Re: Giving all
Where to give the 'Daswand'
ਅਕਲੀਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿਕੈਬੁਝੀਐਅਕਲੀਕੀਚੈਦਾਨੁ॥ਨਾਨਕੁਆਖੈਰਾਹੁਏਹੁਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂਸੈਤਾਨੁ॥੧॥: Aklee parh kai bujheeyai aklee keejai daan. Guru Nanak aakhai raah eho hor gallan saitaan ||1||: One should read (Bani) with intelligence, and then understand its real essence (i.e., assimilate it). Also, one should use intelligence in giving charity. Says Guru Nanak, this is the True Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 1245).
Food for thought: Sharing Earnings, Wand Ke Chhakna. Because we are children of the same Father, we should feel pleasure in sharing our earnings with the needy. People who share with the needy do not oblige them or do any favor to them, but are just doing their duty which is expected of them. Sikhs do not give charity or donations to anyone. They share their earnings with them. The only Giver in the world is God. How can we give anything as a donation when we are mere custodians of the gifts given to us by Him?
The Concept of Charity in Sikhism
Dr. Shamsher Singh*
* Punjabi University,Patiala.
Charity is a key precept in every religion of the world. Its practical aspect differs from place to place, religion to religion and country to country. The idea of charity has social, economic and spiritual dimensions. Psychologically the idea of charity appears to have evolved from the deep rooted human instinct of sympathy for fellow beings.
Charity is a gift to which the recipient has no claim and for which he renders no reward in return. Sometimes it is made purely from compassion and desire to remove the human need.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/inspirational-stories/37228-giving-all.html
Charity takes new shape during natural calamities, like flood, famine, earthquake, epidemics and wars, etc. In these cases government request the people to donate money and other needful goods. It is an indirect charity through the government though it is sometime imposed as contribution the people for good of the nation. Charity in Sikhism covers the main four basic conditions:
l Charity should be based upon honest earnings.
l Charity to for others for not owns.
l It should be given at proper places to proper persons, Guru says: Through wisdom doth charity flows...(p. 1245.)
l Charity for a Sikh sevadar:
If a Sikh has to act as priest (Granthi) in a gurdwara, he should take from the offerings (donations to gurdwara) as sufficient for his bare sustenance, under the directions of management. During the times of Masand - system they were given by the Guru from the offerings only for their livelihood.
Altruist Charity: (Naam Daan) It is a new and unique kind of charity specially in Sikhism, introduced by the Sikh Gurus for the ‘life sublime’ of their devotees.
It is a source of life and means of true living. Without acquiring the goodness and virtues charity becomes merely ostentation.
The Purpose of Charity: Charity is meant for poor, needy, sick, destitute, victims and pilgrimage travellers. Charity is a principal aspect of religious life, It has importance in religious and social life. Morally to give charity is a self satisfaction or leading a good life. It purifies the heart of the donor. He seeks the blessings of God to give him more for donating to the needy. The act of charity also provides occasion and incentive for other people to take initiative. Charity has many objectives. Here only the main fives are given:
1. General benevolence
2. To help the weaker sections
3. Revival of the prestige and honour of the poor and to promote sense of equality.
4. Self purification, and gratification.
5. Divine grace.
Many virtues of charity are mentioned in Hinduism:
1. From the fear of beggar’s curse.
2. With the hope of getting something in the future life.
3. To follow up the family traditions.
4. For popularity and fame.
5. From gratitude.
6. To be reborn in heaven.
Basic Principles of Charity: Abundance is gift. According to Sikhism God created the universe and programmed to feed every creature. He is merciful and compassionate. Even in deep waters of the sea, He provides food to the aquaticspecies. To some one He gives more and others less, but gives to all. It does not mean that the creatures sit idle, to do no work. He gives to all without expecting any reward. He is so merciful that he provides the food before the creation of a child.
God arranged the food, before the birth of man (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 130)
Even life created in the stone, its feed is provided by Lord (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 10)
Prosperity is not just the result of some one’s own efforts. It is bestowed upon man as a divine favour. Prosperity of man is also a test from an other angle that the man who has huge money, he gives some charity out of it. God is benevolent to man and others, similarly he expects from the man to be merciful to others. Charity indirectly is an extension of divine mercy. Generosity of God is presented through the charity of man, It is not just an indication of man’s prosperity but it is constant endeavour towards sharing of hardships, and suffering. Thinkers divide charity mainly in two categories: obligatory or voluntary. Obligatory charity is collected from the prosperous, or it may be paid by them to the organisations or to the trustworthy. Whereas voluntary donations depends upon the choice of donor. Ordinarily it is not imposed. Guru Arjun Dev ji, the fifth Guru directed his Sikh followers, through the Masands, to donate one-tenth of their income in the name of God. It is called Daswandh.
