Atithi Devo Bhava - Sanskriti - Indian Culture
Atithi Devo Bhava, an ancient line taken from the Hindu scriptures and was originally coined to depict a visiting person whose date of arrival and departure is not fixed.
‘Atithi’ originally meaning “without a fixed calendrical time”,’Devo’ meaning “God” and “Bhav” meaning Be or Is, hence signifies The Guest Is God.
Atithi Devo Bhava, it is not just a catchy line to promote tourism but is a beautiful example of a text asking us to respect our guests as God.The host-guest relationship in India is truly one of the most revered relationships.
The mantras are from the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that says: matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava. It literally means "be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God
, be one for whom the guest is God." matrudevah, pitrudevah, acharyadevah
, atithidevah are one word each, and each one is a Bahuvrihi samasta-pada.
The unique practice of giving utmost importance and preferential treatment to the guests clearly explains the fact that why our country’s history has several notable examples of ‘Atithi Satkar’ meaning to welcome the guest with warmth and respect.
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An integral part of the Indian culture, it says that every guest should be treated like God. No distinction should be made based on the guests’s caste, colour or creed and he/she should be showered with all love, care and affection.
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This unique ‘code of conduct’ laid down in the ancient Hindi scriptures named ‘Taittiriya Upanishad’ upholds our culture’s values and heritage, and ensures no guest of ours feels shortchanged. Despite high degree of cultural and geographical diversity in the country, the sentiments towards the guests stays the same throughout.
Tithi in Sanskrit denotes a (calendrical) date. In ancient times, when means of communication were limited and it was not possible for guests to anticipate their date of arrival, atithi (which literally means "without a fixed calendrical time") was coined to depict a visiting person who had no fixed date of arrival or departure. In contrast a guest visiting on a fixed date or by invitation is called 'Abhyaagata'. Devah (which, through sandhi or
euphonic combination, becomes written/pronounced as devo when followed by certain kinds of consonants) means God and bhava means Be or Is - "be the one for whom the Guest is God".
Atithi Devo Bhava, has lost its true essence and spirit over the sands of time. Today trade globalization that has helped modernize India, but in the process has also begun to erode its culture. Today where everything travels the fast lane, how much time do we devote towards our rich, age old culture? Today the simplest question that arises is, how many of us are truly aware of the term’Atithi Devo Bhava’ and its origin ? Do we truly lead our lives in this spirit? Atithi Devo Bhava, is an important part of the Indian culture which may soon be lost with time and a country with a lost culture is simply without an identity.
Are we really prepared to leave our successors with a destroyed culture, even after knowing it could be preserved.
The Lost Essence
Sanskruthi: Unity in Diversity