Faith

Merits of generosity

Saint Vallalar prays to Lord Shanmukha that he should never ask anyone for anything. At the same time, should anyone come to him seeking something, he should not turn them away. Here Vallalar echoes ideas laid out in ancient Tamil literature, including Sangam poetry, elaborated M.A. Manickavelu in a discourse.

The Sangam work Puranaanooru says that to beg is undesirable. But even more undesirable is to refuse to help someone in need, who comes to you for help. What is meritorious, according to Puranaanooru, is to be offered something by someone and refusing to accept it, even if it is something one needs.

Thiruvalluvar says that to give to the poor is an act of generosity. Seven rulers, famous for their generosity, lived in the Sangam era. One of them was Kumanan. He was known never to refuse anything to anyone. His brother Ilankumanan was jealous of his brother’s fame and popularity and he usurped the throne and drove his brother to the forest. Yet, Kumanan continued to be popular with the people and Ilankumanan felt that as long as his brother was alive, he (Ilankumanan) would not be popular. So he announced that a reward would be given to anyone who brought him Kumanan’s head.

When Kumanan came to know of this, he told a poet that he should cut off his (Kumanan’s) head and claim the reward. Even if it meant losing his life, Kumanan still wanted to be of use to someone! The poet, however, brought about a change of heart in the jealous younger brother. A well that is desilted and cleaned yields good water. Likewise, money that is spent on others doesn’t get depleted, but will get augmented eventually, like water in a cleaned well.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 2:51:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/Merits-of-generosity/article16074090.ece

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