Daan (August 2014)

Continuing on the theme of the year articulating different attributes that define human character per Hinduism, this month we will cover Daan (Donation). In the series of virtuous acts, Daan comes in the top category. In the Hinduism, Daan is considered ‘axis of religion’ and first step on the path of religious obedience. The donation is highly esteemed as a righteous act in almost every religion of the world.
The literal meaning of the word daan is to relinquish ownership of something and to hand it over to a worthy and deserving entity. In other words, daan is to avail needed things to justifiable causes without expecting anything in return.
It is Daan that forms the basis on which Grihastha Ashram supports the other three (Brahamcharya, Sanyaas, and Vaanprasth Ashrams). With daan, grihasti (married, earning people) patronize spiritual advancements.
Daan is also considered a Godly act. God is the biggest donor: While God is the ultimate owner of everything visible and invisible, He is continuously sharing His objects with us in direct and indirect manners without any expectation. In giving with the true spirit of daan, humans can get closer to God.
In the act of donating, one must make sure to not have any desire for any tangible or intangible gift in return. By expecting specific gifts, be it material gains like physical wealth or immaterial gains like praise and fame, we may get the desired results, but in doing so we lose the sap of the pure act. Instead, it should be considered a deposit of good karma in our account with God. God is just and he bestows good results for good acts. When, how, and in what form we get results should be left to God.
Without thinking deep one may consider that only physical objects can be offered in daan; it cannot be farther from the truth. Daan could be of different forms and factors: physical object like money, food, gifts; physical acts like helping needy, volunteering in hospitals, orphanages; and, spiritual acts like wishing others well, silently praying are all different forms of daan.
This month, while discussing the topic, let’s use this as an opportunity to reinforce the true meaning and spirit of daan in our kids.
Harsh Mendiratta