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Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Stories and Parables

  The greatest sacrifice

Buddha used to keep with him always a rattle-drum. His disciples once asked him: "Master!
Why are you always keeping this rattle-drum by your side?" Buddha replied: "I shall play on this
drum the day a person who has made the greatest sacrifice approaches me." Everyone was eager
to know who this person would be. Wishing to attain this distinction, a Maharaja loaded his elephants with considerable treasure and went to Buddha. He hoped to offer the treasure to Buddha and earn his praise.

On the way, an old woman greeted the Maharaja and pleaded: "I am hungry. Will you give me some food?" The Maharaja took out a pomegranate fruit from his palanquin and gave it to the old woman. The old woman came to Buddha with the fruit.

By then, the Maharaja had also come to Buddha and was eagerly waiting to see when Buddha would sound the rattle-drum. For a long time Buddha did not use it. The Maharaja stayed on.
The old woman approached Buddha staggering on her legs, and offered him the pomegranate fruit. Buddha took it immediately and sounded the little drum.

The Maharaja asked Buddha: "I offered so much wealth to you. You did not sound the drum. But
you rattled it after receiving a small fruit. Is this a great sacrifice. Buddha replied: "Maharaja! In sacrifice, it is not quantity that counts. It is the quality of sacrifice that matters. It is natural for a Maharaja to offer gold. But what great sacrifice is made when a hungry old women offers the pomegranate fruit to the Guru despite her hunger. She did not care even for her life and gave the fruit. What greater sacrifice can there be? It is not sacrifice to offer what is superfluous for you. True sacrifice means giving up that which is most dear to you, that which you value most."

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

From Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 21. "True Sacrifice," Chapter 16
 

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