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See Akshaya Daan Tithi Agni Puraan, 24 (good to read);
Charity. Donation. Alms. Whatever is given to Braahman, beggar, needy, poor people without taking anything in its exchange, is called Daan.
Types of Daan
Saatwik Daan - In whichever country, at whichever time, whatever thing is in scarce, giving the same to the needy people without expecting anything is called Saatwik Daan. In whichever country, whichever thing is scarce, the same thing is considered worth giving to serve people.
Many people give Daan with many intentions - some give with their heart, some give with force, some give with grace, some give with shame, some give with fear, and some give because of vow.
When to Donate
In [Padm Puraan, 2/6], Vishnu says to Vane - "There are three timings for Daan - Nitya Daan (done daily), Naimittik Daan (done for some purpose), and Kaamya Daan (done to fulfill some wish). Its fourth time is Praayik Daan (related to death).
(1) Nitya Daan - Who offers even water to see my part Soorya rising in the morning, one cannot praise enough his Nitya Karm which gives him lot of Punya. At that time who takes bath, worships Pitar and Devtaa and donates Ann, water, fruits, flower, clothes, betel leaf, ornament, gold according to one's capacity, its fruit is limitless. Who donates food items at noon or afternoon, he also collects lots of Punya. Therefore one should donate something all the three times of the day. No day should be free from Daan. If somebody doesn't donate food for one fortnight or one month, I also keep him starving for the same time. I give him such a disease that he cannot enjoy anything. Who has not donated anything, he should keep many fasts.
(2) Naimittik Daan - Now I tell you Naimittik time. Amaavasyaa; Poornimaa; Ekaadashee; Sankraanti; Vyateepaat and Vaidhriti named Yog; Maagh, Aashaadh, Vaishaakh and Kaartik Poornimaa; Somvatee Amaavasyaa, Yug starting Tithi, Gajachchhaayaa (Aashwin Krishn Trayodashee); father's death date are said Naimittik times for Daan. Who donates anything in my name, I give him many things.
(3) Kaamya Daan - When a Daan is given in the name of Vrat and Devtaa with the wish to fulfill some desire, that is called Kaamya time for Daan.
Now I tell you about Aabhyudaayik Daan time - all auspicious
occasions, marriage time, the rites times of a newborn baby, the time
consecration of temple, Devtaa, pond, well, garden etc are said to be
Aabhyudaayik times for Daan. This Daan gives all kinds of Siddhi. One should
donate at the time of death knowing one's body mortal. This Daan gives
comforts on the way to Yam Lok."
Whenever one gets a worthy person, he must donate him
something according to one's capacity. Whatever remains from one's family,
one should donate only that thing. If something is donated before that,
that Daan doesn't give Daan's fruits. One must donate to a person who
studies Ved, or who belongs to a noble family, or who is polite, or who is
a Tapaswee, or who is a poor. Bhoomi Daan (donation of land) is the
greatest Daan. Only Ann Daan can be compared with it. Who donates Vidyaa
to a religious Braahman, he goes to Brahm Lok. Who donates Ann to a
Grihasth Braahman, he attains good Lok.
Whatever Daan is given in the name of Vishnu and Shiv, its fruit is
eternal. Whoever wishes to worship whoever Devtaa, he should worship Braahman in his
name, this pleases that Devtaa. Devtaa live on the basis of Braahman's body. Where
Braahman are not available, there Devtaa live in idols. Idols give fruit very late,
so one should worship Braahman only.
There are some specific Daan -
(1) Bhoomi Daan - When one donates land to somebody, it is called Bhoomi Daan.
Three types of
Daan are called "Ati Daan" (the highest Daan) --
Any Punya Karm (Daan etc) done in
Shadsheeti Sankraanti gives 86,000 times fruits; and in Vishnupadee Sankraanti
gives 100,000 (1 Lakh) times, and on Uttaraayan and Dakshinaayan Sankraanti gives
millions of times. This Punya Karm, done on Uttaraayan and Dakshinaayan Sankraanti
is eternal. On Makar (Capricorn) Sankraanti, in January, one should take bath before
sunrise - this gives the fruit of 10,000 cows donation.
