In Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, dāna is the practice of cultivating generosity. It can take the form of giving to an individual in distress or need. It can also take the form of philanthropic public projects that empower and help many.
Dāna (Sanskrit: दान) means giving, often in the context of donation and charity. In other contexts, such as rituals, it can simply refer to the act of giving something. Dāna is related to and mentioned in ancient texts with concepts of Paropakāra (परोपकार) which means benevolent deed, helping others; Dakshina (दक्षिणा) which means gift or fee one can afford; and Bhiksha (भिक्षा), which means alms.
Dāna has been defined in traditional texts as any action of relinquishing the ownership of what one considered or identified as one's own, and investing the same in a recipient without expecting anything in return.
While dāna is typically given to one person or family, Hinduism also discusses charity or giving aimed at public benefit, sometimes called utsarga. This aims at larger projects such as building a rest house, school, drinking water or irrigation well, planting trees, and building care facility among others.
The Rigveda has the earliest discussion of dāna in the Vedas. The Rigveda relates it to satya "truth" and in another hymn points to the guilt one feels from not giving to those in need. It uses da, the root of word dāna, in its hymns to refer to the act of giving to those in distress. Ralph T. H. Griffith, for example, translates Book 10, Hymn 117 of the Rig veda as follows:
The Gods have not ordained hunger to be our death: even to the well-fed man comes death in varied shape,
The riches of the liberal never waste away, while he who will not give finds none to comfort him,
The man with food in store who, when the needy comes in miserable case begging for bread to eat,
Hardens his heart against him, when of old finds not one to comfort him.
Bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him in want of food, and the feeble,
Success attends him in the shout of battle. He makes a friend of him in future troubles,
No friend is he who to his friend and comrade who comes imploring food, will offer nothing.
Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer pathway,
Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling,
The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food – I speak the truth – shall be his ruin,
He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats with no partaker.
The Upanishads, composed before 500 BCE, present some of the earliest Upanishadic discussion of dāna. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in verse 5.2.3, states that three characteristics of a good, developed person are self-restraint (damah), compassion or love for all sentient life (daya), and charity (dāna).
Chandogya Upanishad, Book III, similarly, states that a virtuous life requires: tapas (asceticism), dāna (charity), arjava (straightforwardness), ahimsa (non-injury to all sentinent beings) and satyavacana (truthfulness).
Bhagavad Gita describes the right and wrong forms of dāna in verses 17.20 through 17.22. It defines sāttvikam (good, enlightened, pure) charity, in verse 17.20, as one given without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person. It defines rajas (passion, ego driven, active) charity, in verse 17.21, as one given with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruits and results, or grudgingly. It defines tamas (ignorant, dark, destructive) charity, in verse 17.22, as one given with contempt, to unworthy person(s), at a wrong place and time. In Book 17, Bhadwad Gita suggests steadiness in sattvikam dāna, or the good form of charity is better; and that tamas should be avoided. These three psychological categories are referred to as the guṇas in Hindu philosophy.
The Adi Parva of the Hindu Epic Mahabharata, in Chapter 91, states that a person must first acquire wealth by honest means, then embark on charity; be hospitable to those who come to him; never inflict pain on any living being; and share a portion with others whatever he consumes. In Chapter 87 of Adi Parva, it calls sweet speech and refusal to use harsh words or wrong others even if you have been wronged, as a form of charity. In the Vana Parva, Chapter 194, the Mahabharata recommends that one must, "conquer the mean by charity, the untruthful by truth, the wicked by forgiveness, and dishonesty by honesty". Anushasana Parva in Chapter 58, recommends public projects as a form of dāna. It discusses the building of drinking water tanks for people and cattle as a noble form of giving, as well as giving of lamps for lighting dark public spaces. In later sections of Chapter 58, it describes planting public orchards, with trees that give fruits to strangers and shade to travelers, as meritorious acts of benevolent charity. In Chapter 59 of Book 13 of the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira and Bhishma discuss the best and lasting gifts between people:
An assurance unto all creatures with love and affection and abstention from every kind of injury, acts of kindness and favor done to a person in distress, whatever gifts are made without the giver's ever thinking of them as gifts made by him, constitute, O chief of Bharata's race, the highest and best of gifts (dāna).
The Bhagavata Purana discusses when dāna is proper and when it is improper. In Book 8, Chapter 19, verse 36 it states that charity is inappropriate if it endangers and cripples modest livelihood of one's biological dependents or of one’s own. Charity from surplus income above that required for modest living is recommended in the Puranas.
