Episode # 583 – “We should completely detach from the material that we offer as “Dhaanam” – Sage Vyasa explains!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of Sage Vyaasa’s accord on “Dhaanam” vs. “Tapas”. We had witnessed how “Dhaanam” along with “Tapas” is the most significant aspect of “Dharma” in this world. In the meanwhile, we had also witnessed yesterday, the key difference between “Dhaanam” and “Prathyupakaaram”. If we donate something to someone out of gratitude to what he / she had done to us in the past, it is termed as “Prathyupakaaram” and this will not come under the category of “Dhaanam”. Readers should note this point very clearly. “Dhaanam” is something that you do to someone without having any expectation of any sorts. In this way, “Dhaanam” is also very different from the normal “Upakaaram” (Help) that we offer to someone out of concern. For instance, if someone is in a dire need of money for an unexpected expenditure and we’re helping them with the required money, we might be expecting that this person would give our money back at some point in time. This is an expectation with which we give money to someone. Thus, even though we’re doing this for a good cause and to save someone at a critical time, this would only come under “Upakaaram” and not “Dhaanam”. Thus, readers should understand very clearly here that “Dhaanam” means something that we do without any expectation from anyone. 

Thus, we can create an analogy for “Dhaanam” like this – Just like how a mother carefully nurtures her child without any expectation from it, and just like how a mother pours all her love and affection upon her child without expecting that the child will return the favour to her, if we perform the “Dhaanam” this way, it is of greater significance than “Tapas”. Moreover, all of us have this practice at home too – For instance if someone comes to our home in need of a good clothing and we’re getting an opportunity to do a “Vasthra-Dhaanam” (Donation of clothes to the needy), what we would do? We might immediately go to our wardrobe, open it, look at the huge heap of clothes that we have and start selecting them! If the clothes are brand new and expensive ones and if we had hand picked them carefully from the showroom, we would keep them aside for ourselves. As we do this one by one, we would select the most ordinary and the old ones that we’re not wearing anymore and these are the clothes we would give to the person as “Vasthra-Dhaanam”! Many of us have this practice, isn’t it? This is exactly what Sage Vyaasa strongly discourages us to do! This act of giving away only the old and ordinary clothes to the needy is not considered to be “Dhaanam”. Instead, Sage Vyaasa explains that whatever material we’ve earned out of our hard work and effort, and whatever material we would have brought for ourselves with a lot of choice and selection, we should be ready to give this material away to the needy and this is called real “Dhaanam”. Thus, Sage Vyaasa explains to Yudishtra that “Dhaanam” if it is done in this way, is more significant than the “Tapas”. 

Moreover, Sage Vyaasa also explains one important aspect of “Dhaanam” here. He says that if we give something in “Dhaanam” to someone, we should never think of that material again in our entire life. If we’re giving something to someone in “Dhaanam”, we should completely detach ourselves from that material and should give it in such a way that from this minute onwards, this material is yours! This is why we say as part of many rituals in our “Sanaatana Dharma” while giving some “Dhaanam” to Brahmins as:

“Braahmanaaya tubramaham sampradate! Idan namama!”

The phrase “Idan Namama” signifies this aspect of detaching ourselves completely from the material that we’re offering as “Dhaanam” to someone and this is exactly what Sage Vyaasa is talking about. Many of us in today’s context have a grudge after giving something to someone, don’t we? After giving something, we would think thus, “Oh! Perhaps this person doesn’t deserve this costly material. Maybe I should have given something cheaper than this! Why did I spend so much money on getting this item for a “Dhaanam”?” This is where many of us are going wrong! We should never have this attitude while giving “Dhaanam” to someone. We should always go for the most expensive items when we’re offering “Dhaanam” and this is what is equivalent to “Tapas”. Moreover, Sage Vyaasa explains clearly that such people who are detaching themselves completely from the material that they are offering, are equal to the Devas (Celestial Beings)! 

So for today, let us understand this point clearly and we shall wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 


Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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