Indian Fables, Part-2, Pt. Ram Krishan Sharma, DAV Publication Division, Pitam Pura, Delhi, Rs 40.00
Long, long ago, a poor man lived in a village. He used to go from house to house in order to earn his livelihood. Once, a hermit came to his house and said, “I have to perform some religious ceremony. It will be kind of you if you give me shelter in your house for some days.” The poor man happily agreed to the hermit’s request.
One day, early in the morning, the poor man said to his wife, “Today is sankranti (a Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring season). I am going to the neighbouring village for alms. Today is an auspicious day, so see that the hermit is well fed. Prepare some sweets and serve to the hermit. A guest is equivalent to God so be courteous and treat the hermit with respect.”
When she heard her husband’s words, the poor man’s wife was furious. “I know how kind and courteous you are! But there has to be something in the house to offer a guest,” she shouted angrily, “and in addition to that you tell me to prepare something sweet. There is absolutely nothing in the house to offer the hermit. I have stayed with you for so many years but I have never been happy during my marital life. I always had to stay in poverty. You never made ornaments for me nor did you ever buy fine clothes for me. I never even had enough food to eat and you want me to offer a sweet dish to the hermit. I am sorry, I cannot do as you say.”
The poor man tried to pacify his wife, “You must never speak so rudely,” he said, “Agreed, we are poor but we should offer our guest what we can. Offering can be big or small, but it always yields fruit. Wealth is perishable. You may have it today, you might not have it tomorrow, but the greatest wealth we have with us is courtesy and so, we must be courteous to our guest. When we make a small offering of a flower or fruit to God, even He is pleased. It is immaterial how big or small our offering is but the offering has to be made with all our heart and soul. Similarly, what we offer to our guest is immaterial, but with what sentiments we offer is more important. Secondly, offering a guest whatever we have is like offering it to God.” The poor man’s wife understood what her husband had tried to say.
“We have a little sesame in the house,” she said, “I shall make something sweet of it and offer to the hermit.” And she went into the kitchen to prepare it. Since then, it has become a custom to prepare sweets of sesame and distribute it on the day of sankranti.
Moral: Courtesy is the mother of all good behaviour.
Purify soul before learning
There was a mahatma (a great soul). He went to beg for food from a house. The mistress of the house gave him alms and entreated with folded hands, “mahatmaji, give me some words of wisdom.”The mahatma replied, “Mother, not today but I shall do so tomorrow.” The following day, before starting for alms, the mahatma put cow dung and some rubbish into his begging bowl. He took the bowl to the lady’s house. The lady had made delicious rice-pudding for the mahatma by adding almonds and pistachios to it.
The lady came out with the pudding and the mahatma put his bowl forward. On observing that the bowl was dirty she said, “Sir, this bowl is dirty”. “Yes, it is”, agreed the mahatma. “It has cow dung and rubbish in it,” said the mahatma. “Now what shall I do?,” asked the lady. “Put the pudding in the bowl,” the mahatma said. The lady said, “No, it will get spoiled if I do so. Let me wash and clean it.” The mahatma replied, “So mother, you will put the pudding in a clean bowl?” The lady nodded. The mahatma said, “Mother, this is my sermon, my teaching. If your mind is filled with dirt and bad tendencies, then my teachings will have no effect. If you want to receive the nectar of my teachings, then cleanse you mind’s bowl, banish worries, kill bad tendencies, then the name, the word of God will shine forth. Light of bliss will dawn.”
Moral: Before the good, the beneficial can reach you, it is necessary that the darkness of evils should be removed.