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What do you know about poverty, Sir?

RFr”Mry class mates in the school and college from the nearby Brahmin villages, used to come to the class shabbily dressed, with uncombed hair and no footwear to protect their sole from the torching heat or an umbrella to protect their head
from the pouring rains. From their shrunken face I could read that they would have come for studies with an empty
stomach and also will have nothing to eat when they go back home?
What do you know about poverty, Sir?”
I asked a friend, through one of these columns, sometime ago.
I ask the same question again to those who support donating jewels to rich temples or throw basket-full of apples and mangoes, laddus and kanchi pattu saries into the sacred fire, in the name of propitiating the Gods. When you pour milk, ghee or honey on the head of a deity, chanting appropriate mantras, from a spoon or a small pitcher ‘kindi’ or kamandalu’, it becomes ‘abhisheakam’ or celestial bath. But when you pour those precious fluids, which can alleviate the hunger of many, in liters and gallons, it becomes a crime.
I am serious. This is not one of my usual posts , where I vainly attempt to make you laugh or smile and forget your worries for a short while ( and get a bad name and bashings left and right, in that process).  Sometime ago, one of the Tamil visual media,  used to show  repeatedly a well-built Brahmin, call him Guru, swamy or sanyasi, I am least bothered, dropping apples and ladoos and other fruits and eatables, in tons along with costly silk sarees in dozens, into the mouth of sacred fire.The back ground was ideal with a number of ‘madisar’ mamies and bare chested mamas with white criss-cross marks all over their body.
Do you think that this show was repeatedly telecast to spread the cult of ‘bakthi” or to stress the importance of performing homams or worship through the fire god?  I am happy that you do not think so. This show was a purposeful video propaganda to tell people how brahmins are wasting the valuable resources while millions around are starving.
Chellappa’s ailing wife in the hospital is asking for just one apple, as prescribed by the doctor. She had never eaten that fruit before. Chellappa weeps silently because he doesn’t have money to buy one apple fruit. But he sobs uncontrallably, as if his heart would break into pieces, when his daughter asks for an apple, after seeing dozens of such fruits, being thrown into the fire, in the TV.(Provided free of cost by a vote seeking vulture).
I know now that you will weep, if I ask you the question,”‘what do you know about povertry, sir?”.
Don’t do that. Pour liters and gallons of pure water over the head of the Siva lingam in your pooja room. ‘Neelakantaya, Mrithyunjaya,Sarveswaraya, Sadasivaya Sremman Mahadevaya namaha:”
Your God carries on His Divine head the Ganga, perennial celestial river and NOT a dairy. Still, you can pour water over His head and he will appreciate that , if  that satisfies you.

4 thoughts on “What do you know about poverty, Sir?

  1. Dear Suresh Krishnaji Siva-ji and other respected members of our 4B group,
    Radhe Krishna!
    The contents of this mail from Shri Sureshji and Sivaji mean exactly what I meant a few days ago when I sent a mail regarding the millions we (I mean our country and the highly respected vote-mongers therein) spent in making the Diamond diadems for Bhagawan Balaji and Swarna Tulabharams for Guruvayoorappan. Unfortunately, only two persons reacted to it, one was Siva-ji who agreed with me, and another, Shri. Raghavendraji who misinterpreted the whole thing, thinking that I was launching an attack on revered Mahaperiyaval. My contention that huge amounts spent on so-called God-pleasing activities, which are a misnomer by itself, should be routed to help the poor and needy. God, whichever Ishta-deivatam He or She is, will definitely be pleased with our Bhakti and offering whatever little we can. What Lord Krishna has said in Bhagavadgita is true, not only to Himself, but for all Gods.
    I have myself seen many Chandi Homams where Pattu-podavais worth tens of thousands of rupees being offered into the fire, as oblations to the Durga-mata! Even assuming that the God of Fire who is “Havya-vahana” will synthesise the Pattu-podavais to their original shape from the five elements they have been reduced to by having been incinerated, what happens to the sin involved in killing millions of silk-worms to produce that saree? Will it be pardoned by the Almighty ? —–and by buying such materials, are we also not buying the sins accompanying that ? And the apparent good we think we will gain by performing such rituals is offset by the heinous crime of depriving the poor, for whom these amounts would have meant a lot and would have been of great value. The same God whom we are trying to please by such acts really lives in the hearts of the poor, and can be better worshipped by helping the poor.
    In Bhagavatam, there is the story of King Barhishad, who came to be known as “Prachina-barhis” who was mad after performing Yajnas one after the other, resulting in keeping the Darbhas needed for those with their tips pointing towards east, spreading them far and wide all over the country, which earned him his name of “Prachina-barhis.” He killed thousands of animals in the name of Yajnas, as he was a “Karmattha”, who was keen on following the Karma-kanda of the Vedas to the letter. And to wean him from this act, Sage Narada goes and advises him against killing of animals, and advises him that all those animals would be waiting with sharp horns to tear him to pieces when he meets his end. This has the desired effect, and thereafter, Prachina-barhis stops his Yajnas and takes to Vana-prastha. So, may this be an eye-opener to those who are mad after Pattu-podavais, as the silk-worms they have killed would be waiting with boiling water to pour on them when they depart from this world.
    In Kali-yuga, the Lord is pleased with just “Nama-sankeerthanam.” We all know that.
    I would not have reopened this topic which I had closed on my own, but Shri. Suresh Krishna’s mail prompted me to post this.
    Kudos to both of you, Siva-ji and Suresh Krishna-ji. At least there are two who have understood my mindset.
    Warmest regards

  2. Dear friends,
    I am reminded of a saying from Suvachanaani (all in lighter vein) to the question “What do you know about poverty, Sir?”
    भॊ दारिद्रा यम् नमस्तुभ्यम् तत्प्रसादात् मयाच्चुतः
    पश्याम्यहम् जगत् सर्वम् न माम् पश्यति कश्चन
    Bho daaridraa yam namasthubhyam tatprasaadaad mayaacchutah
    Pasyaami aham jagat sarvam….na maam pasyathi kaschana
    (Roughly translated…Hail poverty, I bow to you; you have set me free. It is because of you that I can see everybody else, but nobody can (read wants to) see me.)
    Frankly, I would (personally) replace (for laff of course) the last word ‘kaschana’ by ‘kaanchana’.to mean even wealth doesn’t look at me (read poverty).
    But do I know about poverty? Indeed yes, sir, quite a bit! But about that may be (if at all) later! And it certainly did not seem to be a virtue!

  3. Dear mr siva,
    I agree that the resources could be routed to ppl
    who are less fortunate.
    It seems the importance of water is appreciated a lot such as,
    “neerinri amaiyaathozhuku in thirukural”
    “mantrapushpam in Veda mantras talk about how water is everything”
    However what do the elders
    say about using water alone in rituals? Did you get
    answers from elders?
    Paul Dhanapal

  4. Dear All,
    Excellent thoughts. Thanks to Sri Siva for the posting.
    It pains me to see hundreds of thousands being spent on fire works every year in some of our Agraharams, as a part of the annual festivities. This was possibly necessary 50 years back, to keep snakes and other creatures away and to keep villagers safe. Now fire works serve only to pollute the atmosphere.
    The money thus wasted could be used to serve the needy or take care of the many infrastructure needs of our Agraharams. The Almighty will not be upset but some will need to give up the pleasure that the noise and smoke provide!

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