Bharatiya Ideas

Saatvik Daan

The concept of Daan in Bharatiya culture is very comprehensive. There are many confusions about the process and outcomes. But, Bhagwan Krishn in Bhagwad Geeta has very beautifully explained this concept.

The Daan can be categorized in three categories:

  1. Saatvik Daan: When there is no expectation of returns (neither in monetary nor non-monetary). The sole purpose of giving daan is to create good for benefit of all. This type of daan is called Saatvik Daan
  2. Rajsik Daan: When the donor expects equivalent or higher returns in lieu of the donation. This is Raajsik Daan.
  3. Taamsik Daan: When the purpose of donation is to create troubles for someone or derive illegitimate and unethical pleasures, it is taamsik daan.

Thus Bharatiya Model of Financial Literacy suggests that the ethical profit (shubh-laabh) should be utilized for creating social good and that too in Saatvik Daan form.

A Story for elaborating the concept:

One fine day Pandavas with the purpose of doing public good wished to feed the hungry. They set up a community kitchen where none was refused food. At the end of the day, a mongoose, whose half body was of gold started rolling on the remains of food grains. After repeatedly rolling without any effect, the mongoose was disappointed. Yudhishthir was curious to know what was going on. So he asked the mongoose to explain about this act. The mongoose replied that sometime ago its half body had turned golden by rolling on the leftover food grains at a Brahmin’s home. The mongoose elaborated the incident in detail. There was once upon a time a Brahmin family that was so poor that the Bhiksha had not given them any food for many days. Fortunately after many days of starvation, they could have some grains for food. When the family just began to have food, a sadhu came to their door and asked for food. Following the dharm of serving the guest like a Bhagwan, the elderly starved Brahmin offered the part of his food to him but person asked for more as  his hunger was not fulfilled. The wife then offered her share of food, but the starved Saadhu was still hungry and so the son also gave his share. Even after this the saadhu’s hunger was not fulfilled. Then the daughter also gave the food. Now the Saadhu was satisfied.

The mongoose said,  “by chance, I rolled into the remains of those food particles and half my body turned golden. Since then for years, I have rolled in myriad of left over food grains, where people claimed to have made great sacrifices with purely altruistic motives, in the hope of making my whole body golden, but I have always been disappointed and same happened today.  This made Yudhisthir ponder over his intentions and his daan was more of a raajsik in nature, while that of poor family was purely saatvik.

An image that represents three daan are is shown below (source: Gita Press, Gorkahpur)

satvik daan

  Image credits: Jeevan Charya Ank, Gita Press Gorakhpur


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