Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
To give people what they need is donation, not what you feel like giving. If you donate clothes to somebody who already has many clothes, it is of no use. Instead, give clothes to people who need clothes. Similarly, giving food to somebody who owns a restaurant is foolishness. Instead, give food to the hungry and clothes to people who need them. This is donation.
So, it is important to donate to people who need it, not to those who don’t need it. If you donate a cow to a poor man who can’t feed himself, how will he feed the cow? If you donate a dictionary to a man who is illiterate, what will he do with it? Only give to those who deserve it!
Why must we donate?
People are ready to buy expensive clothes for themselves, people are ready to spend a huge amount on their holidays, but they are not ready to give one cent to others for a service project. At least 3 percent of what we earn, we should keep aside for charity work. This converts the 97% percent of your earnings into good money.
If you want to use 100% on yourself, then that is no good! If the money needs to be pure, it can only be 97% or less of your earnings (laughs). You are free to use 97% on yourself, but 3 – 5%, you should keep aside for donation. This is because whatever you earn is never enough for yourself! You ask anyone, they all feel, "Oh, there's a shortage.” Everyone finds a shortage. So it is not wise to say, "First I will do everything for me and then I will donate to others." We have to do both. It is collective growth that we must aim for.
The best form of donation
Generosity, or sharing what we have with those around us, is a divine quality. There are different types of donations:
Food is the foundation of life. Hence, donating food is no doubt good. If you are not able to do it daily, then do it once in a while. You may donate food on your birthday, or in remembrance of your ancestors. That is why all these rules were instilled into our culture. Especially in India, anna daanam (donation of food) has been there for ages.
Though it is said “Anna daanam param daanam, vidya daanam atah param. annena kshanika trupthi, yaavat jeevancha vidyeya.” This means that donating food is the best donation; donating knowledge is the best among the best kinds of donations. Food can satisfy one's hunger for a short time, but with knowledge, one can be satisfied lifelong.
“Sarveshaamevadaanamm brahmadaanam vishishyati.” Furthermore, sharing knowledge of Brahman (supreme consciousness or Divine) is even more superior to that.
If you are not doing any donation, then do the basic first. Begin with the donation of food.