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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."
In [Padm Puraan, 3/5] Vyaas Jee says "Now I tell you about Daan Dharm. This was told by Brahmaa Jee to Rishi. Giving money or anything to a worthy person is called Daan (donation). Daan is of four types - Nitya (daily), Naimittik (for some purpose), Kaamya (with wish), and Vimal (clean). Vimal Daan is the best among all Daan. To give something daily to a Braahman who has not done any thing for the person, without any desire, is called Nitya Daan. Whatever Daan is given to a learned Braahman to pacify sins, is called Naimittik Daan. This is also a good Daan. Whatever Daan is given with a wish - to have health, wealth, children etc, that is called Kaamya Daan. And whatever Daan is given with a religious mind, without any wish, just to please Bhagavaan is called Vimal Daan.

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.
--If, on Vaishaakh Poornimaa, after taking bath, one keeps fast, and worships 5 or 7 Braahman with black sesame seeds and honey with the feeling that Dharm Raaj will be happy with that. This destroys his all sins committed in the whole life. 
--If, on Vaishaakh Poornimaa, somebody donates a pitcher full of water along with Ann and Ghee, he becomes free from all kinds of fear. 
--If, on Maagh Amaavasyaa, somebody donates anything to a Tapaswee Braahman in the name of Vishnu, his all sins committed in seven lives are immediately destroyed.
--If, on Krishn Paksh Ashtamee, or Chaturdashee or Amaavasyaa, somebody, after taking bath and feeding a Braahman, worships Shiv, he never comes back in this world.
--Who keeps fast on Ekaadashee and feeds Braahman on Dwaadashee, he attains Parampad. Shukla Paksh Dwaadashee is Vishnu's Tithi, so one should worship Vishnu by all means on that day.

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.

Specific Daan

There are some specific Daan -

(1) Bhoomi Daan - When one donates land to somebody, it is called Bhoomi Daan.
(2) Gau Daan - When one donates cow, normally to Braahman, it is called Go Daan. People normally do it at the time of their death or with some purpose.
(3) Kanyaa Daan - When one gives his daughter to groom without taking anything, it is called Kanyaa Daan.
(4) Tulaa Daan - When one gives the material equal to one's weight, it is called Tulaa Daan
(5) Vidyaa Daan - When one teaches somebody without taking anything, it is called Vidyaa Daan.
(6) Deep Daan - Lighting a lamp or many lamps in a temple, or on a crossroad, or under a Peepal or Banyan tree is called Deep Daan. It is especially beneficial in Kaartik month.
(7) Gauree Daan -
(8) Shayyaa Daan - donating bedding

Three types of Daan are called "Ati Daan" (the highest Daan) --
Gau Daan (cow donation); 
Bhoomi Daan (land donaion);   and
Vidyaa Daan (to educate somebody) - To donate books is like Vidyaa Daan
One should donate something on these days -
Dhanu (Sagittarius), Mithun (Gemini), Meen (Pisces) and Kanya (Virgo) signs Sankraanti are called Shadasheeti; and
Vrish (Taurus) Vrishchik (Scorpio), Kumbh (Aquarius), and Sinh (Leo) signs Sankraanti are called Vishnupadee.

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.
The Triteeyaa (third day) of Shukla Paksh of Maagh Maas is called Manvantar Tithi. Who donates anything on that day, it is all indestructible."
[Padm Puraan, 1/32]

Donate warm clothes in winter - you will never get sick

Some Questions About Donation
The first question is when should one give? - We all know the famous incident from the Mahaabhaarat. Yudhishthir, asks a beggar seeking alms to come the next day. On this, Bheem rejoicing said, "It seems that Yudhishthir has conquered his death! For he is sure that he will be around tomorrow to give alms to that beggar." Yudhishthir gets the message. One does not know really whether one will be there tomorrow to give! The time to give therefore is now.

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 :
Paanee Baadhe Naav mein, Ghar mein Baadhe Daam,
Dono haath uleechiye, yah sadguru kaa Kaam
"When water fills a boat, and when the wealth increases in the house, Throw them out with both hands"

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).
Giving food to the hungry people (Anna Daan) is a highly extolled virtue. (see Rig Ved - 10.117).
Daan is a religious duty which helps one to conquer the greedy nature.
It is divine quality as indicated in the Bhagavad Geetaa (see. Geetaa 16.1. and 17.20-22).
The Dharm Shaastra and the Puraan have worked out the details of Daan.

There are four categories in the Daan -
1. Nitya Daan - eg Anna Daan.
2. Occasional - gifting useful things on occasions like eclipses etc,
3. During rituals as a part of Kaamya Karm - cows etc,
4. Gifts to saintly persons to please God. (also called Nirmal 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.
He should not gift beyond his means thus putting his dependents to trouble. (a limit of 10 percent of the earnings is fixed).
The receiver should be really in need. If the wealth being given is earned in an unrighteous way, it should not be received.
Individuals with evil characters - gamblers , cheats, drunkards, criminals etc, are not supposed to give Daan.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/14/11