This is the edict of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) – its all learners or students (i.e., Sikhs) must use their brain in making donations (charity, gift, giving, offering, alms, Daan-Punn, ਦਾਨ-ਪੁੱਨ, etc.).
Clearly, in Sikhi (i.e., the Way of life based on Wisdom, Bibek, Truth…), making charity donations is an art – very fine art indeed.
- ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: 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 Nanak, this is the True Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (sggs 1245).
Hence, the SGGS warns all Sikhs that unwisely or improperly motivated charity donations gives encouragement to “Satanic life”.
For wealth in the hands of fool is worse than the poverty of the learned.The Gurbani alerts us as follows.
Simply put: There is no spiritual advancement of the giver or the receiver in such donations (Daan).
- ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਦਾਤੀ ਕੀਤੈ ਪੁੰਨਿ ॥: (Rabb) is not softened or pleased by giving charity or alms (Daan-Punn, ਦਾਨ-ਪੁੱਨ …). (sggs 1237).
If one must, the Gurbani’s edict is to make donations with a discerning intelligence.
If given ignorantly or foolishly, the effects will come back to haunt you and rest of the society! You cannot escape the consequences of your foolishness.
When performed an unwisely (lack or absence of Wisdom, Bibek, Akal…), the act of making donation inflates our false ego-sense or Haume (lust, anger, greed, attachment, false pride, jealousy, stubborn mindedness, etc.). It is this false ego-sense which then begins to think that by giving it has become somebody, noble or virtuous.
We often hear explanations such as, “Well, once I have given donation, I care less but the receiver does with it.”
This is a great FALLACY, which is totally refuted by the Gurbani.
They scare (fear-ਡਰ) people by telling them if they don’t give Pujaaree everything in Daan (charity), then they would suffer (Dukh) in this life and the next life.
On the other hand, if they generously give (greed-ਲਾਲਚ), then they would enjoy happiness (Sukh) in this life as well as in the next life here after!
As a result – out of fear and greed – people would give the Pujaaree gold, horses, elephants, food, clothes, land, etc.
Not only that, people even give away their wives in Daan (donation) to the Pujaaree to enjoy them! How stupid is that? The 5th Mahal and Bhagat Naam Dev Ji explain all this as follows,
- ਕਨਿਕ ਕਾਮਿਨੀ ਹੈਵਰ ਗੈਵਰ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਦਾਨੁ ਦਾਤਾਰਾ ॥ ਅੰਨ ਬਸਤ੍ਰ ਭੂਮਿ ਬਹੁ ਅਰਪੇ ਨਹ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥੪॥: A person may give Daan (charity, gifts, donations…) of all sorts – gold, women, horses and elephants. One may make offerings of food, clothes and land in abundance, but this will not lead him to the Door of Hari (Mool, Pure Nature, Jot Saroop, Truth, Wisdom, Virtues, ਅਕਲ, ਦਿਮਾਗ, ਗਿਆਨ…). ||4||(sggs 642).
- ਅਸੁ ਦਾਨ ਗਜ ਦਾਨ ਸਿਹਜਾ ਨਾਰੀ ਭੂਮਿ ਦਾਨ ਐਸੋ ਦਾਨੁ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤਹਿ ਕੀਜੈ ॥ ਆਤਮ ਜਉ ਨਿਰਮਾਇਲੁ ਕੀਜੈ ਆਪ ਬਰਾਬਰਿ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸਰਿ ਤਊ ਨ ਪੂਜੈ ॥੩॥: (O my hypocritical mind!) if horses are given away in Daan (charity, gifts, donations…), if elephants are given away in Daan, if women on their beds are given away in Daan, if land is given away in Daan; if such gifts are given over and over again; if own-self is offered in Daan, and give away in Daan his body weight in gold; none of these is equal to the Divine Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). ||3|| (sggs 973).
This is not the end. After receiving all these freebies from the foolish people — including others wives — the Pujaree would tell people to get their head sawn off in order to gain Mukti (liberation), heaven, etc.
The 5th Mahal explains this as well:
- ਮਨ ਕਾਮਨਾ ਤੀਰਥ ਜਾਇ ਬਸਿਓ ਸਿਰਿ ਕਰਵਤ ਧਰਾਏ ॥ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਜੇ ਲਖ ਜਤਨ ਕਰਾਏ ॥੩॥: With the mind’s desires, a person may go and dwell at sacred places of pilgrimage, and offer his head to be sawn off; but this will not cause the filth of his mind to depart, even though he may make Lakhs of efforts (1 Lakh = 100 thousands). ||3|| (sggs 642).
Even today, all this Pakhand (ਪਖੰਡ) is still ongoing, but in a slightly different form!
For example, instead of horses and elephants, foolish people donate expensive cars to Baabaas or Deraas. Also, instead of “giving away women on their beds (ਸਿਹਜਾ ਨਾਰੀ)”, people send their women (ਬਹੂ-ਬੇਟੀ) to Baabaas or Deraas in hope to conceive sons!
This is beyond stupidity!
Obviously, these people are still living in a stone-age!
- ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਭ ਬਾਤ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੀ ਅਉਗਨੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਕਾਹੇ ਕੀ ਕੁਸਲਾਤ ਹਾਥਿ ਦੀਪੁ ਕੂਏ ਪਰੈ ॥੨੧੬॥: O Kabir! The mind knows everything and knowingly it commits demerits. What use is it to have a Lamp (i.e., the Light of Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom…) in his hand, if the man still falls into a well (ignorance, Maya, Bikaar, ਅਉਗਨ / ਬਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਦੇ ਖੂਹ ਵਿਚ…)? (sggs 1376).
The Gurmat tells all of us to use our brain (Wisdom, discerning intellect, Bibek…) while making charity.
If the receiver is unworthy, then you have involuntarily become instrument, accessory or partner in whatever the receiver does with your donation. That is, in truth, charity performed unintelligent (ignorance-passion) injures both the giver and the receiver, and the society at large! This is how the statement “Paap and Punn are both the same” comes true.
One thing is certain – whenever an imprudent or a defective form of charity is offered to unworthy people or unworthy places, you can be sure they will certainly utilize it for nefarious activities to spread trouble in the society or the world.
In other words, it’s like casting pearls and gold before cranes or crows!
- ਚਉਣੇ ਸੁਇਨਾ ਪਾਈਐ ਚੁਣਿ ਚੁਣਿ ਖਾਵੈ ਘਾਸੁ ॥: Though gold may be placed before a herd of cattle, but they will pick out the grass to eat (i.e., cattle have no appreciation for gold)! (sggs 143).
- ਹੰਸਾ ਹੀਰਾ ਮੋਤੀ ਚੁਗਣਾ ਬਗੁ ਡਡਾ ਭਾਲਣ ਜਾਵੈ ॥: The swans peck at the diamonds and pearls, while the crane chases after frogs. (sggs 960).
Furthermore, the Gurbani says one has to give without harboring any pride or false ego-sense (Haumai) to what is given away.
- ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਅਰੁ ਦਾਨ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਮੈ ਧਰੈ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਹਫਲੁ ਜਾਤ ਤਿਹ ਜਿਉ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥: Those who make pilgrimages to sacred shrines, observe ritualistic fasts and make donations to charity while still taking pride in their minds — O Nanak, their actions are useless, like the elephant, who takes a bath, and then rolls in the dust (sggs 1428).
Also, any expectations from charity, love, relationships, etc., almost always disappoint. This is because with every expectation comes the seed of a disappointment, that of unfulfilled expectations.
Expectations are born because of seeking. Hence, charity has to be done without seeking expectations.
The moment we have expectations of rewards from giving, we corrupt it and anything that is corrupted cannot be fundamentally good nor satisfying.
Giving with a quality or attitude of non-magnanimity constitutes giving in Doojaa-Bhaav (duality, Maya, illusion…). To the contrary, the Gurbani says that any giving should be performed in a manner that helps eradicate Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.).
- ਪੰਚ ਮਰਦ ਸਿਦਕਿ ਲੇ ਬਾਧਹੁ ਖੈਰਿ ਸਬੂਰੀ ਕਬੂਲ ਪਰਾ ॥੪॥: Tie up the five demons of desire (lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride) with faith, charity and contentment, and you will be acceptable ||4|| (sggs 1083).
- ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: People take their cleansing baths, and give to charity again and again, but they are ultimately consumed by their love of duality (sggs 34).
Last – but not least – charity implies we give or contribute out of our “truthful” earnings (also called Dasaan Nohaan Dee Kirat Kamaaee).
The majority of us give in charity in hope for sanctifying dishonest living or ill-gotten wealth.
For example, first we dishonestly accumulate wealth with corrupt means. Then, in a futile bid to sanctify it, we give some of it to charity institutions, to build temples, to open hospitals, to Langar or free food distribution, and so on. Bigger the charity or donation, bigger the corruption behind it!
- ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥: Do ( the honest) work, and then help the needy. O Nanak! Such people know the true Way of life. ||1|| (sggs 1245).
- ਸਤੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਕਰਿ ਸਤੁ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥: Men of charity gather wealth by committing sins, and then give it away in donations to charity! (sggs 951).
- ਪਿਆਰੇ ਇਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਮਿਲਣੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਮੈ ਕੀਏ ਕਰਮ ਅਨੇਕਾ ॥ ਹਾਰਿ ਪਰਿਓ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਕੈ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਦੀਜੈ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਿਬੇਕਾ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: My dear! I have performed many such rituals, but the Divine (Wisdom, Virtues…) is not realized by these methods (ਤਰੀਕੇ). (Forsaking the ritualistic practices or methods) I have dropped down weary at the Divine-door (Giaan-Guru, True Wisdom) and pray for the grant of Bibek-Budhi (discerning intellect…). ||Pause|| (sggs 641).