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From the Mahabharata
By making gifts one acquires all kinds of enjoyable articles.
From The Mahabharata
Five kinds of Gifts
Yudhishthira said: O sire, thou whose power is great in the observance of the vow of truth by following the religion of gift. How many kinds of gifts are there that should be given? What are the fruits of the several kinds of gifts respectively? What kinds of gifts, made to what persons are productive of merits? Indeed, unto what persons should what gifts be made? For what reasons are how many kinds of gifts to be made? I desire to hear all this in detail.
Bhishma said: Listen, O son of Kunti, in detail to me, O sinless one as I discourse on the subject of gifts. Indeed, I shall tell you, O Bharata, how gifts should be made unto all the orders of men. From desire of merit, from desire of profit, from fear, from free choice, and from pity, gifts are made, O Bharata! Gifts, therefore, should be known to be of five kinds. Listen now to the reasons for which gifts are thus distributed in five classes.
These are the five kinds of gifts. They enhance the givers merits and fame. The
Lord of all creatures has said that one should always make gifts according to ones
Vyasa said: It has been said that there are three tracks which constitute the best vows of a man. One should never injure; one should always tell the truth; and one should make gifts. The Rishis of old announced this, following the declarations of the Vedas. These injunctions were heard in days of old, - they should certainly be followed by us even in our times. Even a small gift, made under the circumstances laid down, produces great fruits.
Unto a thirsty man thou hast given a little water with a sincere heart. Thyself thirsty and hungry, thou hast, by giving me such food, conquered many high regions of felicity, O puissant one, as one does by many sacrifices. Superior to the accomplishment of all Vedic vows, is gift. Indeed, gift is more auspicious than all sacred acts. If it be no more meritorious than all sacred acts, there can be no question about its superiority. All those rites laid down in the Vedas do not come up to gift, for gift without doubt, is as I hold, fraught with very superior merit. The track that has been made by those men who make gifts is the track that is trodden by the wise. They who give gifts are regarded as givers of even the life-breaths.
The duties that constitute Righteousness are established in them. As the Vedas when well studied, as the restraining of the senses, as a life of universal Renunciation, even so is gift which is fraught with very superior merit. Thou, O son, wilt rise from joy to greater joy in consequence of thy having betaken thyself to the duty of making gifts. The man of intelligence who practises this duty certainly rises from joy to greater joy. We have without doubt, met with many direct instances of this. Men endued with prosperity succeed in acquiring wealth, making gifts, performing sacrifices, and earning happiness as the result thereof. It is always observed to happen naturally that happiness is followed by misery and misery is followed by happiness.
Men of wisdom have said that human beings in this world have three kinds of conduct.
Some are righteous, some are sinful: and some are neither righteous nor sinful. The
conduct of the person who is devoted to Brahman is not regarded either way. His sins are
never regarded as sins. So also the man who is devoted to the duties laid down for him is
regarded as neither righteous nor sinful (for the observance of those duties). Those men
who are devoted to sacrifices, gifts, and penances are regarded as righteous. Those,
however, that injure other creatures and are unfriendly to them, are regarded as sinful.
There are some men who appropriate what belongs to others. These certainly fall into Hell
and meet with misery. All other acts that men do are indifferent, being regarded as
neither righteous nor sinful. Do thou sport and grow and rejoice and make gifts and
perform sacrifices. Neither men of knowledge, nor those endued with penances will then be
able to get the better of thee!
Threee types of gifts
From the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17
The Blessed Lord said:
[Note: Worthy person: Pious person who is a tapasvin (practising austerities), who is well versed in the scriptures (the Vedas and the Vedangas such as Ayurveda), who is able to protect himself and the donor etc. a person worthy to receive the gift, a person who is the very incarnation of purity, the very abode of good conduct. A gift may be freely given to such a highly deserving person. The donor should not boast of his charity.]
[Note: charity or gift that is given in the hope that it will be returned in the future and praised in public or that the gift will bring some unseen reward or heavenly pleasure is passionate 9Rajasic). If a man makes a gift to a brahmana (priest) or sanyasin with the hope that all his sins will be washed away, this is also a Rajasic gift. If a man is grieved at heart after making the gift this is also a gift of passionate (Rajasic) nature.
[ Note: At a wrong place and time : At a place which is not holy, where
irreligious people congregate and where beggars assemble, where wealth acquired through
illegal means such as gambling, theft, etc., is distributed to gamblers, fools, rogues,
women of evil reputation and at a time which is not auspicious. But this does not
discourage giving alms or other charity to the poor and the needy. In their case these
restrictions do not apply.]