Amma’s stories on Unselfishness, Compassion & Sacrifice – Part 1 (15 stories)

1.   The flow of compassion

[Amma:  The presence of qualities like humility, surrender, unselfishness and sacrifice in a disciple makes a Guru’s grace and love flow involuntarily towards him]

Amma narrated the following real incidence that happened several years ago in the Ashram at the Kali Temple.

On a Darsan day,  a couple with a child was standing in the darshan queue. Suddenly the child vomited on the spot. The embarrassed parents left the place immediately. People standing in the queue started closing their nose to ward off the bad smell.  People moved away from the spot or jumped over the place to cross it.

Several people complained that the Ashram premises are not being kept clean.  Some people walked away in disgust, without even coming for darshan. Some people, upon reaching Amma complained about the issue to Amma.

As Amma wa watching, one young boy  about 12 years old, who was standing in the darshan queue, quietly slipped away, went somewhere to fetch a bucket of water, a mug and a waste cloth. he returned to the dirtied spot and cleaned the floor with the cloth and water.  After mopping the spot and washing the cloth a couple of times, he rinsed the place, went back to return the bucket and then quietly re-joined the queue.

Amma felt extremely happy to see the boy’s actions and as he moved closer and closer, Amma could not help but keep looking at the boy with love again and again. Finally, when he reached her for darshan, Amma gave him a long and loving hug, blessed him by giving him an apple, and asked him to sit beside her for a while. His unselfish and humble act moved Amma so much that she kept on throwing her loving glance at him and smiling at him frequently.

Even after the darshan was over and Amma returned to the room, Amma kept remembering about the boy again and again.

Amma says “It is such an act of unselfishness and sacrifice from the boy that made my love and compassion flow to him automatically. Amma felt  ‘If only there are more and more boys like him, how wonderful the world would be!’

2.  Sharing

[Amma:   Even worms take birth, eat, procreate and die. If Human beings too eat, procreate and die, what is the worth of a human life, which is considered to be the supreme among all creations? Only by sharing what we have with others, humanity is sustained and elevated. There are three classes of people – the Prakruti type, the Vikruti type and the Samskriti type.  The Prakruti type of people consume what they get and are not concerned about others; the Vikruti type consume what they get and also forcefully take away what others have and consume it too; it is the Samskriti type who consume part of what they have and share the rest with others. The goal of life should be such that the Prakruthi and Vikruti type of people should learn to elevate themselves to become Samskriti type.

Amma narrated the following real incidence from her childhood:

When Amma was studying in 4th standard in the nearby village elementary school, there were 2 sections, each with about 60 students. Children from near 3 kilometers from south and 3 kilometers from north will come to this school for their education as there was no other school available in the vicinity.

In Amma’s class room, during lunch time, about 20 students will bring their lunch box; about 20 students who were residing in houses nearby will go to their houses for eating lunch. The remaining 20 students were so poor that they had no wherewithal to bring lunch to the school.  During lunch time, while other children go out of the class and eat their food, these poor children will remain hungry. When Amma saw this, she could not remain selfish to each from her lunch box. She called one of the girls sitting hungry and shared a portion of the food she had brought.

Seeing this, the other girls too started sharing their food from their lunch boxes with other students.  Seeing their example, the children from the other class room also started sharing their food. The children actually felt the joy of sharing to be  much more fulfilling than eating their food selfishly.

Thus, by setting an example, Amma could motivate other children towards sharing. What Amma started in a small way at that young age was perhaps  a beginning of her philanthropic activities in future.

3.   The compassionate daughter

Amma: Qualities like love and compassion must be cultivated by effort.  It is developing such a mental attitude that one can gradually get over likes and dislikes on others.  

Once there was this young girl of a rich landlord, who was always found playing with the physically handicapped little daughter of the servant maid. 

 The landlord did not like to see his daughter playing with a lowly servant maid’s child. He scolded her several times on this issue, but to no avail. In order to wean her away from that habit, he brought to home a nice child from the family of another rich landlord befitting his status. His daughter exchanged pleasantries with the new girl just for while, but she went back to playing with the handicapped child again.

This infuriated the landlord.

He said “Look my child. I have brought a nice and decent company for you befitting our social status. I don’t understand why the hell you are bent upon playing with that dirty servant maid’s lame daughter”

The daughter replied:  ‘Father! This nice, rich girl whom you brought to play with me can get any number of friends to play with her. But what about this handicapped little girl? No one except me is willing to play with her; she finds so much of joy when I spend time with her; that’s why I play with her always”.

