Sunday, January 01, 2006

Serving Guests

In Sanskrit the word, "tithi" means one lunar day. It indicates time. An unanticipated guest who comes to one's home is called "atithi", or someone who is unexpected. Vedic culture teaches that the householders should serve such visitors with whatever means they have.

One of my greatest sources of happiness is serving guests who come to our Gopaljiu Publications ashram. Over the years many sadhus, sannyasis, scholars and illustrious personalities have come to visit us and our library. We try to feed them as best we can, pick them up from the airport or train station, help them make arrangements with their travel tickets, take them on parikrama, find rare books for them etc, etc, etc. The atithi is our great friend and worshipable guru. Sastra says:

gurur-agnir-dvijAtInAM varNAnAM brAhmaNo guruH

patireva guruH strINAM sarvasyAbhyAgato guru

The sacred fire is the guru for the twice born and the brahmanas are the guru for all varnas. The husband is the only guru for the wife and the unexpected guest is guru for all. -- Brahma Purana 80.47, quoted in Canakya Niti text 47

apavAdI haret pApam-atithiH svarga-saGkramaH
abhyAgataM pathi ZrAntaM sAvajJaM yo ‘bhivIkSate

The guest and the critic are the two real kinsmen of the entire universe. The critic dispels sins and the guest bestows heaven. -- Brahma Purana 163.20

There is much that could be said about these two verses. Unfortunately, I have a heavy deadline if we are going to make out next mag on time (it looks like me might not even make it). Later, if there is time I’ll try to write something. As far as the critic dispelling sin, we compiled a number of verses on that topic which we published in an article in Bindu no. 92.

Below are a few photos of some of the guests who have kindly graced us with their association.

Madhavananda Das on the left front with HH Radhanath Swami and his followers in Brahmagiri Orissa. In this shot we are just walking away from the
chandan pukur, that Srila Saraswati Thakur said was non-different from Radha Kund.

Yasodananda Das Babaji is a learned scholar and mahunt in an ashram in Athagarh Orissa, where our Guru Maharaja once taught school. He sometimes comes to bless us with his sanga.

HH Rasananda Swami visits our ashram. Left to right: Bhaktarupa Prabhu, HH Rasananda Swami who preaches in Brazil, Madhavananda Das and Bhakta Pradosh

Here is Prabhupada's disciple Sarvadrik Prabhu and his good wife. They were visiting from the USA.

This is Srila Prabhupada's disciple Pradyumna Prabhu. He stayed with us for a few days. Pradyumna was Srila Prabhupada's Sanskrit editor. Prabhupada used to call him "panditji".

This is Radha the calf and her mother in the background. She came to our ashram everyday (several times a day) for many months to get goodies. She is very fond of
capatis with ghur.

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