article24There once lived a wealthy man who was extremely stingy. He would never share anything with anyone .One day he had a strong urge to eat kheer (an Indian dessert), but he did not want to share it with anyone. So he gathered all the ingredients and went deep into a jungle to enjoy his kheer all by himself. The aroma of the delicacy wafted down to a sage who was sleeping nearby.  Drawn by the aroma the sage reached the spot where this man was cooking. The sage promised the man a mantra to secure unending wealth in exchange for some kheer. After weighing his pros and cons the miser reluctantly convinced himself to share the kheer. The sage tasted it and exclaimed ‘its out of this world’. Overjoyed by this praise the miser offered him some more. The more the sage enjoyed the kheer, the more pleasure the miser got in sharing it.  He had never known this joy before. All thoughts of wealth were forgotten. That is the beauty of sharing. It benefits the giver more than the receiver. That is why charity is considered a virtue.

Charity is a form of seva or service to people. Giving money is not the only form of charity. Sharing food, giving knowledge, or even sharing a genuine smile is considered seva. One of the best forms of charity is imparting knowledge or helping someone find a job. As the proverb goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you teach him for a lifetime.”Knowledge is neither wasted nor depleted. When you share knowledge it remains with the person for life. Seva should be provided in such a way that it benefits the person overall. Sometimes a person becomes dependent if you keep fullfilling his materialistic demands. Instead one must do seva that makes a person’s life meaningful and complete.

Invariably when we help someone we expect atleast a thank you. We feel hurt when we do not receive gratitude or appreciation. But charity has to be forgotten the very minute it is done. If you remind yourself and to the world of how much you have helped, then the value of it is lost. People provide hefty donations to temples with the only expectation of receiving darshans by preference. This is not charity but it is a form of bribery.

My Guru Shri Dadashriji says that any help given to anyone, may it be big or small, with an ulterior motive is not considered charity. What intention we have in doing charity matters most. For some people charity may not come from the heart and there is nothing wrong in that. For such people I would suggest start the practice with no intention and see how you will slowly draw pleasure from giving. Anything that gives you happiness becomes addictive and then giving will naturally become a part of you.

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