Importance of Charity/Donation in Vedic Shastras
Our Vedic Shastras say that Daana or Charity is the friend of a dying person. This was one of the famous answers of King Yudhishthira to Yaksha, in Mahabharatha.
Charity attracts Punya or Good Karma.
After death, the soul sojourns in Punya Loka, if on earth it has accumulated sufficient good karma.
What is good karma?
Not all karma generates Punya (good results).
Some activities might look generous, but may not necessarily qualify as a good karma.
For example, Many people consider charity to be a worthwhile activity. In fact, they encourage others too, to donate.
Well, it is.
But, there are certain parameters that need to be in place before we could really classify charity as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Which Donation is Bad & Which one is Good?
Some characteristics of good charity, which attracts Punya or (good merit) are:
1) It should be selfless and not be publicized.
Talking about your charitable activities does not call for Punya. You immediately encash your good deeds, the moment you publicize it.
Your charitable activity brings you temporary or perhaps seemingly permanent fame.
So, you’ll not gain any after-life benefit by donating thus.
2) The charity should be made to a reliable person, organization, or firm.
If you know for a 100% that your money is being spent for a noble cause then go for it and if not sure, don’t donate!
Many times we feel it is ‘donation’ that accumulates Punya.
But, Vedic scriptures say ‘No’. Punya is not easy to accumulate.
“A whole lot of effort goes into collecting Punya”, say the scriptures.
When you donate to someone or somebody, it means you are taking responsibility for that person.
We take responsibility for our family because we interact with each member of the house. We are aware of everyone.
Donation means acceptance
A donation, in Vedic terms, means acceptance. You accept the person as your own when you donate.
Because, of your selfless acceptance, you earn Punya.
When you help someone in need, you share what you have.
For this service, nature adds Punya into your account.
So it is not the action, but your degree of acceptance.
Just throwing a coin at a poor fellow will not earn you Punya.
Our Vedic scriptures do not recommend donating money to unreliable people, especially those who are imposters.
It asks us to help or do charity in terms of clothes, food, and other articles, and not money.
Money has a power to attract vibrations.
Donating Money to poor… Is it Good?
Suppose you donate money to a poor street boy.
You will expect him to spend that money on his meals. But, what if he doesn’t?
The holy scriptures recommend that we take complete responsibility for our charity.
We must ensure that the money is spent on food or other survival needs and not elsewhere.
When Giving Becomes Sin
If the street boy gambles or smokes with your money, you get to suffer. In such a case, you do not accumulate Punya, but only paapa ( or bad results).
You get paapa because you made a half-hearted donation.
You failed to take responsibility of that money.
Money is not ours, but God’s, given for a purpose.
So, we must ensure that people do not spend the donated money, a gift of God on unrighteous activities.
If we successfully keep up the rules of charity, we accumulate Good Merit, or Punya .
The Shastras point out charity as the ideal friend of a dying person. Because, it counts as good karma, thereby helping the person progress by granting him/her a suitable body.
Charity comes along with the soul
When we go to our neighbour’s house we wear our slippers. When we go to the market, we wear our slippers plus we carry cash to purchase goodies.
But, when going for vacations, we additionally carry luggage.
Our load keeps increasing when traveling to farther places on Earth. When we shift to a new residence, we almost carry the entire house with us.
In, the longest journey, that is from Earth to other celestial realms, we carry nothing. The house we own and the family we loved will be left on earth. We travel alone.
However, only the merits and demerits we accumulated throughout our life that come along with us on our journey.
Based on our good and bad deeds, we are sent to specific lokas.
Good deeds reserve our stay in lokas like Swarga loka (heaven) while bad deeds attract suffering in Pataal loka (hellish planet).
Varnashrama Dharma is Most Recommended
It is simply understood that Daan is a Dharma (or a fundamental principle) to live a peaceful life. Dharma relates to Varnashrama Dharma.
Varnashrama Dharma grants purity of intention and thought to the practitioner. By following it we get purified at the mental and physical platforms.
With this purified mind and body one can engage in spiritual activities or Upasana.
By doing Upasana we further purify our mind from its impurities and flood it with Pure Knowledge (Jnana) and Spiritual Emotions (Bhakti).
These clubbed up together pave our way out of this body and sets us on the Archaradi Margam (or the path leading to Vaikunta, spiritual world).
Thus, Daana Dharma is the stepping stone of spirituality.
Do not procrastinate, Do it Early
However, people procrastinate Daana. At the time of death, nobody remains with us. It is only our papa and Punya that come along.
If we don’t engage in Daana, early in life, then we are playing the biggest pranks on ourselves.
Dana cannot happen at the time of death unless one has made it a habit. Habits form over a long time.
Without practicing Daana early in life, it is impossible to donate when one is on his/her death bed.
In fact, this is the most difficult thing to do at the time of death as one is unable to accept death as the ultimate reality.
Even when confronting death, one has the false ray of hope that again, this time I might survive.
This notion itself indicates that one will never selflessly donate as acceptance of death, or impermanence is nil.
We attach emotions to our house, spouse, children, friends, etc, and thus fail to look at the other side of life as we are in the tight clasp of attachment.
Thus, Daana is not a ritual to be performed on the deathbed. It must be practiced from childhood if possible.
We cannot keep Daana for the future as our own attachment stands as a roadblock towards the path of our well-being.
What we followed throughout our life, comes to fruition at the time of death.
Thanks for reading!