One day morning a young man came to Kanchi Mutt and went straight to see our Paramacharya. When he saw our Mahaperiyava he started sobbing. When Periyava asked as to why is crying he replied that he had finished his studies and he could able to get a job for the last two years. Everyone in the house looking me as a stranger and especially my father always scolds me as ‘Thandam’. (‘Thandam’ in tamil means a waste i.e. which is not useful). I am very much pained that’s why I thought of coming here and get myself relieved of my sufferings.
Mahaperiyava then asked the Engineer what is the name of the Staff which he is holding. (The Sanyasis are given a Dhanda when they take initiation from a Guru. The Dhanda is made of thin bamboo stick tied with sacred thread with a flag which symbolizes purity). The Engineer who was confused told Periyava “It is called as ‘Thandam’ (meaning Staff in Tamil).
Saying so he told, “Oru Thandathukku Velli Kedachachu athanale innorru thandathukku velai mudinchiduthu” (i.e. The person who was referred as waste (thandam) has got the job and hence the job for the other thandam (staff) is over) and retired to his room.
People are caught between two groups holding opposing views. On the one side they feel the pull of individuals like us who maintain that they must take to the path shown by the sastras; on the other they find themselves drawn in the opposite direction by the reformers who want these sastras to be changed. From a youthful age people nowadays are used to reading reports extolling the changes that go by the name of reforms. It is all due to the influence of modern education. All this notwithstanding, people have not altogether given up the old customs. A fraction of the dharmas laid down in the sastras and followed for ages is still to be seen in our domestic and social life. On the one hand, there is the habit formed by custom and, on the other, the habit now being learned through the new system of education.
It is universally recognised that contentment is lacking in the modern way of life. People don't dispute the fact that the peace that once existed in the previous generations no longer obtains today. They have more money now -or that at any rate is the belief. But are they yet free from poverty? The claim is made that everything is in abundance, that we grow more food than what is needed. Yet there is anxiety everywhere about the supply of essentials.
It is important to realise that if we are to remain true to the sastras it is not because they represent the views of the seers but because they contain the rules founded on the Vedas which are nothing but what Isvara has ordained. That is the reason why we must follow them. It is my duty to see that the sastras are preserved as they are. I have no authority to change them.
We must not give up the sastric way of life thinking it to be difficult to follow. If we are not carried away by the glitter of modern mundane life, if we reduce our wants and do not run after money, there will be no need to abandon the customs and rites laid down by our canonical texts. If we are not obsessed with making money there will be plenty of time to think of the Lord. And peace, contentment and happiness will reign.