Control over expenditure, which implies not only a limit in spending, but also avoidance of wasteful expenditure, is as important to the individual as it is for the state. The Tamil expression, kanakkaa irukkanum (கணக்கா இருக்கணும்) is a very significant one. Applied to day-to-day life, it denotes economy in and control over expenditure. There is an old Tamil saying that if we spill water unnecessarily, we will be afflicted with poverty. If we avoid waste and spend money only on what are essentials, we will be able to live within our means, and also to put by something for a rainy day. Thereby our domestic life will be free from anxiety. We will also be able to spend on items contributing to our spiritual welfare. As a matter of fact, a rich man is obliged to spend very much on items that go to keep up his prestige, so that he is hardly able to spend for really deserving causes and for his spiritual welfare. A poor but thrifty man will be able to manage to spare something for a good cause.
There is a reference to Kanakku in one of the songs of Tirumoolar in his Tirumantiram, (verse 316) and the import of that reference is that, that alone is true learning which enables one to understand the Supreme in the full and proper measure. The song runs:
கணக்கறிந் தார்க்கன்றி காணவொண் ணாதது
கணக்கறிந் தார்க்கன்றி கைகூடாக் காட்சி
கணக்கறிந் துண்மையைக் கண்டண்ட நிற்கும்
கணக்கறிந் தார்கல்வி கற்றரிந்தாரே.
Kanakkarindaarkanri kai koodaakkaatchi;
Kanakkarindaar kalvi katrarindaare.
The principle of economy is applicable in the case of speech also. Unbridled tongue often leads to misunderstandings and troubles. If our speech is confined to topics spiritually beneficial to us, and if we avoid speaking words likely to cause pain to others, much of our troubles can be avoided. That is the significance of the statement that there should be kanakku (account, meaning control) even in speaking. The same principle of kanakku will apply to our actions also. We must perform only such deeds as will conduce to our physical and spiritual well-being. In the same way, we should train our minds to dwell only on good thoughts. That is the significance of the teaching in the Gita that saankhyam, सम्ख्य,(which is derived from sankhyaa, सम्ख्यम् , numerals) and योग, Yoga, which is the means to salvation, are one. Thus the need for kanakku (a sense of measure) in every aspect of our life is apparent.
February 9, 1958.