“No one within ten miles of our temple should go hungry.”
No One Should Go Hungry
The Meaning of Hospitality
In her book, Gluttony, the 7 Deadly Sins, Francine Prose notes:
"In the Greco Roman tradition, feasting along with drinking was the social cement that enforced the values of the citizen and kept the state together. Good feasts and bad feasts are reoccurring motifs at the center of the Odyssey, where it is made very clear that the worth of the host depends upon the generosity of his table."
Some hosts put so much energy into preparations for entertaining that they have little left for their guests. By the time the guests leave, the host is exhausted. Hospitality, on the other hand, is physically and spiritually refreshing and nourishing. Simply put, entertaining is fueled by pride, while genuine hospitality arises from humility.
Genuine hospitality does not distinguish based on species, race, caste, creed, or color; these differences are meaningless from a spiritual perspective. Rather, genuine hospitality welcomes all with a loving embrace. For an example of profound hospitality, one need not look any further than the example of King Rantideva of India’s Vedic tradition.
SOURCE: FOOD YOGA – Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul by Paul Turner
The Story of King Rantideva
Rantideva is glorified, not only in human society but also in the society of the demigods (devas), for his exemplary tolerance, compassion, and selflessness.
The brahmana guest ate his share and then went away. The brahmana guest ate his share and then went away. Thereafter, having divided the remaining food with his relatives, Rantideva was just about to eat his own share when a sudra (field worker) guest arrived. Seeing the sudra in a relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, King Rantideva gave him also a share of the food.
When the sudra went away, another guest arrived, surrounded by dogs, and said, “O King, I and my company of dogs are very hungry. Please give us something to eat.”
With great respect, King Rantideva offered the balance of the food to the dogs and the master of the dogs, who had come as guests. The King offered them all respect and obeisance.
Thereafter, only the drinking water remained, and there was only enough to satisfy one person, but when the King was just about to drink it, a candala (outcaste) appeared and said, “O’ King, although I am low born, kindly give me some drinking water.”
Aggrieved at hearing the pitiable words of the poor fatigued candala, Maharaja Rantideva spoke the following nectarean words:
I do not pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for the eight perfections of mystic yoga, nor for salvation from repeated birth and death. I want only to stay among all the living entities and suffer all distresses on their behalf so that they may be freed from suffering.
By offering my water to maintain the life of this poor candala, who is struggling to live, I have been freed from all hunger, thirst, fatigue, trembling of the body, moroseness, distress, lamentation and illusion.
Having spoken thus, and although on the verge of death because of thirst, King Rantideva gave his own portion of water to the candala without hesitation, for the King was naturally very kind and sober.
Suddenly, out of thin air, great demigods (devas) like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, who can satisfy all materially ambitious men by giving them the rewards they desire, then manifested their own identities before King Rantideva, for it was they who had presented themselves as the brahmana, sudra, candala and so on. (Bhagavat Purana 9.21.2-15)
The great demigods had tested the King for his level of tolerance and compassion and the great King succeeded and thus received their blessings.
SOURCE :FOOD YOGA – Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul
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