by Sarika. P. | 2022 | 41,363 words
This page relates ‘References to Hospitality in Uttararamacarita’ of the study on Atithi-Saparya—The ancient Indian practice of hospitality or “guest reception” which, in the Indian context, is an exalted practice tracable to the Vedic period. The spirit of Vedic guest-reception (atithi-saparya) is reflected in modern tourism in India, although it has deviated from the original concept. Technically, the Sanskrit term Atithi can be defined as one who arrives from a far place with hunger and thirst during the time of the Vaishvadeva rite—a ceremony that includes offering cooked food to all Gods.
Bhavabhūti’s Uttararāmacarita, narrates the story of Rāma after his eventful stay of fourteen years in forest. In the second act of Uttararāmacarita, there is a reference of atithi-saparyā. Here Bhavabhūti describes that wood-nymphs as welcoming female ascetics and giving fruits and flowers. Reference to the practice of providing meet food to atithis is seen in the fourth act of Uttararāmacarita. Sage Vasiṣṭha comes to the hermitage of Vālmīki along with Janaka, Arundhati, Kausalya etc. Ascetics treated them in a very respectful manner. The students were talking about the atithis who provided holiday for them. Then one of the students talks about the arrival of Sage Vasiṣṭha. Then another student remarks that he thought that those were some tigers or leopards. Then one asked him why he had made such remark. “One or two cows will be slaughtered on that day”, answers the other. That hints to the concept of giving meat as food to an atithi. Then another student remarks that why Janaka didn”t receive such hospitality. They gave only madhuparka while receiving Janaka. He got the reply that once Śrī Rāma left Sītā he had stopped eating meat. Gṛhyasūtras describe that madhuparka was offered by adding meat. Here Sage Vasiṣṭha is provided madhuparka that contains meat. It is to be remembered that Goghna is a synonym for atithi.
Footnotes and references:
tāpasī svayameva kathayati -aye vanadevatā phalakusumagarbheṇa pallavārghyeṇa dūrānmāmupatiṣṭhate | vanadevatā– (arghyaṃ vikīrya |) yathecchā bhogyaṃ vo vanamidamayaṃ me sudivasaḥ satāṃ sadbhiḥ saṅgaḥ kathamapi hi puṇyena bhavati | tarucchāyā toyaṃ yadapi tapasāṃ yogyamaśanaṃ phalaṃ vā mūlaṃ vā tadapi na parādhīnamiha vaḥ || Uttararāmacarita,2.1
saughātake | dṛśyatāmadya bhūyiṣṭhasannidhāpitātithijanasya samadhikārambharamaṇīyatā bhagavato vālmīkerārāmapadasya | tathā hi—nīvāraudanamaṇḍamuṣṇamadhuraṃ sadyaḥ prasūtapriyāḥ prīyādamyadhikaṃ tapovanamṛgaḥ paryāptamācāmati | gandhena sphuratā managanusṛto bhavatasya sarpiṣmataḥ karkandhūphalamiva śākapacanāmodaḥ paristīryate || ibid., 4.1
dāṇḍāyanaḥ-"samāṃso madhuparka' ityamnāyaṃ bahumanyamānāḥ śrotriyāyābhyāgatāya vatsatarīṃ mahokṣaṃ vā mahājaṃ vā nirvapanti gṛhamedhinaḥ | taṃ hi dharmaṃ dharmasūtrakārāḥ samāmananti | saudhātakiḥ—bho nigṛhīto'si | dāṇḍāyanaḥ-kathamiva? saudhātakiḥ—yenāgateṣu vasiṣṭhamiśreṣu vatsatarīviśasitā | adyaiva pratyagatasya rājarṣerjanakasya bhagavatā vālmīkinā dadhimadhubhyāmeva nirvartito madhuparkaḥ | vatsatarī punarvisarjitā | dāṇḍāyanaḥ—anivṛttamāṃsānāmevaṃ kalpamṛṣayo manyante | nivṛttamāṃsastu tatra bhavān janakaḥ | ibid., 4