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Amma’s stories on Unselfishness, Compassion & Sacrifice – 4

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)

4.   Indebtedness

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)

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