ARE WE EATING STALE FOOD?
Baba said, “The donor gives, i.e. sows his seeds, only to reap a rich harvest in future. Wealth should be the means to work out Dharma. If it is used for personal enjoyment, it is wasted. Unless you have given it before, you do not get it now. So the best way to receive is to give” in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. XXXV.
Visakha was a beautiful and virtuous girl, specially chosen by the wealthy merchant Nigara, to be his daughter-in-law. She was herself the daughter of a wealthy man, and was unrivalled in the land of her beauty – within and without.
One day, Nigara was eating a delicious meal of rich porridge and honey. As a courteous and polite daughter-in-law, Visakha stood at a little distance, fanning her father-in-law as he ate.
At this time, a Buddist bhikkhu happened to come to their house, to ask for alms. Nigara raised his eyes from his food, and saw the bhikkhu. He made no attempt to get up, or offer the bhikkhu alms, for he himself did not belong to the Buddhist faith.
Visakha was hurt by the ungenerous conduct of her father-in-law. She approached the bhikkhu at the door and said to him, “Venerable sir, kindly does not waste your time here. The food that my father-in-law is eating is stale, and not for you. Please go to the neighbouring house, where they may offer you food.”
When Nigara heard these words, he flew into a rage. “How dare you speak thus?” he thundered. Leave my house this instant, for I don’t wish to see your face again!”
Very quietly, Visakha said to him, “Father, it was you who sought my hand in marriage for your son. You came to my father to ask for my hand. Now, if you wish to send me away, you must ask my father to come and take me. Let the wise men of this town decide my fate.”
So Nigara went to the wise men of the city. He complained to them bitterly of Visakha’s remark. “I am a respected and wealthy citizen. How dare she say that I eat stale food?” he demanded.
“My dear child, why did you utter such unbecoming words?” they asked.
“O wise men, true it is that I told the bhikkhu that he was eating stale food,” Visakha admitted. “But what I meant by ‘stale’ was that he was eating the fruits of his past actions. For he was not putting any effort to gather fresh fruits which he would need for his future karma.”
The wise men were astounded by her answer. “How true are your words!” they said to her in awe. Turning to Nigara, they said, “You are indeed blessed to have such a wise girl for your daughter-in-law. Take her home and treat her well!”