What is the importance of donation (daan) (charity) in Hinduism (Shatanika and Sahasranika story) | Types of daan (donations) in Hinduism | What is the biggest donation in Hinduism?

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Just before moving towards to know about “What is the importance of donation (daan) (charity) in Hinduism (Shatanika and Sahasranika story) | Types of daan (donations) in Hinduism | What is the biggest donation in Hinduism?“, let us know a brief, basic and very important information.

Let’s understand about ‘importance of donation in Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma)’ through a story as given in our shastras (Hindu Texts).

In the region named Jambudvipa, there used to be a King named Shatanika. He was the best among warriors. But he was also very Dharmic (righteous). He donated alms and treated all his guests well. Every day, the needy received gold and clothes from Shatanika.

When Shatanika died, his son Sahasranika became king. Sahasranika also ruled well and with righteousness. But he did not donate as much of alms to the needy as his father used to. People took their complaint to the king and said, You do not give as much of alms to us as your father used to.

Many poor have already left your kingdom. So will the others, unless you increase the alms you give us. “I have indeed heard that the donation of alms to needy brings punya (good needs)”, replied Sahasranika.

“I have also heard that all this punya (good deeds) takes one to Swarga Loka (Heaven) after death, until the time one has to be born again. Since my father accumulated all this punya (good deeds) by donating alms to needy, he must be in heaven. You are all learned Brahmanas (Brahmins). Why don’t you tell me where my father is right now?”

The Brahmanas (Brahmins) could not reply. They had no idea where Shatanika was. But later on, they met a learned sage named Bhargava. Bhargava was so powerful that the brahmanas were sure that he would be able to tell where Shatanika was.

They begged Bhargava to help them. Bharagava was not very interested in helping the brahmanas. Bhargava was busy meditating and had no desire to waste his time on idle pursuits like finding out where dead people were.

But the brahmanas kept begging him and Bhargava eventually agreed. Lord Sri Surya (Sun God) himself led the way and, following the Sun God, Bhargava went all the way to Lord Sri Yama’s abode. It was a long distance away.

The Sun God led Bhargava straight to where the twenty-eight crores of Narakas (Hells) were. The wailings of sinners who were being punished could be heard. Before they could go any further, their way was barred by a brahmana.

“Bhargava,” said the Brahmana, “You owe me a coin for services rendered. You have not paid this and I am dead. Pay me the coin and only then can you proceed further.”

“I am not carrying any coins with me,” replied Bhargava. “When I return home, I will collect a coin and bring it back to you. Now let me move forward.”

“Nonsense,” said the Brahmana. “This is Naraka (Hell). Here payments are strictly on a cash basis. There is no question of paying up later. Pay or you shall not proceed.”

“If you do not have any coins, why then, pay me one-sixth of all the punya (good deeds) that you have earned through your mediations.” continued the Brahmana.

Bhargava paid what was asked for and edged forward. He was successively stopped by a cowherd, a washerman, a tailor, a priest and a builder. To each of them Bhargava owed some money and they would not let him go until the debts were cleared.

In each case, Bhargava parted with one-sixth of his punya so that he was left with none at all. When these accounts were settled, the Sun God led Bhargava to the Naraka (Hell) where Shatanika was. Bhargava was bewildered to find such a righteous king as Shatanika in a Naraka (Hell).

The king Shatanika was hung upside down in a pot and was being boiled in oil. Bhargava asked Shatanika, “What is all this? Why are you in hell? You had accumulated a lot of punya through your righteous (dharmic) deeds.”

“Not really,” replied the king. “I did donate a lot of alms, especially to needy. But all the money for the alms came from taxing my subjects severely. So it brought no punya at all.”

“Go and tell my son that punya is best acquired by associating with righteous people. And most important of all, tell him to pray to Lord Shiva in the month of Chaitra and on chaturdashi tithi (fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight).”

When Bhargava returned, he related what he had been told to Sahasranika. Sahasranika did not stop donating alms. But the money for such alms no longer came out of the royal treasury.