Hindu scriptures exist in many Indian languages. For example, the Tirukkuṛaḷ, written between 200 BCE and 400 CE, is one of the most cherished classics on Hinduism written in a South Indian language. It discusses charity, dedicating Chapter 23 of Book 1 on Virtues to it. Tirukkuṛaḷ suggests charity is necessary for an virtuous life and happiness. He states in Chapter 23: "Giving to the poor is true charity, all other giving expects some return"; "Great, indeed, is the power to endure hunger. Greater still is the power to relieve other's hunger"; "Giving alms is a great reward in itself to one who gives". In Chapter 101, he states: "Believing wealth is everything, yet giving away nothing, is a miserable state of mind"; "Vast wealth can be a curse to one who neither enjoys it nor gives to the worthy". Like the Mahabharata, Tirukkuṛaḷ also extends the concept of charity to deeds (body), words (speech) and thoughts (mind). It states that a brightly beaming smile, the kindly light of loving eye, and saying pleasant words with sincere heart is a form of charity that every human being should strive to give.
Dāna is also used to refer to rituals. For example, in a Hindu wedding, kanyādāna (कन्यादान) refers to the ritual where a father gives his daughter's hand in marriage to the groom, after asking the groom to promise that he will never fail in his pursuit of dharma (moral and lawful life), artha (wealth) and kama (love). The groom promises to the bride's father, and repeats his promise three times in presence of all gathered as witness.
Other types of charity includes donating means of economic activity and food source. For example, godāna (donation of a cow), bhudāna (भूदान) (donation of land), and vidyādāna or jñānadāna (विद्यादान, ज्ञानदान): Sharing knowledge and teaching skills, aushadhādāna (औषधदान): Charity of care for the sick and diseased, abhayadāna(अभयदान): giving freedom from fear (asylum, protection to someone facing imminent injury), and anna dāna (अन्नादान): Giving food to the poor, needy and all visitors.
Charity is held as a noble deed in Hinduism, to be done without expectation of any return from those who receive the charity. Some texts reason, referring to the nature of social life, that charity is a form of good karma that affects one's future circumstances and environment, and that good charitable deeds leads to good future life because of the reciprocity principle.
Living creatures get influenced through dānam,
Enemies lose hostility through dānam,
A stranger may become a loved one through dānam,
Vices are killed by dānam.— A Hindu Proverb, 
Other Hindu texts, such as Vyasa Samhita, state that reciprocity may be innate in human nature and social functions but dāna is a virtue in itself, as doing good lifts the nature of one who gives. The texts do not recommend charity to unworthy recipients or where charity may harm or encourage injury to or by the recipient. Dāna, thus, is a dharmic act, requires idealistic-normative approach, and has spiritual and philosophical context. The donor's intent and responsibility for diligence about the effect of dāna on the recipient is considered as important as the dāna itself. While the donor should not expect anything in return with dāna, the donor is expected to make an effort to determine the character of the recipient, likely return to the recipient and to the society. Some medieval era authors state that dāna is best done with shraddha (faith), which is defined as being in good will, cheerful, welcoming the recipient of the charity and giving without anasuya (finding faults in the recipient). These scholars of Hinduism, states Kohler, suggest that charity is most effective when it is done with delight, a sense of "unquestioning hospitality", where the dāna ignores the short term weaknesses as well as the circumstances of the recipient and takes a long term view.
Al-Biruni, the Persian historian, who visited and lived in India for 16 years from about 1017, mentions the practice of charity and almsgiving among Hindus as he observed during his stay. He wrote, "It is obligatory with them (Hindus) every day to give alms as much as possible."
After the taxes, there are different opinions on how to spend their income. Some destine one-ninth of it for alms. Others divide this income (after taxes) into four portions. One fourth is destined for common expenses, the second for liberal works of a noble mind, the third for alms, and the fourth for being kept in reserve.— Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī, Tarikh Al-Hind, 11th century AD
Satrams, called Choultry, Dharamsala or Chathrams in parts of India, have been one expression of Hindu charity. Satrams are shelters (rest houses) for travelers and the poor, with many serving water and free food. These were usually established along the roads connecting major Hindu temple sites in South Asia as well as near major temples.
Hindu temples served as charitable institutions. Burton Stein states that South Indian temples collected donations (melvarum) from devotees, during the Chola dynasty and Vijayanagara Empire periods in 1st millennium through first half of 2nd millennium AD. These dāna were then used to feed people in distress as well as fund public projects such as irrigation and land reclamation.
Mitākṣarā by Vijñāneśvara is an 11th-century canonical discussion and commentary on dāna, composed under the patronage of Chalukya dynasty. The discussion about charity is included in its thesis on ācāra (moral conduct).