4.   The Compassionate Shopkeeper

Amma: Love and compassion shown at the right moment can create a lasting impression on the receiver.

Once a mother of two children had to visit a doctor to consult for her ailment. As she had no one at home to look after the children at the time of her visit to the doctor, she took the children – a young boy aged 8 and his younger sister aged 4 – along with her to the dispensary. When the mother’s turn came to go in and see the doctor, she said to her son, “You wait here till come back; take care of your sister”.

The children kept waiting. As it took a longer time, they decided to come out and visit the toy shop just opposite to the dispensary. The children went around the shop and got excited to see the various dolls and toys there.

The shop owner kept watching the two children. He was attracted by the way the elder brother was talking to his sister, holding her hands and guiding her. He appeared to be a matured and responsible boy who was full of affection to his sister, The little girl picked up a toy and asked her brother “I like it very much! Can you buy it for me?”

The boy said, “Sure I will; bring it. Let us go to the shop keeper”.

As the shop keeper watched them with amusement, the boy came and asked “Sir, I want to buy this. How much is it?”

“How much do you have?” asked the shop keeper.

The boy put his hand into his pocket, fished out a bunch of sea-shells and placed them on the table! The shop keeper, with utter seriousness, counted the shells, picked up a few and said, “This much is enough; you have excess money. Put the balance back to your pocket”. He handed over the toy to the girl and with a big grin, waved a good buy to them. The children ran out of the shop excitedly to the dispensary.

Another customer in the shop who watched the proceedings,  was very surprised. He came to the shop keeper and asked, “I am really surprised! You are a businessman and you are giving the toy in exchange for  worthless seashells! Why? I could not understand”.

The shopkeeper said, “I have come up in life after undergoing utter poverty in my childhood. When I was a little boy, I too had a little sister. We went to a shop one day together and my sister wanted to have a toy for her. I was penniless and how could I ever buy it for her? I somehow made some excuses, diverted her attention and came out. The pain of my inability to satisfy a simple desire of my loving sister got deeply imprinted in my memory. When I saw this boy and girl, I remembered my childhood. So, I wanted to give the joy of buying a toy for his sister to that boy that I missed as a little boy.”

“But why collect those worthless seashells?”

“You see, as a little boy, he imagines that his seashells are worth like money. He did not want to get the toy for free, but he wanted to “buy” it with his “money” for the sake of his sister. Doesn’t it look very lovable? The boy will grow up and very soon he will understand that his seashells are worthless. Then he would start wondering: ‘Why did the shop owner give the toy for the worthless seashells?’ Then he would understand that I had done it out of compassion. It will make a deep impression in his mind that the world is still a good place, where good and compassionate people are very much around. There is every chance that this boy grows up to be a compassionate person in future”.

(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 4/9/17)

5.   Compassion, Punya & Selfishness

Amma: Unselfishness is the greatest virtue. Selfishness can potentially take away whatever merits we gain by doing good actions.

Once a there lived a very stingy lady who would not give anything to anyone. If asked for a little money, she would say “Come tomorrow, I don’t have any change” even though she may have plenty of money in her purse.

One day she went to the grocery and vegetable shops, bought a bagful of her cooking needs and was walking home. On her way, a poor man by the side of the road cried ‘Oh mother, I am so hungry; I haven’t eaten in a week. Please give me something.”

He could see the vegetables sticking out of the lady’s bag. Watching his eye movement, the lady grudgingly took out a carrot from the bag and threw at him with great contempt. “Here, take it and leave me alone!” She was such a miser that even parting with one carrot was a painful experience for her.

When she finally died, her soul went to the other world, where she met Lord, Yama, the god of death, who judges every soul to decide where it would end up – in heaven or hell. Yama called his secretory Chitragupta sand said “Pull out her account; did she do any bad actions?”

Chitragupta said, “Did she do any bad actions? That’s all she did all her life!”

“OK. Take her to the hell” Ordered Lord Yama. The lady cried pitiably and begged for mercy.

Lord Yama softened a bit. “Wait. Just check once again, Chitragupta; has she not even done one good action?” 

“Let me take a closer look,” said Chitragupta. Finally he located the incidence when she gave a carrot with contempt to a beggar.

Yama said “Alright; call the carrot here”.

The carrot came and stood in front of the lady.  Yama said to the lady, “Okay, Now catch hold of the carrot. Let us see if it is going to take you to the heaven; that one little good action you did, even though it could be hardly rated as good, is going to take you upward.”