The king worked as a common man and used this money for the donation of alms. He also observed the vrata (vrat) (ritual) that his father had asked him to observe in honour of Lord Shiva.

Note : Also we should note that one should donate the money or other things to the needy and not for the lazy or unrighteous. If we donate to the lazy or the unrighteous person, then the punya would not be counted and also the punya which we would have done earlier will be washed away.

Donation should be done in such a way that a real needy person should get all the alms and support. If a person too poor and he / she is needed of money or food or other things, one should go and find out these kind of needy people and one should always donate to such kind of needy people.

Donating to the needy people means, we are getting close to the Lord Sri Vishnu / Lord Sri Hari / Lord Sri Krishna / Lord Sri Rama.

If somebody serves food to a needy pregnant lady, it is believed to be highly righteous thing to do in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

Few of the important types of daans (donations) according to the Hinduism (SANATANA DHARMA) is as given below:

1. Vidya Daanam (Education / Teaching) – If somebody donates money to the poor child who is always interested in studies is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

2. Bhoomi Daanam (Donation of land) – The donation of land which the donator has acquired through his own merit, not inheritance is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

3. Gau Daanam (Donation of Cow) – When one donates a cow, normally to a needy Brahmana (Brahmin), the cow which has to be donated must be nourished by the man in his own house since its birth is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

4. Kanya Daanam (marriage) – When one gives up his own daughter to a suitable groom, a man’s Dharma is not complete unless he performs “Kanyaa daanam”, so if he does not have a daughter of his own, he is supposed to adopt a girl child who is without a father and perform “Kanyaa daanam” to a suitable groom is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

5. Tulaa Daanam – One should donate the material (anything like grains, fruits, vegetables, gold, silver, diamond etc.) equal to ones weight which the provider has acquired by his own merit.

Inherited products or goods cannot be donated (gives very little punya). But the products and goods which is earned by his own merits and when donated to the recipient is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

6. Deepa Daanam (Donation of lamp) – Lighting a deepa / diya / lamp or many lamps in a temple or house is considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

7. Shayyaa Daanam (Donation of cot and bed) – Donating bedding, especially to a girl when she is married to her husband or to a dead person who is about to be cremated. The provider has to donate bedding of his own hard earned money, then only it will be considered highly righteous in the GREAT SANATANA DHARMA (Hinduism).

PS: It must be noted that only the hard earned money / alms can only be donated to the needy and only these donations will be counted into our Karmas and not the one which is gained through donations, taxes, ancestors etc.

Information about the importance of Deepa Daanam (diya / lamp) is as given below:

Whoever does Deepa daanam (diya / lamp) or does the ‘prajwalana’ (lighting the lamp) of Deepa (diya) during Kartika Maasam, they will easily get Moksha / Mukti (A permanent place in Lord Sri Vishnu’s abode ‘Vaikuntha’).

Let’s consider one shloka (sloka) (hymn) from Hindu Shastra (Hindu Text) which tells about the importance of deepa daanam as given below:

प्रातः स्नात्वा सुचीर्भूत्वा यो दद्याद् दीपकं हरे | सा तु मोक्षम वाप्नोति नात्र कार्या विचारणा ||

ಪ್ರಾತ: ಸ್ನಾತ್ವಾ ಸುಚೀರ್ಭೂತ್ವಾ ಯೋ ದದ್ಯಾದ್ ದೀಪಕಂ ಹರೇ | ಸಾ ತು ಮೊಕ್ಷಮ ವಾಪ್ನೋತಿ ನಾತ್ರ ಕಾರ್ಯಾ ವಿಚಾರಣಾ ||

Prāta: Snātvā sucīrbhūtvā yō dadyād dīpakaṁ harē | sā tu mokṣama vāpnōti nātra kāryā vicāraṇā ||

Meaning of the sloka : By giving Deepa daanam, one’s अज्ञान (agyan) (Jnaana) (ignorance) will be lost and it will enable that person to have more ज्ञान (gyan) (Jnaana) (knowledge). In whose house the light will be burning from Surya Asta (Sunset) till Suryodaya (Sunrise), that house will never have दारिद्र्य (daaridrya) (poverty).

