1. Equal punishment?
Long ago, there lived a very rich landlord in a village. He was a miser and lead a life of utter selfishness with no compassion for the poor and the needy.
One day, he went to the village magistrate and made a complaint against another villager saying that he had stolen money from his almirah.
The person accused was extremely poor. When the magistrate summoned him and interrogated him, he openly admitted that he had indeed stolen money from the rich man’s almirah because of unbearable hunger in his family. At the end of inquiry the magistrate gave a ruling that the stealer and the rich man should undergo imprisonment for equal period.
The rich man could not digest such a ruling. He made sure that a complaint about this reached the king of the country. The king called the magistrate for an inquiry. The magistrate spoke to the king, openly expressing his views without any fear, “Your majesty, while I punished the poor man for the act of stealing, I punished the rich man for his act of amassing money far beyond his needs and never coming forward to help the poor and the needy with his money and properties. Even if he could not help the poor directly, he could have at least come forward to donate money to charitable organizations who work for the downtrodden and the needy. He never did that too. Even though God has given eyes and ears to him, he could never see the suffering of hungry people; he could not hear the lamenting of the poor in need of help. That too is a crime according to me and that’s why I gave him punishment.”
The magistrate paused for a while and then continued: “Now I think it is wrong on my part to have given equal punishment to both the persons. I should have indeed given an additional punishment for the rich man for another crime — the crime of abetting a poor person to resort to stealing. Had he donated some money for the fellow villager whose family had been driven to extreme poverty and hunger, the poor man would no need to steal from the rich man’s house. This rich man indeed is the cause for creating a thief. That’s why he should have been punished for it too”.
[Amma: “Accumulating more and more possessions is also adharma; it is a sin. That’s why we should always negate pomp and extravaganza. By saving money being spent on such things, we should divert it to help the poor and the needy.”]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)
2. Compassionate request
Once a school girl took part in a prestigious competition and won the first place. The sponsors of the competition offered her a free trip to Visit USA as the reward.
At the award function, the anchor asked a question to the girl, “How happy are you feeling in winning the competition and getting the chance to visit to USA?”
The girl said, “I am indeed very happy to have won this competition; but I would be happier if I could get the award in cash equivalent to all the expenses of sponsoring my trip to USA”.
“Why are you desiring cash? Are you not interested in visiting USA?” asked the anchor.
The girl said, “It is not so. My mother is a nurse. Last week I accompanied my mother to the hospital where she is working. There I happened to meet a girl of my age, and as I interacted with her, we became friends. I came to know that she was undergoing treatment for cancer. It was shocking for me. My mother told me that her cancer was in advanced stage and if at all she should recover, she should undergo more advanced treatment in a bigger hospital. Unfortunately, her parents are poor and they could not afford any costlier treatment. She would not survive for long in this condition. I felt very painful; such an young girl, who would have lots of dreams about her future, who is not still aware of her precarious condition, who believes she would soon recover, will be dying shortly because there was no money with the parents to save her. Suppose this reward comes to me in cash, I want to give it to the girl’s parents so that they can use it for treating her. That would truly make my winning the competition worthy”.
Hearing her speech, the organizers immediately took a decision to give the reward to her in cash and they made an announcement about it immediately.
[Amma: “On this day of New year, let us all make a resolution to do at least one act that could bring happiness or comfort to others without any selfish motive. Even if we are not capable of doing big things, it does not matter. A word of compassion, a friendly smile, a friendly heart that is ready to hear the sorrows of others — even such little things are good enough.”]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)
3. Compassion is more important than worship
Once a group of pilgrims were travelling to Rameshwaram after taking holy bath in the Ganga at Kashi. They were carrying Ganga water in small pots for the purpose of doing abhishekam to Lord Shiva’s linga at Rameshwaram as per the traditional practice.
Somewhere at the middle of their travel route, they had to cross a dry landscape. It was a hot day and all the travellers were suffering from thirst. But unfortunately, they could not locate any source of water in the stretch. Since all of them were very particular to carry the Ganga water for Rameshwaram, they did not want to quench their thirst with the Ganga water in their pots. They somehow managed to bear with their thirst and moved on.
