Talks by Sringeri Acharyals - VII

Motivated charity leads to bondage


Several valuable and easy guidelines have been packed by Lord Krishna in His Bhagavad Gita, His sermon on the battlefield, which if upheld will enable men to lead a virtuous life. What is needed is a sincere endeavor to put them into practice. A few among these divine declarations are about the value of giving charity to genuine causes, of refraining from falsehood, of speaking truth only and about being soft in one's conversations with others, avoiding any offence to them. An injury inflicted by harsh statements and derogatory comments about other's conduct will leave an indelible scar whereas even a physical wound may vanish in course of time. Efforts in all these matters are sure to result in perfection and in pleasing God.

On philanthropy, the Lord indicates that help should be extended only to deserving persons, the poor who are in dire circumstances. Charity should never be given to gain fame, popularity or publicity but should be considered a duty enjoined on a person who can spare. It should not be indiscriminate, granted to one who may use it to promote wicked deeds or to divert to ignoble acts. Charity should be purely voluntary and should not be under duress, compulsion or reluctance. The help given should be for a proper and an absolutely needy man, at the proper time and in a proper place. More important is that it should be provided expecting no return at all or anticipating any benefit from the recipient. Such a beneficial act will be liked by God. Charity with an eye on a return or for other purposes will result in bondage and may be a sin too. If it is done as a duty ordained and as a dedication to God, there will be no attachment. Similar are the spiritual exercises, visits to temples or meditation which form part of religious duties. One should not seek gains from them and ask ``what shall I get if I carry them out.''

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God will not appreciate motivated duties. If you observe them, God will feel satisfied. He will give the reward when and what he deserves.

Sri Bharathi Theertha Swami of Sringeri in a discourse referred to Krishna's advice on being gentle, polite and soft when one speaks to others. Courtesy will not cost anything.

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An astrologer was candid in informing a king that he would die before others meet their death. The enraged ruler asked another, who realizing the situation and his mood, answered in a subtle oblique manner conveying the same without being open and the king was happy.

The Lord asks men not to be prejudiced while meeting others and hate them or be unkind or pass adverse remarks. They should speak the Truth on all occasions. Poet Kalidasa mentions how the forbears of Rama were highly choosy and measured in their words. Not that they were proud but they felt that unnecessary talk may lead them to indulge in unnecessary falsehood.

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Gita urges people to distribute their wealth among the have-nots. Some will not spend it for their own comfort or distribute to others. They are the worst misers who neither enjoy their money here nor hereafter (in the other world).

The Acharya also pointed out how some people created confusion or spread hatred among devotees praising one God or decrying another. Hinduism gives liberty to its followers to worship the deity of their choice, as all are but different forms of one God and hence the question of superiority or inferiority never arises and there is no scope for any uarrel.