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Reader comment on Naomi Shihab Nye's passage ...

Before You Know What Kindness Really Is


On Apr 18, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

On the interplay of kindness and sorrow, the story that has inspired me the most comes from India's ancient epic, "The Mahabharata." A powerful emperor decided to give away his wealth to his citizens in the largest giving ceremonies of those times. In his court, everyone was astonished at how much he gave away, leading some to declare that this was the greatest giving that mankind had witnessed.

"Pooh!" came a voice. As everyone turned to look, it was that of a squirrel, who spoke cynically, "Hah! This is not the greatest giving at all." The squirrel had a body that was half golden and half brown. The angry courtiers asked the squirrel to explain himself.

The squirrel then told his story. "There lived a teacher in a village, who had been unable to get alms for many days. One day, he finally managed to get a little rice and rushed home delighted. He told his wife to make a meal that they would enjoy with their children, after having starved for many days. Just when they were about to begin their meal, there was a knock on the door, and a hungry traveler asked for a meal. Immediately, this teacher welcomed the traveler, and gave the family's entire meal which the traveler hungrily consumed, leaving nothing for his hosts. That night, the entire family perished of hunger. I was in their kitchen, and one morsel of rice that lay on the floor touched my body, immediately burning it to a golden color. Since then, I have been searching for another great giving so that the other half of my body may also turn to gold, but I have been unsuccessful in finding such a giving." 

Whenever I feel generosity is wanting in me, that teacher greatly inspires me to take one more step.



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