வைத்தியசாலைகள், சிறைச்சாலைகள், ஏழை விடுதிகள், அநாதாசிரமங்கள், விதவா இல்லங்கள், பிச்சைக்காரர் விடுதிகள் முதலியவற்றைப் போய்ப் பார்த்தால் தெரியும், மநுஷ்யர்கள் எத்தனை தினுஸான கஷ்டங்களுக்கு ஆளாகிறார்கள் என்பது. இவற்றை மஹான்கள்தான் என்றில்லை. ஸாதாரண ஜனங்களான நாமும் ஓரளவுக்குத் தீர்த்து வைக்க முடியும். இம்மாதிரியான இடங்களைப் போய்ப் பார்த்தால் நம் போன்றவர்களின் உபகாரத்தைக் கூட ஈஸ்வரன் எத்தனை ரூபங்களில் வந்து எதிர்பார்த்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறான் என்று தெரியும். நாம் செய்யவேண்டியது என்னவென்றால், ஒரே வார்த்தையில் சொல்ல வேண்டுமானால், துக்கம் எங்கே உண்டோ, அங்கே நாம் வலுவில் போய், அந்த துக்க நிவிருத்திக்கு நம்மால் ஆகக்கூடியதையெல்லாம் பண்ண முயலுவதேயாகும். பணத்தாலோ, சரீரத்தாலோ, வாக்காலோ நம்மால் முடிந்த உதவியைப் பண்ண வேண்டியது நம் கடன், கடமை, Duty. – ஜகத்குரு ஸ்ரீசந்திரசேகரேந்திர சரஸ்வதி ஸ்வாமிகளின் அருள்மொழிகள்
If we visit hospitals, prisons, orphanages, and charitable homes we will realise that so many human beings are undergoing innumerable sufferings. Not necessarily, evolved souls, but also ordinary mortals like us can alleviate these sufferings to some extent. When we see such places, we can understand how Bhagawan, in varied forms, is expecting even people like us to do whatever little help we can. It is our bounden duty to help others financially, physically or through kind words. In short, wherever there is suffering, we should voluntarily go there and do whatever is possible by us to mitigate this suffering. – Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal
Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara,
Suffering comes in many forms. We see many people around us that are old, destitute, abandoned by their families, passing the remainder of their wretched lives in old age homes, children begging on the streets, handicapped people struggling to survive, mentally challenged people who cannot survive without help and support, and many many more circumstances. But there is one common suffering that torments all people, like clockwork – hunger. Hunger is merciless. It not only gives suffering, but also intensifies other suffering that is already being endured. This is something many of us have witnessed and continue to witness all around us.
When COVID lockdowns brought everything to a complete standstill, we could clearly see how the suffering of these people quickly intensified in the neighborhoods where we execute our PeriyavA Kainkaryams. Whatever little bit of alms and help these poor souls were getting, completely stopped.
As we all know, shrI PeriyavA has been the guidance and driving force for our Kainkaryams. He has spoken on many instances about how we, as emotionally intelligent beings, should look out for suffering around us and with compassion, make every effort to ease suffering for all forms of life. With this guiding principle, we started Anna dhanam in the area I live in Sholinganallur, Chennai area, at a small scale.
Our area houses the largest slum in the Chennai vicinity. Over time, the Slum Clearance Board consolidated slums from all over Chennai into this area. Lakhs of people live here in varying stages of poverty and suffering – physically/mentally challenged, blind, deaf and dumb, old and poor etc.
In April 2020, about a month after lockdown was implemented, we started Anna dhanam in this area, for about 30 – 35 people every day. We handpicked people based on age, physically challenged status, whether or not they had caretakers, whether or not they were employed etc. We donated grocery bags to those who were able to cook. To those who had no gas or stoves, were disabled or otherwise unable to cook – we started donating cooked food. We provided around 2000 grocery packs to poor Brahmins, Vedic Scholars, Cooks, as well as the poor, homeless, orphan children, sick, old, physically and mentally challenged children who were struggling. The help we provided was way more than any political party did. This was told to me by many of the beneficiary in person. Goes to show if we stay humble and follow Periyava’s upadesams anything is possible. We continue to provide food to old age homes and destitute shelter, homeless roadside homeside people, special children school and orphan homes.
We started off with one meal per day. During some times like the purattAsi month ( Sep – Oct 2020), we received several requests from our Kainkaryam Members to do Anna dhanam on their behalf and we were able to provide two meals daily. On some occasions, at the request of Kainkaryam Members in observance of parents’ shrAddha thithis or birthday celebrations, we were fortunate to be able to donate breakfast, lunch and dinner to these poor, deprived people. All throughout, we have been consistently providing lunch close to noon every day.