Major Sanskrit treatises that discuss ethics, methods and rationale for charity and alms giving in Hinduism include, states Maria Heim, the 12th-century Dāna Kānda "Book of Giving" by Laksmidhara of Kannauj, the 12th-century Dāna Sāgara "Sea of Giving" by Ballālasena of Bengal, and the 14th-century sub-book Dānakhanda in Caturvargacintamani "The Gem of the Four Aims of Human Life" by Hemadiri of Devagiri (modern Daulatabad, Maharashtra). The first two are few hundred page treatises each, while the third is over a thousand-page compendium on charity, from a region that is now part of modern-day eastern Maharashtra and Telangana; the text influenced Hindus of Deccan region and South India from 14th to 19th centuries.
Dāna as a formal religious act is directed specifically to a monastic or spiritually-developed person. In Buddhist thought, it has the effect of purifying and transforming the mind of the giver.
Generosity developed through giving leads to experience of material wealth and possibly being reborn in happy states. In the Pāli Canon's Dighajanu Sutta, generosity (denoted there by the Pāli word cāga, which can be synonymous with dāna) is identified as one of the four traits conditioning happiness and wealth in the next life. Conversely, lack of giving leads to unhappy states and poverty.
Dāna leads to one of the pāramitās or "perfections", the dānapāramitā. This can be characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go.
Buddhists believe that giving without seeking anything in return leads to greater spiritual wealth. Moreover, it reduces the acquisitive impulses that ultimately lead to continued suffering from egotism.
Dana is, as with Hindu texts like Mitaksara and Vahni Purana and in Buddhist texts, described as a virtue and duty in Jainism. It is considered an act of compassion, and must be done with no desire for material gain. Four types of Dana are discussed in the texts of Jainism: Ahara-dana (donation of food), Ausadha-dana (donation of medicine), Jnana-dana (donation of knowledge) and Abhaya-dana (giving of protection or freedom from fear, asylum to someone under threat). Dāna is one of ten means to gain positive karma, in the soteriological theories of Jainism. Medieval era texts of Jainism dedicate a substantial portion of their discussions to the need and virtue of Dāna.
Dāna, called Vand Chhako, is considered one of three duties of Sikhs. The duty entails sharing part of one's earnings with others, by giving to charity and caring for others. Examples of dāna in Sikhism include selfless service and langar.
Abhava means non-existence, negation, nothing or absence. It is the negative of Bhava which means being, becoming, existing or appearance.Akrodha
Akrodha (Sanskrit: अक्रोध) literally means "free from anger". It is considered an important virtue in Indian philosophy.Alms
Alms (, ) or almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue, either materially or in the sense of providing capabilities (e.g. education) free. It exists in a number of religions and regions. The word, in the modern English language, comes from the Old English ælmesse, ælmes, from Late Latin eleemosyna, from Greek ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosynē ("pity, alms"), from ἐλεήμων, eleēmōn ("merciful"), from ἔλεος, eleos ("pity").Annaprashana
The Annaprashana (Sanskrit: अन्नप्राशन, Annaprāśana, Bengali: অন্নপ্রাশন, Onnoprashon) also known as Annaprashana vidhi, Annaprasan or Anna-prasanam or Anna Prashashan, is a Hindu ritual (Saṃskāra) that marks an infant's first intake of food other than milk. The term annaprashan literally means "food feeding" or "eating of food".The Annaprashana, unlike many other Samskaras, remains an important ceremony in modern India.Aparigraha
In Hinduism and Jainism, aparigraha (Sanskrit: अपरिग्रह) is the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness.Aparigrah is the opposite of parigrah, and refers to keeping the desire for possessions to what is necessary or important, depending on one's life stage and context. The precept of aparigraha is a self-restraint (temperance) from the type of greed and avarice where one's own material gain or happiness comes by hurting, killing or destroying other human beings, life forms or nature.Aparigraha is related to and in part a motivator of dāna (proper charity), both from giver's and receiver's perspective.Asteya
Asteya is the Sanskrit term for "non-stealing". It is a virtue in Hinduism . The practice of asteya demands that one must not steal, nor have the intent to steal another's property through action, speech and thoughts.Asteya is considered as one of five major vows of Hinduism and Jainism. It is also considered one of ten forms of temperance (virtuous self-restraint) in Indian philosophy.Bhumika
Bhūmikā (Sanskrit: भूमिका) is derived from the word, Bhūmi, meaning earth, soil, ground orcharacter.Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a humanitarian act. There are a number of philosophies about charity, often associated with religion. Effective altruism is the use of evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others.Damaneh-ye Anjir
Damaneh-ye Anjir (Persian: دامنه انجير, also Romanized as Dāmaneh-ye Anjīr; also known as Dānā Anjīl, Dāna-i-Anjil, and Dāneh-ye Anjīl) is a village in Rabor Rural District, in the Central District of Rabor County, Kerman Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its existence was noted, but its population was not reported.Jain rituals
Jain rituals play an everyday part in Jainism. Rituals take place daily or more often. Rituals include obligations followed by Jains and various forms of idol worships.
