra is asking for Rama to come along with him, only for Rama’s benefit. He thus explains to King Dasharata that there is going to be a great life-changing event that is going to happen in Rama’s life. It is only after this, King Dasharata sends Rama and Lakshmana along with Sage Vishwamitra, and the story continues further..
So, from this incident from the Valmiki Ramayana, it is clearly explained how to take care of our guest and how to give a commitment and fulfil it correctly. If we give a commitment and if we’re unable to fulfil it properly, we’ll be ending up the same way as King Dasharata! Hence for today, let us realize this point and do the needful! We shall wait till the next episode to witness the commencement of the ninth “Skandha”! Stay tuned! 😊