Friday, September 30, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Charity

Once Seventh Guru Sahib - Guru Har Rai ji was explaining the concept of Charity. A Sikh stood up and said, "O Master, the rich can give donations; how can the poor give donations? Kindly enlighten us on this issue also because we are poor, we are penniless, we have nothing; so how should we enjoy its fruit?" Guru Sahib said, "Dear devotees, this is not the case. A rich person has a lot of wealth, while the poor man has nothing to eat even. Giving charity is equal in the eyes of God. One having reaped a profit of one lakh rupees donates a thousand rupees. But another has earned no profit, but he gives one rupee as donation. The latter's one rupee donation is greater than the thousand rupees donated by the former." He submitted —

"O Master, kindly explain to us; we very much wish to give donation but we haven't anything at all."

"How many loaves do you eat?"

"Four."

Guru Sahib said, "Eat three loaves, and put the flour of one loaf in a separate vessel. When it becomes a seer (900 gms), put it in the gurdwara's common kitchen, where food is cooked, where the flour or foodgrains are not sold, and where the hungry and needy are fed." Then another Sikh stood up and said, "O Master, I have appetite for four loaves, but I get only two. Can there be some way out for me too?" In the meanwhile, a lady also got up and said, 'O Master, we are extremely poor, and only half of us get food, while half of us remain without food." Guru Sahib said, "O woman, what you should do is to take a pinch of flour and collect it in a vessel and when the vessel becomes full, donate it to the Guru's 'langar' (community kitchen). There it will get used; it will be instant charity — '

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Instant charity brings great blessing and joy." They said, "O Master, does even such a little charity bear fruit?" Guru Sahib said, "Let me narrate to you an incident of Kiratpur itself.

Here lived a very poor Gursikh. He used to make his both ends meet by gathering grains from the field - furrows and lived under a broken shed. A he-sparrow and she-sparrow under some curse happened to fall into this existence, but they were gifted with knowledge. They used to eat a few grains from the ones collected by this Gursikh. Both thought of doing something to help him out of his extreme poverty — This fool does not know that the cure for poverty lies in giving charity or donation. If a poor man starts giving charity, his poverty is removed. This man does not know this truth. Well, we will pick up two grains each from his collection and drop them in the 'langar' (kitchen) of Seventh Guru Sahib. They started doing this regularly. As the grains fell into the Guru's kitchen, his earnings started increasing. Finally, he became rich, built a new house. He forgot that it was God who had blessed him with all these gifts. He thought that he had achieved everything through his ability and intelligence and took to drinking and eating nonvegetarian food. He took to wrong and evil ways. He became atheistic. Earlier he was poor, and suffered afflictions. In adversity, man remembers God, and when he acquires wealth, he indulges in sensual pleasures and becomes oblivious of God.

Only very few persons continue to remember God even on becoming rich and achieving prominence. Most of the people forget God. Rare are the persons, who retain poise and balance; most of the people go astray. None remembers God; people remember God in affliction and poverty. So they (he-sparrow and she-sparrow) thought —

"We have done a wrong thing; we have made him take to a sinful life."
"Then?"
"Therefore, he should be restored to the same old condition."
"How should this be done?"
"The earnings in which comes to fall a grain from the Guru's abode causes poverty. These earnings are destroyed or go waste."
'Desire for the offerings of Guru's abode is like sugarcoated poison.'

"Just as eating poison capsules coated with sugar are harmful, so is eating the offerings of a place of worship." ( Bhai Gurdas Ji Var 35/12)

Man eats the gurdwara offerings out of greed. So the birds started throwing two grains from the Guru's 'langar' (kitchen) into the house of this man. Again, he became very poor. After having seen good days, it is very difficult to bear hardship. He wept and fretted — 'O Master, I was enjoying a good life. Now whatever work I undertake, it causes loss — gold turns into clay. Show mercy on me."

Guru Sahib said, "Dear devotee, your prosperity was the fruit of charity. Four grains from your earnings used to fall into the gurdwara 'langar' (kitchen). Then you became evil-minded and addicted to sensual pleasures. And now four grains from the Guru's 'langar' (kitchen) fall into your home. So your earnings have become rotten. Go and give something in charity; do some service in the Guru's abode. So, Guru Sahib said, in this way, he who gives just two grains in charity also attains to God.

Acknowledgement: http://tuhitu.blogspot.com/

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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