On the way, a donkey was lying on the road, breathing heavily. It was obvious that the donkey was fatigued by the hot sun and it was extremely thirsty. One of the pilgrims felt pity on the donkey which was at the verge of death. He decided to feed the donkey with his pot of Ganga water. The donkey hastily drank all the water in his pot and felt rejuvenated. The man felt extremely happy that he could save the life of a donkey with the water he carried.
However, the other pilgrims did not approve his act of charity. They said that it was totally wrong to ‘waste’ a whole pot of Ganga water which was really meant for doing Abhishekam to Lord Shiva. They said he lost all the punya of undertaking the pilgrimage.
The man said, “I don’t care if I lose all the good fortune of completing Kashi Yatra; saving the life of a poor creature by feeding it with Ganga water is far more more important to me than doing abhishekam to God at Rameshwaram; I saw God in that poor creature. Seeing its pitiable condition, it was just impossible for me to walk ahead without offering help.”
[Amma: “Four things make an act of charity invaluable: 1) Sacrificing one’s own possessions and comforts for giving to charity (2) Donating selflessly without expecting anything in return or without the intent of getting name and fame (3) donating to someone more deserving than oneself and (4) Seeing God in the receiver, offering a donation with humility. We all must develop the above attitude and do good to others. If we do charity with this attitude, we will get satisfaction and prosperity in our lives”.]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)
Once a hunter shot an arrow tipped with poison on a deer. The arrow missed its target and hit the trunk of a large tree. Due to the effect of poison, the tree started withering. Soon, all the leafs in the tree dried up and the tree was dead.
There were plenty of birds, worms, insects, rats, and squirrels living in the tree all long. Once the tree dried up, almost all of the creatures left the tree in search of alternative places for their living. But one parrot that lived in the tree for long did not want to leave the tree, because of its indebtedness and emotional attachment to the tree that had supported it and nurtured it all along. Forgetting food and sleep, the parrot grieved for the death of the tree and continued to stay there. All the fellow birds advised the lone parrot that it was meaningless to keep attached to a dead and dry tree and urged it to move on along with them. But the parrot stoutly refused.
The news about the parrot spread across the three worlds and it reached Heaven too. Lord Indra was surprised to hear about it. He wanted to test the parrot.
Indra came to the tree in the form of an old brahmin and asked the parrot, “Why are you so foolishly clinging on to this tree which has dried up totally?”
The parrot said, “I know by virtue of my austerities that you are none other than Lord Indra. You see, I was born in this tree. I grew up in this tree and this is where I acquired all my skills and instincts. It was due to the protection given by this tree, I lived safely from the attack of predators. How can I discard this tree which has nurtured and protected me all along?”
Hearing this Lord Indra said, “I am extremely pleased to hear your words of compassion. I will offer you any boon you ask for”. The parrot immediately said, “Lord, I will be extremely happy if you could bring this tree back to life and restore its original status”. Lord Indra agreed and sprinkled nectar on the tree. Within moments, the tree started to grow fresh leaves and soon it attained its original condition bearing flowers and fruits. Seeing this all the birds and animals which had discarded the tree earlier returned to the tree joyfully.
[Amma: “If only all of us have the same attachment and indebtedness towards mother nature just like the parrot’s attachment to the tree in this story, preservation of Nature would become effortless. Let us develop such a mindset and pass it on to the coming generations.”]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)
5. Personal touch (1)
Once a new Managing Director joined his office. He was welcomed by all the managers. The personnel Manager said, “Sir, we have arranged your room ready at the 20th floor. We have one exclusive elevator for your use, which will take you straight to your floor without stopping at intermediate floors”.
The MD took charge. After a few days, he called up the personnel manager and said, “Please shift my office from 20th floor to the ground floor”.
