Charity is the Way


Every major religion of the world talks about the importance of charity and service. While most of us remember to visit the temples, churches and gurudwaras because we are religious, hardly anyone remembers to feed a hungry man, to save a dying animal, which is what the Gurus through times insisted upon. Yogi Ashwini, insists upon charity and service as the sole means to progress on the path of sadhna, Saint Francis of Assisi maintained that it is in giving that you receive, Sage Patanjali emphasised upon aparigraha or non-collection, and our reader shares a narrative from the life of Guru Nanak, on how Sikhism too prescribes living for others.

In Lahore, during the times of Guru Nanak lived a rich business man by the name of Dunichand. Atop his handsome mansion were seven flags, each for the number of lakhs he had in his treasury.


When Dunichand’s father expired, he invited each and every person in town for the shradh and offered a free meal. Guru Nanak was in town at the time and went for the ceremony upon Dunichand’s request. As Dunichand offered him food, the Guru enquired if everyone had eaten. Dunichand replied with a ‘yes’. Guru Nanak then told Dunichand that his father had not eaten for seven days and was dying of hunger along the canal under a grove of trees. “But remember in his present birth he is a wolf and not a human, take this food which you have served to me and feed it to him,” advised Guru Nanak.

Dunichand was shocked, but he obeyed and rushed to the spot and found the wolf, almost dead. He put some food to its mouth. The wolf took little bit of it and passed away. As a parting message the father advised Dunichand to take blessings of his Guru. Dunichand asked his father how he landed in the yoni of a wolf. The father replied that when he was breathing his last, a thought came to his mind that he had done everything in the world but had never tasted meat. This made him eat meat and meat only, in the next life.

Dunichand returned home and sought blessings of the Guru for a place in the heaven. Guru Nanak gave him a small needle and asked him to bring it with him after his death so that he can be recognised and placed in heaven. Dunichand asked him how he would bring the needle with him when he cannot take anything from here. “Exactly, that is the point,” said Guru Nanak. He further asked him the use of all his wealth if he could not take a small needle with him. Wisdom dawned upon Dunichand and he heeded his Guru’s  advice to distribute all his wealth. He did not need a needle anymore to ensure a higher birth, his karmas backed with the grace of his Guru paved the way.

Dunichand listened to his Guru and so gyan as well as moksha came his way through guru kripa. Following the path shown by your Guru is the strongest of all karmas, a Guru being the one who grants you the experience and puts you on the path of sadhna, without charging a fee. Once you get the experience, and if after that you raise doubts upon the Guru or move against him, it is considered as a paap, graver than Brahm-hatya, a doorway to hell, to painful births.

Author: Rajit Singh, Architect

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