This chapter is the English translation of Gujarati Book
Title - Sadhak and Sathi
Author - Shri Atmanandji (Dr. Soneji)
CHAPTER - 2
In the normal course, charity lies in giving away one's wealth
and possessions, with the idea of cooperating and encouraging
any noble activity. When the giving up of one's ownership is
accompanied by the absence of desire of reward for charity, the
height of charity is reached. The liberal donor then really
attains to the status of a supreme donor.
There are several types of charity, but here we will consider
just four of which are useful in spiritual progress. They are:
1. Charity accompanied by utter devotion and humility;
2. Compassionate charity;
3. Charity of gentleness; and
4. Charity of knowledge.
1. Charity Accompanied by Utter Devotion and Humility:
In this charity, the recipient is a far more virtuous person
than the donor. Only persons endowed with understanding and
discrimination can, possibly undertake this.
The donor* who resorts to this kind of charity intends to
reduce greed in his life, and thereby to become better suited
as Sadhaka; so that slowly and steadily the unique virtues of
the recipient, dawn in his own life. Again, it may be that,
the person who accepts charity is a person endowed with
self-knowledge or is a high-grade Sadhaka and the donation is
so auspicious that it will nourish for long periods the
sublime traditions of right-knowledge and right self-control.
When this happens, naturally the traits of purity are
nurtured at the individual level and virtues and higher
cultural values get disseminated in the community.
Acceptors of such charity are selfless and benevolent
individuals. It is logical, therefore, that donations to
such virtuous individuals be accompanied by proper respect
and due honor. It is easily understandable, that no matter
what the form of this charity may be - whether giving of
food, clothes, medicines, scriptures or a place to stay - it
should always be carefully thought out, and associated with
This type of donation is predominant in the life of a
discriminating Sadhaka, because, on such occasions, he is
lucky to come in contact with virtuous, ascetic, learned and
saintly personalities. In such a case, if the Sadhaka is
alert and awake, he will begin to follow the discriminating
and scientific process of enjoying in the virtues and the
resultant process of bringing virtue into his own life.
This delight in virtue will inspire him to serve saintly
persons or monks and nuns in so many different ways - e.g.
rising on seeing them, salutation to them with folded hands,
going toward to receive them, walking behind them in all
humility, offering higher seats to them, behaving in a manner
befitting their temperament, going to the door or the
outskirts of the Village to bid good-bye to them, obeying
their directives and so on. His devotion towards the saints
will take many such forms.
When this is followed honestly and sincerely, the Sadhaka
will himself attain to sainthood.
This is because "There is a lot of difference between a
Parasa gem (touchstone) and a Saint. The former transforms
iron into gold, while the latter makes a man into a Saint".
Surely we all approve of making men into saints. Without
approval and conviction of this, our spiritual aspiration is
not fully justified. Let us ponder over this thoughtfully.
* Characteristics of the donor: Trust, content, worship,
knowledge, detachment, forgiveness and strength are the
seven virtues of a donor.
2. Compassionate Charity
In this type of charity, the main purpose is to remove the
sufferings of the afflicted people. In this case, the
recipient benefiting from the charitable act is not more
virtuous than the liberal donor. The feeling of compassion
in the heart of the donor is therefore dominant in this case.
The donor, who is inspired by this feeling, helps afflicted
people with sympathy and serves them by body, mind or wealth.
Compassionate charity consists of liberal donation by a
person who is moved by the pangs of the tormented human being
or animal to get rid of sufferings as soon as possible. The
donor tries his best to remove their suffering in a variety
The charity may consist of help and donation to the poor and
beggars, those who have suffered by famine, floods, hunger
etc. It may be by liberal donations to the orphans, the
widows, needy students, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the
lame, the mad, the mentally unbalanced, and so on. No
distinction whatsoever shall be made in this charity.
Compassionate charity is bestowed on the poor and the
miserable, irrespective of caste, color, creed, native or
foreigner, the virtuous or those bereft of virtue, follower
of the same religion or of a different one. The sole purpose
here is the removal of the afflictions of every human and
every animal and all living beings. The feeling of respect
or honor or of reverence towards the recipient are secondary.
