What is Daan?
Hinduism is a religious belief that gives utmost importance to the concept of giving. Mainly there are three types of giving. They are Dakshina, Biksha, and Daan. Dakshina is a kind of repayment. Biksha means giving alms to people. Daan refers to charity or providing donations. Whenever someone imparts Daan, he or she must perform it wholeheartedly with a pure heart. The receiver must also be taking it sincerely. If we conduct Daan with regret or by boasting about it, it will have negative impacts. Daan, in simple terms, is akin to a loan written off.
Stories related to Daan: Rig Veda emphasizes Daan as help given to the needy. It can be in the form of food, knowledge, land, or protection. In Rig Veda, the best kinds of charity or Daan are feeding a hungry person and teaching someone. There are many stories and legends related to the concept of Daan as well. One of the most famous references to Daan is in Mahabharata. There are other stories, as well. Here we will be looking into some of the well-known narratives related to Daan or charity.
1. In Mahabharata, Karna is mentioned as Daan Veer because he engages in selfless charity. Karna, the son of Kunti and Surya Deva, has armor with the power to protect him from any form of danger. Indra, Arjuna's father, to save his son's life, asked for Karna's armor as a Daan. Karna gave it to him without any second thought. This act of Karna has made him Daan Veer.
2. Another significant figure who is known for performing Daan is Emperor Harsha, who distributed the wealth he had gained to people once every five years.
3. Bali, the king of the three worlds, was known among his people for satisfying the needs of everyone. Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Vamana as a saint seeking three feet of land to conduct his prayers. Bali agreed and asked him to measure the land required. Vamana grew into a giant. He placed his first foot on the Earth, his second on heaven, and there was no land left for the third foot. Bali allowed him to measure his last foot by pushing him into the underworld. Bali, thus, is a prominent figure in conducting charity and sacrifice in Hindu mythology.
These are some of the popular references concerning Daan. When we perform charity gladly, it can benefit us positively. It is one of the best ways to help a person. It can be in the form of money, land, food, education, clothes, ornaments, light, utensils, etc. Daan can not only benefit the person receiving it. But it can also help the person giving it achieve prosperity and happiness.
Significance of Daan: Daan or charity is a significant part of Hinduism. It is practiced all over India under various names. However, the result is providing something beneficial to someone who needs it gladly. There are several significances of performing Daan mentioned in different religious texts in Hinduism. Some of them are -
A) In Manusmiriti, there is an emphasis on the performance of Daan. Here, the giving of different items is associated with the significant changes that can bring in the life of the giver. They include-
1. Providing food to someone hungry can give us satisfaction.
2. Giving sesame seeds helps us in gaining healthy progeny.
3. Offering a lamp or light can bless you with good eyesight.
4. Presenting land can aid you in securing more land.
5. Giving silver can facilitate you with beauty.
B) In Bhagavata Gita, there is a discussion on when to perform and when not to perform Daan. A person can take part in Daan when he or she has a surplus income. Daan must be performed without making any expectations. One must always focus not to embarrass the person you are giving Daan.
C) In Bhavispurana, it states that when one gives a cow as a charity, it can help him or her gain wealth. When someone provides land, it can aid them in attaining income. When someone offers knowledge, he or she is rewarded with prosperity.
D) In Kumarika Khand of Skanda Purana, when Arjuna visits Narada, he explains to Arjuna about Daan. He states that one must perform Daan with devotion as Lord Siva can be pleased by our purity and sincerity. As per Naradha, there are three types of Daan based on what we give. They are -
1. Dhana Daan - It is the provision of money, and it is the most popular form of charity.
2. Vastu Daan - It is the giving of materials like ornaments, utensils, etc.
3. Vastra Daan - It is the offering of clothes.
Naradha further classifies Daan into six varieties based on the purpose of performing it. They are-
1. Dharma Daan - Here, one provides it due to virtuousness.
2. Artha Daan - Here, one gives it as a purpose of utility.
3. Kaama Daan - Here, one does it as a favor to a woman.
4. Laaja Daan - Here, one gives Daan because of compulsion.
5. Harsha Daan - Here, one engages in Daan after hearing good news or due to happiness.
6. Bhaya Daan - Here, one gives Daan due to fear or to avoid any risk.
Based on the donors, there can be virtuous as well as evil people who engage in Daan. Even the receiver must have positive qualities like the person must lead a Satvik life. While performing charity, one can gain results in the Paralok or the current life. When you give Daan or charity, you must not regret it, and it is wrong to give it to someone lazy or unserved.
Daan or charity is one of the most important aspects of giving in Hinduism. It can aid you in improving your life as well as that of the person who receives help. The essential element is whether you perform Daan sincerely, wholeheartedly, without any regrets, doubts, or expectations.