Donate warm clothes in winter - you will never get sick
The next question is how much to give - One recalls the famous incident from history. Raanaa Prataap was reeling after defeat from the Mugal king. He had lost his army, he had lost his wealth, and most importantly he had lost hope, his will to fight. At that time in his darkest hour, his erstwhile minister Bhaamaa Shaah came seeking him and placed his entire fortune at the disposal of Raanaa Prataap. With this, Raanaa Prataap raised an army and lived to fight another day. This incident answers to this question how much to give is "Give as much as you can!
The next question is what to give - It is not only money that can be given. It could be a flower or even a smile. It is not how much one gives but how one gives that really matters. When you give a smile to a stranger that may be the only good thing received by him in days and weeks! Or you may give your company to a lonely person for some time, he needs it at that time. So you can give anything but you must give with your heart!
One also needs to answer to this question whom to give - Many times we avoid giving by finding fault with the person who is seeking. However, being judgmental and rejecting a person on the presumption that he may not be the most deserving candidate for his donation is not justified. Give without being judgmental, but if you can give anything to a needy person, that is most appropriate.
Next we have to answer how to give - Coming to the manner of giving, one has to ensure that the receiver does not feel humiliated, nor does the giver feel proud by giving it. In giving follow the advice, Let not your left hand know what your right hand gives? Charity without publicity and fanfare is the highest form of charity. Give it quietly! While giving, let not the recipient feel small or humiliated. After all what we give never really belonged to us. We come to this world with nothing and will go with nothing. The things gifted to us here were only with us for a temporary period (till our life existed). So why then take pride in giving away something which really did not belong to us? Give with grace and with a feeling of gratitude. When you help someone in need, give it before he asks for it; for if you place him under the necessity of stretching out his hand, you take away from him his self-respect which is worth more than the value of your alms. I this regard, there is a dialog in MBH serial by Chopra, Draupadee said in Viraat's court - "I am the wife of those five Gandharv who gave the things so much to needy people, without their asking, so that the don't feel embarrassment of asking and they can enjoy it for several generations." This should be the spirit of giving.
What should one feel after giving? - We all know the story of Eklavya. When Dronaachaarya asked him for his right thumb as "Guru Dakshinaa", he unhesitatingly cut off his thumb and gave it to Dronaachaarya. There is a little known sequel to this story, that later Eklavya was asked whether he ever regretted the act of giving away his thumb, he replied, and the reply has to be believed to be true, because it was asked when he was dying, "Yes! I regretted this only once in my life. It was when Paandav were coming to kill Dronaachaarya who was broken hearted on the false news of death of his son Ashwatthaamaa and had stopped fighting. It was then that I regretted the loss of my thumb. If my thumb were there, no one could have dared hurt my Guru." The message to us is clear. Give and never regret giving!
And the last question is How much should we provide for our heirs? - Ask yourself 'are we taking away from them the gift of work'? - A source of happiness! The answer is given by Warren Buffet: "Leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing!
So let us learn the Art of Giving, by quoting Sant Kabeer :
The concept of Daan in the form of
Dakshinaa to the priests, cows etc., to deserving
persons is mentioned in the Rig Ved itself. (see Rig Ved - 1.125.6).
There are four categories in the Daan -
While the gift of knowledge (Vidyaa Daan) - especially spiritual wisdom - is considered the highest, gift of cows (Go Daan) and gift of gold (Hiranya Daan) are considered special.
It is prescribed that any Daan should not be given with ostentation, rather it should be given unknown to others. It is said that what the right hand has given, even the left hand should not know it. And he must have Shraddhaa in giving.
The giver should have acquired the wealth by right means.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/14/11