Jan 01, 1970

The concept of Dana (दान) / Charity

Hinduism gives a lot of importance to Dana(giving or charity) and is considered an important part of an individual’s Dharma. Every individual has a Dharma towards family, society and all living things.  Dana (दान) in Sanskrit means giving up the ownership of something, which the provider has acquired as his own and gives it to the recipient without expecting anything in return. Giving in Hinduism can be categorized as of three types: Dakshina, Bhiksha and Dana. Dakshina is like repayment for goods and services received. Bhiksha is giving alms to a person and receiver pays in intangible ways by way of blessings to the giver etc.  When we offer money to priests or beggars in anticipation of seeking blessings, we give Bhiksha. In Dana or charity the receiver has no obligation towards giver. Giver must give dana  to a needy person with pure heart and without any expectation and receiver must take it seriously. If Dana is done with an intention of boasting about it or with some regret then it will have no effect. So Dana is giving with purest of hearts and is total detachment from possessions and expectations.  Hence Dana is different from Dakshina and Bhiksha. As per Hindu mythology and scriptures are seven types of Danas or daans …

  • Bhoomi Daan --- donation of self acquired land.
  • Gau Daan --- donation of a cow
  • Kanya Daan --- donation / giving up ones daughter to a groom
  • Tula Daan --- donation of own material equal to one’s weight
  • Vidya Daan --- donation of teaching someone
  • Deep Daan --- donation of a lamp in temple or house
  • Shaiya Daan --- donation of a bed
Other prominent types of dana are ….
  1. Aahaar Daan … donation of food
  2. Aushadhi daan … donation of medicine
  3. Arth daan … donation of money
Hindu scriptures consider Dana as one of the five elements required for virtuosity and character building namely Tapas (asceticism), Dana(Charity), Arjava(straightforwardness), Ahinsa( non violence) and satya vachana(truthfulness).  Lord Krishna in Shrimad Bhagvad Gita has explained three types of donations ie Sattva(knowledge), Rajas(action) and Tamas(ignorance) and also the importance of Desh kaal Patra in Dana.
  1. Satavic donation:
दातव्यमिति यद्दानं दीयतेऽनुपकारिणे देशे काले पात्रे तद्दानं    सात्त्विकंस्मृतम् (verse-17-20) means charity given to a deserving person with a sense of duty and without expectation of anything in return, at the proper time and in the proper place ( Desh , Kaal , Patra)   (देश, काल, पात्र ) is stated to be in the mode of goodness and is a satvic donation.
  1. Rajasic donation:
यत्तु प्रत्युपकारार्थं लमुद्दिश्य वा पुनः दीयते परिक्लिष्टं तद्दानं राजसं स्मृतम्   (verse-17-21) means charity given with reluctance or with a grudging spirit ( like giving Chanda चंदा)  or with the purpose of mere show or with the expectation of a return or reward  ( like prestige, fame, position, getting heaven etc.) is said to be in the mode of passion and is called Rajasika.
  1. Tamasic donation:
 अदेशकाले यद्दानमपात्रेभ्यश्च दीयते । असत्कृतमवज्ञातं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ॥ (verse-17-22) means charity which is made without good grace and in a disdainful spirit, given at a wrong place at a wrong time to undeserving persons is said to be of the nature of nescience (ignorance) and is called Tamasika. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (17.28) says, “अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं यत् असदित्युच्यते पार्थ तत्प्रेत्य नो इह“ means whatever acts of sacrifice or penance are done or donation or a gift given or whatever good deed is performed, if it is without faith, it is termed as naught i.e., “Asat”. They are useless both in this world and the next. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (verse 5.2.3), it is said that तदेतत्त्रयँ शिक्षेद् दमं दानं दयामिति” meaning learn three cardinal virtues - self-restraint, charity and compassion for all life. In Chandogya Upanishad, it is said that a virtuous life requires: तप (asceticism), दान (charity), अर्जवा (straightforwardness), अहिंसा (non-injury to all sentinent beings) and सत्यवचन (truthfulness). Narad Purana says, as gold is purified in fire, the body is purified by water, the soul is purified by penance and money is purified by donation. God's Nimit devoutly Donation done for God’s Cause (निमित) with reverence is never been wasted. It definitely gives infinite and renewable fruit. Every religion mentions dana or charity and prescribes that a certain percentage of income should be donated. Skanda Puran says one should earmark ten percent of one’s honest earnings for good deeds or works of public benefit. Some occasions are found to highly auspicious such as twelve Sankranti, eclipses, Akshaya Triteeya, etc. Makar Sankranti is considered most auspicious for donations.Specified donations recommended as per panchang (Hindu calendar) for various tithis (dates).Certain donations are designed to placate planets such as Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu etc. Under the Hindu system, the sky is divided into 27 Nakshatras (constellations of stars) apart from 12 zodiac signs.  These Nakshatras are associated with the donation of various items. since donations are recommended at various holy places (teerth) such as Gaya, Prayag, etc. In mahabharta, Yaksha asks a question to Yudhishira: Who is the friend of a person who is on death bed? Yudhisthira answered: Dana ( Charity). A person who does not donate has no real Punya ( पुण्य ) and is forgotten after his death. Dana or daan, in any form, keeps a person alive even after his death. Daan or charity is one of the most important concepts of giving in Hinuism. It helps in improving the life of the giver as well as a receiver. The important element of dana is the satvik Daan ie giving daan with full sincerity, with full and purest of hearts, and without any regrets or doubts or element of expectation
Pradeep Malhotra
Vedic Astrologer (since 1990)
International Certified Consultant - IAF
Brand Ambassador -IAF ( International Astrology Federation Inc-USA)

Jan 01, 1970

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