One of my pass-out students once came to me during college time. With whom I have been discussing on many different topics from time to time and many questions keep coming up from him. He always finds satisfaction in solving the questionable problem after discussion with me and I also enjoy discussing with such students as even ten percent of the students understand reality the future of the country is bright for sure. Usually the one who is bothered by the question tries to find the answer and the same can make life meaningful.

He asked me, Madam, should I help someone financially without knowing him properly? If I give thousand rupees to a needy person with a very noble intention but unfortunately if that person misuses the thousand rupees, his sin is considered as mine means I will be partially responsible for his sin? Because I was told by a religious leader that the knowledge of the recipient’s eligibility is inevitable before donating. Donations should always be made to noble person, otherwise you too become a partner for the evil deeds that will be done with your money and you too will have to suffer the deeds of him. If you make someone else the owner of your money without any understanding or knowing reality of the recipient of donation then you must suffer the fruits of his karma. But madam, I do not agree with this. How is my participation in his sin counted? What do you believe about this as a spiritual person?

In response to this, I told him that in Hindu scriptures, there is a deep understanding and philosophy about charity, who is to be called a donor, when to do charity, how to do it, what things are to be donated and to whom it is to be given. First of all you have to understand what are you doing and with what intention you are giving anything to anyone. These two things are of the utmost importance in charity. Generally, there are many types of donations such as food donation, clothing donation, material donation i.e. donation of money, medicine donation, energy donation, pleasure donation, education donation, organ donation, knowledge donation, etc. Food can also be donated to the person with bad character. In the same way, helping a disabled person or a patient is a gift of strength that is called charity of energy. There is no need to look for merit in the charity of energy.

God has given physical or mental power to all of us for that purpose only. when you use this body to overcome someone’s disability or to help them by your strength If a person is not worthy but is weak and sick, he can be helped with compassion, no matter how sinful he may be. In the same way, bringing a smile on the face of a sad person is a form of enjoyment, in which there is no need to look for merit. A sad or miserable man can be helped to be happy even if he is a sinner. But care must be taken in charity of knowledge and enlightenment, it should not be given to impure or sinful person who is not worthy of enlightenment because it is possible to misuse the knowledge or education acquired and disrupt public life or even increase the pain of the people, in that case charity of knowledge or spiritual education to the unworthy person is not advisable. The karma or sin of doing that can come to the head of the giver as he is said to have failed to take the necessary vigilance as a guru. In the same way, giving money means that when someone asks you for financial help or begging, before giving money, you must consider the eligibility of that person as the use of money creates certain results and misuse of money has the potential to ruin many lives. Whosoever be the partner in this kind of activity that is becoming donors knowingly or unknowingly in this kind of activity have to bear the result because by giving such money they have become the cause of evil deeds. That is why in the scriptures, the red light has been shown regarding material donation, charity of knowledge that is spiritual education. This type of donation requires a great deal of precision.

However, it is my personal opinion that when the intention to donate is good, if the element of selfishness is absent, then the risk in the donation is less. It is a common experience in life that decisions are often difficult to make, e.g. Should I donate or not? Would this person be right or not? How do I benefit from donations? Will the person in front of me use or misuse the money I have given? His sin will come to me or not? Etc. There is a lot of confusion. I firmly believe that in such a dilemma one should remember God and ask for help in making a right decision. I am also doing the same in my personal life whenever needed. In difficult times or when there is difficulty in making a decision, say, “Lord, I am unselfishly helping this person and forgive me if I am doing anything wrong as well as if this guy will not use this money properly do not considered me responsible and also help me out to make a wise decision before giving any other donation second time so that I do not inadvertently do anything wrong.

Usually when any task is entrusted to God, the responsibility rests with God. It is only when a person becomes a doer of karma that produces fruits like happiness or sorrow, which he has to bear. That is why significance of selfless karma has been elaborated in every page of Bhagavad Gita. Karma is not problematic when it is done unselfishly, without expectation, innocently, only for the purpose of becoming an angel of God. In any kind of donation physical action is not that important but mentality of the person or intension behind the karma matters a lot. From that point of view, when it comes to donating money or charity of educating and imparting spiritual knowledge in life, the eligibility of the recipient must be taken into consideration as far as possible and if you are unable to do so, then do it with noble intention to avoid unintended consequences. But when you are doing donation of food, clothing, pleasure, energy, organ rest sure and don’t bother about eligibility or quality of recipients. There is no need to fall into the dilemma of good or bad. It is my understanding that such donations can definitely be made to anyone, which I would like to share with you all because perhaps you might have this kind of confusion like my one of the students, it would be more advisable to make a wise decision of donation with deep scientific understanding than to take an unwise decision of not to donate. Do donate whenever it possible, it’s a great job but be careful in charity of money and spiritual knowledge that’s what my humble suggestion.

~ Shilpa shah, professor, HKBBA College