The personnel manager humbly asked the MD, “May I know the reason Sir? Are you not feeling comfortable there? Have we missed giving any facilities there?”
The MD said, “No. The office and facilities are good. No complaints. All my employees are spread across the various floors down below in this building. I am not able to effectively interact with them”.
“Why Sir? If you call any of them to your room, they will always be glad to come and meet you there!”
The MD said, “No. I don’t want to sit on a high pedestal and demand their attention. I want to interact with them all in a more personal way. I want to know about them, their hardships, their family problems and so on more freely. If I sit in the ground floor, all the people will have to pass through the ground floor only when they come to the office or leave the office and that way, I will have a better access towards them through casual meetings too.”
[Amma: “In a similar way, Avatara Purushas come to the earth for the sake of the common people. They come down to the level of the common man and teach them in a way they can understand,”]
(Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)
6. Personal touch (2)
Once in an office, a departmental examination was conducted to select staff who are to be promoted to managerial posts in the organization.
While answering the question paper, a very odd question caught everybody’s attention:
- What is the name of your Manager?
- What is the name of the office assistant who does errands in the office?
- What is the name of the tea boy?
- What is the name of the sweeper in the office?
Practically all the people who wrote the exam wrote the Managers’ name correctly. Some people did not know the name of the office assistant. More people did not know the name of the tea boy. Most people did not know the name of the sweeper.
After the exam was over, they went and met the chief of HR department, who was in charge of setting up the question paper. “We wonder what is the need for that particular question. It is in no way connected with our technical skills, communication skills or knowledge of office matters and procedures which are essential for management.” they argued.
The HR manager said, “In fact it is one of the most important questions that carries lots of weightage. You see, when you people become managers, you are not just going to manage your work and responsibilities, but manage all the people who work under you. You have to be people-oriented and how you interact with your staff at human level is of paramount importance in your success as a manager.”
(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang 25/10/2020)
7. Don’t take more than your need
Once the family of a rich man came to a famous hotel for a buffet dinner.
An old man sitting and eating in the next table, kept watching the rich man’s family. Most of the members from the family were picking up lots of varieties of food in excess quantities. They would try some items, eat a little here and a little there and discard the food. They would again pick up some more items and waste them if they were not to their liking.
The old man signaled to the head of the family and expressed his wish to talk to them. He said, “You people are wasting lots of food. This is not right. Take only as much as you could eat and not more. This is not a responsible behavior” he said curtly.
The rich man felt offended and angry. He retorted: “We have paid for the buffet for each and every one of our family. You know that buffet food is unlimited. So, it is totally up to us to take as much as we want; if we like something. we eat it; if we don’t like, we throw away. None can question us. It is our right”.
The old man said, “It is your right to eat to your stomach-full for the money you have paid. But it is not your right to waste food; by wasting food, you are depriving somebody else’s share of food. There are countless poor people in the outer world who don’t have the means to eat one square meal a day. Many people go to bed with empty stomach. The food you waste rightfully belong to the poor and you are depriving them indirectly by wasteful consumption”.
(Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)
8. Avoiding Embarrassment
Once there lived a poor farmer in a village. As he had no money to sow for the upcoming crop season, he approached a rich man in his village for a loan. The rich man was quite kind hearted. He readily offered money to the farmer and asked him to repay it once he harvested his produce and sold them. Thanking him profusely, the farmer collected the money and went about enthusiastically to raise the crops.
Unfortunately, by the time the crop was ready for harvesting, a heavy thunderstorm struck. His entire farm was flooded and the farmer lost all his produce. He was crestfallen. How could he repay the loan?
With no other go, the farmer started avoiding the rich man. Whenever he saw the rich man coming in the opposite direction at a distance, the farmer would quickly take a detour and avoid meeting him. The rich man noticed what the farmer was doing and he understood.
One day, the rich man was walking on the road along with his friend. He noticed the farmer coming at a distance. Immediately the rich man quickly hid himself behind an adjacent tree. After the farmer went past, he returned to the road. Surprised to see his behavior, the friend asked, “What is this? Why are you hiding yourself from the farmer? Are you afraid of him for some reason?”
