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Philanthropy
(HinduDharma: Dharmas Common To All)

[In the chapter entitled, "Sesame and Water: Where do They Go?", the Paramaguru spoke of the debt to be paid to our fathers, our duty to worship Paramesvara as well as to feed the creatures of the earth. He stated that Tiruvalluvar also spoke of the same dharma in his "Kural": "Tenpulattar deivam, virundu, okkal tan enru angu aimbulattaru ombal talai."]

Here (in the foregoing quotation)is one good proof that Tiruvalluvar respected the authority of the Vedas. Some suggest that he did not belong to the Vedic religion and that he was a Jaina or a Buddhist. And some claim that he transcended all religions. It is also suggested that he openly condemned sacrifices in which animals are killed. In support of their view they quote a stanza from the Kural.

[The Paramaguru's comment on the Kural passage is contained in Chapter 23, Part Five.]

Tiruvalluvar who composed his Kural, with its universal appeal, was not an atheist opposed to the Vedic dharma. What he refers to as virundu is the same as the Vedic manusyayajna.

Every morning a handful of rice(uncooked) must be set apart for the poor. All the families must do this without fail every day. The rice thus kept must be collected from house to house, from quarter to quarter, cooked offered to the deity of the local temple as naivedya and then distributed among the poor. With the handful of rice set apart for the poor, keep just one paisa also. The paisa collected from each family would be sufficient to buy salt, chilli powder, etc, to mix with the rice to make it more palatable. It would also serve to buy firewood and to pay the rent for the vessels. To carry out such a scheme is to do a great service to the poor - and to the Lord. Charity like this should encourage temple going, not to speak of devotion. Since the food is first offered as naivedya, it would mean that the poor will take it as prasada which will impart them inner purity.

Annadan or the gift of food is one kind of service of paropakara. We talk of service to the poor, social service and so on. Today all this is done with much fanfare and publicity. In the past the needy were served naturally, without making any noise. Service comes under "purta- dharma" and it includes digging wells and ponds for the public, feeding the poor, building temples for the spiritual well-being of people, laying our gardens. Excavating wells and ponds has been mentioned first. The importance of this word may be gauged from such remarks in ordinary conversation: "What 's he doing? Digging a well or something?"It is extremely meritorious to excavate pond outside the village to slake the thirst of cattle. All the people in a village must join together without the distinction of poor and rich, high or low - work involving physical effort. It will incidentally contribute to greater social harmony.

With education we purify our intelligence, with meditation we cleanse our mind, with sloka or poetry we clarify our speech. How do we purify our body? By exerting ourselves in the service of others. As we keep serving people in this way we will obtain inward purity. When all take part in the work of digging a pond or well, without any differences, without one man feeling superior to another or inferior to him, our ego too will be dug away. More important than the water welling up in the pond is the love welling up from our hearts. No outward show is needed in social service; we must not make an exhibition of our work. Collect pieces of glass scattered on the footpath and keep them away in a safe place; even this service to people and a means of cleansing ourselves. We must try to please the Lord with the very hands and feet that he has given us - we must do so by serving others and by looking upon all as himself.

"Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here