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Importance Of Uninvited Guest In Hinduism

An uninvited guest in Hinduism is referred to as abhayagata. This guest arrives on his own accord. He is different from the invited guest (nimantrita). A person who stays with the host for a day, whether young or old, is treated as atithi (guest). A known person, or a resident of one’s village, who turns up, needs to be taken care of is an abhayagata.  

Sculptures At Rameshwaram Temple - Tamil Nadu

Hitopadesha (I.107.108) says, “The fire is the preceptor of Brahmins, the Brahmin, of all other Brahmins, the husband, of his wife only, and the guest, of one and all.”

The uninvited guest must be offered water to signify reverence (arghya), water to wash the feed (padya), and then a plank to sit on. Special food should be prepared and offered to him. Even a poor person (indigent) should offer whatever he can afford.

The Hindu tradition confers blessings on the person offering food. Shikshavalli of Taittiriya Upanishad declares that the atithi is to be looked upon as God himself. Katha Upanishad speaks of a guest as a fire. If due hospitality is not shown to him, all the hopes and expectations, as well as the possessions, of the host will perish. All religious practices of a person will become fruitless if hospitality is not extended to a guest. Moreover, a guest who is denied hospitality and leaves a house disappointed is believed to take away with him the religious merits acquired by the householder.