The rich man said, “No. I really feel pity for the farmer. I know he has lost his entire crop this year due to unexpected floods. In fact I had loaned him a heavy amount for raising this crop. He is a honest farmer and he feels extremely embarrassed to see me face to face out of fear that I may ask him to pay back the loan. So, he is always trying to avoid me. Since I know his pitiable condition, I wanted to avoid any embarrassment for him in seeing me in front of him today. That’s why I hid myself behind the tree”.
(From Amma”s 67th birthday satsang 27/9/2020)
9. For the sake of havenots
Once there lived a boy who used to notice a Home for the orphans on his way to school. He would feel very sorry looking at the children whose faces were always sad and forlorn.
Onam festival was round the corner. As usual, his father gifted him some money for the festival for him to buy toys or anything else that he was desirous of. He thought, ‘I have parents who always but toys, news dress and other things for me and take good care. But who is there for the poor children living in the orphanage? They don’t have parents and relatives. How sad is their condition!’
Thinking this way, he took a decision. He approached his classmates and said, “All of us are having pocket money now given by our parents for celebrating Onam. Let me suggest a thing. Let us pool the money together and buy some face masks and simple toys in bulk. Let us sell them to public from street corners. By using that money, we can buy more of them and sell more. Using that money, let us buy lots of toys and gift them to the orphan children. What do you say?”
Practically all his classmates did not show interest in his suggestion. They were keen to use their pocket money only for their own enjoyment. However only one boy agreed to his suggestion. They put their money together and bought some funny face masks and toys for children. Both of them wore face masks, went to places where people gathered in large numbers and entertained them with their antics. Amused people gathered around them and watched them with glee. The boy announced, “Please buy some masks from us and gift them to your children. They will be happy to wear them and you too find joy in their entertainment. We see you are all laughing and enjoying. But remember for a moment that there are indeed people around us who do not know what joy is. Please think of them and buy goods from us. The money you pay will be utilized for giving that joy to the deserving people”.
The boys’ entertainment and smart speech attracted the audience. They eagerly came forward to buy the masks and other toys from them. From that money, they bought more stuff and resold them. With the accumulated money they bought lots of funny masks and other toys and gifts for the orphans.
On the day of Onam festival, the two boys went to the orphanage. While the people outside ashram were all in festive mood, the children at the ashram looked furlorn. The boys called all the children and distributed the masks and other gifts to them. Suddenly, the faces of all the children lit up. The boys burst fire crackers; they lit sparklers and handed over to the children. Festive mood caught up inside the Home too. The children started jumping and screaming around in joy.
The boy who initiated this stood aside and watched all the merry. His eyes filled with tears of joy. He felt that the joy he felt at that moment, by not keeping anything for selfish enjoyment but sharing everything with others was far more intense and deeply satisfying than what he would have had otherwise.
(Source: Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 2)
10. The generous kid
Once a mother of two children went to a supermarket for buying essential needs for the week. She knew that if she took them around the supermarket, they would keep pestering her for buying many unnecessary things that they see on the shelves. As they entered in to the supermarket she gave some money to both the children and said, “Buy whatever you want or eat within this money and sit there at the chairs. Wait for me till I make the purchases and come back.”
The children gladly collected the money. The first girl bought chocolates for the entire money and started eating them by sitting in the waiting area.
The other girl looked around thinking what to buy for her. At one corner, many saplings of fruit trees were on sale. She bought one sapling. With the balance money she bought some biscuits. She too came to the waiting area and sat with her sister.
By the time she arrived there, her sister had already finished the chocolates. She was looking for eating something more, but she had already exhausted her money. The second girl opened the biscuit packet and started eating. She also shared a portion of it with her sister.
[Amma: “Most of us, like the first girl in this story, live a selfish life, intent only on satisfying our desires. But the second girl is the example of how we should rightly live in this world. For the sake of the world, she bought a sapling, which will grow to a tree in future and be useful to many. For her own enjoyment, she bought biscuits and that too she shared with others gladly.”]