Jains rituals can be separated broadly in two parts: Karya (Obligations which are followed) and Kriya (Worships which are performed).Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma (Sanskrit: Naiṣkramya, नैष्काम्य) is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice associated with "Right Intention." In the Theravada list of ten perfections, nekkhamma is the third practice of "perfection." It involves non-attachment (detachment).Prajñā (Buddhism)
Prajñā (Sanskrit) or paññā (Pāli) "wisdom" is insight in the true nature of reality, namely primarily anicca (impermanence), dukkha (dissatisfaction or suffering), and anattā (non-self). In addition, Abhidharma and later Mahāyāna text may include suññatā (Skt; Eng: emptiness).Pāramitā
Pāramitā (Sanskrit, Pali) or pāramī (Pāli) is "perfection" or "completeness". While, technically, pāramī and pāramitā are both Pāli terms, Pali literature makes far greater reference to pāramī.Raghu
Raghu was a ruler of the Ikshvaku dynasty. According to the Raghuvamsha, he was born to the king Dilīpa and his queen Sudakshina. His name in Sanskrit means the fast one, deriving from Raghu's chariot-driving abilities. So celebrated were the exploits of Raghu, that his dynasty itself came to be known as the Raghuvamsha or the Raghukula after him. The history of his dynasty is elaborated upon by Kalidasa in his Raghuvamsha.
After acceding to the throne, he expanded his kingdom in all four directions. Later, on the instruction of his Guru Vashistha, he performed Vishwajit Yajna and gave all his wealth as Dāna. After completion of Yajna when all the wealth was given as Dāna, Sage Kautsa, a disciple of Vartantu came, to whom Raghu asked, "what should be given to him as Guru-Dakshina?", to which Kautsa replied, "your Seva would suffice". Kautsa became furious when Raghu persisted repeatedly and said to him, "having learnt 14 Vidyas from me, you must give me 14 koti gold coins as Guru-Dakshina". Raghu, being a man of his words, asked him to rest in his palace and assured him of giving the Guru-Dakshina within a day.
Raghu commanded his army to gear up for invasion to Loka of Kubera on the following morning. When he was heading towards the Kuber Loka, his treasurer came to him and told him that Kubera, by the virtue of fear of Raghu, rained gold coins last night. Hence, Raghu gave those gold coins as Guru-Dakshina to Sage Kautsa and fulfilled his Vachan.Rama Navami
Rama Navami is a spring Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of lord Rama.
He is particularly important to the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu. The festival celebrates the descent of god Vishnu as Rama avatar, through his birth to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. The festival is a part of the spring Navratri, and falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) in the Hindu calendar month of Chaitra. This typically occurs in the Gregorian months of March or April every year. Rama Navami is an optional government holiday in India.The day is marked by Rama Katha recitals, or reading of Rama stories. Ramayana and Mahabharata are considered Itihasa by Indian traditions. Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple, others pray within their home, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti. Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of the infant Rama, washing it and clothing it, then placing it in a cradle. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting).The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and Sita Samahit Sthal (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi (Bihar), Janakpurdham (Nepal), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Kodandarama Temple, Vontimitta (Andhra Pradesh) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu). Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.Sacca
Sacca (Pāli; Sanskrit Satya) word meaning "real" or "true". In early Buddhist literature, sacca is often found in the context of the "Four Noble Truths", a crystallization of Buddhist wisdom. In addition, sacca is one of the ten pāramitās or "most high" a bodhisatta must develop in order to become a Buddha.Upekkha
Upekkhā (in Pali: upekkhā उपेक्खा; Sanskrit: upekṣā उपेक्षा), is the Buddhist concept of equanimity. As one of the Brahma Vihara (meditative states), it is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna.Vīrya
Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pāli: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.Śrāvaka (Jainism)
In Jainism, the word Śrāvaka or Sāvaga (from Jain Prakrit) is used to refer the Jain laity (householder). The word śrāvaka has its roots in the word śrāvana, i.e. the one who listens (the discourses of the saints).The tirthankara restores or organises the sangha, a fourfold order of muni (male monastics), aryika (female monastics), śrāvakas (male followers) and śrāvikās (female followers).In Jainism, two kinds of votaries are there:-
The householder (one with minor vows)
The homeless ascetic (one with major vows)
According to Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya:Ascetics who establish themselves in pure and absolute consciousness observe complete abstinence. Those who practice the path of partial abstinence are called Śrāvaka.
Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, a major Jain text discusses the conduct of a Śrāvaka in detail.
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