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Shivaji's offering

In the 17th century, there lived a king called Shivaji Mahārāj in the Western part of India (Maharashtra of today). His mother, Queen Jijamata, raised him spiritually teaching him to chant (repeat) The God's Name when he was just a child. She also taught him all the skills necessary to become a just ruler. Under the care of his mother and with the spiritual guidance of a Saint, Ramdas Swami, Prince Shivaji grew up to be an ideal young king. He courageously led the Marathas (people of that region) against the oppressive rule of the Mughals (invaders from Afghanistan). He established an ideal kingdom, based on spiritual values like courage, efficiency and tolerance for all religions, even as the rest of India still suffered under Mughal rule.

One day, while Shivaji Maharaj (king) was attending to some royal matters, he heard a mendicant calling for alms. Immediately recognising the voice as that of his Guru, Ramdas Swami, Shivaji rushed to greet Him. He humbly invited Swamiji and the devotees travelling with Him, into the palace. After they were seated and fed a royal meal, Shivaji wrote something on a piece of paper and offered it to Swamiji.

The devotees travelling with Swamiji were curious. They had expected that the king would offer Swamiji a royal meal and then a donation; they wondered what he had written on the piece of paper. Swamiji already knew, from within, what Shivaji had offered and what the devotees were wondering. So He told a devotee to open the letter and read it out loud. The letter was Shivaji's will: Disciple Shivaji is offering all property, wealth and kingdom to his Guru, Samartha Ramdas Swami.

Swamiji said, "If you offer me all this, even the kingdom, then what will you do?" The king replied, "I will offer myself completely to serve You, at Your feet."

[Dear children, 'offering myself' means following the Guru's guidance, serving the Guru and spreading His teachings.]

Swamiji smiled and said, "Follow me then; let us go around and ask for alms!"

Immediately the king went into the palace and returned in a few minutes dressed in simple clothes. He joined the group asking for alms. The seekers with Swamiji were stunned to see the king's obedience and his willingness to serve the Guru. After a little while the group, including Shivaji, stopped to rest near a river. Swamiji called everyone close and continued the conversation with Shivaji.

Swamiji said, “What is the use of a kingdom to me? Hence, I will not keep the kingdom you have offered. Swamiji continued, "From today onwards, I appoint you as my representative to rule the kingdom in God's Name."

Obediently, the disciple Shivaji returned to his Guru's palace and ruled the Guru's kingdom as His representative and by his Guru's grace, he ruled it righteously, in the Name of God.

Moral: The above story shows how much Shivaji loved God and his Guru. So much that he could easily offer his entire kingdom at the Guru's Feet. It also shows that an ideal ruler and a Hindu, would lead by example and rule the kingdom as God's kingdom, for the good of the people. We hardly have the kind of wealth that Shivaji Maharaj had, but we too, can offer whatever we have to God. We can learn to do so by daily offering our mind (by chanting) and our intellect (by sharing information about Hinduism with our friends and family, as well as regularly doing as per others wishes, etc.).

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