I would walk by a person lying on the five foot way without turning an eye. I would not think of buying someone sitting on the pavement food or a drink. I would not give money to a beggar. I would not help someone in need. I would buy enough food just for myself and not share it with friends and working colleagues. This was me before. This was me before I came to the Siddha path.
The Siddhas through the Nadi recommended that I offer prayers at designated temples. The Nadi recommended I give alms to the poor. The Nadi recommended I feed the animals. The Nadi recommended I give attire to certain sectors of society. The Nadi recommended that I pay homage and give a token amount to the Siddhas for revealing my Nadi.
Soon I met Tavayogi Thangarasan Adigal in Malaysia. He showed me photos of his many charitable activities conducted at his Kallar ashram in India and invited me over to see for myself. I took up his invitation and we arranged to serve food to the native children living in the vicinity of his ashram - my very first annadhanam. That day I saw joy in their faces when I served them. There was a sparkle of life in the eyes of these children. It moved me. It gave me joy. I saw a similar joy in their faces. I had brought cheer into their lives. I did another annadhanam and handed out new clothing to them before returning home satisfied and grateful to Erai for all the good things I received in life. Kallar changed me that day. The seed was planted in me by my guru that day.
It took me years to realize that the Siddhas had actually initiated in me the act of giving to others through the measures recommended in the Nadi. Although they were measures recommended to rid or lessen my cumulative karma accumulated over the years and over several births I realized it went far beyond that. Although all these were means and ways to pay off and settle my bad debts these gestures of making contributions opened my heart. The Nadi opened my heart. The Nadi opened my heart to give. The Nadi opened my heart to give to others. The Nadi opened my heart to share with others. If all these while I was receiving from prapanjam the Nadi taught me to give back. The sense of doing charity was inculcated in me for good thanks to the Siddhas and their Nadi.
Although many do these atonements one off and expect to see immediate changes take place I moved on with my life incorporating these gestures into my daily routine. Today I still carry on with the simplest form of annadhanam feeding the birds that come by and perch on the trees in my garden from dawn till dusk daily. I do charity at every possible moment.
Taking the cue from the Siddhas I continued with my daily prayers and charity when several wonderful souls were shown to my home. These youngsters headed by G. Bala Chandran initiated a group Thondu Seivom that went on the ground to do charity on a regular basis and on a larger scale. With funds coming in from close friends and devotees we started Amudha Surabhi to manage and distribute the contributions. Soon we were providing groceries and household items to old folks and children homes. We fed the inmates and spent time with them. We provided students with stationary and eye wear. We ventured to feed the homeless. We saw joy in their faces when they received the food and handouts. We saw them rush to us and encircle us waiting to receive food and clothings.
We have joined the ranks of the Soup Kitchens, volunteer groups that dish out food to the homeless. While most of them distribute at night there are hardly any feeding during the day. Pothihai Tharma Chakkram fills this vacant slot. It serves lunch. This programme initiated by Sri Krishna and his wife Sri Dewi started serving 18 paxs on their maiden rounds and today serve 300.
Although it gives us immense joy in giving, we are not happy to see the increasing number of old folks and children abandoned and living in homes and countless number of homeless on the streets. That is a bad sign. The numbers should diminish. But the reality is otherwise. Many go hungry during the day waiting anxiously for Soup Kitchens to bring them food after 9pm. Some Soup Kitchens have cut down or scaled downed their feeding sessions leaving many hungry.
While the Siddhas have been encouraging us to continue doing charity especially feeding the hungry certain individuals have raised objections to us giving food and hand outs. While many toil the fields to bring food to their table; while many try to make ends meet with their meager earnings; while many risk their lives trying to earn an honest living why should some enjoy life living on charity they ask. They are of the opinion that we are encouraging the public to become lazy. They are against the idea of feeding the addicts. Others have seen the public waste the food given hence stating their stand and rejection on giving free food.
Although we are told to give only to the hungry it is rather difficult to establish the genuinely hungry from the rest. Agathiyar justifies the act of giving charity by reminding us that when distributing food to 10 people there might be 3 who do not deserve it but there are 7 others out there who are genuinely hungry. He tells us to accept the reality that this is a natural law or ulaga niyathi. He tells us to ignore the negative and strive to uphold and strengthen the positive acts.
Lord Muruga extols the benefit of carrying out annadhanam or feeding in devotee's Nadi readings. He says that the path of charity will lead one to the gates of Tavam. He says that, "You shall see me and my devotees via charity. You shall see me in the faces of those you feed. You shall see me in the faces of those who reach out to you for food. The joy in giving will bring you to a state of Paramanandham. What can only be achieved through years of rigorous tapas will be accessible to you in a split second by doing charity. All the Gods and Goddesses are pleased to see charity done. Standing in the path of Dharma will drive away Yama, Lord of Death. In short he says Dharma equals Tapas.
He says that the Atma of those fed rejoices the moment their hunger is appeased. "Lord Shiva enters you precisely at that moment and your soul grows. Your Atma rejoices in giving. As the soul grows in magnitude, Jeeva Daiou sets in. When Jeeva Daiou enters, Shivam arrives. When Shivam comes to reside in you, you defeat death".