Once upon a time Śūrasena used to rule Mathura. He once got separated from the rest of his army, when he went for Mṛgayāvihāram. At last he reached one small remote village and it was night. Hence we went to a house for āśrayam. A farmer couple used to live in that house and on seeing the King, they gave ātithyam to him with great affection. May be they were people who really believed that “Atithi devo bhava”. Even though they did not know who the King was, they cooked food for him and arranged a very comfortable bed for the King. Seeing their Atithi seva, the King felt very happy. The next day while leaving their place, the King gave his Rāja-mudrika to them and said “please do meet me in case you need something”. The farmer couple did not notice that it was a Rāja-mudrika and kept it safely somewhere.
Once after many years, there was a durbhikṣham and the life of a farmer became miserable. Same was the case with the farmer couple. Not knowing what to do, they remembered the mudrika given by the King and went to him. The gaurds took them to the King, who was doing Daiva-Prārthana at that time. They heard the King saying “O Bhagavan! give me siri-sampada, ratna-māṇikyas …”. Getting Virakti, they left the place. After his pūja, King enquired about the farmer couple and ordered his gaurds to bring them back. Not having another way, the couple came back to the King. The King asked them why they went away without asking for anything. The couple replied “We came for yācana to you, turned back on hearing that you were doing the same with God”. Knowing the inner meaning in the couple’s words, the King spent the dhanam in his kośāgāram for the benefit of the suffering people and saved them from their difficulties.
Morals in the story:
- Do we go to the Meru parvatam and ask for small pebbles? Similary Bhagavat-Prāthana must not be done for mere Aihika Vāñchas.
- The importance of Atithi seva is well shown by the farmer couple. They gave ātithyam to the King and did whatever sevas they could, though they did not know who he was.
- One must never forget the sūkti “Paropakārārtham idam śarīram”.