From the Sikh religious point of view charity is faith and confidence that whatever the man has, it is all the grace and gift of God. Therefore something should be given. If the receivers are not treated in a better way then charity has no meaning. If the donor gives something disrespectfully then the basic spirit of charity is lost. The true sense of charity always encourages the donor to do a good deed, but to do it in grace. Charity should be given sincerely. Charity means to give maximum what ever you can, but with dedication and devotion. Any charity which is given half-heartedly, or under compulsion, losses its true spirit. Sometimes we donate inferior or left out things and food. It is not only an insult to recipient but also tarnishes the image of donor. Such charity is never rewarded. Charity should be given with humility. In ‘hay days’ charity is easy and possible, but real test of donor comes at the time of adversity. While giving charity the needy should be treated in a respectful way and with good grace.
Best Charity is impersonal/anonymous/undemonstrative:
Another basic requisition of charity concept is that it should be made without publicity. No doubt sometimes its demonstration persuades others to imitate. In Sikhism it is considered that whatever the Sikh has, (body, mind and wealth) are bounties of the Guru-God. If someone helps the needy it should be kept secret. Exhibition or propagation is cheap popularity in the charity functions.
Sikh charity extends the sense of brotherhood, equality and enlarges the better relation between the rich and poor. It eliminates the caste feelings. The act of secret charity lowers down the ego of donor. Our centre of charity is Gurudwara free kitchen where (food) is served to all holy pilgrims without any consideration of caste, colour, race and country. Guru ka Langar — is a good example and ideal of charity.
The Sikh concept of charity is important as well as interesting in its unique nature. Sikh Gurus taught us to do work hard with honesty and share out of it for the needy and never depend upon others. This way of charity is a source and means of understanding the way of life and salvation.
O, Guru Nanak he alone knoweth the way who earneth with sweat of his brow and then shareth it with the others. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. 1245)
In Sikhism begging is prohibited. It is unrecognized and unknown. If any Sikh donor encourages such type of charity to an idle Sikh (beggar), it is against the principle of Sikh tradition and Guru’s teachings. In the Sikh history Sikh is marked as donor not as beggar. Sikh charity is neither to show off nor out of fear or curse, not to get any return or reward in heaven, nor for fame and popularity. It is a divine order of Guru. A Sikh should be very well aware to give it at the proper place to person.
Sikhism derides any kind of charity which is given from the money earned by unfair means. It also does not accept any offer of so called rich person, like Malak Bhago of egocentric nature.
Sikhism deprecates concentration of wealth, materialism and consumerism. In Sikh history we find word ‘deg’ a Persian word literally it stands for cooking pot, but symbolically it stands for free kitchen or Guru ka Langar, to feed the poor and destitute. It is maintained till now in almost all the historic Gurudwaras.. It is a life giving source of Guru to his devotee to justify their honest earning for the gratification and glorification.
Uniqueness of Sikh Charity:
In Sikhism the holy congregational centers (sangat) were established at different and distant places by the Sikh Gurus during their preaching tours. These centers were named later on as Sikh sangats where the name of God was meditated upon and the purpose of these sangats to manage food and shelter for devotees. This was continued upto Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Ji said at his last time at Nanded. (This version is available in Suraj Parkash written by Bhai Santokh Singh):
"Keep my langar ever open and receive offerings for Its maintenance".
It was often felt difficult due to the scarcity of sources as Nanded was a distant place from Punjab, The reply of Guru Ji again mentioned by the same writer of Suraj Parkash is given below:
:Have patience, generous Sikhs will come and will make offerings, everything will be made by Guru’s name.
The Sikh idea of charity is against the monopoly. It always advocates the collective contributions or voluntary offerings. The Mughal Emperor Akbar while passing through Goindwal (The head quarter of Guru Amar Das) took the Langar and was highly impressed by its neat and clean service and good maintenance. He offered a large estate to finance the free kitchen. Guru Ji politely declined this monopoly offer and said Guru-Ka-Langer would be maintained by the charity of the Sikh Sangats.
In our Rehatnamas, too, Sikh is advised to donate onetenth in the service of community. Bhai Nand Lal says:
He who does not put in golak of his true earnings, will have to pass through a thousand hells.
Guru Gobind Singh says:
Only he is the Khalsa
Who looks after the destitute
Guru Ji again says:
A poor man’s mouth is Guru’s treasury (receptacle)
So far we have discussed the charity of economic and social field. Spiritual kind of charity is another unique type of charity which satisfies the moral thirst. Without Naam (meditation) all worldly charities do not banish man’s ego:
Without meditating on Naam
If the man donates wordly rich things
in charity, mountains of Gold, fine horses
Elephants, lands many cows, even then
Mind’s ego does not dissipate.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 62)
Satta and Balwand say:
And he (Angad) distributed Guru’s word to one and all, and shared
all he had with them (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: 966-67)
God, his Word (Gurbani) and sangat are the main sources of spiritual values. God bestows these bounties, good virtues, compassion, contentment humility, self-discipline, etc. through Naam. Spiritual charity is an endless treasure of good virtues which is neither stolen nor finishes. Without obtaining the spiritual values and virtues all worldly charities are useless:
Bath in sixtyeight pilgrim stations
Construction of wells and tanks
Hearing of Simritis
If he (donor) slanders the saint
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=37228
Then all the charities go away in waste. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 575)
Naam Daan (Charity) not only dignifies the man in this world but also facilitate him in the next world. ‘Naam, Daan Ishnan,’ the basic formula, stands for meditation, charity and piety. Symbolical Atma (bride) begs the dowry of Naam from his father (Guru) as gift (Daan). This dowry will bring credit in the house of In-laws (God).
O, my father (Guru) gift away to me
the dowry of Lord’s Name (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. 79)
Sikh theory of charity is a unique continuation of Deg and Teg. It symbolizes spiritual and material sustenance. Deg is to feed the poor Teg is to teach the tyrant. Both should go hand in hand in the world. Both these are symbols of self-respect. In our daily prayer we remember those who dwelt on His name, shared their earnings with others. ‘Deg-Teg-Fateh’ are heavenly glories with the grace of Guru. All charitable things are the bounties of God, Sikh is only a servant to serve these:
Bread and water belongs to the Lord and (the Sikh) desire to serve the pleasure of the Lord.
A true attitude to charity demands dedication and devotion. Total surrender to the God presents the true picture of this concept when we remember the words Bhagat Kabir mentioned below:
Nothing is mine, within me
O, God all that is, belong to you,
I have surrendered all to you. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 1375)
A true Sikh in his daily prayer begs from the Guru God:
Grant to the Sikhs
The gift of Sikhism
The gift of intellect
The gift of faith
The gift of confidence and
The gift of gifts - the gift of Naam.
Overall, the idea of charity teaches us many good virtues, values and help to make a success in the life’s goal and, on the other side, helps to overcome ego and many other social evils. Sikh community is understandably known for its hospitality and charity throughout the world.
DASVANDH or Dasaundh, lit. a tenth part, refers to the practice among Sikhs of contributing in the name of the Guru onetenth of their earnings towards the common resources of the community. This is their religious obligation a form of seva or humble service so highly valued in the Sikh system. The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanak's own line: "ghali khai kichhu hathhu dei, Guru Nanak rahu pachhanahi sei He alone, 0 Guru Nanak, knoweth the way who eats out of what he earneth by his honest labour and yet shareth part of it with others" (GG, 1245). The idea of sharing and giving was nourished by the institutions of sangat (holy assembly) and langar (community kitchen) the Guru had established. In the time of Guru Amar Das, Guru Nanak III, a formal structure for channelizing Sikh religious giving was evolved. He set up 22 man/Is or districts in different parts of the country, each placed under the charge of a pious Sikh who, besides preaching Guru Nanak's word, looked after the sangats within his/her jurisdiction and transmitted the disciple's offerings to the Guru. As the digging of the sacred pool, amritsar, and erection in the middle of it of the shrine, Harimandar, began under Guru Ram Das entailing large amounts of expenditure, Sikhs were enjoined to set apart a minimum often per cent (dasvandh) of their income for the common pool, Guru ki Golak (q.v.). Masands, i.e. ministers and tithecollectors, were appointed to collect kar bhet (offerings) and dasvandh from Sikhs in the area they were assigned to, and pass these on to the Guru.
Dasvandh has since become part of the Sikh way of life. The custom bears parallels to Christian tithes requiring members of the church to pay a tenth part of the annual produce of their land or its equivalent in money to support it and the clergy, and to Muslim zakat requiring assignment of 2.5 per cent of one's annual wealth for the welfare of the destitute and the needy. Classical Indian society had no set procedure for regulating donations or charities, though references are traceable such as those in Parasar Rishi's writings urging the householder to reserve 1/21 part of his income for Brahmans and 1/31 part for the gods. The Upanisads and the Bhagavadgita commend "true alms" given with a sense of duty in a Fit place and at a fit time to a deserving person from whom one expects nothing in return. Dasvand is, however, to be distinguished from dan or charity. It essentially attends to the needs of the community and contributions are made specifically for the maintenance of its religious institutions such as gurdwaras and guru ka langar and projects of social welfare and uplift.
The custom of dasvandh was codified in documents called rahitnamas, manuals of Sikh conduct, written during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh or soon after. For example, Bhai Nand Lal's Tankhahnama records: "Hear ye, Nand Lal, says Gobind Singh, one who does not give dasvandh and, telling lies, misappropriates it, is not at all to be trusted." The tradition has been kept alive by chosen Sikhs who to this day scrupulously fulfil the injunction. The institution itself serves as a means for the individual to practice personal piety as well as to participate in the ongoing history of the community, the Guru Panth.
1. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
2. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People. Delhi, 1979
3. Avtar Singh, Ethics of the Sikhs. Patiala, 1970
4. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
5. Cole, W. Owen and Piara Singh Sambhi, The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Delhi, 1978 W.S.