By Salil Gewali
Charity begins at home. But when that charity stands up and steps out of the threshold of a home, it definitely brings comfort to the deprived. Then, the true love for humanity begins to take root. Only then does compassion and love find their better expression. One starts to feel a better “human” whispering from within. Inner satisfaction out of the act of charity always makes one feel overwhelmed with a good amount of happiness. This is how one can fast cleanse oneself of the worldly toxicity has been just gathered all through. No amount of money held with a tight-fist has ever helped anyone to become good in life. The virtue is earned only by giving away, by being generous and kind.
In India, there are many charitable trusts. However, Akshaya Patra Foundation, which was inspired by a renowned Spiritual master – Srila Prabhupada, markedly stands out. This foundation has taken to practicing what Prabhupada of ISKCON preached all his life. Initiated by a great philanthropist Mohandas Pai, this foundation is now feeding countless hungry mouths across the country. How people wish blessings upon the foundation — and those associated, is beyond the materialistic calculation. But what is very clear is that many people have already learned from the TRUST how to make one’s life more meaningful and more joyful. It has immensely awakened the spirit of “benevolence” in many prominent businessmen which otherwise has been just lying dormant. This has brought about positive vibes in the whole nation since our government has introduced the mid-day-meal which was inspired by the service the Akshaya Patra Foundation. This apart, lot many other organizations have followed suit and now in the service of filling the empty stomach or empowering the destitute in various states in the country. Many Sikh organizations and others are always at the forefront when any natural calamity come about.
The enlightened sages emphatically assert that amassing fortune has no value if the major part of it has not been used for the betterment of the society and the “environment”. In a practical sense, we are heavily indebted to Mother Nature. So, only by generously giving away a part of our wealth towards the righteous causes do we become free from that “debt”. Just imagine what would have happened if we had to buy “air” from the laboratory. Could each individual be able to buy air without which we can’t survive even for 2/3 minutes? We get it all for free. Similarly, we get water, we get all food products grown out from this amazing earth. What would we do if from tomorrow all such nourishing plants, grains, and cereals stop growing! We will just die of starvation. We can’t eat mud and stone for a living. So, we can thus imagine how we “owe our survival” to every part of the Mother Earth; the entire NATURE. Thus, by exercising the charity we clear our “debt” and also clear out the accumulated dirt from our mindset.
Also Read: Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?
However, there is a bottom-line and a complete no-no in charity. Here is where many individuals just fail and fall down and become too small. That is an “expectation of return” after the charity. There is no greater “eyewash” than this. This is indeed a “dealing”. ‘Philanthropy with eyes set on favors from beneficiaries is like a trade’, says Vivekananda. Most of the political leaders just put on the garb of philanthropy while their intention is only to earn the materialistic benefits. Their generosity is limited only to certain classes of people, for a certain period of time and for certain places only. This is absolutely unethical and non-spiritual. It will not reap the spiritual benefit at all. One should be watchful of such self-centered charity. We should not encourage such things that stifle the soul from breathing the air of virtues. Let our souls breathe easy now and hereafter. Truly, one has complete freedom to perform an act of charity and be more humane only before death. After the death, that amassed wealth never be helpful. Moreover, no dead body has ever carried his/her accumulated wealth to the graveyard!
Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.