Many people have written about Bhagavan's dislike of wasting anything useful. This habit was often on display in the kitchen. Once, as the midday meal was being prepared, a few mustard seeds fell on the ground. The cooks ignored them but Bhagavan picked them up one by one with his fingernails and put them in a small pot.

Sama lyer, one of the brahmins who worked in the kitchen, remarked,

'Bhagavan is taking these few mustard seeds and saving them: Bhagavan is also very miserly about saving money. For whom is Bhagavan saving all this?'

'All these things are created by God,' replied Bhagavan. 'We should not waste even small things. If it is useful for someone, it is good to keep it.

Bhagavan often ignored our many faults but he rarely kept quiet if he witnessed any devotees being wasteful. In June 1939, when Bhagavan was returning from one of his walks on the hill. I saw him accost the son of T.K. Sundaresa lyer and give him a stern lecture.

'Your father tells me that you are buying many useless things,' said Bhagavan. 'Don't spend in excess of your income. You must be thrifty. Fire, debt, sense objects, and poison. Even a drop of any of these is capable of destroying us.'

Bhagavan once gave me a similar lecture while I was supervising the construction of the new dining room. He had given me a rusty, bent 11/2 inch nail and asked me to clean it, straighten it, and use it in the dining room.

But Bhagavan,' I protested, 'we have just received many kilos of brand-new nails. We don't need to use old ones like this.'

Bhagavan disagreed. After telling me that everything that was useful should be used, he repeated his instructions about renovating the nail.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan (72)