23-Art of Giving
"Rivers do not drink their own water, nor do tree eat their own fruits,
nor do rain clouds eat the grains reared by them. The wealth of the noble is
used solely for the benefit of others. Even after accepting that "giving
is good" and that one must learn to give, several questions need to be
The first question is when should one give?
We all know the famous incident from the Mahaabhaarat. Once Yudhishthir,
asked a beggar seeking alms to come the next day. At this, Bheem rejoiced
saying that Yudhishthir, his brother, has conquered the Death, for he is
sure that he will be around tomorrow to give. Yudhishthir gets the message.
One does not know really whether one will be there tomorrow to give or not,
so the time to give is NOW.
The next question is how much to give?
One recalls the famous incident from history about this. Raanaa Prataap was
reeling after defeat from the Mugals. He had lost his army, he had lost his
wealth, and most important he had lost hope, his will to fight. At that time in
his darkest hour, his erstwhile minister Bhaamaashah 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. So the answer 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,
or even a little time, or little help, or a little inspiration, or a
little consolation. It is not how much one gives but how one gives that also
matters a lot. When you give a smile to a stranger that may be the only good
thing received by him in days and weeks! "You can give anything but you
must give it with your heart.
To 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 person to get anything is not justified.
Give unconditional, without being judgmental.
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. I remember MBH Serial's
one dialog of Draupdee said in Viraat's court, "I am the wife of those five
Gandharv who give the people so much without asking, that the askers do not
feel embarrassment of asking." What an idea of giving alms? It should be
like that, whether it is a beggar or an Atithi. Thus in giving one should 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 quietly
and more then one needs".
While giving let not the recipient feel lower or humiliated. After all what
we give never really belonged to us. We come to this world with nothing and
will go with nothing. All the things we have, are only with us for a temporary
period temporary use. 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.
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 the thumb and
gave it to Dronaachaarya. There is a little known sequel to this story. 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, as it was asked from him when he was
dying. His reply was "Yes, I regretted this only once in my life. It was when
Paandav were coming in 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 the thumb was there, no one could have dared
to hurt my Guru."
The message to us is clear. Give and never regret giving, rather think that if you
could give him more...
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 - Karm Yog?" -
A source of happiness! The answer is given by Warren Buffett: "Leave your kids
enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing."
I would conclude by saying: let us learn the Art of Giving, and quoting Sant Kabeer:
"When the wealth in the house increases, when water fills a boat, Throw them out
with both hands "
Paanee Baadhe Naav mein, Ghar mein baadhe Daam
Dono Haath Uleechiye, yah Santon kaa kaam