In former days, a widow was never considered a burden. She was regarded an asset to the family. She helped to bring up children properly. She was a store-house of Puranic lore and, through these stories, she prepared the minds of children to distinguish between “right and wrong”, and guided them along the righteous path. Her disciplined life – aachaaram, vritam, upavaasam, etc. – modeled the conduct of the younger members of the family also.
On account of the existence of many social problems, voluntary organizations have become necessary to mitigate the sufferings of women. Institutions like the Seva Sadan have been giving succour to young women in distress, such as deserted wives, destitute widows, and unmarried girls in search of employment. Such social service institutions, however, offer only a temporary palliative to the problems. We must tackle the disease at the root. A tree has to be watered at the roots and not at the top. If we pay attention to the marriage of girls at the proper age, most of the problems will get automatically solved, and the necessity for institutions like the Seva Sadan may disappear gradually.
Only a god-fearing person can view things in their proper perspective. It is only devotion to God that will give the strength necessary to face adversities with equanimity, and to bear sufferings with fortitude and resignation. A worshipper of Mammon will be terribly upset even by a small pecuniary loss, whereas a devotee will reconcile himself even to a heavy loss, by the thought “God gave it and He took it away”. To foster devotion to God, we must perform the Upanayanam of boys and the marriage of girls at the proper age. The interest of future generations requires it.
The Puranas are intended to teach us dharma. The emphasis in Puranic stories is not on the abnormalities of the characters, but on right and wrong, so that we may regulate our lives according to the injunctions contained in the Sastras. Because we are unable to appreciate, with our limited knowledge, how a person can be as tall as a palmyra tree, or can have three or four heads, we should not reject these stories as false or imaginary. Archaeological and geological excavations are bringing to light more wonders than what the Puranas contain and we also read occasionally reports in the Press of freaks in human birth and finds of out-sized human skeletons. So, it is wrong to label as “false”, anything we do not know or are unable to comprehend with our limited intelligence. In any event, the dharma imparted by the stories is of eternal value.
In the way in which things are moving, I doubt whether in the coming years the younger generation will have an opportunity to study our inspiring sacred literature, and whether there will be Pandits capable of properly interpreting them to the people. We should take steps even from now to preserve for posterity the spiritual and cultural treasures of this land. That can be done only by giving encouragement to boys willing to learn them. Some provision should be made to give scholarships to boys ready to go to a teacher and learn under him Sanskrit and the Vedas, and also some remuneration to the teacher, to keep himself going. An indigenous gurukula system should be evolved on these lines.
Every individual, even though he is not in affluent circumstances, by setting apart a small portion of his savings, can help students who are ready to pursue this kind of education, risking the secular prospects, their teachers, and poor parents, who are ready to get their daughters married at the proper age. This is a service which we will be doing to preserve the seeds of Indian culture. The help we give for the education of deserving boys and the marriage of poor girls, will surely benefit our own children and help them to develop along proper lines – ooraar kuzhantaiyai ootti valarthaal tan kuzhantai taanaaka valarum, ஊரார் குழந்தையை ஊட்டி வளர்த்தால் தன் குழந்தை தானாக வளரும்.