(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang 25/10/2020)
11. The most difficult job
Once a king posed this question at his court: “What is the most difficult job on earth?”
In order to make the king feel happy, practically all those gathered there said, “Being a king and ruling a country”. The king was quite satisfied with the answer. But the court jester stood up and said, “The job of a mother is the most difficult one in the world”.
The king did not like it. He wanted the jester to convince him with facts. The jester said, “Your majesty, I will arrange to send a mother with a 3 year old child to the palace. Please watch her for one or two days and you will come to know.”
The king agreed.
A mother with her 3 year old kid arrived. The king arranged a person to observe the mother and report to him all that happened.
The next day, the person came and reported to the king the following.
After the mother and child settled there at the previous night, the child wanted to eat some chocolates. The mother gave a small piece of chocolate to the child and it ate the piece with great relish. The child wanted more, but the mother refused to give. The child started crying and demanded more.
The mother said to the child, “You can eat only this much chocolate in a day. If you eat more, it will cause toothache and stomach ache.” She tried to divert the attention of the child but the child was too adamant. It cried more and more; it threw up tantrums. But the mother was extremely patient and tried to pacify the child, but to no avail. The child kept on crying and the mother did no further effort to calm her. She simply let the child cry. Getting tired, the child slept off. The mother too slept.
On the next morning, the child woke up. It immediately remembered about the chocolate and started crying for it again. The mother now took out a piece of chocolate and gave it. But the angry child was in no mood to compromise. It cried saying, “I want only yesterday’s chocolate, but you are giving me today. I will not agree. I want it yesterday!”
The mother patiently said, “It is still yesterday, darling! Since you slept off, you are mistaken that one day has passed. Now eat this. It is still yesterday only!” The child stopped crying and stared relishing the chocolate.
When the king heard this, he turned to the court jester and said, “Yes man. I agree! A mother’s job is the most difficult to handle!”
(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang 25/10/2020)
12. The right king
Once a king by name Jayadev was ruling the country of Magadha. He had 3 sons. As the king was getting old, he wanted to crown one of his sons as the king. Even though it was the norm to appoint the eldest son as the king, Jayadev was however not keen on following the custom, as he was a very compassionate king, who had all along ruled the country unselfishly with the only motive of taking care of welfare of the subjects. He wanted to ensure that the next ruler too continued to be compassionate towards the people.
He called all his sons and inquired: “Have you done any good deed in your life, recently?”
The eldest son said, ” Yes, I did one recently. One of my friends, before undertaking a pilgrimage, gave me a huge collection of precious stones and he asked me to keep them in my safe custody till he returns from his journey. I did take care of them and returned all of them safely without even touching one of them once he came back.”
“What is so great about it?” asked the king.
“If at all I had desired, I could have stolen one from them. I never did so” said the prince.
“Why didn’t you steal?”
“Had I stolen, my conscience would keep pricking me afterward. That’s why I did not steal”.
“It means you restrained yourself just to safeguard yourself from future trouble”. The king turned towards his second son and asked him what good deed he had done.
He said, “Recently, I was walking along a river bank. Lots of people had gathered there and making lots of noise. I came to know that one man who got into water for bathing had sunk in the river just then. That area in the river was infested with lots of crocodiles. So, no one was willing to save the person, risking their life against crocodiles. When I came to know this, I jumped into the river and saved the man”.
“That was indeed really good. What motivated you to do so, risking your life?” asked the king.
“People gathered there knew that I was the prince. If I had not come forward to save the sinking man, they would start talking “Oh, the prince ran away fearing his life!’. Will they not label me a coward? That’s why I risked my life to save the man”.
The king said, “It means you did not jump into river out of compassion for the man, but only to save your honor; you wanted the people to praise you; right?”
The king asked his third son about any good deeds he had done recently.
The third son replied, “I don’t remember having done any such thing”.
The king was disappointed. However, he sent his messengers to find out from common people whether any of them knew any good deeds done by the third son.
Soon the king came to know from his messengers that the third son was indeed doing many philanthropic activities. Many people told that the prince would always inquire about their well being whenever he interacted with them, and would encourage them to share their problems and difficulties with him. Some poor people said that the prince always gave them food and money if he came to know that they were hungry and had no means to eat. Some people said that he helped them to build houses for them when he came to know that they were roofless. The prince was thus engaged in countless welfare activities but he would always tell the beneficiaries not to mention about him to others.”
The king embraced the third son and said, “You are the right person to rule this kingdom after me”. Soon he crowned him as the king and retired from active life.
[Amma: “Children, when we do a good deed, the idea ‘I am the doer’ should not rise up its head. Extending help to others should never be for the sake of getting fame. Every act of seva should become a worship of God. We are just instruments in the hand of God. The power to act through us is His. Never forget this.”]
(Source: OLiyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 2)
13. Take the right example (1)
Once a forest dweller was going through the forest. At a particular place, he noticed a fox lying. The fox had broken its two legs and was lying there unable to move. He felt pity on the fox. He thought, “Who will feed this fox? Oh! God is sometimes cruel”. Then he wondered, “This fox cannot move but it looks healthy. Does it mean someone is feeding it?” He got curious. He wanted to know how the fox was getting its food.
After a while, a tiger came there. It was carrying a large piece of meat in its mouth. It ate half of it sitting there and left the remaining half for the fox to eat. The forest dweller was very surprised. He wanted to know whether the tiger would be coming again the next day too to feed the fox.
Promptly, he came to same spot at the same time and hid himself behind a tree to watch what wasp. Like the previous day, the tiger came there, ate some meat and left the balance for the fox to eat. It was happening daily.
The forest dweller thought, “It means God is there to take care. So, let me too stop running around and work for my food. God will surely arrange someone to feed me”. He went and sat at one place and waited. The whole day passed. No one brought any food for him! He waited for the second day too. Nothing happened. He felt very weak. He was about to lose faith on God. At that time, a divine voice was heard by him from the sky: “My son! Don’t be like the lame fox. Aspire to be like the tiger who feeds the fox out of compassion”.
[Amma: “Children, don’t think ‘let others do the service; let somebody extend help’. Sitting idle without doing anything is a crime committed against God. God has given health to us only for serving the poor with constant remembrance of God. We should always develop the attitude of helping those who are suffering.”]
(Source: OLiyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 2)
14. Take the right example (2)
Once in a gurukula, the guru was teaching his disciples about the differences in the nature of people in the world.
The master kept four glasses with water on the table. In the first glass, he put a few pebbles of stones. The stones sank to the bottom and nothing more happened.
In the second glass, the master dropped a lump of mud. Soon the mud got dissolved in water and made the glass of water dirty.
In the third glass, the master put a piece of sponge. The sponge quickly absorbed all the water in the glass.
In the fourth glass, the master dropped a sugar candy. The candy dissolved in the water. The water continued to look clear but the water turned sweet to drink.
Now the master explained.
“There are four types of people in this world. There are lots of people who are like stones in the first glass. They are good for nothing. They live in the society, but they don’t contribute anything for the good of the society. Some people are like the lump of mud in the second glass. They don’t do anything good for the society but they spoil others with whom they interact. Thus they are harmful to the society.
There are the third type of people who are hopelessly selfish. They are like the sponge put in water. Like the sponge absorbing the water, they will try to grab whatever others have or they will exploit nature for satiating their selfish needs and greed. They will earn and hoard far more than what they need, thus depriving the genuine needs of have-nots.
And there are only a few people in society who are like the sugar candy in the fourth glass. They sacrifice themselves for the sake of others and bring sweetness to others’ lives.
It is the fourth type of people that we should take as examples for us to emulate in our life. If we follow their lives, we too will gain sweetness in life. Gradually, we too will become capable of giving sweetness to others’ lives.”
(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)