We started this process with one cook. A kind lady who lived in the slum and was interested in helping out, came forward and offered to help cook. Day after day, she would cook food using a wood-fired stove outdoors, and distribute it to the needy. We purchased and delivered rice, provisions and other groceries to her on a daily basis. We knew this may be difficult to sustain in the long term (due to the logistics involved), but this was the quickest way for us to get started. This ran successfully for about a month. By then, other Kainkaryams like feeding of Gho Mathas, bhairavas and varahams and other focused Kainkaryams needed our time and attention. We realized we may soon become the bottleneck of this process.
In order to make the Anna dhanam process more independent, we identified a few small-time professional cooks in the area. We worked out arrangements with them to provide same number of meals every day for the same cost to us, while paying them and letting them procure provisions and groceries themselves. This enabled us to remove ourselves from the day-to-day logistics and continue overseeing. To avoid one cook slacking off or becoming complacent over time, we periodically rotated the assignments across them. By periyavA’s blessings, this worked well for us.
We ran the Anna dhana Kainkaryam in Sholinganallur until end of Dec 2020. By then, lock downs eased and most people returned back to their jobs, availability of good in shops improved, govt ration shops were stocked up and operational etc.. So, we brought the Chennai operation to a close and started looking in neighboring areas. We also distributed food, milk and break packets to flood hit areas where poor people were stranded without food and electricity for days during Nivar cyclone.
We have Kainkaryam members in Cuddalore that help with our activities in the old age homes and orphanages. Generally, old age homes located in and around cities like Chennai are better supported as people have awareness and visit them once in a while. But those in smaller towns like Cuddalore aren’t supported much. We work with a handful of such homes – Home for Homeless, Annai Alamelu, Anbu Illam and Shantham School for Mentally Challenged Children located in outskirts of Cuddalore.
By periyavA’s grace, we were fortunate to start doing Anna dhanam at these places right away. We replicated the same process in Cuddalore by identifying cooks, paying them around Rs. 1000 per day, to purchase provisions/groceries and cook about 30 – 35 meals a day. Our Kainkaryam volunteers and their friends managed the daily drop offs of packed meals every day to homeless, handicapped, aged people and people sitting outside temples requesting alms. By shrI periyavA’s anugraham, this has been continuing till date.
In addition to this, we have been regularly donating grocery bags for needy families. We have also donated grocery bags to Vaideekas and erudite vidvAns who are financially strained. In keeping with their Achaaram, we don’t provide them cooked food, only grocery bags. ShrI periyavA’s anugraham and donations from our Kainkaryam members have enabled us to donate around 2,000 grocery bags during the last year.
We feel fortunate to have so many Kainkaryam members support us in making a difference to the plight of all these people suffering around us. We are fully aware that what we do in merely a drop in the ocean of suffering, but we continue to work, inspired by periyavA and by Saint AvvayAr’s words of wisdom –
கொடிது கொடிது வறுமை கொடிது
அதனினும் கொடிது இளமையில் வறுமை
அதனினும் கொடிது ஆற்றொணாத் தொழுநோய்
அதனினும் கொடிது அன்பிலாப் பெண்டிர்
இன்புற அவர்கையில் உண்பது தானே
Being poor is cruel indeed,
More cruel is being poor in youth,
Worse indeed is being afflicted by an incurable disease,
More cruel than that is having to live with unkind people,
And most cruel indeed, is to eat food served by such unloving people.
அரிது அரிது மானிடர் ஆதல் அரிது
மானிடர் ஆயினும் கூன்குருடு செவிடு
பேடு நீங்கிப் பிறத்தல் அரிது
பேடு நீங்கிப் பிறந்த காலையும்
ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயத்தல் அரிது
ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயந்த காலையும்
தானமும் தவமும் தான்செயல் அரிது
It is indeed rare to be born a human,
Rarer than that is to be born without a handicap or disease,
Rarer even, is to be privileged with the right kind of knowledge and education,
But rarest is to use the knowledge and wealth for charity and penance
Posting few pics below of this great Kainkaryam. Rama Rama
Below are the links in which you can join and get daily updates on our Kainkaryam activities.
Periyava Kainkaryam/Bhagawan Seva Website – https://bhagawanseva.world/
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Sri Periyava Thiruvadi Sharanam. Rama Rama