Talks on the Gita -Vinoba 21

Chapter 3
11. Renunciation of the Fruit Leads To Infinite Gains

4. Action is like a stone, or a piece of paper. My mother scribbled just three or four lines on a piece of paper and sent it to me; another gentleman sent me a bundle of fifty pages. Now, which one has more value? The feelings expressed in the few lines from my mother are priceless, they are sacred. The other stuff cannot stand comparison with it. Action must be imbued with the warmth of feelings. We assess a labourer’s work and pay him wages accordingly; but dakshina[1] is not given like that. Water is sprinkled on it before it is given. The amount of dakshina is not important; it is the sentiment of reverence behind it that is important. The touch of water is symbolic of the feelings in the heart of the host. There is a remarkable saying in Manusmriti. In those days, students used to stay with the guru (master) for twelve years. The master would teach them and make them human beings in the true sense. Now, what should a student offer to the master? In those days, fees were not collected in advance. The student, after completion of his studies, was supposed to offer what he felt like giving and thought proper. Manu says, “Give the master a flower, a fan, a pair of sandals, or a pitcher of water.” Is this a joke? No; the point is that, whatever is offered should be offered as a sign of reverence. A flower in itself has little value, but charged with devotion, its value becomes immeasurable. The poet has sung the praise of Rukmini. She put in the scale a single leaf of Tulsi which equaled the weight of Lord Krishna while heaps of gold ornaments put by Satyabhama proved to be insufficient to weigh Him, because the Tulsi leaf put by Rukmini was full of devotion. It was no longer an ordinary leaf; it was a charged one.[2] This is true of the actions of a karmayogi too.

5. Suppose two persons have gone to bathe in the river Ganga. One of them says, “What, after all, is this Ganga that people talk so much about? Combine two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, and you will have Ganga.” The other one says, “This great river emerged from the holy lotus-feet of Lord Vishnu, she dwelt in the matted hair of Lord Shiva. Thousands of seers—both ascetic and kingly—have done penance near her. Countless holy acts have been performed by her side. Such is this sacred Mother Ganga.” He takes a bath with these feelings in mind. The other fellow, for whom Ganga’s water is just a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, also bathes in the river. Both get the benefit of physical cleansing; but it is a petty benefit. Even a bullock can get this benefit. Dirt of the body will go. But how to wash the mind of its taint? One got the petty benefit of physical cleanliness; the other, in addition, gained the invaluable fruit of inward purity. A man doing surya-namaskars[3] after bathing will certainly get the benefit of physical exercise; but if he is not doing them for the sake of health only, but as a form of worship, he will also have a sharp and radiant intellect in addition to a healthy body. He will get from the Sun-God vigour and creative energy.


References and Context

  1. It means money or other things offered to the priest with reverence for the services rendered as a religious obligation.
  2. Satyabhama and Rukmini, both queens of Lord Krishna, once had a dispute over who loves Him the most. They thereupon decided to weigh him. Krishna sat on one of the pans of the balance and Satyabhama put heaps of gold ornaments on the other pan, but they could not equal the Lord's weight. Rukmini then weighed the Lord against a Tulsi leaf, but the leaf equaled the Lord's weight.
  3. A form of worshipping the Sun-God, it is also a well-known yogic exercise wherein body goes through different motions, thereby getting all-round physical exercise.