Meaning Of Atithi Devo Bhava

ॐ Hindu Of Universe ॐ

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

The Meaning of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’

‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a Sanskrit term that means that the guest is equivalent to God. It comes from the Taittiriya Upanishad. This phrase speaks volumes about Indian culture and Hinduism. In fact, it is used as a slogan by the Indian tourism department to show that India is a warm and welcoming place for people from all over the world.

How did this phrase originate? In the ancient days, people had no means to communicate the news of their arrival to their friends or relatives. So the guest was an unexpected visitor at one’s home. The word ‘tithi’ means calendar. ‘Atithi’, therefore, means someone without a calendar. ‘Devo bhava’ means ‘like God’. Thus, the phrase was coined to remind people that one should treat a guest like God and not like an unwelcome intruder. This approach also helped to create a good relationship between the host and the guest.

This concept is mentioned in Shijshavalli I 11.2 in the Taittiriya Upanishad. The entire phrase goes like this: Matru devo bhava, Pitr devo bhava, Acharya devo hava, Atithi devo bhava’. It means that we should regard our mother, father, guru, and guest as God. This hymn reveals the importance of respecting these important people who play vital roles in our lives.

Rituals related to Atithi Devo Bhava

In the modern world, people rarely perform any rituals to welcome guests into their homes. But this was not so in ancient times. There were certain prescribed rituals for this purpose. Some people observe them even now, as they consider such rituals an integral part of their culture and tradition. Let us see what they are.


This ritual is about offering the guest a room that has a pleasant fragrance. This elevates their mood and feeling of comfort. After all, nobody wants to stay in a room with a bad odor.


Diya is an oil lamp. Even now, a new bride in India is welcomed into her husband’s home with a lighted lamp. This is a Hindu custom. In the case of the guest, too, the diya signifies a warm welcome to the visitor. Also, in the days before electricity, if a guest arrived at dusk or night, the light from the lamp helped the host to identify the guest.


Naivedya comprises fruits and milk-based sweets. People in the past often had to travel long distances by foot to reach their destination, as there were no buses and trains. This made them tired and hungry by the time they arrived at their host’s place. Offering them fruits and sweets helped them to replenish their energy.


In this ritual, the host applies tilak on the guest’s forehead and also some rice grains or akshata on it. This signifies that the host is welcoming them and inviting them to be a part of their house.


Flowers or ‘pushpa’ are also offered to guests, especially female guests, to indicate goodwill. The host offers flowers again when the guest leaves their house to symbolize the fact that they are leaving with pleasant memories.

All the above rituals have been observed by Hindus as part of their culture and tradition when they received guests at home since ancient times. But in the modern world, very few people observe such customs.

Not surprisingly, there are some legends and myths, too, that illustrate the concept of Atithi Devo Bhava. One can find them in the Scriptures.

Sudama visits Krishna

Sudama and Lord Krishna were childhood friends who studied together. But Sudama was not wealthy like his friend. One day, Sudama’s wife told him to visit Krishna and seek his help. So Sudama went to see his friend. He took some poha with him, as he knew that Krishna loved poha. It was a humble gift, but it was all he could afford. Krishna was overjoyed to see Sudama and welcomed him with great warmth and love. He treated him like royalty. Sudama was so overwhelmed by Krishna’s warmth that he forgot to ask for his help. But when he returned home, he was amazed to find an opulent mansion where his humble hut had stood and his wife and children wearing expensive clothes and jewelry. It was Krishna’s leela, for he knew all about Sudama’s plight even without Sudama uttering a single word.

Shabari and Lord Rama

An old woman, Shabari, was a great devotee of Rama. Once when Rama paid her a visit, she gave him some berries to eat. But before she gave them to him, she tasted them to see if they were ripe and sweet. Such was her love for Rama. Instead of being offended that she had tasted them first, Rama relished the berries, for he knew that she did it out of devotion.


