What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Meno-D-o It

Daana - charity.

We all know about charity, right? Most of us will drop a few coins or notes here and there. Some of us will do a lot more, or at least give regularly.

However, the act of handing over is prompted by all sorts of things within us. dan< kraeit/daanam karoti, the act of giving is not necessarily accompanied by a genuine and considered compassion. The fact that charity has become big business, that it advertises like big business, uses marketing ploys like big business… well, we also know, don't we, that this has led to the same sorts of problems as big business for those charities.

The paths of good intentions.

There's no doubt that there is a need for these mega-charities. Then there are the 'thons', those sponsored television and multimedia events which have proliferated this century, where giving becomes a competition. In both cases, they pull at the strings of the emotional beings, tug the chains of conscience, or brush the egos of the 'wannalookgoods'. They all use some of the funds to fund the fund-raising (not all of them but most). They have their place, the world - and the beneficiaries at the end of the chain - need these organisations and events.

The problem with giving to these places, the high profile 'wells', is that we cannot really have any personal connection with the charity process itself. We put our money in and it is like pouring a bucket of water into the ocean. We've added to the volume, but how can we see that? Do we even want to?

Daana needs to be personal, it needs to be involved, it needs to see the difference being made. By all means, add to the ocean - as much as you are able - but consider, also, the 'brooks and streams'. Those smaller charities, hands-on, focused and determined to participate in the alleviation of a social problem. In India, I experienced much local daanam karoti. The whole thinking about giving is different. It opened my eyes.

Families would set up their own mini-charity for, say, a home village and build what was needed as and when they had the funds. One to which I was close, succeeded in creating a fully-functioning ablutions block for their village, separate facilities for ladies and gents and a laundry yard to the side. Their next project was to turn the under-tree classroom into an actual building - which has recently been achieved.  Now, these are things for which, if they had chosen, the family charity could have applied to one of the Biggies and waited their turn. The philosophy of daana, though, meant not waiting to be rescued but taking action to escape. It is a prime example of charity begins at home. The villagers could do the work, they just needed the resources and that was provided by one of their own who had made good in the big city. This is going on all over India - and, quite likely, in Africa, the Orient and many other places that we shall never know or read about.

I mentioned the 'thinking'. Here's the thing; how many of us here in the affluent West can genuinely and honestly say that we give freely without a second thought as to how we are going to budget without that money? This is the crucial difference that I observed and have experienced between what we call charity and what is known as daana.

My own personal circumstances are very restricted, financially, but in the last decade, I let go of the 'poverty mentality' which meant that there was always never enough. Instead, I followed my Indian friends' understanding of giving. That it be without any second guessing or with-holding. That it be to a place or person where I could see the effect of that giving. Then that I pray for the opportunity to give again. What happens is that there is always enough. Tight, yes, but always enough. I have also learned that I can be on the receiving end when it is appropriate and deserved. The adage 'what goes around comes around' applies. The comparatively recent movement in the West of 'pay it forward' comes from that same place in the heart.

Give without expectation. Give meaningfully. Give not because you have to but because you want to. Most of all… Give.


  1. YAM close to home is where I feel most comfortable donating. The mega charities especially those who now worry us to death via house phone. We have one organization N. Raleigh Mission that we support.
    Hugs HiC

  2. We are very prudent in choosing the charities to which we will contribute. There are many ways to perform charity that are so much more meaningful than those big organizations that keep most of the money for "administration". How much more refreshing to pay for those groceries of the person in line behind you who truly needs a helping hand. Pay it forward, and not just paying for that coffee for the person in line behind you at the drive through. One of our daughters has a non-profit charity that she created with the main goal of getting children involved in "doing for others". She has done so many wonderful things through her organization. We are so very proud of her and all her helpers. http://kindcraft.org/

    1. Hari OM
      Thank you for that link - it speaks exactly to what is spoken of here! Nothing beats hands-on making a difference. YAM xx

  3. I completely agree that often those smaller charities do get over looked, and they're often doing some of the most important work

  4. We have become a lot more selective and stay more local with our charitable giving. We want to give to what is meaningful to us and know that it will help
    Hazel & Mabel

  5. Over thee past few years, I have been ina decluttering spree. My maids used to be the reciepients of these clenaing drives but lately they had become very blase about it. Their attitude was that this is old stuff which you will throw eventually.
    It made me pause and think that they dont really need it and I am giving it to the wrong person. I then hunted around for organisations that collect things to distribute to the needy and gave whatver I could over there, taking care not a single thing is torn/broken, damaged or unusable.
    You must read a blog by Dr Roshan in this challenge that details out kindness from all around the world; selfless kindness that brings a tear to my eyes daily when I read his posts. You would love to read them perhaps - sharing the link here. I am so impressed with the way people come forward in the West to do their bit for the world.

    The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Miche #atozchallenge

    1. Hari Om
      shalini, that is indeed a worthy site to visit - thank you for the link, which so well matches the spirit of daanam karoti! Yxx

  6. Oddly enough, the organisation I work for is constituted as a charitable foundation and any profits made are directed into activities which "help to protect life and property and support education, engineering-related research and public engagement". I donate to both large and small charities, but undoubtedly not enough. And I know, I admit, that I could never embrace 'daana' to the extent that you have.
    Cheers, Gail.

  7. My "G" post is on giving Yam and I feel exactly as you do - that it's about giving with joy and not trying to control how the gift is used. Also about giving of self - that is an important one for me.

    Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    D for Don’t Give Up

  8. true... and imho some cents or a small amount given with heart&hope for better times is more honest than a big amount what could be much bigger when some fab ladies wouldn't see charity events as a fashion week... for a haute couture dress bought only for this one event a poor family could live for months... and I also think it is awkward to talk about the hungry people in the world while eating lobsters... but what do I know about the heart and the mentality of those who rule this world... sigh...

  9. There's never enough and yet there is always going to be enough - it takes a lifetime to actually realise this. And that quote by Vivekananda is one of my favourites. One seriously cool dude.

  10. I am a big fan of pay it forward. To give is its own gift, and it makes me sad how many people do not seem to understand this.
    Tasha's Thinkings - Movie Monsters

  11. i was raised in a tight community formed by the churches my dad pastored. when we lived in KY, daddy's first church, was maybe 50 to 70 people if that. a farm community of about 500. no one went hungry, everyone helped everyone, much like what you said about India, from putting up barns or fences to helping by passing out produce. daddy's pay was almost non existent, but when he had a need, the family took care of it, the church family, the community. that is sadly lackig these days. i went to the link the op pack provided and that is the perfect example of how to help others.

    1. Hari OM
      Isn't it though?! What you describe is very much how things were until - perhaps - the age of the Beatles... the 1960s changed a great deal about society, a truly major shift beyond mere fashion, and much of it was for the better, this cannot be denied... and yet something major was lost. Yxx

  12. I love this post about Dan. Every day I am eagerly waiting to read your posts. Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts.

  13. So true. There are a couple big places that id like to give too but i doubt my money would make a difference or even get to the people that I want to help. We give to 2 of our locals.
    1. Rockford pregnancy center
    2. Rockford rescue mission. Money goes to help homeless.
    When you give you will be blessed back


  14. Giving is a part of life. Pay it forward, a hand up not a hand out, my time and my full attention are things that are important. Dana is part of my life.
    It is all part of the circle.
    Thanks for sharing
    Love Barb

  15. So true. Daana needs to be personal, out of pure love and compassion; not for satiating the ego.

  16. The widow's coin given from the heart.

  17. Thank you for this giving Yamini.
    "Give without expectation ...." such a simple and yet powerful principle to live a good life.
    Thank you.

  18. Isn't this interesting. I was giving away some clothes. I told me client. I could tell she wanted them. It was nothing for me, but there is joy in the giving.
    I know this isn't that of which you write. We have so much here. Such a different world than many live.
    I do my best giving monthly to 3 charities: the local food bank, women's shelter, and the like.
    Another thoughtful post, Yam! xx

  19. I agree give but to the small hands the ones that really need the help.


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