The spiritual meaning
“Atithi Devo Bhava” – Our ancient scriptures tell us that a guest is like a deity and should be treated as one, but we have taken it a bit too literally. There is however, a deeper, spiritual meaning behind it. We are all guests on this planet … and as guests we do not own anything. It is absolutely absurd for a guest to think that he can gain or lose something here. There is nothing to run after – be it people, power or possessions. All we have to do is enjoy every moment of our visit. If this perspective is applied accurately, even for a brief moment, we notice that all problems fall away.
A wonderful gift
Deities are shown to have this clarity which is visible through the effortless smile they wear on their faces. Krishna is always shown to have an easy nature; constantly smiling no matter how big an obstacle there may be. It is believed that deities descended from the sky above, performed their task and returned. This image symbolises ‘guest’ consciousness. In fact, we are all spiritual beings who belong to a completely different world – the Sky beyond Sky. We come into this body as guests for a short period of time. If this reality is held for a few moments, a state of zero desires and vicelessness can be experienced. Our inner treasures – virtues, wisdom and power can be unlocked and freedom can be experienced from these chains of desires and sorrows that we create in this guest- house.
Though unspoken, it is a universal norm that any guest be treated with the utmost care in every aspect by the host. He is treated like a deity. However, this treatment or status of a guest holds true only when the guest is aware of his boundaries. If he goes beyond the line of participation and begins to feel a sense of ownership over something or somebody, then his experience of hospitality would be very different. The host would feel that he has overstepped the boundaries of a guest. When we hold the perspective of a guest, the whole universe starts to treat us like a god and nature provides us with the best of everything. Luck would be on our side. Indeed, being a guest, without any expectations, would make every small moment appear as a wonderful gift. If we forget that we are guests, then the whole experience would turn out to be unpleasant.
Now, isn’t it better to be a guest? Guests are happy, involved, yet they have no attachments and hence no sorrows! ….
The good news is, we are all guests!