Gurudeva often spoke of the refinements of traditional cultures, in nations all over the world. Like many, he was unhappy to see some of those cultured ways of life abandoned. He wanted us, in wisdom and moderation, to hold onto the subtle sentiments expressed in such things as respecting others, serving humbly, deferring to the needs of others, and much of this is to be found in the Nandi Natha Sutras, those 365 couplets that guide our life.
So, it was fascinating when yesterday a CyberCadet sent the story below. It shows how culture used to be, and gives us a sense of how things have changed, and perhaps a hint about where they may be going. The slideshow is just fun, some old photos from Sweden so we can visually glimpse into the era that this story takes place in. Enjoy!
"Today, I decided to begin to listen to one audio each day of both Bodhinatha's and Gurudeva's.' I just finished listening to Bodhinatha's talk on "Karma Yoga". In the part where he talks about treating your guests like gods...he says it is most polite to ask four times for them to stay.
It prompted me to share this story with the monks.
I was recently gifted with this rare, unpublished book. It was written by my Swedish grandmother's aunt who was born in 1873. She is writing her mother's story, my Great, Great Grandma.
Here are some excerpts from the book that were reminiscent, to me, of the Hindu ways of hospitality...
"Even to strangers was there a kind, warm-hearted hospitality. Hardly had the stranger entered the home before the wife or daughter was busy setting the table with a simple meal of the very best they had and earnestly begging them to eat and to eat more --- "A jo! at mera, en kopp kaffe til Var inte blyg" ("but, yes! Eat more, one more cup of coffee. Don't be bashful"), was their way of showing hospitality."
"Guests were very hospitably entertained in all the homes. The best room and bed was given them. In the morning, a cup of coffee and "pepparkaker" (pepper cookies) or some other small cakes were served them in bed. Their regular meals were served them in a special room in some homes. In other homes, the father ate with the guests while the other members of the family ate in the kitchen. After serving the meal, the wife left the room, coming back once or twice urging them to eat more."
When there was a wedding "a large arbor, made from the birch tree and the evergreen was erected near the house, to accommodate many guests and shelter them from the sun's rays."
"After the ceremony, the guests went to the home where there was much feasting and dancing. When the feast was being served, it was customary for the invited guests to put on an air of humility, by keeping themselves in the background, in the yard or in a corner of the adjoining room. The host or hostess would urge the guests, again and again, to come in and be seated at the appointed place of the table. Unless these actions of the guests were traditionally correct, they would have been resented by the host. But as it was, it must have been surprisingly ridiculous and interesting."
"For example --- when a name was called by the host/hostess, the guest almost had to be dragged to the place assigned him...."Jonte & Kejsa Stina vr sa snalla a satt er pa denna plats" (Jonte and Kejsa please be seated in this place). "Na tack, har ar allt sa bra." ("No thank you, it is all right here") And they persisted on being seated at the further corner of the room. "A nej, I sala sitta har ve' forsta bordet." (Oh no. You must sit at the first table.") It was necessary to invite at least 3 times before they consented to be seated at the proper place. The fact was, it was considered rude not to wait for the third invitation."
That sounds familiar.