Joyously, the lady caught hold of the carrot and the carrot started lifting upward. She was going up and up and finally she was about to reach the gates of heaven; suddenly she became aware of some heavy sensation at her foot – as if something is catching and hanging from there. She looked below and saw a chain of souls who were hanging on to her, stretching all the way down to hell. This one carrot was able to lift up so many!

Seeing them, she shouted, “Hey, you guys, this is MY carrot! You have no business to come with me. Leave me alone!” At that very moment, the carrot vanished and she went tumbling down to the hell along with all the other souls!

(Amma Friday  Satsang – 08/9/17)

6.  For the sake of others

Once a villager saw an old man at his nineties digging earth and planting saplings, despite all the strains of his advanced age.

Laughingly, the villager asked “What are you doing, grandpa? You are already too old and death may come and take you away at any time. Still you are planting saplings! Do you believe you will live so long to enjoy thre fruits?”

The old man said “No. I have eaten the fruits from the trees that my grandfathers had sown; they did not plant them for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their future generation. I am doing the same thing – let the fruits be enjoyed by my children and grandchildren!”

Amma:  The effect of doing good karma is also like this. The fruits of good deeds done by us will also benefit our children and grandchildren.

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

7.  The Dead dog

Amma: For getting the visa of self-realization the passport of selfless service is essential. Only through selfless service one gets the purification of heart which is essential for gaining self-knowledge.

Once in a village there was a large common well. All the villagers use to fetch water from this well for their daily needs. Suddenly, one day, the water started having foul smell. Even after a couple of days, the foul smell remained in the well water. People got worried. They did not know what to do. Some went to the temple and made special prayers and poojas to the deity, praying for purification of water. They brought the sacred water given by the temple priest and poured it in to the well. However nothing changed.  A few people thought that some people antagonistic towards the villagers might have done some black magic to pollute the water. They brought a black magician, asked him to conduct necessary rites and chase away the evil that had befallen on the well. He gave handfuls of sacred ash after doing his rites which was reverently dropped into the well water. Still the water continued to smell foul.

They approached a wise man for advice. He said to them “Better drain out all the old water from the well; when new spring water rises up, the bad smell may go off”. They agreed and arranged to flush out all the stagnant water inside the well. Fresh spring water started rising in the well, yet the bad smell did not go.

They villagers were in a fix. They did not know what to do further. They went to a sage in the nearby village, prostrated before him and explained their problem. The sage asked “Did you find anything at the bottom of the well when you drained out all the water?”

“Yes swamy; there was the carcass of a dead dog at the bottom”

“Did you remove it?”

“No Swamy”

“Ah! That’s your problem! Unless you remove the carcass, how can the water become pure?” said the sage.

Amma:  All of us have a dead dog in our mind that is the cause of impurity in our heart. Only by doing selfless service, the dead dog can be removed so that our mind gets pure.

8.   Success and failure

Amma: Never be afraid of failure. Never laugh at a loser. For a person who failed, we should always give another chance to try and come out successful. Life is not meant just for those succeed; it is for losers too.

A few years ago, a sports competition was held exclusively for physically handicapped and mentally retarded children. There was a running race of 100 meter dash.  All the handicapped participants were ready at the starting line. Once the whistle was blown, all of them started running with enthusiasm. Every child was desirous of getting the first prize; for that purpose, most of them practiced hard over several months. After a few minutes of start of the race, one of the children lost her rhythm and balance and fell down. Unable to bear the shame and pain of falling, the child started crying aloud.

Hearing it all the other running children looked back to see what happened. When they remained confused on what to do, one girl child among them ran back to the fallen child, extended her hand and helped the fallen child to rise up. Then she said in a very consoling voice, “Don’t worry; let us hold our hands together and run together”. Then holding their hands together they started running again. Seeing this, all the other children joined hand to hand and ran together along with these two children.

Seeing this act of magnanimity, the entire audience stood up and clapped hands very enthusiastically. All the children reached the finishing line together.

Amma: Perhaps this may not really be a real life story, yet it contains a great lesson for elders to learn from children. Though seeking success in life is necessary, we should all the same develop a heart for sharing the pain of others’ failures and extending a helping hand for them to attain success in their lives too.

(Malayalam Matruvani July 2017)

9.  The 3 magic words

Amma:  God has created this world and made our living possible by providing every basic thing in the nature for our happy existence. We must have a sense of gratitude for it. What is given to us by nature must be shared with all for the good of all. Unfortunately, man resorts to destroying nature for his own selfish purpose. Only when we have the sense of gratitude for whatever we have received, life is sustained.

