‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a Sanskrit verse from the ancient Hindu scriptures which means ‘your guest is equal to God’. The respect given to a guest in Indian household is conveyed through this saying. A guest is received, treated and entertained with utmost hospitality and with open hands and heart; his comfort is ensured by the host. If the guest is an unwelcomed one who drains your energy, to what extent can a host follow this maxim ‘Be one, for whom the guest is God’ is a topic to ponder on.
Rumi’s ‘The Guest House’ is a beautiful poem that deals with the myriad moods (your ‘athithis’ or guests) that visit you everyday…Human beings are like guest houses and we have to entertain all the guests or emotions that visit, irrespective of their nature. When it comes to emotions and feelings, Rumi says, we merely play the roles of caretakers of the guest house. The guests are being sent by the Master of the House, so treat them well and let them stay for a while. Sharing the poem with a few images.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
One or two of them visit you every morning. Sometimes unexpected and uninvited. Some of them are unwilling to leave the house even though you want to push them out! Be prepared to receive them regardless of your desires. The poet says the guest may be clearing you out for some new delight, hence treat them honourably.
May you receive cheerful and peaceful guests who spread good vibes tomorrow morning!