If for that much this much, then for this much how much
If for that much this much, then for this much how much7 mins 90 7 mins 90
Dedicated to Mrs Shakuntala Rege who kindled, ignited , inspired and motivated the story writer in me , leading to the chagrin , displeasure , and detriment of society . I have named the protagonist of this story " Shakuntala " in her honour .
Once upon a time there was a poor but kind and generous good girl named Shakuntala who lived with her ailing mother in a remote village . She was very hard working, honest and unselfish .
One year there was a severe drought which led to a severe famine . The poor girl had to walk for miles to somehow get even a single pot of water . Food was also scarce so every morsel of food was valued more than gold .
One day as she was returning with her pot of water with only a few drops of water , somehow barely obtained despite having walked miles , a lean limping dog who was clearly very thirsty , started following her with eager glances at her water pot . The kind girl took pity on the dog and although she herself was very thirsty , she gave her share of water to the thirsty dog to drink . Hoping it may get something more , the dog followed her right upto her hut . The girl tended to her ailing mother , fed her with whatever scanty food was available and was about to eat her own little morsel of food when she saw the dog lying weak and limp due to its hunger pangs at her doorstep . Once again the girl was moved by intense pity for the dog and despite her own hunger , she fed the last food morsel to the dog instead .
Tough situations dont last but tough people do. So also, the drought and famine left the land while Shakuntala and her mother survived .
Years passed by and Shakuntala grew up into a beautiful, graceful maiden .
Now it so came to pass, that the King of the land was once passing by through her village , and noticing Shakuntala, he at once fell in love with her . Soon he proposed and married her and led her away to live in his grand palace .
Her earlier life filled with scarcity and hard struggle and toil , was now replaced by prosperity and joy and Royal duties with plenty of servants and maids at her service . Now , Queen Shakuntala being of a devout nature, attributed this huge change for the better, to her good deed or Karma instead of as sheer luck .
As Queen , the Kingdoms coffers were totally open for her use and disposal as she wished , with no questions asked . However understanding the significance and potential of her position, and the opportunity given by Destiny to earn more merit or do more good deeds , Queen Shakuntala began a huge open to all, free food distributing service in the Royal kitchen . ( Known locally as Guru ka Langar or Bhandaara )
News of the free community feast given by the Royal kitchen soon spread all over and people flocked in huge numbers to partake of the sumptuous food . To every visitor to the feast , Queen Shakuntala would ask the same question , " If for that much this much , then for this much how much ? "
" Tevdhyaas evdhe tar evdhyaas kiti ?
But none could even understand its meaning let alone answer it .
Days passed by until one Guru pournima day, when asked the question , a humble old poor looking man, who seemed a stranger to that land , answered calmly and confidently , " For that much this much . But for this much , this much only ! "
Queen Shakuntala was amazed at this ordinary looking old person to be the first person to give an answer in such an easy casual manner with no sign of pretence or pride or show of erudition or too much learning .! Moreover, she was perplexed at the answer as it was not what she had expected !
She at once bade the old man to step aside and gently asked him , " You are definitely not what you outwardly seem to be ! Please explain your answer to me and tell me who you are . "
On this the old man replied ,
" Well then , listen carefully oh benevolent and kind Queen . Your deed of giving your share of water and food to even a lowly creature like a dog dying of thirst and hunger has definitely been the cause of your rise from rags to riches !
It was totally an altruistic act done despite you yourself being in a state of starving scarcity and pinching poverty . By giving away all that you had, risking by it, all hopes of your own future survival . Almost like a soldier who risks or sacrifices his life so that others may survive . Hence your sacrifice in commiting the act of charity was immense or almost total . It arose from pure compassion . Moreover , it was spontaneous and instinctive, without any selfish aim or any surrounding thought polluting the action .
Hence , because of all these factors , the fruit it reaped was manifold .
But just dig into it a little deeper. Had not the hungry dog appeared , would you be given a chance to show and act out your inner compassion and capacity and readiness to sacrifice ? For a donor , a suitable deserving donee is equally necessary.
Your present deeds too are charitable and hence definitely commendable . Unlike many others , you are undoubtedly making a proper and wise use of the opportunity and support that Destiny has bestowed upon you . But your current deeds are an act of giving away from plenty . The element of sacrifice is proportionately less . Hence the fruits of this act too will be commensurate or equivalent to the magnitude of your sacrifice and the selflessness behind it . You will surely get in return as much as you are giving now , but no more and no less .
Hence I said ,
" For that much this much . But for this much , this much only ! "
Evdhyaas evdhech !
एवढ्यास एवढेच !
Then with a twinkle in his eyes and a mischievous smile on his face he said ,
" As for who I am , I can only say that a stray dog whispered to me news of your generosity and the sumptuous heavenly food he got in your hut !
Hearing him, I was curious to taste the food in your hut ! And so I came hither !
However I took long in reaching here from my abode in the Himalayas . It may be sheer coincidence that I happened to reach here on Guru Pournima day ! I must compliment you on your grand hut however ! "
Hearing him ,
Queen Shakuntala at once understood the subtle meaning of his words.
Paying her obeisances to him , the Queen said to him
" I realise that you are no ordinary person but an extra ordinary Sage or Guru in the garb of a wandering old man with full knowledge of my past deeds . "
She thanked him profusely with profound gratitude for opening her eyes to the concept of sacrifice and selflessness . Indeed he had come all the way from his Himalayan abode and partaken of the food at the Royal free food community kitchen as an ordinary person not out of any hunger or need for it , but sheerly to give realisation of the subtle concepts of Karma to her .
She then honoured and felicitated him publicly for having answered her question satisfactorily. Finally she gave him a fond farewell befitting a great Guru or Sage and resumed her Queenly duties with greater zest, insight and consciousness !
Moral of the story : Even the urge and opportunity to be kindly generous or charitable is a graceful blessing of God . Do not attribute it to your ownself .
[Authors note :
Adapted from a story in Marathi which I remember having read in my childhood. It was in a book of short stories " Subodh Katha " compiled by late Dr. Prof . Sitaram Ganesh Desai , and was intended by him to inculcate good morals, values and the sense or concept of non doership amongst small children . I hope it continues to achieve its aim and purpose with this retelling of the tale.
The author has intentionally used words with similar meanings or synonyms at the cost of appearing pedantic , repetitive , lengthy and boring .
This is with the firm belief or idea or conviction that reading stories very easily and effortlessly , aids or assissts or helps in increasing or enhancing our vocabulory in a friendly, casual, informal , simple way than by learn-by-heart methods or by memorising or by reading synonyms from a dictionary as is prescribed by some cruel, torturing , tormenting , sadist , teaching methods prevalent or existing or in use in many schools . I sincerely and fervently pray that my stories are never made part of any school curriculum or syllabus or teaching process or as a means of mass education . I hope and pray that they are instead read or heard sheerly for the fun and pleasure of listening to or reading an old mans rant.]