Saturday, June 5, 2010


Besides the duties of Compassion. Harmlessness and Forgiveness there are
still duties that we owe to others. When a guest comes to our house we should

give him food. This duty is called hospitality. This long word means that a

good Indian always gives food and service to any one who comes to his house.

We should not eat food until we have offered it to the stranger in our house.

If we receive a stranger kindly and give him food and shelter, we follow the

teachings of the great Manu.

You remember that story of Ranti Deva, how he gave to those that came to him,

and there are many other stories in the old books which show that the Indian

of the olden time used always to practise the duty of hospitality.

Once upon a time King Yudhishthira make a great sacrifice, and the cups and

the vessels and the arches and the stakes, everything, was of gold. It was

very grand and a great many people were there.

A little Mangoose was present also, and half his body was of gold. People

asked him: "How is it that half your body is of gold? Tell us the reason".

And the Mangoose said: "I will tell you, for all this gold that is here, all

these gems and money, are not of so much value as one small measure of

powdered barley."

There was once a Brahmana who had made a vow that he would only eat the food

that he could gather in the fields. This Brahmana lived with his wife and son

and daughter-in-law. At one time there was a terrible famine in the land.

Very few grains were left by the threshers, there was very little to be

gathered, and the Brahmana and his family could only get one very small meal

a day. They became thinner and thinner till at last they were almost like


One day the Brahmana had found a little barley, and his wife ground it and

divided it in to four portions, so that they might each have a share. They

were very glad, and sat down to eat.

Just as they were going to begin a guest stood in the doorway. The Brahmana

got up quickly and brought him in, and gave him water to wash with and made

him sit down. He then put before the quest his own small share of food, and

the quest ate it.

It was a very small portion, and when the quest had finished he was still

hungry. Then the wife placed her portion of food in the hand of the Brahmana,

so that he might give that to the quest, that he might be satisfied.

The Brahmana did not like to take it, for he knew how weak his wife was, and

he said. "O mother of my son, do thou keep the food and eat," but she would

not, for she would not have a quest hungry in her house. The quest therefore

ate her share, but he was still hungry and warred more. Then the son brought

his little heap of grain, and the Brahmana was sad for the hunger of his son,

yet gave the food to his quest. But alas! even then the quest was still

hungry. Then the son's young wife brought her share also, and held it out to
the Brahmana that he might give that also:

"Not yours, my little one, not yours," he said, for she was so young and

feeble. But she pressed him to give saying: "O my father, and father of my

son's father, let me share in your good deed; a guest should ever be treated

as a Deva, give him this my food." Therefore the Brahmana took it from the

gentle girl and gave it to his quest.

Then the quest having eaten rose up, and a bright light shone round him, and

they knew that in truth he was a Deva, and he stood before them bright and

beautiful. Then the mangoose told the people how there had been a few grains

which had fallen on the ground uneaten by the great Deva. He had rolled on

these grains and as they touched his body they turned, it to gold, because of

the great virtue of that gift of hospitality.

And this was why the body of the mangoose was half golden.


If thou wouldst win the dear reward

Which only virtue earns,

Waste not thy wealth upon the lord

Who gift for gift returns.

Not with the rich thy treasure share;

Give aid to those who need;

And, with the gold thy wants can spare,

The poor and hungry feed.

Be sure that those who would receive,

Deserve and crave thy care;

And ponder ere thy hands relieve

The how, and when, and where.

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