WHY I SAY THIS WAS NO SACRIFICE
It seems that after the battle of Kurukshetra, the five Pandava brothers performed a great sacrifice and made very large gifts to the poor. All people expressed amazement at the greatness and richness of the sacrifice and said that such a sacrifice the world had never seen before.
After the ceremony, there came a little mongoose. Half his body was golden, the other half brown, and he began to roll on the floor of the sacrificial hall. He said to those around, "You are all liars; this was no sacrifice."
"What!" they exclaimed. "You say this was no sacrifice! Do you know how much money and how many jewels were poured out to the poor? Everyone became rich and happy. This was the most wonderful sacrifice any man ever performed."
But the mongoose said, "There was once a little village and in it there dwelt a poor Brahman with his wife, his son, and his son's wife. They were very poor and lived on small gifts made to them for preaching and teaching. There came in that land a three-year famine, and the poor Brahmin suffered more than ever. At last, when the family had starved for days, the father brought home one morning a little barley flour which he had been fortunate enough to obtain. He divided it into four parts, one for each member of the family. They prepared it for their meal and, just as they were about to eat, there was a knock at the door.
"The father opened it and there stood a guest." Now, in India a guest is a sacred person; he is as a god for the time being, and must be treated as such. "So the poor Brahmin said, 'Come in, sir, you are welcome.' He set before the guest his own portion of food, which the guest quickly ate. But instead of expressing thanks, the guest said, 'Oh sir, you have killed me. I have been starving for ten days and this tiny morsel of food has only increased my hunger.'
"Then the wife said to her husband, 'Give him my share,' but the husband said, 'No.' The wife, however, insisted, saying, 'Here is a poor man. It is our duty as householders to see that he is fed, and it is my duty as a wife to share with you your obligations. You have no more to offer him, so it is my duty to now offer my portion.' And so saying she gave her share to the guest, who hungrily devoured it.
"'I am still burning with hunger,' the guest complained after eating the wife's portion, so the son said, 'Take my portion also. It is the duty of a son to help his father to fulfill his obligations.' The guest ate the son's portion also but was still not satisfied. The son's wife then offered her share, and the guest ate this as well and, at last, felt satisfied. Blessing the family, the guest left the house.
"That night, all four in the family died of starvation. A few specks of the barley flour had fallen on the floor, and when I rolled my body on them, half of it became golden as you see. Since then I have been traveling all over the world, hoping to find another sacrifice like that, but nowhere have I found one. Nowhere else has the other half of my body been turned into gold. This is why I say this was no sacrifice."
Sacrifice may be of many degrees. It much depends on as how much one can give his happiness and own the suffering of others.
(That's how it was, pp. 278-280, 1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust)