Giving is the most precious human act. It is all about creating a sustainable environment in which every human being can survive and thrive. The art of giving teaches us to help others, especially those who are less fortunate, without expecting anything in return. All the activities of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) uphold this very spirit of giving.
We are a non-profitable charitable organization meant for the spiritual and ethical welfare of everyone who is seeking the path of righteousness. From the welfare of the elderly to cow protection, from helping married couples to imparting the right kind of education to children, ISKCON has been involved in social welfare activities that touch every aspect of human life.
What is the Art of Giving?
The art of giving is all about charity done without expecting anything in return. This charity is mainly to create a world of abundance and sustainability for people who are less fortunate than us. ‘Daan’ or the act of giving is of tremendous importance in Sanatan Dharma and has been in prevalence right from the time of the Vedas.
The act of giving takes myriad forms. There is bhiksha (the act of giving alms), paropakar (an act of generosity), and dakshina (a gift given without expecting anything in return).
Each of these acts is suffused with meanings. While an act of charity may be good for one individual, it may also be meant for the greater public good.
Ancient Sanatan Dharma scriptures emphasize the charitable acts done for the greater good of the society. Kings and statesmen used to give land in favor of temples, build dams and irrigation projects, plant trees, and feed the hungry and the poor.
Why is it Important to give?
All Holy Scriptures give a lot of importance to the art of giving. The Bhagavad Gita states that we should perform charity in the proper place and at the proper time. Offerings should be made to the person who is in need, without any selfish motive to receive something in return.
A selfless act like charity is important because it helps in reducing the attachment to the material world. Gaudiya Vaishnavism believes that we all form a false attachment with meaningless material objects that create an illusion (Maya), which stops us from attaining salvation.
Therefore, charity is important as it enables us, to let go, of our attachments. There are many other benefits as well. An act of giving fosters positive sentiments and fills the heart with the love for other people.
What is the Essence of Sharing and Giving?
Giving and sharing are based on the principle of altruism or in other words, the spirit of giving without expecting anything in return. Sharing your blessings with others helps in preparing yourself for the ultimate act of charity, i.e. giving.
Giving not only leads to peace of mind but also gives your soul transcendental joy, which is essential for attaining salvation.
What is the Difference Between Sharing and Giving?
Sharing is often the first step toward giving. Sharing prepares your soul for the act of letting go, of giving up. From feeding the hungry to donating alms to the poor, every single act of kindness is important.
But the question is, how much should you give? According to the Skanda Purana, from the wealth that you create through rightful means, you should give away 10% in charity. However, charity is a deeply personal thing.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to how much charity should be undertaken. Many people have given billions of Dollars in charity worldwide. Charity, when offered freely from the heart without any hope of reciprocity, gives immense joy and pleasure to the soul.
What does God say about giving?
In the above paragraphs, various scriptures have been quoted. The art of giving is the ultimate form of achieving the love of the Divine. Kindness and generosity both go a long way in ensuring spiritual well being.
Kind words and gestures, when spoken or made, without any hope of reciprocation, bring true joy and spiritual harmony. A small single act of kindness brings about a big positive change in the lives of both the giver and the receiver. Undoubtedly, acts of kindness bring joy forever.
The art of giving holds a special significance in this age. We must give, to the people in need, whether they are suffering due to natural disasters, war, poverty, or disease. We can provide them with food, shelter, medical aid, and other crucial things, which they need to lead their lives with dignity.