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The mission undertaken by Kanchi Mahaperiyava!
Various welfare activities of Kanchi Periyava!
Many activities undertaken by Mahaperiyava for the benefit of people!
Mahaperiyava concentrated on the revival of Vedic studies. At one time, Veda chanting reverberated throughout the villages and towns of India. In fact, Veda sustained mankind. But as time passed, the practice of Veda declined amongst the students’ consequent to the ingress of western culture in the Indian soils. After Independence, the remnants of British culture was seen everywhere. People started living in style and comforts. The poor were left to mend their life since most of them were illiterates. Mahaswamigal took sanyas and ascended the throne of Kanchi mutt during 1914 or so, around 33 years before Indian Independence. Due to many reasons, the Vedic pundits could not make out a dignified living in their villages. Considering their plight, Mahaperiyava organized ‘sadas’- a workshop like thing to revive the Vedic traditions. He started small schools for teaching Veda to young students of 7 to 8 years of age. They were given free boarding and other facilities. Thus the small students stayed together, learned the Vedas from experienced teachers. Thus slowly, the practice was revived by Mahaperiyava long back. The second thing he undertook during his tenure as head of the mutt is revival of dilapidated temples which were constructed long back and enabling daily ritualistic worships in those temples.
In the ancient days, every village had a temple and protecting deity. In addition to daily rituals, festivals were organized in those temples. The deities were taken out on important days and taken around in small carts or chariots for the entire village to worship. Those carts stopped in front of most of the houses, where the entire family participated in the worship. Thus those traditions continued for long time. But, many families migrated from the villages to towns in search of employment and livelihood since the economy of village could not sustain the residents of those villages. Slowly, the temples have lost their daily rituals and finally there were none to carry the worship etc. Finding the conditions of the old temples pathetic, Mahaperiyava arranged to revive those temples with the help of philanthropic persons who could afford the revival and reconstruction of such temples.
The third activity undertaken by the pontiff is ‘caring for old cows’. Due to drought and other reasons, cattle wealth declined at a time. The animals which yielded milk were kept in households but those which become aged were left out to their own fate. Being sympathetic to one and all, Mahaperiyava enabled construction of ‘gosalas’- a kind of enclosure wherein the old cows were brought, and kept. They were fed and water was supplied for their consumption. The cow dung being an important fuel in the villages were collected and used for many purposes including for fire rituals for worship of the Devas. Thus he had multi pronged approach to solve some of the problems faced by the people of the villages. The mutt too needed money and other materials for functioning. In the olden days, kings and rich people have donated their land for the mutt. Thus those lands were cultivated and the produce like rice and other grains were utilized for the mutt. Also during the time when the pontiff was camping in a place, many devotees used to visit those remote places. As there were no hotels or lodges on those days in such remote locations, the mutt took care of the devotees for their food and stay. Hence, the mutt naturally was in need of donations of money and materials. But some rich devotees saw to it that the mutt is never short of essentials. Secondly for running the schools and taking care of the gosalas , maintenance expenditure was considerable. Secondly, governments never financed such mutts as a matter of policies. Hence the people themselves offered rice, pulses, oil, vegetables, fuel for lighting and hearth etc. There were some regular employees as well as part time employees. They need to be paid salaries etc. Hence besides undertaking worships etc, the pontiff has to take care of the entire administration of the mutt.
When Mahaperiyava was visiting so many temple towns, he used to discourse almost every day to the gathering of devotees on various aspects of our culture and traditions. He requested the women to set aside one handful of rice while cooking for charitable purposes. At the end of the month, the quantity of rice was collected from each household, and brought to a common kitchen from where the provisions were cooked along with vegetables etc. and served to the poor people nearby. This was aptly termed as “Narayana Seva” by Sathya Saibaba since all are embodiments of the Divine. This yuga is known as Kaliyuga when the ‘righteousness declined considerably and people were adopting immoral ways. Hence Mahaperiyava adopted several measures to revive righteousness in this world. He invited renowned musicians and instrumentalists to the mutt and heard their concerts. He presented them with his blessings, shawls, and gold coins along with fruits etc. Many musicians and experts in various musical instruments were honored thus. Also he encouraged discussions on various scriptures, different kinds of logic, philosophy. He encouraged the participants by that and he presented them with many gifts. Thus all people were encouraged to practice their professions and exhibit them in front of Mahaperiyava! Even ordinary people were encouraged to learn their skills perfectly. He had deep knowledge of music and identified different raga and tala. But he used to ask the musicians what is the particular raga etc as though he is not aware! Once, a great scholar from the West, wanted to meet the pontiff. He enquired many of his doubts with him. The Westerner asked the pontiff whether he could be a preceptor to him. To this, Mahaperiyava replied, “you will meet your preceptor when you travel in south’. Actually Maharishi was referring to Ramana maharishi of Tiruvannamalai. Thus he is aware who can guide whom?