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A Gift That Was and Wasn’t a Gift at the Same Time

~by Jagattarini Devi Dasi

Today a big box arrived. From my window I heard the radio in the postman’s van blaring. I wondered who had ordered something that was now appearing. I stopped for a moment to reflect on whether it was something for me.

Now that in itself is an interesting topic I will share later.

When I came downstairsI saw that there was a large brand new cardboard box sitting neatly on the table. I looked to see who was the fortunate receiver of this gift. It wasn’t me, so I proceeded on with my day.

But this small event remained with me.

Every day I do some prayers and simple worship. I help another member of our community to make an offering. My role is to collect flowers and decorate the small space meant for devotional worship. 

As I stepped outside to pick the late summer flowers from our garden I noticed the roses which are in full bloom, brilliant orange, white, pink and crimson. 

It is as if the rose bush is extending these gifts towards me, saying 

“Please! I have no legs to move myself, so can you give my rose as a gift to the Supreme?”

And I reach out with my fingers, which are also a gift, to pick the blooms and place them in my small basket.

Then I bring them inside. All gifts from the earth to the plant and the plant to me.

 I know our ardent analytical physics students might explain things differently, but to me they are gifts of the earth. No more information required.

As I  came into my place of devotion with the roses, I offered a gift from the earth and the rose bush and most importantly a gift from me.

I could not keep my meditation for long but it was long enough to express gratitude to everyone including the post man who came this morning and began the train of thought.


Yes, well here’s another reflection seeing the box on the table.

It wasn’t for me.  

A small part of me chirped up…

“Oh I wish a box that big would come for me.”

The practical part responded.

“It can and will. All you have to do is buy something and a box will pop up with your name on it.”

“But” Another part of my talkative brain responded. “I don’t need anything right now.”

“NO. That’s not true!” replied a small voice. ” You always need things. Plus it is important to buy things to support the economy.”

Well that’s enough. Why was I even listening to such a silly conversation in the form of thoughts?

For a moment when I first saw the big box I mistook it for a gift. But it was far from a gift. It was a transaction. Someone had to pay for it. They brought it. A gift is something that is given not paid for.


That ‘s interesting. There’s a difference between a transaction and a gift. You can buy as many things as you want, yet when they arrive at your front door they’re not gifts. They might be useful but gifts are much more heart touching. Is it love or transactions that you are after? They are very different so don’t confuse the two.

You cannot buy love. 

You can buy attention, even sweet words, but love is a gift and it comes from love.


Now here’s another reflection from the post man bringing a big box this morning.

I saw it and my spirits momentarily lifted thinking it may be for me. It wasn’t,

but as I proceeded with my daily routine, I was thoughtful.

Here in my hands are the items I use everyday. I am very familiar with them. Here are my routines, that I perform in this way. I can do these tasks quickly, without thinking, while listening to a song. After all efficiency is essential.

But is it?

Imagine if when I offered my routine service I did so as if I was bringing that big box, full of wonderful surprises  and gifts [I mean real gifts not transactions!] and I was fully aware as I was giving them. Imagine if every day was completely different and exciting? A new box lovingly given with focused care. 

Wow that postman really made my day today!

Just the thought that the “known and predictable” could transform into the “new and undiscovered” restored magic to an otherwise formulaec routine.

I always welcome such moments. They are made of solid gold. 

Jagattarini Devi Dasi joined ISKCON in 1970 when she traveled to Los Angeles and met Srila Prabhupada. She had been a well known actress and had been in a movie with Mick Jagger. After meeting Srila Prabhupada there, she gave up her lucrative acting career and decided to dedicate her life in service of the mission of her guru. In 1970, she and her husband, Bhurijan Prabhu opened a temple in Hong Kong. Later, at the Gita Nagari Farm in Pennsylvania, US, she used her talents to create puppet shows, which were produced on ISKCON Television. She and her husband later served at the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula in Vrndavan, India where she studied the culture of the district of Vraj, or Vrndavan. Since 1996, they have lived in her native home of Perth, Australia. In 1998, she began creating miniature dioramas in an exhibition called, Gopinatha Dham depicting Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavan.