Thursday, March 24, 2011

Charity & Sacrifice

“Warren Buffet and Bill Gates contribute billions to charity” screamed the headlines in leading newspapers. The rationale for their magnanimous gesture - any surplus wealth left after taking care of all our requirements, and that of our children, are much more useful if donated in charity. Now, both of them are on a crusade to persuade other wealthy people to do likewise.

When I read the news of this extraordinary generosity of the two richest men in the world today, I was reminded of a story which features in our Puranas. Once, a very wealthy & powerful King had organized a huge Yagna or sacrifice. The practice of those days was that the King, upon the conclusion of the rituals, would give away large sums of wealth, grains, cattle, clothes etc. as charity to the needy people who would throng such occasions.

The king felt blissful and blessed after he had given away significant part of the wealth that he had accumulated through conquests, taxes etc. Suddenly, a hare appeared and started rolling on the grounds in front of the king. He noticed that one side of the hare was golden and the other side was normal. Intrigued, he asked the hare as to what it was up to.

The hare replied that it was in search of a worthy sacrifice to ensure that its body became fully golden. It said that half of its body became golden when it rolled in the floor of a peasant whose sacrifice was extraordinary. The King wanted to know more about this. So, he asked the hare to tell him the story of the peasant and his sacrifice.

The hare informed the king that there was a family of peasants who were very kind and charitable. They would often starve due to poverty and, on the days they could afford, would eat their meal only after feeding more needy people. One day, as they were about to eat, after starving for 3 days, they had a visitor who was hungry. They gladly invited him for sharing their meal. After he had been fed, as the family sat down to eat, another visitor came who was also very hungry. By the time they fed him, all the food in the house was over. They only had water left to drink. Just before they could have it, another visitor came with dogs and said that the dogs were thirsty. So, they even gave up the water for the dogs.

They gave up their lives in this manner and attained the highest goal. The family was blessed because they did not distinguish between themselves and others. Their sacrifice was indeed greater than any charity that people do after taking care of their needs. The hare rolled on their floor and became half golden. Since then, he was searching for a similar level of sacrifice so that he could become fully golden. The King, after hearing the story, realized that his effort, although praiseworthy, paled in comparison to the sacrifice of the peasant family.

Charity is when you feel for others. Sacrifice is when you treat others as yourself.


Anya said...

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance!!


Anonymous said...

To be charitable is just being human whereas sacrificing for others is divine..


Lauren Sheil said...

This story reminds me of Mark 12:41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

KParthasarathi said...

Nice story explaining the merits of charity even when one is in need himself.A copper given to a poor man by another not fortunately placed is more commendable than a silver by a rich man.
Why is it that in India where our moral values are supposed to be strong,the big corporate honchos do not share their wealth for charitable causes?The true richness lies in not wanting more.

Prasanth Jalasutram said...

very nice story Sheshadri garu.

Sonal Raisinghani said...

There is a famous english proverb.. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.

I have heard about this Hare's story in my childhood.

Just a thought .. Does starving like this peasant work... ? Are we not in turn destroying the gift of life God has given us....

Yes, Charity is required but only a portion of your earning should be given away for charity cause. Never do anything that puts you and your family in awkward position. Make a commitment to yourself and stick to it ...

The idea of giving away what you have especially when you dont have much is tough one. Getting into the frame of mind of selfless giving is a step in the right direction.

Give a fixed percentage of your earnng month on month for charity cause without any ulterior motives and God will always reward you in amazing ways..

V Rakesh said...

There perhaps cannot be a better sense of satisfaction while one engages oneself in a life for another