“There is only one kind of giving that can truly satisfy a man.”
said the priest, who was more practical about the ways of world than all other men who came at that small temple.
I was in Mumbai helping out my spiritual mentor do some errands and giving him company when I found myself in a small temple near Mahalaxmi area. He was chit-chatting with this priest.
The statement caught my attention and I was ready to absorb the next words that would come out of his mouth covered with overgrown mustache and beard.
“The greatest kind of giving is to donate food (anna-daan). You give clothes, money, land, shelter or anything else to a man. He will not be satisfied. He will ask for more. Give him stomach full of food and he will not ask for more.”
As small as the Hanuman temple looked, they had a huge hall exactly opposite where the priest in charge made sure of donating good cooked food to thousands of people regardless of their caste, creed or religion.
This stuck in my head ever since and every time after that, I made sure I could get someone deprived have stomach full of food. Being in India, you get many such opportunities. But I’m guilty I have missed many such opportunities than grabbed them.
I’ve experienced how it feels to be hungry and also how it feels when you don’t have money to buy some food. Though I had a choice; I brought it onto myself to experience such situations.
Coming from a middle class business family, we have seen times when we had to buy daily ration (food supplies) depending on how much business we did at our shop. I pray no one has to go through it. From the outside, we were well to do. But from within, we were being crushed by the the struggle to keep up with our daily necessities. The good thing was it made our family strong.
Later when I started working as a freelancer after college there have been weeks when I had exhausted my money, searching for work and chose to eat only once a day. Of course, I had the choice to ask for money from home; which I eventually did when I can’t bear it anymore. But a glimpse of that situation made me understand the state of thousands of people around the world. And especially around me.
I had been very ignorant by judging people of not having ambitions in life. I now understood, an empty stomach cannot have ambitions beyond getting filled.
If you have the convenience of reading this article, chances are you had your stomach filled. You are blessed. Be grateful about it, not proud that you can afford it.
Knowing our people are so hopelessly unemployed, and money is the only way to afford food in today’s world, it worries me.
If people can’t afford to fill their stomach, have a piece of cloth on their body and shelter on their head simply because they can’t afford it, there is something terribly wrong with our society.
But, I like to be an optimist. 🙂