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(43) ‘Daan’ – Give with a Generous Heart

‘Daan’ – Give with a Generous Heart

What is Daan?
In Sanskrit charity is called daan. The giver should give daan with a pure heart and the taker too should receive it with a glad heart. Otherwise, the shastras warn that both of them will go to hell. So, daan is not made on a take-it or leave-it basis.

What do Vedas say about Daan?
Helping those in need is the essence of daan. It could be one who is hungry, in need of knowledge, land or protection from danger. Feeding the hungry or teaching someone the Vedas are said to be the best types of daan. If a hungry man comes to your door, he comes as your guest. He is considered a deva. We have many stories in ancient lore when a poor family would rather starve than turn away a beggar. They would put whatever food they had in his begging bowl. That is the true spirit of daan.

Who is great Danvir?
In the Mahabharata we have the tragic story of Karna, who was called Danvir Karna. He would give away whatever was asked of him. Karna’s mother Kunti had a boon from rishi Durvasa, who was known for his anger. But he was pleased by her welcome. The boon was that she could get a child from any deva. She was unmarried at that time. Being a mere girl, she wanted to test the rishi’s word. So she called Surya deva. Lo! He appeared before her. His present to Kunti was a beautiful child complete with armour. No weapon could kill him. After the present, Surya disappeared. Kunti felt sorry for what she had done. So she put the child Karna in a basket and set it afloat in the river Ganga. A childless charioteer found the basket and raised Karna as his own son.

After a few years Kunti married King Pandu. With his consent she had other sons by other devas, five in all. One of them Arjuna was the gift of Indra. Only the devas, Kunti and her husband knew of the secret of their birth. There was rivalry between Arjuna and Karna. Indra appeared before Karna and asked for his armour. Karna cut off his skin and presented him the armour. That is the ultimate in daan!

How Should one feel which giving Daan?
We also had a great emperor called Harsha. He would distribute his wealth once in five years. Then he would start all over again and amass wealth and again give away after five years. When you give something to somebody you should feel extremely happy. That is true daan.


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