One summer a rich businessman was living in the ashram with his wife and two teenaged children for a month. Seeing how the feeding was done every day, he expressed his interest in feeding sweets to the people visiting the ashram and sought Babaji’s permission to do so. He said he would get the required ingredients from the market and the sweets would be prepared in the ashram kitchen. Babaji gave his consent, but he advised me not to get involved.
The laddus were prepared and brought before Hanumanji’s temple in the morning, but the method of distribution was far from satisfactory. Children were put to various kinds of tests before they were given the sweets. Some were sent to pluck leaves from the forest for serving them. Many children were sent away without any because they were suspected of coming for second or third helpings, no matter how they denied it.
When the day ended and the gates were closed, more than half of the sweets remained undistributed. I told Babaji it was a disgrace for the ashram and he should not have encouraged the project. First he said, “How can I force people to give these things away if they do not want to do so?” I told him that it was entirely against the tradition of the ashram that people should go away without getting prasad. Then he said, “I just wanted to show that it is not easy to do bhandara in the name of Hanumanji. If you give only to the people of your choice, then the food will remain and go to waste. If you have offered your food to Hanumanji, it no longer belongs to you. Hanumanji himself sees that people get their prasad.”
He said to make more sweets in the ashram and do another bhandara, preparing a much larger quantity and distributing to everyone in the real tradition of the ashram. Two days later the laddus were prepared, about fifteen mounds in quantity. Since only the regular visitors would be getting the prasad, some felt part of the sweets would surely remain undistributed. But Babaji’s ways of getting things done were unpredictable.
When the sweets were being distributed, some old people and the children started eating them right there. Babaji came several times during the distribution. He said that anyone who wanted to eat the laddus here should be given as many helpings as they could eat. “It is Hanumanji’s bhandara. You need not be worried about anybody not receiving prasad.”
One old woman began crying, “No one has ever fed me like this before.”
By one o’clock the whole supply was exhausted and Babaji went around the ashram shouting, “Dada has distributed the entire prasad!”
Now here was a lesson. If you think that you or I have something, we cannot give. You must think of it as Hanumanji’s—that only he can give. You are only the ladle, the leaf on which it is being given.
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