thapaparam kruthayuge threthaayaam jnaanamuchyathe
dwapare yajnamevahurdhaanameka kalau yuge
says manusmruthi. In kruthayugam only thapa, threthayugam knowledge. dwaparayugam sacrifis and in kaliyugam benevolence. This would have been defined for the historical and geographical reasons, taking the societal and environmental situation into account.
The dhana karma prescribed for the kaliyuga is known as the panjamahayajna. Panchmahayajna include brahmayajna, devayajna, pitruyajna, manusyayajna, and bhoothayajna. Chanting of the veda constitutes brahmayajna. Sacrifies and puja are devayajna. Tarpana is pitruyajna. Feeding guests is manushyayajna. Offering bali to various creatures is bhuthayajna. The Panchamahayajna together with agnihotra and aupasana are to be performed everyday. Four hundred yajnas or sacrifies are said to be mentioned in the Vedas. Samskaras, all forty of them, are to purify the individual.
Bharatheeya Dharma, branched out into anything like Buddha, Jain will also talk about being Philantharopy. Manushyayajna is important in the dharma sasthra. The Panjamahayathna is what is prescribed. Traditionaly that is what is followed.
Every morning a handful of rice (uncooked) must be seta apart for the poor. All families must do this without fail everyday. The rice thus kept must be collected from house to house, from quarter to quarter, cooked, offered to the diety of the local temple as nivedya and then distributed among the poor. With the handful of rice set apart some money also. This would be sufficient to support for the side dishes and the preparation cost. This will be a great service to the poor and to the god also. Charity like this should be encourage templegoing, not to speak about devotion. Since the food is first offered as the naivedya, it would mean that the devotees will take it as prasada (radiance or happiness) which will impart the inner purity.
ANNADANAM and VIDYAADHAANAM
Annadana or the gift of food is one kind of service or paropakara. We talk of service to the poor, social service and so on. Today all this is done with much fanfare and publicity. In the past the needy were served naturally, without making any noise.
With education we purify our intelligence, with meditation we purify our mind, with sloka or poetry we purify our speech, by exerting ourselves in the service of others one must purify the physic or body.
Many slokas indicate the importance of the annadanam.
gajathuragasahasram gokulam kotidhaanam
kanakarajitha paathram medhinee saagarantham
ubhayakula visudham kotikanyaapradhaanam
nahi nahi bahudhaanam annadhaanassamaanam
says annadhaanam is greater than donating many horses, elephants, gold ornaments, vessals, land, kanyadhanam etc.
The importance of feeding a knowledgable person indicates the importance given to education - learning and teaching.
sudrakoti sahasraanaam, ekam viprathu bhojayel
viprakoti sahasraanaam, ekam Vishnu prathishtitham
vishnu koti sahasraanaam ekaarudra prathishtitham
rudrakoti sahasraanaam ekojnaanihi bhojyathaam
meaning; donation to one Brahmin is equal that to a crore sudras – feeding one crore Brahmins is equal to constructing a Vishnu temple – making a siva temple is equal to making a crore Vishnu temple – feeding a knowledgable person is equal to making one crore siva temple.
This inner meaning can be read in many ways, in this context it says all Brahmins are supposed be knowledgable but not. The real knowledgable person if not Brahmin too is seen as higher. Thus the learing and teaching is the best service to the people and to god.
The importance of vidyadaanam is given here
annadhaanam param dhaanam, vidyadhaanam athath param
annena kshanikaa thrupti yavath jeevancha vidyaya
feeding is a good philantharpoy activity. But educating is much higher. The food will get digested soon. The education will remain the whole life.
Bharatheeya Dharma talks about two activities. Ishta and Poortha. Ishta karma is the activity that one does for the self, salvation, piece, better life, prosperity, what so ever. The poortha dharma is more of a social commitment.
agnihothram thapa sathyam vedaanaam chaanupaalanam
aadithyam vaisyadhevam cha ishta ithyabhitheeyathe
Service comes under “poorth dharma” and it includes digging wells and ponds, feeding the poor, building temples for the spiritual well-being, laying out gardens. Excavating wells and ponds has been mentioned first.
vaapee koopa thadakaani dhevathanayathanani cha
anna pradhanamudyannam poortha ithyabhitheeyathe
Ishta will take people to swarga and poortha can give moksha. Thus the social service is seen as higher.
ishtathelabhathe swargam poorthe mokshamavapuyeth
Swargalokam - heaven is the place of world after death for the good people and naraka – hell for the bad ones. The swargaloka is not the place of gods. The gandharvas used to be some time at the swarga loka too as guests from their gandhrvaloka.
Moksha (Freedom or Salvation) from the cycle of birth and death is the ultimate goal of Hindu religious life. Moksha is the state of supreme bliss and there is no quest beyond it. Moksha is release from all attachments. It is a state in which the self remains ever in utrammelled freedom and blessedness. The chief purpose of religion is to teach us how this supreme state may be attained.
The mention of feeding and educating are not seen as poortha karma directly, but had given much importance and could be rated as higher than many of the other karma. Thus reading between the lines and analyzing the relevance in today’s context poor feeding and educating are to be considered as the greatest dhana dharma and added into the poortha dharma.
Dr T P Sasikumar, Mayur Vihar