Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mahabharata on daanam

No one should make a gift for the sake of acquiring fame, or from fear (of censure and the like) or unto a benefactor. A virtuous man would not make gifts unto persons living by singing and dancing or unto those that are professional jesters, or unto a person that is intoxicated, or unto one that is insane, or unto a thief, or unto a slanderer, or unto an idiot, or unto one that is pale of hue, or unto one that is defective of a limb, or unto a dwarf, or unto a wicked person, or unto one born in a low and wicked family, or unto one that has not been sanctified by the observance of vows. No gift should be made to a Brahmana without knowledge of the Vedas. Gifts should be made unto him only that is a Srotriya. 1 An improper gift and an improper acceptance produce evil consequences unto both the giver and the receiver. As a person who seeks to cross the ocean with the aid of a rock or a mass of catechu sinks along with his support, even so the giver and the acceptor (in such a case) both sink together. As a fire that is covered with wet fuel does not blaze forth, even so the receiver of a gift who is bereft of penances and study and piety cannot confer any benefit (upon the giver). As water in a (human skull) and milk in a bag made of dog-skin become unclean in consequence of the uncleanliness of the vessels in which they are kept even so the Vedas become fruitless in a person who is not of good behaviour. One may give from compassion unto a low Brahmana who is without mantras and vows, who is ignorant of the scriptures and who harbors envy. One may, from compassion, give unto a person that is poor or afflicted or ill. But he should not give unto such a person in the belief that he would derive any (spiritual) benefit from it or that he would earn any religious merit by it. There is no doubt that a gift made to Brahmana bereft of the Vedas becomes perfectly fruitless in consequence of the fault of the recipient. As an elephant made of wood or an antelope made of leather, even so is a Brahmana that has not studied the Vedas. All the three have nothing but names. 1 As a eunuch is unproductive with women, as a cow is unproductive with a cow, as a bird lives in vain that is featherless, even so is a Brahmana that is without mantras. As grain without kernel, as a well without water, as libations poured on ashes, even so is a gift to a Brahmana void of learning. An unlearned Brahmana is an enemy (to all) and is the destroyer of the food that is presented to the gods and Pitrus. A gift made to such a person goes for nothing. He is, therefore, like unto a robber (of other people's wealth). He can never succeed in acquiring regions of bliss hereafter. I have now told thee in brief, O Yudhishthira, all that was said (by Manu on that occasion). This high discourse should be listened to by all, O bull of Bharata's race.'"