Adi Shankaracharya said, “Deyam Deena Janaya Vittam cha -. It is worthwhile to give charity to the poor. Giving to the poor or to those in need is a method of worshipping God. This is also a mode of offering flowers at His feet. Your flowers may or may not be accepted by God but be sure that when you wipe the tears off the eyes of the poor,
when you bring happiness to a sad face, then the money you offered to the poor, is accepted by God. Try to worship God by offering alms to the poor and pray to God in the form of good karma/actions. Worship God in any manner you can – through service, through charity, through sympathy, through love, and through co-operation. Keep yourself always ready for worship.
Use a portion of your wealth given to you by God, for some good deed. Keep one thing in mind – when you help a needy person at the right time it works like a miracle. One more thing worth considering is to do a good deed and forget it. Do not take credit for it rather push people around you to take credit for it. You will observe that your piety has grown manifold.
Swami Ramtirtha occasionally told the story of a very old mother. She did not perform any act of piety all through her life. In the last stage of her life, she did a good deed unwittingly. A hungry Sadhu came to her door. He said, “Old Ma! I go to one door at one time during the day. I accept whatever I get. If I do not get anything I presume that God is pleased to ask me to fast that day. Seeing this as the will of God, I thank the person and sit there.” The old woman said, “I did not follow what you said. Well, I have a carrot in my vegetable basket. One carrot is not sufficient for my vegetable. So you take it:” Lifting a big carrot that was lying with her, she said that he could treat it as charity from her. Otherwise, I have not given anything so far. I am giving it for the first time. Take it, you will remember.
The Sadhu took the carrot and went away blessing her. He washed the carrot and ate it. It is said that when that old woman died the carrot came to her and said, “I am your piety. I am ready to take you to heaven. Hold me tight and you will reach heaven.” The old woman held the carrot and thought that she was going to heaven for doing an act of piety. She said to carrot, “If I go, my life will leave my body. How nice it would be if I go to heaven in this body itself.” The carrot said, “Hold me and you will go with your body.” The old woman was now hanging on to the carrot. A neighboring woman thought that she too could go to heaven if she held the leg of the old woman. She caught her leg. Another woman nearby also decided to go to heaven by clutching on to the leg of the second woman. Soon there was a long line of people going to heaven holding the legs of one after another. High in the sky, the old woman’s attention was drawn to the long line of men, women, children who were coming up clinging to her leg. There were many more. She thought,
“It was I who donated the carrot but others are also taking advantage of my piety without doing anything.” She felt very angry. In anger, she called the woman below her as ‘chudail’ [a witch] and hit her with both hands. As a consequence, the carrot went to heaven, whereas the old woman and all below her fell crashing down to the old world. And then she said, “I was going to heaven. How is it that I descended into hell?” A voice in the sky said, “Old woman! Your piety could take you to heaven. But your actions have thrown you to hell because you could not bear the happiness of others along with your happiness. You preferred to be sad and unhappy. And more than that,
you want to see others unhappy.
Remember do not ask for anything in return when you do a good deed. Support others and cooperate with others and offer charity. Thank those who accept your charity and say, “I will be happy to keep you happy. I only wish for this – May my God be happy. O God! I do not crave anything else except your happiness. Once you keep this in mind your life will move forward in the right direction.
The sages and yogis of India have worshipped God for self- purification and liberation from worldly bondages. In The Gita, Lord Krishna also says that renunciation is hard to attain without Karmayog. Thus the yogis undertake social initiatives and acts of charity for self- purification and welfare of mankind. Like them every human being must participate in acts of giving as God himself has said that prayers, charity and austerity are the verify purifiers of the wise.