In some stories (in diverse cultures), God sometimes visits us in disguise to test us. If we treat the visitor well, God is pleased and blesses us. But if we are rude towards the visitor, we may incur God’s wrath. Such stories also highlight the fact that guests should be treated with respect and courtesy. Above all, Atithi Devo Bhava reminds us of the essential Hindu belief that God resides within all of us, so when we treat guests well, we are respecting God himself.

 Atithi Devo Bhava

Atithi Devo Bhava,  an ancient line taken from the Hindu scriptures and was originally coined to depict a visiting person whose date of arrival and departure is not fixed.

‘Atithi’ originally meaning “without a fixed calendrical time”,’Devo’ meaning “God” and “Bhav” meaning Be or Is, hence signifies The Guest Is God. 

Atithi Devo Bhava, it is not just a catchy line to promote tourism but is a beautiful example of a text asking us to respect our guests as God.The host-guest relationship in India is truly one of the most revered relationships. The unique practice of giving utmost importance and preferential treatment to the guests clearly explains the fact that why our country’s history has several notable examples of ‘Atithi Satkar’ meaning to welcome the guest with warmth and respect.

An integral part of the Indian culture, it says that every guest should be treated like God. No distinction should be made based on the guests’s caste, colour or creed and he/she should be showered with all love, care and affection. This unique ‘code of conduct’ laid down in the ancient Hindi scriptures named ‘Taittiriya Upanishad’ upholds our culture’s values and heritage, and ensures no guest of ours feels shortchanged. Despite high degree of cultural and geographical diversity in the country, the sentiments towards the guests stays the same throughout.

Atithi Devo Bhava, has lost its true essence and spirit over the sands of time. Today trade globalization that has helped modernize India, but in the process has also begun to erode its culture. Today where everything travels the fast lane, how much time do we devote towards our rich, age old culture? Today the simplest question that arises is, how many of us are truly aware of the term’Atithi Devo Bhava’ and its origin ? Do we truly lead our lives in this spirit? Atithi Devo Bhava, is an important part of the Indian culture which may soon be lost with time and a country with a lost culture is simply without an identity.

Are we really prepared to leave our successors with a destroyed culture, even after knowing it could be preserved.

 “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning “Guest is God” is also the tag line of campaign in India to treat tourists as God and to develop a sense of responsibility towards our guests. The 108 team translated this into reality by demonstrating these values in discharge of their duties.

 Atithi Devo Bhava

the declaration in the Upanishads “Atithi Devo Bhava” which means, the visitor is God and this saying has encouraged a research and an investigation into traditional scriptures.

It is found that words and vocabulary related to hospitality are found in extensive quotations in the Indian Vedas and Upanishads. These scriptures define the visitor, the guest, the tourist and the traveler, which match international terminology including the one that is found in the World Tourism Organisation. It also states that the visitor (Atithi) is God and the guest (Abhyagati) is the form of Lord Vishnu himself.

These services encompass the whole process from welcoming to seeing off the visitor with a caution of ill-effects of non-compliance in attending to these services. Emerging trends in hospitality has codified some of the traditional services and has stated that the guest deserves to be served with zero defects as the guest experience cannot be undone.

We at the Vatel Hotel & Tourism Business School, Sushant University Gurgaon do our best to instill in our students the values of ancient hospitality traditions, based on which are embedded the modern systems of looking after guests.

Introduction “Atithi Devo Bhava” the motto line of the Department of Tourism, Government of India from the Upanishads 1 that form a part of the ancient Indian scriptures stimulated the author to go in-depth into the traditional scriptures for the study of available words and vocabulary related to the word “hospitality‟, and its concept. It is well-known that hospitality means the reception and entertainment of a guest, a visitor or a stranger with liberality and goodwill. The word “hospitalit” is derived from the word ‘hospice’, the term for a medieval house of rest for travellers and pilgrims. Hospitality is the performance expressed by the host of people or an organization towards the guest and experienced instantaneously by the guest. Therefore the essential part of hospitality is the service provided to the guest and the prime motivation for it in traditional Indian minds lies in the belief that serving the guest is equivalent to serving God.

Hospitality services are in general influenced to a great extent by cultural values and norms of different societies. Culture is the way of living built or shared by a group of people and passed on from one generation to another.

As per Indian scriptures based on which Indian culture emanated, hospitality is a sacred and serene activity, always to be dealt with passion, compassion, sentiment, and concern and is observed as a religious duty towards the visitor/stranger or guest. Hospitality is a way of life for most Indians and is ingrained in their ethos. It is these traditions, beliefs and the unique family structures and values constructed around hospitality which has made India incredible.

According to modern texts, service is a personal performance and is an experience for both the guest and the performer of the service. Therefore, both the guest and the server are intricately involved in the process of hospitality. Because, once the event of the service has taken place, there is no possibility of undoing the experience of the guest. Hence the performer must be careful and perfect without any defects during service operations towards the guest. Philip Kotler described four characteristic qualities of hospitality namely: intangibility, inseparability, variability and perishability. Each of these characteristics is associated with different components of hospitality elements which covers food service, lodging and transportation.

The composition of the word “Hospitality‟ remained over the centuries though the meaning and significance varied from continent to continent. The traditional concept of hospitality in almost all world regions was socially defined as the spirit, practice of receiving and treating the visitors, guests or strangers in a warm, friendly and generous way without any monetary/reward consideration.

The emergence of globalization and the integration of world economy has brought a sea change in the perception of traditional hospitality services and it is viewed in a new way. There has been a paradigm shift from hospitality being a social obligation to a commercial proposition meant for marketing. The economies of the world started thriving leading to an increase marketing opportunities in India acted as a stimulus for Indian hospitality industry (Planning Commission, 2002). Populations have also been becoming more culturally diverse as improved communications, increasing wealth and mobility encouraged people to explore/understand other cultures. This has enhanced the scope of growth in tourism-related occupations, including hotels and restaurants employing 10.8 per cent of workers globally.

The basic ethos of ancient age old tradition spread over several thousands of years is found to be a resourceful ingredient to be studied and integrated to meet these demands. It is the scenario of commercial hospitality poised to promote a service “with a difference” that led to detailed investigations into the traditional concepts to provide a competitive edge for the hospitality industry in the 21st century to meet the requirement. The ancient Indian scriptures, described reception/hospitality as Atithyam. The etymology of the word Atithyam meaning hospitality required towards a person.

Therefore, Atithi (the visitor) is a tourist who does not stay permanently at a single place, but at the same time, travels to visit person/places without any regard to date, time or week. Such a travelling visitor is to be welcomed and received with full honours as a guest signifying him as God himself.

Who is an ‘Atithi’?

A Brahmana who comes to your home without prior intimation.

The misquotation of the shloka from Tatittiriya Upanishad is responsible for weakening of Hindu identity. The Sanskrit word ‘atithi’ is very different from the English word ‘Guest’. In the English language the word guest means one who is invited.

There is no concept of uninvited guests in the western civilization. The uninvited guest in the western civilization is also an unwelcomed guest almost on par with a trespasser or one who is entering a private property without prior permission.

The western civilization was built on severe caste or class divisions between a peasant caste and the nobility caste which was often tied to economics and political power in the society. Most relationships in colonial era Europe were built on materialistic wealth and families. The concept of small nuclear families promoted by the church was meant to control the individual members. The guest in the western culture is welcomed with a prearranged food as per the pleasure of the host. The abrahamic civilization is well known to be highly individual minded. In abrahamic culture an uninvited guests are first considered as the aggressor and if the guest proclaims his/her faith to be the same as the host, then that guest is considered as a true friend. The concept of religion is paramount in establishing a particular type of welcome. If the uninvited guest doesn’t convert to their faith then that person is considered a threat. This is in sharp contrast to the faiths that have evolved from the core principles of Dharma that are followed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and also many other native cultures of the world.

Oftentimes most abrahamic cultures depend on conversion of natives to increase their numbers through strategic and sometimes deceitful propaganda. 

Let’s analyze the three shloka of Taittiriya Upanishad in a relatable context to debunk the misconceptions. We cannot separate the wisdom of Upanishads from the purpose of Vedas as explained by Bhagavan Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. 

शमो दमस्तप: शौचं क्षान्तिरार्जवमेव च ।

ज्ञानं विज्ञानमास्तिक्यं ब्रह्मकर्म स्वभावजम् ॥ ४२ ॥

This shloka from Bhagavad Gita explains the actions or karma by which teachers or brahmanas are defined.

The taittiriya Upanishad verses quoted below further explain the instructions to these teachers who are experts in Vedas. In that context the ‘atithi’ word is used to describe the uninvited brahmanas.

This word is not applicable to any other Varna. Because an uninvited guest in a warrior family or kings will be considered as an intruder. The word atithi cannot be applied to the Vaishya (mercantile) family because that will mean additional expenses for the host. Similarly, that particular word is also not applicable to shudra (skilled people such as artisans, doctors, engineers) or the middle class community because they cannot sometimes afford it. Therefore, that word is only applicable to Brahmana Varna because respect is the only currency in that community. Other communities of varnashrama have power, wealth and resources which brahmanas generally do not have. 

वेदमनूच्याचार्योन्तेवासिनमनुशास्ति । सत्यं वद । धर्मं चर । स्वाध्यायान्मा प्रमदः । आचार्याय प्रियं धनमाहृत्य प्रजातन्तुं मा व्यवच्छेत्सीः । सत्यान्न प्रमदितव्यम्। धर्मान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । कुशलान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । भूत्यै न प्रमदितव्यम् । स्वाध्यायप्रवचनाभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् । देवपितृकार्याभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् ॥ १ ॥

मातृदेवो भव । पितृदेवो भव । आचार्यदेवो भव । अतिथिदेवो भव । यान्यनवद्यानि कर्माणि तानि सेवितव्यानि । नो इतराणि । यान्यस्माकँ सुचरितानि तानि त्वयोपास्यानि । नो इतराणि ॥ २ ॥

ये के चास्मच्छ्रेयाँसो ब्राह्मणाः तेषां त्वयाऽऽसनेन प्रश्वसितव्यम् । श्रद्धया देयम् । अश्रद्धयाऽदेयम् । श्रिया देयम् । ह्रिया देयम् । भिया देयम् । संविदा देयम् । अथ यदि ते कर्मविचिकित्सा वा वृत्तविचिकित्सा वा स्यात् ॥ ३ ॥

This particular second highly contextually misquoted verse from eleventh part of Taittiriya Upanishad teaching says – ‘Just like mother is divine, farther is divine, teacher of Vedic wisdom is divine, similarly,  an uninvited Brahmana guest is also divine’ if that guest doesn’t come with the mindset of hurting the hosts.

If the intentions of such guests are hurtful towards the hosts then those guests need to be considered on par with enemies. This verse has been so much misused by various western as well as Hindu indologists that it has actually been misused by all invaders to India. British Christian colonizers were welcomed to India by those Indians who justified their actions by misusing this verse of Vedas. Similarly many Islamic looters to India were welcomed by weak Hindus who misused this Sanskrit verse to hide their deception towards the Hindu community. Such a narrative is still being peddled in Indian academic circles and also being misused to continue the abrahamic agendas of converting the Hindus. 

Anyone with slight Sanskrit understanding can read one shloka before and one shloka afterwards can understand the context of this particular concept of ‘atithi’.

These teachings are given to brahmana or broad minded intelligent teachers who follow Vedic culture in their lives. The concept of atithi is for a person of similar background not anyone else. Because it is generally accepted in Vedic culture to invite people with spiritual or Vedic backgrounds. Spirituality is a topic of Vedas. No individual from abrahamic religious culture in the world can claim to be spiritual without being labeled as blasphemous. The scientific spiritual thought process is often considered as a threat to the dogmatic faiths.

Therefore, as per all Vedic evidences, we cannot misquote such shloka for everyone. It is specifically meant for educated teachers who follow Vedic wisdom. This teaching from Yagyavalka is for the followers of Brahminical culture through their actions not birth. Taittiriya upanishad are the words of Yagyavalka rishi. 


Atithi Devo Bhava is a Sanskrit verse, translated literally it means “The guest is equivalent to God”. It is taken from ancient Hindu scripture and has become part of the codes of conduct for the Hindu society.

What it has come to mean today is that no matter who you are and where you are from, in India you are welcomed warmly and treated with respect.

It epitomises the feeling of friendliness and kindness in the Indian people. Where everyone is welcome to share in the beauty of the country and the delicious tastes of its food.

This saying which is gaining new popularity again, is something that we at Indigo’s feel deeply in our heart. Whether we have guests come to our restaurant or we are catering to your own guests at your venue. First and foremost, our priority is that each guest is well looked after.

From our sparkling silver service to our amazing vegetarian cuisine, everyone is looked after at indigo’s. In our restaurant we cater for a variety of different functions, from the more intimate smaller groups, families enjoying a night out or friends enjoying a delicious meal. To our much larger function room upstairs where we can cater for larger gatherings or networking events.

We even bring our hospitality and catering to you at the venue of your choice. From the very beginning of planning your event, our chefs will help tailor make your menu choices. Right up to the day itself where our professional catering team will make sure that your day runs smoothly.

No matter the location you can rest assured that the happiness of you and your guests is our top priority. Whatever the event you be certain the best choice is to go Indigo.

The Deep Meaning Behind Atithi Devo Bhava

Atithi Devo Bhava is a Sanskrit phrase with deep meaning and significance in Indian culture. This phrase recognizes and honours the guest as God and expresses hospitality rooted in ancient Indian literature and values.

In this article, we will discuss the deep meaning of Atithidevo Bhava. We’ll explore the phrase’s origins, origin in the Upanishads and the Ramayana, historical context, and contemporary relevance. We will also discuss how this phrase is practised in daily life and its importance in the tourism department.

The Origins of Atithi Devo Bhava

Atithi Devo Bhava is an age-old proverb of ancient India that translates into English to Guest is God. This proverb has been part of Indian culture for thousands of years, originally appearing in the ancient Hindu scripture of the Rig Veda. It is an expression of hospitality passed down for generations, representing the importance of making guests feel welcomed, respected, and cared for. The ideology behind it is that a guest should be treated with the same respect one would give to a deity.

Atithi Devo Bhava conveys that those who come to a person’s home, even if for a brief moment, should be welcomed and respected as if they were one’s own. To put it briefly, it means to put the guest – Atithi – first above all else and treat them as God or Deva. This philosophy of hospitality goes beyond the physical satisfaction of feeding and sheltering guests. With this proverb, the host must ensure the guest is spiritually uplifted and emotionally nourished.

Atithi Devo Bhava is deeply rooted in Indian culture and is a part of the larger principle of Atithi Satkar or Atithi Paramo Dharma, where guests and strangers are seen as a representation of God. This proverb also encapsulates and underlines the importance of good, moral behaviour with and towards guests. By treating them well, one can repay their debt to the divine and be blessed with peace, prosperity and long life.

The proverb of Atithi Devo Bhava is still an important part of Indian culture. It serves as a reminder of the value of hospitality, respect for guests, and the importance of treating people with kindness and generosity. These values and morals passed down over the centuries, are still relevant today in modern India.

Legends of Atithi Devo Bhava Related to Sudama and Lord Krishna

In Hinduism and Indian scriptures, “Atithi Devo Bhava” is connected to several stories. It is also a very important part of Buddhism.

Based on the story in Bhagawat Purana, Sudama, or Kuchela, is a Brahmin who finished his education with Lord Krishna. They had been friends since they were young. But Sudama’s living conditions get worse over time. His family is very poor, and his wife Susheela tells him to ask his friend Lord Krishna for help. Sudama was curious to know if it was a good idea. But in a few days, he changed his mind and saw Krishna. Sudama had nothing special to give his friend, so he gave Lord Krishna the last grains of beaten rice.

When he met him, Lord Krishna treated Sudama with love, honour, and greatness. When Sudama returned to his hut, it was suddenly a big house. This story about Sudama and how Krishna cared for him shows how important the Indian idea of Atithi Devo Bhava is. It shows we should treat our guests like gods, called Atithi Devo Bhava.

In India, Atithi Devo Bhava is celebrated in many stories besides Sudama’s. For example, the story of Sabari, a woman from a tribal village who plays music for Sri Ram. When Lord Rama went to Sabari’s ashram, she gave him Jujube, which she had picked by hand and tasted to ensure it was sweet. Lord Rama ate all of the Jujube that she tried.

Rituals Related to Atithi Devo Bhava

When we have guests, there are a few things to consider. It’s now part of the tourism business. But in the past, there was a normal way to greet guests when they came to our homes. People still do this in some parts of India.

  1. Dhupa: This means giving the guest a room that smells nice. It’s a way to make sure they feel good.
  2. Diya: Diya (oil lamp) is often lit when someone visits. Back in the past, there wasn’t any electricity. So it was a way to get people’s attention. It is also a call to Agni Deva, the Lord of Fire.
  3. Naivedya: It has both fruits and sweets made with milk. In the past, most people had to travel a long way to get to their homes. By giving them fruits or sweets, you can give them more energy.
  4. Akshata: It is a sign of not being split up. On the forehead, we put Tilak and rice grains, or Akshata. It’s a way to make guests feel like they belong in the house.Pushpa: When we give flowers or Pushpa to our guests, it’s a sign of friendship. When guests leave, hosts also give them flowers. It’s a way for them to remember their time there.

Significance Related to Atithi Devo Bhava

Rituals related to atithi devo have been around for a long time in India. It also means a lot of different things. We’ll look at some of them here.

  • Atithi Devo Bhava shows how India’s hosts treat their guests warmly and kindly. We treat our guests better than other people. This is called Atithi Satkar. In India, the hosts need to have the best facilities.
  • Atithi is a person who shows up out of the blue and can stay as long as they want. It is important to meet their needs and give them the best place to stay.
  • Love and care should be shown to guests. You can always make a guest feel welcome if you consider the above rituals.
  • Whenever someone comes to visit, it’s a happy time. Regarding celebrations like Diwali, “Athithi Devo Bhava” is very important.
  • Most guests today only show up after being asked. But there was no way to talk to each other in the past. You should always be ready for a guest.
  • As we’ve already said, anyone can be a guest. So, it’s important to welcome guests regardless of caste, colour, or religion. We have to care for, love, and care for the person.

Atithi Devo Bhava is a practice from the ancient Hindu Scriptures and has become a set of rules for how Hindu communities and societies should act. We only sometimes do all the rituals that go along with Atithi Devo Bhava as we did in the past. But we love, respect, revere, and care for our guests.

Atithi Devo Bhava – the meaning at a practical level

Recently someone came to the Spiritual Research Centre and Ashram as a guest, and during the few days she was here she did not behave well with the seekers or with the ashram administration. Yet seekers in touch with her tried to do their best to accommodate her and her wishes, some of which were very unreasonable. At the point in time when the guest was leaving, she apologised for all the inconvenience she had caused. However this incident prompted a discussion amongst a few seekers that according to Hindu Dharma, there is verse from the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that says: matrudevo bhavapitrudevo bhavaacharyadevo bhavaatithidevo bhava. It literally means “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.” So the question in our minds from a personal spiritual practice standpoint was to what extent does the guidance of treating a guest as God apply? If a guest behaves badly, to what extent should the host accommodate it? Suppose a guest steals from or attacks the people giving him shelter, should they as hosts just accept it?

There is also a famous story from Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Les Misérables’ where a recently released convict steals from a bishop (a senior Christian priest) who had provided him with shelter. During the night, the ex-convict awakens and steals the bishop’s silverware and silver plates, and runs off. He is arrested and brought back to the bishop. In the enquiry that ensues, the bishop takes the thief’s side saying that he had himself given the thief the silverware so that he can use it to become a better person. This story of the bishop’s behaviour is often quoted as an example of good Christian values. The story does have a good ending as the ex-convict does eventually use the opportunity to become a better man. However is this something that a common person should use as benchmark in dealing with such guests?

Recently the Government of India too adopted the same ancient verse as a tagline for an advertising campaign on ‘Incredible India’ to raise awareness amongst Indians on how to treat tourists in a proper manner and to attract foreigners to India.

We asked His Holiness Dr Athavale how our thinking should be. He guided that ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ actually has an implied meaning, which is that one should treat a visiting seeker as God. When the verse containing ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ was created, people had the sixth sense ability to understand who a seeker was. In that era, both the host as well as the guest were seekers and behaved in a seeker-like manner. Accordingly this statement in that era was applicable to most people.

In the current era, unfortunately most people are not doing any spiritual practice and hence do not understand what it is to behave as seekers, guests and hosts included. Seekers make up a very small segment of society. Keeping this in mind, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava,’ which really means, if a seeker of God visits you treat him like God, can only truly be exercised by a host towards a small segment of society. If a host treats every guest as God, he can be hurt or taken advantage of. If a guest misbehaves or attacks a host, the host is well within his right to protect himself and or ask the guest to leave. If the guest slaps the host, from a spiritual perspective the host is not expected to turn the other cheek, but can protect himself.

With regards to the story of the bishop and the silverware, this guidance or behaviour cannot be the yardstick for everyone to be measured by or the benchmark to follow. In Spirituality, guidance can never be the same for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all aspect to spiritual guidance. In Spirituality (Sanatan Dharma) guidance changes depending on various factors such as the spiritual level of the people involved, the circumstances of the situation, according to the time or era, etc. Regular spiritual practice is the only way to bring lasting positive changes in the character of a person. The spiritual purpose of life is to use our lives to grow spiritually. This can only happen by accompanying practicing Spirituality and spiritualising every aspect of our lives.

In the case of hosts and guests, along with regular spiritual practice, if we as hosts can be as accommodating as possible to our guest’s wishes, without harming our spiritual practice, then listening to others helps to reduce our ego, which is an important requirement for spiritual growth. In every situation focusing on chanting the Name of God as a spiritual practice helps us to remain calm and behave in a seeker-like manner regardless of the other person’s behaviour or the situation.

Atithi Devo Bhava simplifies the meaning of The Guest Is God’. It is a traditional Indian culture that represents the dynamic guest-host relationship in India. We Indians consider and treat our guests as God. We believe, if we treat our guests well, then God will be pleased and bless us. It’s an Indian concept of respecting and showing hospitality to the guest with all of the heart.

Atithi Devo Bhava (अतिथि देवो भव) is a Sanskrit word. It is an ancient line, taken from the Hindu scriptures. Atithi means “a person without fixed calendrical time”, Devo means “the God” and Bhava means “Be or Is”. Hence, it stands as the guest is god. It indicates you must take care of your guest with full enthusiasm as God.

This practice is one of the examples that Indians welcome the guests with warmth and respect for centuries (Atithi Satkar). This is not only a line to promote Indian tourism. Although an instance of a unique and sweet guest-host relationship in India.

This Indian culture is legitimate for everyone. Nobody gets discriminated by their caste, religion, skin color, etc. In India, wherever you go, people will shower love and hospitality towards you.