Different types of Deepa Daanam (diya / lamp) is as given below:

1. Lighting Deepa (diya) (lamp) and giving daana along-with lamp. | 2. Lighting the deepa (diya) (lamp) which is off. | 3. Lighting other’s house deepa (diya) (lamp) which is off. |

4. Giving daanam (donation) of Mangala-Arati batti (A lamp wick) (दीपक की बाती). | 5. Giving daanam (donation) of प्रणति (oil lamp). | 6. Giving Daanam (donation) of Gingelly oil. ||

God and Devatas (Demigods) present in the deepa (diya) (lamp) is as given below:

In the vessel Lord Sri Brahma is persent. | In the oil Goddess Sri Lakshmi Devi is present. | In the batti (बाती) (lamp wick) Lord Sri Vasudeva (Vishnu) is present. |

In the white layer of the lamp wick Lord Sri Vayu is present. | In the red layer of the lamp wick Lord Sri Indra is present. | In the black layer of the lamp wick Lord Sri Rudra (Shiva) is present.

Information about deepotsava during Kartika Purnima is as given below:

During Kartika Masam (month) during evening Pradosha time, we have to light deepas (diyas) (lamps) inside and outside our house. By the darshanam of these lights itself all animals will have pleasure. By seeing the lights, all insects and other animals, will not have rebirth.

We have to give daanam (donation) of lights (deepa daana). On the Kartika Purnima evening during Chandrodaya (Moonrise), we have to do the pooja of six ‘Kruttika Devatas’, Lord Kartikeya (Subramanya), Lord Varuna and Lord Agni. After Devata Archana, we have to keep the deepas (diyas) (lamps) in front of our house.

Kushmanda Daanam (Donation of Kushmanada) : Kushmanda Navami (Akshaya Navami) is believed to be the day when the Supreme Lord Sri Vishnu conquered an asura (demon) named Kushmanda and restored Dharma on the earth. Kushmanda Navami in 2023 is on November 21.

Kushmanda Navami is observed on the ninth day during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in Kartika masam (month). Kushmanda Daanam to be given, that is, a pumpkin donated on this day will relieve any ‘garbha dosha’ (all womb related defects) and you will have ‘sat-santana’ (virtuous child).

Parashurama Daanam : After touring 21 times around the globe and slaying all the ill minded Kshatriyas Lord Parashurama conquered all the world. Lord Parashurama made the daanam (donation) of his entire possession to satvika brahmanas (Dharmic Brahmins).

After this daanam (donation), Lord Parashurama was not left with any place on earth to stay. That is why at the time of making any daanam (donation), one should say “Sri Parashuramaaya namaha”.

Daanam (donation) on Bali Padyami : It is the day on which the great King Bali Chakravarthi (Mahabali) will be the Chakravarthi (emperor) for the entire world. It is the day on which Lord Vamana, an avatar of Lord Sri Vishnu pushed Bali Chakravarthi (Mahabali) to Sutala Loka. This is the boon given by Lord Vamana to Mahabali after teaching Mahabali a lesson.

On this day whatever daanams (donations) done like Gau Daanam (Donation of Cow), Vastra Daanam (Donation of clothes), Bhoo-Daanam (Donation of land) and other daanams (donations) will please Lord Vamana. Lighting lamp (Deepa Prajvalana) on this day will make Goddess Sri Lakshmi Devi to stay in their house.

Daanam (Donation) during Grahana (eclipse) period : During Grahana (eclipse) period, one must do daanams (donations) like Gau Daanam (Donation of cow), Suvarna Daanam (Donation of gold), Bhoo-Daanam (Donation of land), dhaanya daanam (Donation of grains) as per ability.

Even though it is said that silver, gold Daanam, you should never borrow and do the daanam (donation). But, as per your ability you should do the daanam (donation), not more not less.

Even ₹ 1 daanam (donation) with Yatha-Shakti (as per ability) will have the same punya (good deeds) as that of a Silver / gold/ land, not more not less.

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