Episode # 323 – Why do we offer water & sesame to an elderly guest while welcoming them?


In the previous episode, we had witnessed a very important point as part of the discussion wherein Bhagawan Krishna is uncompromising on all the various aspects of “Dharma” that a common man in this world should follow. We spoke about the importance of getting up from our chair and respecting elders when they come in front of us. We’ve eventually witnessed the science behind it as well, wherein the “Praana-Vayu” moves up automatically from our chest towards our head, as an elderly person comes near us. If we’re standing up as per the direction of the “Praana-Vayu”, it means that we’re going along with the flow of energy. Whereas, if we’re not standing up, the “Praana-Vayu” continues to flow upwards, and thereby exits through our porous openings of our hair strands, our skin, etc., which leaves us dull, tired, and almost to a state wherein we’re totally dead! Thus, in order to make sure that our “Praana-Vayu” sustains in our chest and to prevent it from moving out of our body, we should go with the flow and stand up in respect for people who are elderly to us.

Similarly, there is a science behind why we prostrate in front of elderly people, including our parents, our “Guru” (Teacher), and others. We call this as “Shaashtaanga-Pranaama” or “Shaashtaanga-Namaskaara”. While we’re prostrating in front of elders, our eight different body parts should touch the ground. Our two hands should come forward, clubbed together as we do worship. Similarly, our legs too should come together. Also, our chest, stomach, knees, etc. also should touch the ground. The act of bringing our legs together while prostrating conveys the message to the elderly person that, “Oh! I’m worshipping you with all my respect. I do not have anybody else in this world to surrender to!”  Similarly, the act of bringing our hands together while prostrating should convey the message to that elderly person thus, “Oh! I’m holding on to you tightly with all my surrender and heart. Please do not let me slip away from your clutch!” Thus, prostrating in front of an elderly person conveys several important messages like these, and as per our “Sanaatana Dharma”, both the gestures of standing up and prostrating assume lot of significance in terms of shaping up our value system. We should realize and remember this for our lifetime.

Thus, as Sage Naarada explains all of this, he is saying that Bhagawan Krishna is doing all of these to all the elderly people whoever is coming in search of Him. Normally it should be the other way round – All of us, irrespective of our age, should get up and prostrate in front of Bhagawan Krishna, but here, the reverse is happening. Again, we should understand here that Bhagawan Krishna is demonstrating to the world as to how to respect elders. We should take it in this sense as we move on. Moreover, Sage Naarada explains that Bhagawan Krishna is also offering water and sesame (“Thila” in Sanskrit or “Ellu” in Tamil) to those people who come to meet Him, as a token of respect. Why should we offer this sesame to our guests, along with water? In our Sanaatana Dharma it is mentioned that if we give eight pieces of sesame to someone, it is equivalent of performing the “Shraadha” for our ancestors and forefathers.

Of course, having said this, we should never leave the routine practice of performing our “Shraadha-Karma” for our parents when they depart. Either it is on the “Amaavaasya” (No Moon day), or the starting day of a month, or during an eclipse time, or during the “Uttharaayana Punya-Kaala” or “Dakshinaayana Punya-Kaala”, or whatever it might be – We should make sure that we’re offering the “Tharpana” or “Shraadha” to our departed parents and to our ancestors. If at all we fail to fulfill these fundamental obligations for whatsoever reasons, the ill effects of this would start hitting back at our family, three generations after ours. If for instance, we’re facing many problems and difficulties in our lives, we would immediately go to the astrologer to find out the reasons for our sufferings, isn’t it? What would the astrologer say? He might say that it is all because of the “Pitru-Dosha” – This means that some of our great grandfathers, three generations ago, would have failed to perform their “Shraadha-Karma” properly. This is why we are suffering today!

Thus, we witness here that there are dire consequences if we fail to perform our “Shraadha-Karma”. I’ve spoken about this multiple times in the past episodes as well. Here thus, Bhagawan Krishna is explaining to us through actions, that if we offer eight pieces of sesame to an elderly guest, it is equivalent of performing the “Shraadha-Karma”. So for today, let us understand this much, and we shall continue this important discussion in the next episode, wherein I shall once again highlight the importance of performing our “Shraadha-Karma” meticulously. 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 Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, 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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