Art of Giving


Rivers do not drink their own water, nor do trees eat their own fruit, nor do rain clouds eat the grains reared by them. The wealth of the noble is used solely for the benefit of others!”


In nature, the sun, the rains, the trees, the spring and the rivers work in a rhythm of giving. Nature serves all beings selflessly during its entire existence.


Even after accepting that giving is good and that one must learn to give, several questions need to be answered.


The first question is:

Why to give?

Our attachment to anything is a cause of bondage and any kind of bondage is a cause of misery. The deeper the attachment more is the misery we derive out of it. The thing or being we are attached to most will be the cause of our biggest misery.

All the material things are temporary and subject to change and modification. Its quantity and quality can deteriorate and is subject to theft and destruction. When this happens we suffer according to our attachment to it. More the attachment, more is the suffering; lesser the attachment lesser is the suffering and when there is no attachment, there is no suffering.

God / Absolute Truth / Supreme Reality / Pure Awareness / Pure Self is the only entity that is permanent and immutable in the entire existence. We need to detach ourselves from all that is impermanent and attache ourselves to that which is the only permanent entity.

We should develop this habit of giving because it will help us overcome our attachment to material things. Even if we are not well off, we can give whatever little we can afford. This will keep the habit of giving alive and when we are better off we can give more.

Therefore, give to overcome attachment and a sense of possessiveness.


The next question is:

When should one give?

We all know the famous incident from Mahaabhaarata. Yudhisthira asks a beggar seeking alms to come the next day. On this, Bheem rejoices that Yudhisthira his brother has conquered death! Because he is sure that he will be around the next day to give. Yudhisthira gets the message.

One does not know really whether one will be there tomorrow to give!

Moreover, when the thought to give comes, one should give immediately before the mind changes.

The time to give therefore is now.


The next question is:

How much to give?

One recalls the famous incident from history.

Raanaa Prataap was reeling after defeat from the Mughals. He had lost his army, he had lost his wealth, and most important, he had lost hope, his will to fight. At that time, in his darkest hour, his erstwhile minister, Bhamasha, came seeking him and placed his entire fortune at the disposal of Raanaa Prataap. With this, Raanaa Prataap raised an army and lived to fight another day.

The answer to this question how much to give is:

Give as much as you can!

Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.


The next question is:

What to give?

It is not only money that can be given away. It could be anything. It could be food or simply a glass of water, service at the physical level, love and affection, knowledge, a few words of encouragement or hope, a flower or even a smile. Sometimes merely giving an ear to someone, who wants to desperately unburden his / her heart, is also quite adequate.

It is not how much one gives but how one gives that really matters. When we give a smile to a stranger that may be the only good thing received by him in days and weeks!

When we feed a hungry man a fish we feed him for a day. When we teach him how to fish we feed him for life. Therefore giving knowledge is higher than everything.

The highest giving is the giving of aatma jnaana (knowledge of the Infinite, Eternal, Blissful Self), which liberates a person from the bondage of all limitations, all miseries and the recurrent cycles of birth and death.

You can give anything but you must give with all your heart!


The next question is:

Whom to give?

Many times we avoid giving by finding fault with the person who is seeking. However, being judgmental and rejecting a person on the presumption that he may not be the most deserving is not justified.

Another important thing to remember is that once a person has given away something in charity to someone, he is no more the owner of that particular thing. Now the receiver is the owner of that thing. What the receiver does with the thing given to him is no more the concern of the giver.

Give without being judgmental!


Next we have to answer:

How to give?

Coming to the manner of giving, one has to ensure that the receiver does not feel humiliated or inferior, nor the giver feels proud or superior by giving.

In giving, follow the advice “Let not your left hand know what your right hand gives.” Charity without publicity and fanfare is the best form of charity. Anonymous giving is the best way of giving.

Give quietly!


While giving, let not the recipient feel small or humiliated or inferior. After all, what we give never really belonged to us. We come to this world with nothing and will go with nothing. The thing gifted was only with us for a temporary period. Why then take pride in giving away something which really did not belong to us?

We should give with grace and with a feeling of gratitude that we got an opportunity to serve.


The next question is:

What should one feel after giving?

We all know the story of Eklavya. When Dronaachaarya asked him for his right thumb as “Guru Dakshina”, he unhesitatingly cut off the thumb and gave it to Dronaachaarya.

There is a little known sequel to this story.

Eklavya was asked whether he ever regretted the act of giving away his thumb. He replied, and the reply has to be believed to be true, as it was asked to him when he was dying.

His reply was “Yes! I regretted this only once in my life. It was when Pandavas were coming to kill Dronacharya who was broken hearted on the false news of death of his son, Ashwathaamaa, and had stopped fighting. It was then that I regretted the loss of my thumb. If the thumb was there, no one could have dared hurt my Guru.”

The message to us is clear.

Give and never regret giving nor have any expectations from the receiver not even an expression of gratitude!


And the last question is:

How much should we provide for our heirs?

We should ask ourselves “are we taking away from them the gift of work — a source of happiness?”

The answer is given by Warren Buffet:

Leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing!



Those who only take but never want to give are of asurik (demonic) attitude. Those who give equivalent to what they have taken are the lay people. Those who give much more that what little they have taken are of saintly attitude. Those who have taken just a little, but feel indebted and keep giving throughout their life are divine / Godly.

Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.”


Let us learn the Art of Giving.

Quoting Saint Kabir:

“When the wealth in the house increases, and water fills the boat, throw them out with both hands quickly to avert disaster!”

This is the wise thing to do!!!


Some quotations on the Art of Giving…


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward

If you want others to be happy practise compassion. If you want to be happy practise compassion.” — Dalai Lama

Open your heart — open it wide;

someone is standing outside.”

— Mary Engelbreit

No one has ever become poor by giving.” — Anne Frank

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” — Khalil Gibran

The only gift is the portion of thyself.” — Ralph W Emerson

We may often give without love, but we can never love without giving.”

— Swami Chinmayananda

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” — John Wooden


Happiness depends on what you can give, not what you can get.” 

— Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Young India 


If you always give, you will always have.


Giving our best! Sharing with gratitude

Recommended Posts

Observations of Lord Buddha About Life…

Wonder why all the statues that we see of Lord Buddha show him as calm, cool and smiling? Well, because Gautama the Buddha had found the secrets of life by discovering the harsh realities of life. He had his ego completely annihilated and found the beauty of present moment. To be calm and cool like […]


The Old Carpenter…

Our lives today are the result of the attitudes and choices we made in the past and our karma-s/actions to implement them. Our lives in the future will be the result of the choices we make today and our present karma-s. This is the story of an elderly carpenter who has worked for a contractor […]


2 thoughts on “Art of Giving

  1. Subarna Lal Chitrakar

    this is the things which is lacking in our society .
    very useful article gurudev,
    thanks a lot

  2. Dr raje


Leave A Comment