A ‘tourist’ is one who travels to or visits another place for their own pleasure or interest. At some point or another in our lives, we have all been tourists, whether it be in our own region or state or in a country completely foreign to our own.  What I gain most from travelling to another place are not the souvenirs I purchase during a last minute dash to the bazaar, nor the memories of a comfy hotel room with amenities as desirable as a jacuzzi.  I remember the people, their hospitality and their willingness to make you feel so at home, that they even give up their meal or their bed for you.  And no sense of hospitality has struck me as deeply as the hospitality of the Indian people. 

It is probably safe to say that Indians have lived, breathed and practised a very genuine sense of tourism long before the term itself was coined and the practice became commercialised.  This tourism holds the guest as the centre of focus. In one of the ancient Hindu Scriptures called Taittiriya Upanishads, the Sanskrit phrase Atithi Devo Bhava holds sacred meaning and translates to ‘The Guest is God’.  Atithi means ‘without a fixed calendrical time’ and is used to describe a ‘guest’;  Devo means ‘God’ and;  Bhava means ‘to be’.  Atithi Devo Bhava is a code of conduct that has made Indian hospitality renowned around the world for its genuine desire to place the guest above all.

The code of conduct manifests itself in a myriad of ways, but I will focus on my preferred expression of Atithi Devo Bhava, which is of course, food.  For me, offering food is the ultimate symbol of welcoming a guest into your home.  Although for my father, the term ‘offering’ may sometimes be replaced with ‘force-feeding’.  This also applies to most of my aunties, who gently place trays of sweets onto my lap and remind me of how thin I look despite being the same size for a good decade now.  Then there is always the ‘take-away’ version of the code of conduct which involves stuffing tupperware containers with sweets, snacks and curries for when the guest is short of time (there really is no escape).   As soon as a guest comes to our home, whether they be expected or not, they will always be served at the minimum, a glass of water or customary chai and at the most (we are talking only food here), an elaborately prepared meal that is always three times more than what is required.

Having travelled extensively throughout India, I have seen Atithi Devo Bhava being practised in its purest form whenever I have travelled through the villages or the slums. One instance I recall was staying with a farming family whilst on a field visit.  Not only did they insist I eat more rotis and dal but they also proceeded to watch me complete my meal before they began theirs.  When the time came for bed, I was told I would be sharing the bed with the daughter of the house, whom I only met that day itself.  I’ll admit that some of this behaviour was attributable to the fact that I was the first ‘foreigner’ to visit their home, but I was touched nevertheless.  I had a chance to meet some people living in the slums of Mumbai, and there too, I was welcomed with hot chai with each home I stepped in to.  It is easy for us to go to lengthy ends for those whom we know and love, because that love will be returned.  But in India, we also go the extra mile for those whose wandering feet reach our doorsteps.

The Sanskrit phrase “Atithi Devo Bhava” means

“Atithi Devo Bhava” is one of the powerful thoughts of our country which makes the moral values of our country even stronger and makes it achieve new records. This proverb is derived from the ancient Gospel and today it is an important part of Indian society.

Answer: The Sanskrit phrase “Atithi Devo Bhava” means the guest is the form of God.

At present, the Government of India is using this proverb to promote Indian tourism. In the year, “Atithi Devo Bhava” was started to be used under Incredible India so that people from different countries come to India for tourism.

Effect of Atithi Devo Bhava Campaign

Following are the effects of Atithi Devo Bhava Campaign:

  • Famous actor Aamir Khan was appointed as its trademark ambassador.
  • Due to this campaign, there has been a 40% increase in Indian tourism year after year.
  • Today, through this campaign of “Atithi Devo Bhava”, we are able to teach our coming generation the lesson of keeping the spirit of generosity towards the guests.


What is the meaning of the Sanskrit phrase “Atithi Devo Bhava”?

The meaning of the Sanskrit phrase “Atithi Devo Bhava” is the guest is the form of God. It is an integral part of the culture of our country. Today all countries appreciate this idea and are making it a part of their respective culture.