A STORY ON HOSPITALITY-RIG VEDA AND PERIYA PURANA (Post No.5204)

Written by London swaminathan

 

Date: 10 JULY 2018

 

Time uploaded in London – 14-24   (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5204

 

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Wikipedia, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

Hospitality is a virtue praised in the Rig Veda (10-117) and the  Sangam Tamil Literature. A Tamil verse in Purananuru ( verse 182) says that even if it is the ambrosia from Indra Loka, Tamils wouldn’t eat it alone, without sharing. From the oldest book in the world Rig Veda to the latest film songs, Hindus praise this virtue as an act which gives one religious merit (Punya). Tirukkural, the Tamil Veda has lot of verses on it. There are thousands of Choultries (Chatras) which have been giving free food for guests from the Vedic Days.

In Bhagavad Gita (3-13), Lord Krishna says that one who cooks for himself alone is a sinner.

There is a story in Tamil Periya Purana to illustrate this point:

Periapuranam written by Sekkizar , is a great Tamil literary master piece which gives the life stories of 63 Siva Devotees of Tamil Nadu in verses. Like Shakespeare had portrayed human nature in all its diverse subtle aspects in his dramas, Sekkizar  has given us  unrivalled picture of the myriad sided character of the human mind in the world of religious and mystic life. The only difference is that Shakespeare used the medium of drama for unfolding his ideas, while poet Sekkizar has chosen the narrative form of literature. We have about 4000 verses in the Periya Puranam. Sekkizar lived 500 years before Shakespeare.

Here is the story highlighting the virtue of hospitality:-

Ilayankudi was a small village in Tamil Nadu. There lived a farmer by name Maran. He was so philanthropic that he donated all his wealth or life earnings to the devotees of Lord Siva.

According to Periya puranam, Lord Siva wanted to show the world that Mara Nayanar was imbued with true love and service towards his devotees.

One day ,during the rainy season, a Siva devotee knocked at the door of Mara Nayanar at the dead of night. Nayanar received him with a smile in his face and asked him to wait in the front room. When he asked his wife to cook something for him, she told him that there was no rice in the house.  She remembered however one thing; they sowed the paddy that day in their land, and if they could be collected, she could prepare some food.

As he heard his wife’s words, he felt glad as though he had recovered a lost treasure. He started at once to bring the paddy seeds. It was pouring down and there was pitch darkness. Impelled by love and spirit of hospitality, he took a basket, covered his head and collected as much paddy as he could from the muddy field. The seeds were floating the rain water. His wife prepared food after cleaning them. She asked him to collect the greens (spinach) from the backyard and prepared different dishes with the same greens.

When the food war ready, hot and steaming, Maran went to the front of the house to invite his guest for dinner. But the guest suddenly disappeared and in place rose a Brilliance and the couple saw the Divine Presence of Lod Siva and Parvati.

 

This story illustrates two things: the respect shown to Siva’s devotees and the hospitality.

We have a beautiful hymn Rig Veda (10-117) about this virtue:

 

Guests in the Rig Veda (10-117)

 

The Devas have not given hunger to be our death,

even to the well-fed man death comes in many shapes

The wealth of the liberal never wastes away,

he who gives no protection finds no consoler.(1)

 

He who, possessed of food, hardens his heart against

the weak man, craving nourishment, and suffering,

who comes to him for help, though of old he helped him

surely such a one finds no consoler.(2)

 

He is liberal who gives to one who asks for alms

to the distressed man who seeks food, wandering; success comes to him in the challenge of battle

and for future conflicts he makes a friend for him. (3)

 

He is no friend who does not give to a friend

to a comrade who comes imploring for food;

let him leave such a man – his is not a home—

and rather seek a stranger who brings him comfort. (4)

 

Let the rich man satisfy one who seeks help

and let him look upon a longer pathway;

wealth revolves like the wheels of a chariot,

coming now to one, now to another. (5)

 

–Subham–

 

 

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