Once a sick father lying at his death bed summoned his son and handed over a pouch containing gold coins. He said “Use them wisely. When this pouch gets empty, say the three magic words and the pouch would get filled up again…”

But before he could convey the 3 magic words to his son, he breathed his last.

The son was rather disappointed that he could not get the key words that will ensure constant filling up of his pouch with gold coins forever.  However, he lead a smooth life free from care and worries by selling the gold coins as and when needed and getting enough money through it. Years passed this way.

One day when he needed money for spending for his daily needs, he noticed that just one last gold coin was left in the pouch.

He thought of his father and his statement about the 3 magic words that had the potential to recharge the pouch. He thought: “Alas! It must indeed be God’s wish that I should not turn out to be a greedy and lazy fellow leading an easy life with my father’s money. Let me at least give this last coin to some needy person; let me at least do one good, unselfish act from my father’s gift to me”.

He saw a frail and impoverished person approaching him for alms. He took that gold coin and dropped at the beggar’s hands. The beggar could not believe his eyes! When he was just looking for a rupee or two to buy and eat something to appease his hunger, he had been gifted with a gold coin worth thousands of rupees! With that money, he can spend days and days without begging for alms! Choking with emothion, the begger folded his hands and said, “Thank you, God!”

Instantly, the son noticed that his pouch was filled with gold coins again! He immediately understood that the thee magic words were really “Thank – You – God”

(Tuesday Satsang 30/8/2016)

10.  On a bitterly cold night

Amma: Religion and spirituality are the keys to open our hearts and see everyone with compassion. But, blinded by our selfishness, our minds have lost their proper judgement and our vision has become distorted. This attitude will only serve to create more darkness. Using the same key meant to open our hearts, our indiscriminate mindset is locking it shut.

There were once four men who had gone to attend a religious conference and had to pass the night together on an island. It was a bitter-cold night. Each traveler carried a matchbox and a small bundle of firewood in his pack, but each one thought that he was the only one who had firewood and matches.

The first man thought, “Judging from the medallion around that man’s neck, I would say he is from some other religion. If I start a fire, he will also benefit from its warmth. Why should I use my wood to warm him?”

The second man thought, “That person is from the country that has always fought against us. I wouldnít dream of using my wood to make him comfortable!”

The third man looked at one of the others and thought, “I know this guy. He belongs to a sect that always creates problems in my religion. Iëm not going to use up my wood for his sake!”

The last man thought, “This guy has a different skin color than mine, and I hate that! There’s no way Iím going to use my wood for him!”

In the end, not one of them was willing to light his wood to warm the others, and so, by morning they all froze to death.

Amma: Similarly, we quarrel in the name of religion, caste, nation, and color, without showing any compassion towards our fellow beings.

(13.7.2004   Amma told this at Parliament of World religions, Barcelona, Spain)

11.  Left behind

[Amma: “If our actions are compassionate, they will have influence on others too”]

Once an old man was eating in a restaurant alone. He was not well. He was shivering uncontrollably and spilled food over his shirt and on the table while eating. Many people sitting around and eating there felt very uneasy and some of them looked at him with contempt.

One young boy came forward; he held the old man’s hand to arrest the shaking. He took the old man to the wash basin and cleaned his dress. He then helped the man to make the payment and leave the restaurant.

Many people were watching the boy extending a helping hand to the old man. As the young boy was about to leave, one of them said, “Young man, have you left anything behind?”. The boy said, “No”.

Then the man said, “No, you have really left two things for us behind — an ‘example’ for the young and a ‘hope’ for the old!”

(Amma’s New year day Satsang 2016)

12. Deserving the gift of an apple from Amma

[Amma narrated this true story connected with the little children in the Ashram in her satsang on 24/12/13 Tuesday]

[Amma: Being in the company of holy helps people to develop noble qualities in them. Satsang is so beneficial.]

Some children in the ashram make small handicrafts like malas, bracelets etc and sell them and give the money for her to use them for a good cause. Once a boy brought some money and gave it to Amma saying that he did not eat icecream for a year and saved the money to give to Ama. Amma felt very happy and gave an apple to the boy as a gift.

His younger sister became jealous of him on seeing this. During her birthday, she too brought some money saved from the pocket money her parents gave to her by not eating icecreams. While giving the money to Amma she confessed that she had felt jealous of er brother when Amma gave him an apple last time. Amma hugged her and said “Why? If you had told me at that time, I could have given an apple for you too!’.

