The Mahabharata Home
"The host replied, 'I have heard these words of thine, that are so consoling, with as much gratification as is felt by a person heavily loaded when that load is taken off his head or shoulders. The gratification that a traveller who has made a long journey on foot feels when he lies down on a bed, that which a person feels when he finds a seat after having stood for a long while for want of room, or that which is felt by a thirsty person when he finds a glass of cool water, or that which is felt by a hungry man when he finds savoury food set before him, or that which a guest feels when a dish of desirable food is placed before him at the proper time, or that which is felt by an old man when after long coveting he gets a son, or that which is experienced by one when meeting with a dear friend or relative about whom one had become exceedingly anxious, resembles that with which I have been filled in consequence of these words uttered by thee. 1 Like a person with upturned gaze I have heard what has fallen from thy lips and am reflecting upon their import. With these wise words of thine thou hast truly instructed me! Yes, I shall do what thou hast commanded me to do. Thou mayst go tomorrow at dawn, passing the night happily with me and dispelling thy fatigue by such rest. Behold, the rays of the divine Surya have been partially dimmed and the god of day is proceeding in his downward course!"
"Bhishma continued, 'Hospitably waited upon by that Brahmana, the learned guest, O slayer of foes, passed that night in the company of his
host. Indeed, both of them passed the night happily, conversing cheerfully with each other on the subject of the duties of the fourth mode of life, viz., Sannyasa (Renunciation). So engrossing was the nature of their conversation that the night passed away as if it were day. When morning came, the guest was worshipped with due rites by the Brahmana whose heart had been eagerly set upon the accomplishment of what (according to the discourse of the guest) was regarded by him to be beneficial for himself. Having dismissed his guest, the righteous Brahmana, resolved to achieve his purpose, took leave of his kinsmen and relatives, and set out in due time for the abode of that foremost of Nagas, with heart steadily directed towards it.'"
207:1 It is desirable to note that the word atithi which is rendered guest here and elsewhere, means a person who enters without invitation the abode of a householder. Such an individual is adorable. All the deities reside in his person. He is supposed to favour the householder by giving him an opportunity of performing the rites of hospitality. Whatever the respect, however, that is paid to a guest, he cannot expect to be served with food till the householder, has done his best for serving him as sumptuously as his circumstances would permit. Hence, by the time the food is placed before him, the guest becomes very hungry.
Next: Section CCCLVII