Some dignitaries in society commit their follies and acts of cruelty in privacy. The common folk cannot question or lay their errors bare to the public. But Maha Periyava was not frightened of anyone. Since he had no expectation from anyone, he would reprimand such people openly. He would transform some others with his intense look that could pierce through their very being and shake them out of their misconduct.
One day Maha Periyava was seated in the palanquin. As usual, the place was full of devotees. It was a rare sight to see Periyava talking to everyone and giving all his blessings with a smile. A devotee, let us call him Sama, came up in the queue. At once Periyava closed the door of the palanquin. Sama was disappointed and the others as well. It was because of Sama that everyone was denied darshan. He might have done something wrong. He alone could have been punished. Why punish the others also?
Just then the relatives of one of Maha Periyava's attendants came for darshan. Since the attendant always served Periyava in close proximity, he took the liberty to open the door of the palanquin and conveyed the news of the arrival of his relatives. But Periyava closed the door again. Half an hour passed. Then Periyava opened the door of the palanquin and continued to give darshan. Once again Sama's turn came up in the queue. Periyava's eyes flashed fury. He picked up a towel-like ochre cloth and winding it around his neck, squeezed it. He turned away and began to speak as if he were talking to someone, somewhere else.
"This is how this man squeezes the very life out of others for the interest on the money he lends. The poor borrow money on interest. This man wrenches interest upon the capital, and interest on the interest! How many poor people suffer in his hands, do you know? When one is comfortably placed in life, it is utterly unrighteous to torture the poor. What kind of justice is this, taking such high interests on loans? This is why in some religions it is said that consuming intoxicating liquor and lending money on interest is considered very sinful. If such sin is piled up repeatedly, then coming here for forgiveness is not going to appeal the case for consideration". Periyava snapped the door close.
Sama learnt his lesson. He began to sob in remorse. Ar ardent devotee who was a close attendant, intervened with a prayer.
"Everyone cannot to be the very embodiment of righteousness like Periyava. Now and then people err. Periyava must not be angry".
Periyava called Sama and told him to sit near the palanquin.
"Stop this habit of running around like a dog in chase to collect your dues from people to whom you have lent money on interest. Deposit what you have in the bank. What you get by way of that interest is sufficient. You need not run around or worry. Make sure your next birth is a good one. Spend your time in japa, puja, meditation and visits to the temple".
Sama fell down full length and prostrated to Periyava. "I am cured of my ignorance", he said in a choked voice.
Sri Maha Periyava, the very epitome of mercy smiled, radiant in divine wisdom.
Source: In the Presence of the Divine