No two entities are the same. Whether living or non-living, all creation exhibits difference. Some planets are big, others are small, some men are rich and others are poor. Somebody may be poor, but he may be healthier than a rich friend. Recognizing that the occurrence of differences is the norm, His prophets lay emphasis on the practice of giving help to each other, so that there is greater equality. The question arises – when to give? The Mahabharatprovides a simple answer. Yudhistir was the eldest of the Pandavas, a pious soul and the pinnacle of truthful living. His brother Bheem is known for his physical prowess. They are both taking a walk, when Yudhishtir is approached by a poor person, who is asking for assistance. Moved by the poor man’s plight, Yudhistirwants to help, and then asks him to come by tomorrow. After the poor man has left, Bheem expresses great joy through uncontrolled laughter. Surprised, Yudhistir wants to know the reason for Bheem;s happiness. Bheem says, “Brother, you asked him to come tomorrow. I am happy because you have therefore promised to be alive till tomorrow so that you may help him when he comes!” The hint was gentle – nobody knows if they will be alive tomorrow – and Yudhishtir thanked Bheem for invaluable guidance. Therefore, the time to help the needy is right now, not later, when one may not be able to. But how to give? We entered the world crying and naked, and naked shall we leave it. Therefore, we cannot give that which is not ours, but we can only share our gifts. The scriptures say:
Those who make pilgrimages to sacred shrines, observe fasts and make donations to charity, while still taking pride in their minds –
O Nanak, their actions are useless, like the elephant, who takes a bath, and then rolls in the dust.
The Art of Giving therefore is very simple – give it now, and give selflessly.