The Geeta classifies charity into three broad categories. The first is Satvik which is the giving of charity selflessly, respectfully, without expectation, and with faith in the cause. The second is Rajasic, expecting a return. The third is Tamasic, given to an ignoble, immoral, or undeserving person, with no faith, disrespecting or humiliating the receiver.
What one gives and for what, also has three categories. Giving for books, students, teachers, helping the needy is Satvik. For such purposes the donation of money, medicines, physical sewa, love and compassion are Satvik. The giving of the above mentioned, expecting in return power, fame, money, or credit is termed Rajasic. When you give money, alcohol, or supply sensuous pleasures, give for gambling, violence, or ignoble acts to undeserving people, then it is Tamasic which takes the giver and taker both to great degradation. Use discretion in selecting the cause and the receiver of your charity. ‘Patra’ is that which saves anything from falling, ‘Patanaat trayate’. So we have a patra for water, milk or food. Your wealth should be received by a socially beneficial Patra (deserving person). Who is giving, to whom, and why is of importance. Receiving impure wealth for charity can harm both, the giver and the taker immensely. Modern research states that food and water change their molecular patterns according to the mental vibrations of the giver. They affect one’s mind and body in subtle ways.
The giving away of your daughter, gold, cattle, house, blood, life, Brahma Vidya, and Abhaya daan are the highest sacrifices. If your attitude is ‘ I’m giving you’, then you are just discarding what you have already used. That becomes Tamasic. All wealth is His, He honours you by making you the giver. So give it with thanks to the Lord and the receiver.
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi.