Does the charity have to be given from the heart? In the Vedic scriptures, we were told to donate a percentage of our income to charity whether we liked it or not. It was also said that we are not to make a show of our charity, that it was wise to do it anonymously.
I imagine some people did not want to donate but this was discipline. Disciplines are not always comfortable but when advised by the wise elders, they usually bear good results.
The donation system ensured that the land was not poor, that no man would starve.
Currently, in the COVID Crisis, we have been requesting funds to feed the poor here in India, women, children and migrant workers.
Stree Team Distributing Food in Rishikesh
Did the British Raj not say that no man starves in India and they were yet to see a country like this. I have also heard that donating a percentage to charity is also recommended in other cultures.
Nowadays I am not sure how many people donate. My belief, on the one hand, is that donations given from the heart are more beneficial for the donee and donor. On the other hand, will all hearts be inclined to give? Giving can be in the form of time and work and goods, not necessarily money.
Some interesting quotes I picked up today from a friend which sum up a lot of what I have said above.
‘Many people find the hardship of others a burden! They prefer not to know. Many reserve love for their immediate family. That is how it is’
‘You only want money from those that want to give. Otherwise, it is not wholesome’
Obligation can encourage à sense of responsibility towards others. After all, parents feel an obligation to protect and support their children. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon; generosity is also naturally occurring and should be encouraged where possible. Everything else on the spectrum of greed to generosity is just that: on the spectrum. I ask myself, which end do I prefer to be on!
Nevertheless, a discipline of giving may open the heart and a feeling of connectivity with the society which is in itself integral to the health of the individual, family and society.
By Renu Gulati with observations by April Pierrot