In the previous episode we had an extended discussion on the last point of the previous “Adhyaaya” wherein Vidura explains the significance of standing up and respecting people of a high stature. We witnessed how Bhagawan Krishna himself was an epitome in following this point meticulously in his life. We saw how he exhibited his respect to his old friend Kuchela, when he had come to Dwaraka to visit Bhagawan Krishna. The manner in which Bhagawan Krishna paid his respects to Kuchela was a tribute to experience! Hence from this, we need to understand that if we come across people with a high stature, it is mandatory to stand up in respect for them!
Moving on further, we commenced the next “Adhyaaya” of the Vidura Neeti wherein Vidura drops a bombshell to all of us first up! He commences this “Adhyaaya” with the important message regarding “Charity” and how “Charity” should be a selfless affair, rather than focusing on unwanted publicity around it. In today’s episode we shall have an extended discussion about this important point.
In the traditional sense, “Charity” or “Dhaanam” is something that is extremely significant and it occupies a prime stature in our “Sanaathana Dharma”. There are innumerable specifics when it comes to both giving “Dhaanam” and accepting the “Dhaanam”. There are few important qualifications required for the person who should give “Dhaanam”. Similarly, it should also be noted that the “Dhaanam” should not be made for anybody and everybody in this world. The person who receives the “Dhaanam” also has a certain set of important criteria to be fulfilled. Most importantly, the person who is giving the “Dhaanam” should never ever have an iota of selfishness in him/her. In other words, while we are giving the “Dhaanam”, it is a normal practice that we chant the Sanskrit phrase “Idan namama”, which means “the object that we’re donating doesn’t belong to me anymore, and from this moment onwards it is completely yours!” After giving the “Dhaanam” we should never even in our wildest dreams, have a feeling that the object that we’ve donated is somewhere ours, and it is given by us!
At this moment we can recall an instance from our previous Ramayana project wherein, Sage Vishwamitra enters King Dasaratha’s courtroom, seeking to take Bhagawan Rama with him, so as to kill the Raakshasas (Demons) for completing his “Yagnya” (Divine offering). At the time when Sage Vishwamitra asks King Dasaratha to send Rama with him, King Dasaratha couldn’t believe it! He had an opinion as to how is a small child (Bhagawan Rama was a child below sixteen years of age at that time) going to be efficient enough to kill the powerful demons! At that time he uses a peculiar way to address Sage Vishwamitra. He says thus,
“Uuna shodasa varshaha me raamaha raajeeva lochanaha!
Na yuddha yogyathaamasya pashyaami saha raakshasaihi!!”
This is an excerpt from the Valmiki Ramayana. Here through the above sloka, King Dasharata replies to Sage Vishwamitra’s request thus, “Oh Sage Vishwaamithra! My son Rama (“Me raamaha”) is below sixteen years of age and he is unfit to fight wars! Hence I’m not going to send Rama with you anywhere!” Here we can see that King Dasharata purposefully employing the phrase “Me raamaha”, which means, “My Rama” or “My son Rama!” He does this based on the belief that since King Dasharata “claims” that Rama is “his” property, Sage Vishwamitra would not take Rama along with him to the forest! He was expecting Sage Vishwamitra to leave Rama alone and go away! Thus here Valmiki Maharishi indirectly drives home the concept (through this part of the Ramayana story) that while we’re giving a “Dhaanam” to a person of a high stature, we should never have the attitude of “Mine”! We should donate any item with a complete selfless attitude!
Now in today’s world how far are we following this ideology of “Dhaanam”? For instance when we visit a temple today, there might be some fancy decorative lights, fans, air coolers, etc. donated by many devotees who visit the temple. It’s a good thing, but the problem comes when the donors claim publicity by putting their name on the light or the cooler itself proclaiming that it was them who donated it to the temple! This is what we need to avoid. When we donate something to someone or to a temple or Mutt, we should never claim publicity for what we’ve donated. It is said that if our right hand donates something to someone, even our left hand should not know about it! Such is the secrecy that should be maintained while donating something to someone.
So for today let us realize the fact that giving “Dhaanam” is a sacred affair and it should never be publicized in such a way that the donor should openly take credit and personal brownie points for doing it. The important point here is that, “Dhaanam” is supposed to be a selfless affair and the sanctity of the affair should always be maintained at any cost. This is the real meaning of the phrase “Idan namama”! We shall wait till the next episode to witness the next point that Vidura is going to emphasize! Stay tuned! 🙂