Construction of a house to feed the poor. The main theme of the mission of the saint is to dedicate himself for a selfless service to the human brings at large. It is this higher aspect of every religion to which the saint gives prominence. He holds compassion as the basis of higher spiritual experiences. According to him, he who loves best serves best. The saint emphatically declares that love for god will develop in the human minds only and not in other creatures. When man develops compassion towards his fellow beings, he is said to prepare the ground for Divine Grace.
Without Divine Grace, abiding love for god is not possible. The saint has used the term ‘Jeevakarunyam’ to denote profound compassion. It is said giving importance to this subject, he has dealt with the subject in seven parts but at present only thre of them are available. Compassion is the fundamental trait of the character of the saint. This factor is apparent from his poetic appeals to the Almighty.
There are two aspects for the compassionate service.
1. Doing good to fellow beings, when they suffer from hunger, thirst, disease, ignorance, poverty and fear;
2. Refraining from killing and taking flesh.
As regards the first, he puts more stress on relieving hungry from hunger. If one pursues the virtue of relieving one from hunger, it is the supreme help. The other kinds of help can be easily rendered by anybody else, as they are supplementaries and sustain the life for some more time.
The saint insists that one should give help to all souls with his earned money and through his own physical labour.
When this is not possible, he should at least pray for them. He insists on family men of low income to be prudent enough in spending money for feeding their own family as well as others who may happen to approach them for food. He thus advocates prudence and thrift. He not only dissuades the rich from spending money unscrupulously on a grand style during their family ceremonies like marriages and other rituals. He persuades them to feed the needy instead.
His suggestion is that anybody can do this according to his capacity. He deplores that rich people when they are jubilant and move pompously in high spirits at grand dinners and ostentatious music, and dance performances, normally do not relish the sight of a poor, hungry, meek human creature waiting anxiously nearby for a mouthful of food.
It is a practical experience gained by the saint himself as revealed in one of his poems. He equally deplores and condemns the act of the pious people in ignoring the poor and destitutes. The so called great men can do so many wonders like transforming a male into a female, but all such acts done by them without compassion are mere tricks to hoodwink the public and they cannot be termed as ‘Gnani’ He himself sets an example for the selfless service. indeed it was his motto. In one of his poems, it is said that he realised God only through this compassionate service and the consequent experience of Grace-Light.
We shall now deal with the other aspects of the compassionate service preached and practised by the saint.
It is the act of Non-killing and not taking flesh. He condemns chiefly the sacrifice of life performed in the name of gods of various types and names. This sort of killing under the garb of religion is an age-old practice. Every village deity was said to be appeased by the sacrifice of poor cattle and poultry.]
This has spread all over the country. People used to eat what they killed in the name sacrifice under the misconception that it is a gift received from the God. In modern society this evil practice has grown by leaps and bounds. People have been advised to take flesh for health reasons as if they are associated with strength and valour. The saint took cudgel against this practice and that of killing. Even from his boyhood, he wished the people to wean away from the act of killing and flesh eating. For this he formulated the unique pathwhich he called as “Samarasa Suddha Sanmarga Sangam” meaning the path of virtue to establish non-killing and as an unique one to be accepted by all religions.
It will suffice to say here that he was against even hunting of wild beasts. As regards flesh eating, he is very harsh against flesh eaters. According to his theory, flesh eating involves killing the innocent. He describes fleshy food as an inducement for the developments of lower tendencies. In giving reason for his description, he says that the mind of the flesh eaters cannot at all sense the inner self, and consequently the realisation of God’s Eternity will be quite impossible. With copious reasons, the saint has advocated his complete faith in vegetarianism, as the right path to realise the Reality.
Nowadays, more westerners, who were addicted to taking non-vegetarian food, are slowly turning towards vegetarianism.
perhaps the prophecy of the saint has come true in as much as programmes are being arranged annually by several organisations in the line of teachings of the saint to achieve the goal.
Numerous scientists have now come to the conclusion that vegetarian food is more conducive to health, and it nourishes the body with much strength.
It is hoped in the interest of all, the present world will reap the best of the consequences.
Now let us turn to the promotion of universal love and brotherhood.
There is now universal awareness that the entire world should be knit in to a single Brotherhood of nations and live as one family unit.
A strong notion is prevailing in the society that sufferings are inflicted on them according to their past actions and relieving them from their suffering is against the will of god.
In this connection, the contention of the saint is that all people, whether good or bad, kind or cruel, male or female irrespective of any creed or caste, or any nation have the right to live and they should be allowed to live.
Everybody is equal before God-the creater, and hence such discrimination is not at all required.
The saint posing a similar question, answers that people have not realised that all are brothers and that when one individual inflicts suffering upon another by any means, he is really hurting his brothers.
They can be aware of this only if they are made to perceive it even beyond the physical level and to feel their kindness towards other individuals. This perception is called ‘Soul perception’.
But in many cases, it is veiled by ignorance.
All souls are akin to one another as brothers, because their manifestation as living being is effected by the Godhead.
The saint terms as the equal right of souls to love ‘Anmaneya Urimai’
Though the saint belonged to the period, which witnessed political stir all over India, he did not think of associating himself with it.
Instead, in one of his poems he comes with a direct attack on the existing Government about the performance of showing no sympathy towards poor people, and he wishes to have a Government of sympathetic, good natured people.
It is evident from his earlier prose work, ‘Manumurai Kanda vasagam’ that from his boyhood, the saint was endowed with high sense of compassion.
It was his inner urge to propagate it among the people.
This book was writtern in the prose form on the request of one of his teachers for the use of children as it was thought fit to install the sense of compassion in the tender minds of small children.
Here it is clearly seen that the saint has written it for propagating the humanitarian outlook indirectly.
In this context, we can see now how some people come forward to spend some money stating that it is meant for the uplift of the poor.
Though it may be considered as their voluntary contribution to give some help to the poor, it cannot be termed as a contribution made with their whole-heartedness, as envisaged by the saint. But he viewed that it was done by them only to gain some reputation from the public, such an act cannot be taken as one falling under compassion explained by the saint.
The deep compassion rooted through inner devotion only will gain significance.
After due consideration of all the above facts, the saint wanted to establish a free house in order that everyone should live on the earth without hunger.
Knowing the cherished desire of the saint, his disciples came forward to act accordingly.
A site was chosen by him at vadalur and when the villagers came to know of this, they donated about 80 kanis of land for this purpose, free of cost.
The construction of the building as planned by the saint was also started in right earnest and completed soon.
One fine morning at 6 a.m., the day being Thursday, the 11th of vaikasi in the Tamil Year prabava, the inauguration ceremony took place in the presence of the saint. This corresponds to the year 1867 in English.
The saint himself took pains of lighting the oven and render it as a festive occasion.
Thousands of people were fed continuously without a lull for three days.
According to the instructions of the saint, the oven that was lit up then was kept burning without any interruption.
So far none had felt the shortage of food grains in this institution as the public were donating spontaneously.
On poosam day in the month of Thai of the Tamil year, thousands of people gather there and used to feed the poor and the rich according to their capacity to fulfil the dream of the saint enunciated then.
It will not be out of place to mention here, the significance of the day of which the institution was inaugurated.
The time, day, date and the year denote that Grace (Arul) has dawned on the earth to mitigate and also to wipe out the sufferings of the public and to live with Eternal Bliss.