Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Giving, in style - II (End)

Priya arangan adiyar,


The mongoose talked of a time when there was a great famine which had caused devastating hunger everywhere. There was hardly anything to eat and survival for life had become extremely difficult. The mongoose while in search of food had landed in a poor brahman's house where it noticed that the brahman's wife was cooking rotis and waited to partake the remnants of the flour from the kitchen. It had so happened that the brahman and his family had not eaten anything for several days. His attempts in obtaining some grains in alms had failed completely in the last few days and as a result the family was starving. Fortunately, on this day, the brahman had managed to obtain a small quantity of aata (wheat flour) and had returned home very happily thinking that finally he and his family members which comprised his wife, a son and a daughter-in-law will be able to eat some food.

The brahman had finished his evening puja and the family had just sat for the dinner which was a mere four rotis one each for the four members. As they were about to begin eating, a very hungry mendicant appeared on his door. He was famished and begged to be fed. This was an ultimate test for the brahman. On one hand, the family members, themselves were starving and here was the call of dharma which stated that a guest is like God (Athithi Devo Bhava) and he cannot be turned away without being attended. The starved brahman asked his wife to offer his share of the rotis to the mendicant. The beggar ate the roti and asked for more saying that after eating the first roti he had become hungrier. The brahman's wife then decided to give away her share. She thought that being an ardhangini, it is her moral duty to bear an equal responsibility with her husband. The mendicant was still not satisfied. And the son decided to give his share too despite his father's protest. His reasoning being the same: the principles of dharma, the reputation of his family and emulating the moral grounds which his parents stood by. The mendicant was still not satiated and he wanted one more roti. And so the daughter-in-law too joined her other family members in this ultimate test of their lives. Finally the mendicant went away but by then the family could hardly bear their hunger and slowly they died one by one.

The stunned mongoose witnessed the entire episode. Itself about to die, it ran to the kitchen area to grab a bit of the flour which had spilled near the hearth. In the process a part of its body came in touch with the flour and to its great surprise that part of its body turned golden. Since then, the mongoose had been looking for another such miracle to happen. It used to go to many yagnas hoping to fulfil its desire to turn its whole body into a golden hue. However, it had remained unsuccessful. Today it had thought that its long wait was over. After all, there was no one like Yudhistir in the whole world and his yagna would surely have the power to do this magic. But, this was not the case. Despite its many attempts in rolling in the foodstuff left over, its body did not acquire the golden colour which it required so desperately. Undoubtedly, the mongoose was severely disappointed.

By now, the message was clear to Yudhistira. He realised that the brahman's act of charity was far superior. Yudhhistira had a huge fortune from which he had donated only a part whereas the starving brahman's family had only those four rotis which were needed to save their lives but their commitment to dharma and faith in God was so strong that they did not hesitate in giving away everything and deciding to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Bhagavathas ( Srivaishnavas without upanayana samskaaram are lovingly called so) of Aarani are such kind of divine beings. A Bhagavatha names Pillailocaharya and an athma bandhu of his visited Srirangam with 60 children. These Bhagavathas are financially living a hand to mouth existence. Fulfilling their basic needs itself is a Herculean task. Despite such practical impediments in showing generosity, these Bhagavatha Srivaishnavas, spent money in bringing these 60 children from Aarani to seek the divine feet of Namperumal and Srirenganachiar and further seek the benediction of Sri Parasara Bhattar Thirumaligai, their Acharya. They had taken upon themselves to look after the children and cater to their needs all by self.

Displaying utmost humility and Bhakthi, it was a wonderful sight to watch them teach the importance of Sampradayam to the children, who were very much impressed by the happening at Thiruvarangam. Our Founder Acharya gave a small but very effective pep talk to embolden the children in learning and following Sampradayam, especially following the lives of the Bhagavatha Srivaishnavas who had guided and accompanied them.     

Let us all seek inspiration from such divine Srivaishnavas who stand testimony to the saying What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

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