What is predominant is sympathy and compassion through love
Generally, social charity is included in this type. Social
charity starts with family charity in which brothers,
sisters, cousins and others are beneficiaries. But the
charity of the real righteous man does not stop here; it
constantly expands far and wide.
Donations, such as for the construction and the running of a
hospital, the construction and maintenance of a place of rest
for travellers, for digging wells, tanks or gardens, for
community halls and town halls, or for schools, colleges,
dormitories are donations for social welfare. They are,
therefore, included under the heading of Compassionate
charity and should be considered as a subset of this type of
charity. Here, in these donations, the dominant feeling is
for social uplift for community welfare and for the progress
of social and institutional activities,
3. Charity of Gentleness
This is the best and most important of all charities.
Charity of gentleness means shaping one's routine of life in
such a manner that all living beings feel safe and secure
with you. No external resource is necessary in this charity.
All human beings can, therefore, resort to it.
But one important trait of this liberality is the need of
constant awakening of the soul. The Sadhaka who takes
recourse to this charity will not cause damage of any kind to
any one by his actions. He will not use speech afflicting
others and not even think ill of others.
Only if there is a constant awakening of soul, can one
succeed in not causing ill to anybody mentally, physically or
by speech. Thinking deeply, we will realize that only great
people who have renounced all attachment to worldly life,
have the full capacity to practice this kind of charity. But
it is proper that we ordinary people also practice it as far
as a possible attempt to attain the good of our own souls.
4. Charity of Knowledge:
Charity of knowledge is that type which helps worldly souls
to permanent release from the cycle of birth and death and
thus to eternal bliss. Even though this type of charity is
possible to some extent for learned and knowledgeable people,
the main donors of this type are the great Achryas and Monks
who are the very embodiment of divine knowledge with
super-intellect and great scriptural knowledge.
In this type of charity, the donors donate knowledge of truth
and allrounded philosophy leading the living noble beings to
their ultimate well-being. This kind of charity is dispensed
through the media of lectures and preaching religious
In this, both the donor and beneficiary thereof, reap the
highest gain for their spiritual progress. Finally, it leads
both to the highest benefit and the supreme state of
GLORY OF CHARITY
a. Persons of three categories stand highest in Indian society.
They are the devotee, the donor and the hero. In Gujrati
there is a very famous stanza that pays tribute to the
mothers of these three types of human beings:
"O Mother, if at all you give birth to a child, let it be a
devotee, a donor or a hero. Otherwise, may you prefer to
remain barren. Do not lose your vitality in giving birth to
Emperors like Shreyansa and Karna; Kings like Shibi,
Iwsrshavardhana and Bhoja; and also great men like Bhamasha,
Jagduaha have resorted to various activities of righteous
charity and inspired us also to follow their footsteps for
the good of our Souls.
b. Wealth is destined to be spent in three ways: utilizing for
just causes; utilizing for liberal donations; and utilizing
until it has exhausted when good deeds (punya) are
diminished. Discriminating persons know this and resort to
c. Charity is the very basis of the duties of householders. A
householder's life bereft of charity is not the right type of
d. Righteous charity enhances peace and contentment in life. It
conduces to the spread of fame in the world. It yields
happiness and ease to other living beings, and leads one to
the highest state in the higher worlds. Charity finally
yields the eternal status of liberation. Discriminating
persons, therefore, accept it as a normal course in all
e. This is how the householders are expected to use their wealth
in charity - the richest ones 25 percent, the middle ones 10
percent, and the average ones 6 percent of their income.
Ancient Acharyas accepted such high standards of charity.
f. We should understand that the success of a healthy body and
mind lies in austerities and devotion; that of wealth in
charity, and that of power and intellect in helping others.
g. The supreme donor resorts to charity of his own free will
without being asked.
h. Charity is the greatest greasure, no enemy equals greed, no
ornament equals character and no wealth equals contentment.
i. The main purpose of the wealth of the best of men is to bring
an end to the misfortunes of all living beings. Such wealth
is known as "Lakshmi" (The Goddess of Wealth).