“No Amma, I can’t accept it. Only when I sacrificed my own ice-cream and saved the money to give to you, I too can expect an apple from you”

Amma: See, this is how little children learn values of life by being in the satsang.

13.   The book on Compassion

Once a saint wrote a book titled “Compassion in life”. He wanted to get it published. He sought financial help for it from persons well known to him. They too offered money. When he was about to give it for printing, there came a famine in the country. Several people died out of hunger.

Without a second thought, the saint gave away the money collected for printing the book for preparing food and serving the hungry. Many of those who helped him financially for printing the book did not like his action.They said, “What are you doing? How will you get the money again? Hunger and poverty are common occurrences in the world; life and deaths are happening all over the world all the time; it is not right to spend such a large amount collected for a different purpose for feeding the hungry”.

The saint simply smiled and did not give a reply.

Several months passed; the saint again mada an appeal to his well wishers and followers seeking financial help to print the book again.Though they were reluctant, they nevertheless came forward and donated the needed amount.

The day before he was to give the money to the printer, the town was affected by an unprecedented flood. Hundreds of people perished. Countless people lost their houses and belongings. This time too, the saint gave away the money for flood relieve works. Those who donated money to him did not like his act of charity at all.They spoke critically about it; he patiently listened to them and smiled.

Again months passed. With lots of difficulty, the saint managed to collect the money for printing the book again. This time, he could get the printing done.When the book came out, the donors noticed that it was mentioned as “Third edition” in that book. They were surprised and irked; they asked him “You are a saint and how come you are so blatantly lying that this book is its third edition? Where are the the earlier two editions then? Are you taking us for a ride?”

The saint laughed and said, “Yes; this indeed is the third edition of the book. When the famine came, the first edition of compassion in life came out; when the floods came, the second edition of compassion in life did come out. My dear friends, by reading  a printed book, you only get a bookish knowledge on compassion; the first two editions showed how compassion should be put into practical effect in life. If a living human being is throwing up his hand desperately seeking help from a flooding river and if we are not able to pull him out of the river to the banks, what is the use of writing an eloquent book on compassion?”

(Matruvani – Purattasi – 2008)

14.  The dying mother

Once a military man on duty received a telegram from a hospital in his native place stating that his mother was in death bed and she was longing to see him as her last wish.

The military man obtained permission from his officers to leave immediately and he travelled to his native place without losing time. He rushed to the hospital straight away from the station. The nurse on duty took him immediately to the bed where the old lady was lying. She shook up the patient and shouted loud in her ears, “Wake up, Ma, wake up. Your son has arrived”.

Gradually, the lady became conscious; she slowly opened her eyes and looked around for her son. Her eyesight was blurred. The military man came close to the bed, caught hold of the lady’s hand and said, “Mother, I have arrived; don’t worry; I am here to take care of you; you will get alright soon…”

The old lady shed tears of joy; she kissed his hand and touched his face and head. In a trembling voice, she said, “No my dear son, I will not be alive any more; I am so glad that you have come here to see me before I passed awa; I am so thankful to God…”, so saying she breathed her last.

The doctor came, checked her  and declared her dead. He asked the military man to make arrangements for taking the body to his home and doing the final rites.

The military man said, “I don’t know her home address. Please find it out”.

The doctor and the nurses were surprised to hear it. The man said, “Let me tell you the truth; this lady is not my mother. You seem to have made some mistake somewhere”

“Then why did you behave so far as if you are her son?” they asked.

“I could understand her dire wish to see her son at her last moments; When her senses have almost failed, what is the point in telling her that I am not her son? At least I could give her the joy that her son was back with her at her last moments. Hence I pretended to be her son to give her the peace to breathe her last”

15.   Where is God?

Once a spiritual seeker went everywhere in search of God; he could not find God in any place. Exhausted, he sat down under a tree. He noticed a husband and wife walking happily. Seeing the joy on their faces, the man became curious to find out where they were going.

He followed them.

They went to a colony of lepers. They went from hut to hut, washed and cleaned the lepers’ wounds, wiped them dry and applied medicines on them. The couple also served food that they had brought. They spoke kind words of consolation to the lepers and cheered them up. Seeing these happenings, the seeker of God could not suppress his joy! He shouted exclaiming “I have seen God today!” and walked on the roads happily laughing. People who saw him thought he was mad. They stopped him asked him “Where is God?”

He said, “Where there is compassion, there God is!”

(English Matruvani Sept 2016)

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