Monday, September 12, 2016

Please have lunch with us

We often use the word "Emergency" in our daily routine. What constitutes an "Emergency"? Online dictionary defines the word "Emergency" as "a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action". It further describes emergency as "a state, especially of need for help or relief, created by some unexpected event". It gives some illustrations as well. Weather emergency and financial emergency are given as examples. We know about weather emergency like hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes. We know many people who are always in financial emergency, especially when they find someone who (they believe) can lend. There are many natural causes creating emergency situations. We have an equal or even more number of emergency times which are entirely man-made. Everyone knows about political emergency and management emergency. These are totally man-made emergency creations.

There was an emergency situation last week due to a bundh (shutdown) called by various organizations to protest a certain event. As with any bundh, there were the usual pro-bundh and anti-bundh sentiments. Nevertheless, the bundh was total. The bundh had its usual share of problems for people arriving in the city early in the morning with all transport facilities shut down. Those living alone with dependence on food served in restaurants and small outlets had the problem of hunger. Unfortunately, hunger does not accept any bundh calls irrespective of the enormity of the reasons. The problem mostly arose for them from either having no facilities for cooking in their places or due to not knowing cooking (or lazy to cook) issues. Some were prepared with standby arrangements like bread, milk, fruits and allied items. 

There were many kind hearted families who invited such troubled souls to join them for lunch. Many telephone and mobile calls were exchanged with the message "Please have lunch with us". Some were honored while some others were politely declined. Some had the problem of reaching the host's house though willing and eager to join them. The roads were blocked with burning tires and stones laid horizontally across the road. Though the bundh was voluntary and streets were deserted, there were volunteers moving around on motorcycles as well to enforce the bundh. Invitations for lunch were accepted and met when the host's place was within a walkable distance.

When should an invitation for lunch, supper or dinner be accepted? Should all invitations be accepted without second thoughts? Are there any guidelines available anywhere? What are the factors to be considered for accepting or rejecting such offers?

Krishna voluntarily accepted to act as the ambassador and represent Pandavas before King Dhritarashtra and make one last effort to avert Kurukshetra war. He arrived at Hastinapur after a long and tiring journey. It was sunset time when he was received amidst excellent arrangement by the Kauravas led by Duryodhana. Duryodhana knew that he had to cross the final obstacle of Krishna to deny any share in the kingdom to the Pandavas. Krishna must be pleased and trapped at any cost to achieve my goals, he thought. Unprecedented arrangements were made with welcome arches, banners and decorations. Bheeshma, Drona and other elders were also present. Krishna received all the bouquets and offerings with a smiling face. After exchange of pleasantries with those present in the welcoming party, it was time to retire for the day.

Duryodhana was confident that Krishna will stay with him. Krishna was his close relative. Though people were more conscious of the marriage between Krishna's sister Subhadra and Arjuna, Duryodhana had better and closer family ties with Krishna. Krishna had married Jambavanta's daughter Jambavati after the "Syamantaka" episode (which is recited even today during Ganesha Chaturthi). Krishna and Jambavati had a son by name Saamba. Duryodhana had a son and daughter twins, son Lakshmana Kumara and daughter Lakshmanaa. When Lakshmanaa's swayamvar was announced, Saamba went there and kidnapped her. He was only following the example set by his father when he kidnapped his step mother Rukmini. He fought the Kauravas, defeated them but was ultimately captured and put in jail. Krishna's elder brother Balarama intervened and got Saamba released. Though Krishna was apparently not interested in the alliance, Balarama persuaded both parties and Samba and Lakshmanaa got married. After all, one of the Pandavas has married Krishna's sister. But Krishna's own son is married to my own daughter. Thus Krishna is closer as a relative to me than Pandavas, Duryodhana thought. Duryodhana invited Krishna for dinner with him in his palace and later on to stay overnight there. This is what Krishna told him:

संप्रीति भोज्यानि अन्नानि आपद् भोज्यानि वा पुनः |
न च संप्रीयसे राजन् नचैव अपद्गताः वयम् ||

Sampreeti bhojyani annani aapad bhojyani va punah
Na cha sampreeyase Rajan nachaiva aapadgatah vayam!

An invitation to dine with should be accepted under one of the two circumstances: when invited with love and affection or when confronted with an emergency. 

O King Duryodhana, (you are a party to the dispute for the resolution of which I have come and hence) your invitation is motivated. Neither your invitation is with affection nor have I come in distress or an emergency for accepting the food offered by you!

Krishna refused the invitation as neither of the two conditions were met. Bheeshma and Drona also were anxious to invite Krishna for dinner and stay with them. They were hesitant to violate Duryodhana's  intentions. Now that Krishna refused his offer, they came up with invitations to join them for dinner. Krishna refused those offers as well for one simple reason. He told them that they kept quiet in the royal court when Draupadi was harassed. They had lost the entitlement to invite him due to this one failure. Vidura was the only one to openly and unhesitatingly protest the action. Hence Krishna chose to go with Vidura even though there was no explicit invitation from him! Later on Vidura tells Krishna that he should have accepted Duryodhana's invitation and not come with him. That could have persuaded Duryodhana to accept truce, he says. Krishna just smiles. Rest is history, as they say.

Those who accepted invitations for Lunch on the bundh day were following the principles enunciated by Krishna in Mahabharata. The invitations were not extended with any ulterior motives. All those invitations made on that day were out of love, affection and compassion. Hence first condition was fully satisfied. Those who accepted the invitations were indeed confronted with an emergency as defined in the online dictionary. Hence the second condition was also equally satisfied. Krishna said one of the conditions was to be met. But here was a rare instance when both conditions were met to full extent. 

That the invitations were accepted without knowledge of the above history and existence of the stipulated conditions did not really matter!


  1. Wow..... Mahabharata to Kaliyuga-it's all the same. The uniqueness of the situation has been very well illustrated.

  2. very nice narration of relations but heard the names here and there .

  3. Excellent Very enlightening &timely narration.

  4. You have an excellent way of connecting today's events with the stories in our epics. This story was a revelation to me as regards the reason why Krishna chose to stay with Vidhura. Very absorbing narration Sir.

  5. Excellent sir for the enlightenment.

  6. Dear Sir,

    Excellent article as usual connecting the present to the past,