Karma Sutra: What is charity, really?

For a man who does charitable acts selflessly, there is no room for gratitude or ingratitude.

Written by Ritu S | Published:November 16, 2015 8:29 pm
The act of charity is supposed to be one where, it has been suggested, that while one hand gives, the other hand is supposed to be in complete oblivion of the act. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

‘Blow, blow thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind, as man’s ingratitude’, wrote William Shakespeare.

A lot has been read into man’s attitude when he’s at the receiving end of acts of kindness. After all the kindness that one bestows upon those in need, all we seem to get in return is indifference, instead of deference.

In spite of such a dismal response to our act of kindness, how is it that charity has still survived?

The act of charity is supposed to be one where, it has been suggested, that while one hand gives, the other hand is supposed to be in complete oblivion of the act. But, for the majority of us, let alone the other hand, till the time the whole world is not aware of it, the purpose of charity is defeated. And it does not end there. Giving comes with an unwritten clause. The clause of payback. Even if it is a menial favour, we feel we are entitled to it, because of all the ‘charity’ we have done. And where there is no scope of a payback, deference is the order.

As for those at the receiving end, why is it that they feel no sense of gratitude?

Since most acts of ‘charity’ are performed with a sense of ‘I’-ness (ahamkara), people at the receiving end also feel devoid of emotions. We find them ungrateful because we ‘expect’ them to be grateful. And the minute we expect them to be grateful, we are indulging our ego. We need to understand that we are merely instruments. According to Swami Vivekananda, ‘You gave him what he deserved; his karma got it for him; your karma made you the carrier thereof. You are the porter that carried the money or other kind of gift, the world deserved it by its own karma.’

Hence, somewhere the being knows that it got what it deserved by virtue of its karmas. If it does show gratitude, it is a deliberate act. It is the karma that makes us give whatever it is that we are meant to give. Left to man, he can only be a trader in virtue.

For a man who does charitable acts selflessly, there is no room for gratitude or ingratitude. The act was between him and Him (the supreme self). Not between a benefactor and his beneficiary!

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  1. A
    anand
    Nov 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm
    you give not for the other but for yourself and therefore one shld expect only from himself and not the other.
    Reply