LIVING EXAMPLES OF CHARITY
Ganeshprasad Varniji was a Jain scholar and a saint person of
the present century. He distinctly contributed towards
educational and moral welfare of the society in the city
Bundelkhand, of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.
During the course of his pilgrimage on foot, he came to a holy
place known as Gajapantha, near the city Nasik, in the state of
He met a rich person during his stay at the holy place. The
rich man was pious and compassionate. He told Varniji, "Noble
Sir! We will go up the mountain and dine together." Though
tired due to three months of continuous pilgrimage on foot,
Varniji gave his consent to this pious person. They climbed the
mountain, worshipped Gods, dined, and went down the valley to a
temple for prayer.
The rich man donated a large sum. Varniji had only an amount
sufficient for buying food for the next day. Varniji was
puzzled and perplexed. "What should be done now?" he thought,
"I must donate, and for most of the day, I shall have to take my
chance or go hungry." With this thought, Varniji donated his
The temple attendant hesitated to take such a small offering.
The rich man smirked. Varniji pondered over the matter and said
to himself, "My inner spirit is firm. My soul is happy as I
make the donation of this trifle sum. I still remember my firm
conviction in the spirit of righteousness that I then
Which donation is superior? A large sum or a measly amount?
Well, let the readers consider this and evaluate justly his own
spirit of charity.
Ishwarchandra Vidhyasagar was a great educationalist,
philanthropist, and socio-religious leader of the state of
Bengal, India, who lived in the nineteenth century.
Once as he was passing by a road in Calcutta, he came across a
sad man. "Why are you so sad, friend?" asked Ishverchandra.
Looking at him, the man said, "Well brother! Don't bother about
it you cannot possibly help me in my pitiful plight. It is a
Ishverchandra insisted him to tell the story of misery and
sadness. At last the man said, "I incurred a big debt in order
to get my daughter married. A law suit has been filed against
me, as I have failed to repay the debt." Vidyasagar took the
details of the legal brief and address of the court from him.
Then, on the day of the hearing of the case in the court, when
that debtor went to the court he was told that somebody had come
to the court a few days before and paid off his debt. The
lawsuit was, therefore, settled.
The man did not know that it was Vidyasagar who had paid off his
debt. A secret donation it was! The beneficiary never knew the
donor or the reason for his liberality. When there is no desire
for any reward and a spirit of selflessness, this the best of
It was year 1656. Shivaji had come from Raigadh and he had
stationed himself at the Satara Fort. Shivaji heard the Mantra,
"Jai Jai Raghuvir Samarth!" On inquiry, he learnt that Swami
Ramdas had come himself to request donations at his door! What
should he give? Diamonds and Sapphires? Gold and Silver? Food
and Clothing? Shivaji could not make up his mind. He wrote a
small note and placed it in the satchel of Swami Ramdas.
The Swami said, "Well Shivaji, What is in the note? If you had
given provisions, we could have prepared food." Shivaji
replied, "Gurudev! I have given just and proper donation."
Swamiji asked his pupil Uddhava to read the note. It read "I
submit, at the feet of my Guru, everything that I have acquired
till today including myself and my royal emblem."
Ramdas said "Shivaji! What will you do now?" Shivaji replied,
"Service to your holiness."
"Then take up the satchel and accompany me for more pledges.
Shivaji became a beggar, begged food, cooked on the river bank,
and they had their meal. Ramdas said, "Shivaji! I am a hermit;
what am I to do with this kingdom? Take it back". Shivaji was
not willing but Ramdas was the preceptor, gave him his
blessings, his Paduka and a saffron colored cloth and issued
orders to Shivaji to accept his Kingdom and no option was left.
Shivaji served his people for his whole life, following the
orders of his preceptor.
The pupil donated everything and the teacher was all detachment.
What a unique rewarding combination!!!
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