Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya: Chapter 15: Part 1

  • 1) In this way, when the best amongst men, Lord Krishna, was taking care of the world, Bhima and Arjuna, along with Sahadeva, after having stayed with Him for three years, took his permission and returned to their city bringing along them the son of Krishna by name Vishoka.
  • 2) He was the son of Krishna born through the sairandhri called Trivakra; He was the student of Sage Narada; He became the charioteer for Bhima; In the previous janma, Trivakra was a person by name Pingala; She had meditated upon Lord Krishna as her husband and had (therefore) taken birth as Trivakra.
  • 3) Bhima became very pleased having obtained a charioteer like him who knew the Pancharatra; Bhima then obtained the excellent tattvajnana through Sage Vyasa, the very embodiment of Lord Hari; Bhima, one with the fame of having won over all, then taught the same excellent-knowledge to Arjuna and all the other devatas.
  • 4) Bhimasena destroyed all the non-vaishnava shastras and preached the pure vaishnava-maarga; Just for fun, Bhima, the one who had unlimited knowledge, strength and other qualities, defeated Balarama in the duel fights involving physical strength and oratory skills.
  • 5) Although Bhima was endowed with capability that was ever-apparent, full and pure, he listened to the teachings of Sage Vyasa again and again and increased his knowledge. Since even Mahalakshmi too is always dependent upon Lord Hari, who can stay without relying upon Lord Vishnu?
  • 6) Even Yudhisthira, the son of Yama, and the one who always took refuge in bhagavanta, obtained the excellent knowledge of the paramatma from Sri Veda Vyasa. All the five Pandavas, being the best practitioners of dharma, felt elated after having received the teachings of shastra from Lord Hari.
  • 7) Drona, the son of Sage Bharadhwaja, used to lead his life following the main dharma of brahmanas. He never used to save wealth for himself. Nor did he accept daana from others. Under such circumstances, his son Ashwathama used to join the Kauravas and come home after playing.
  • 8) His mother used to mix flour with water and feed it to him. He used to drink it and return to play with the Kauravas, who drank milk, and always used to say “I too drank milk today”
  • 9) Once the Kauravas gave the playful Ashwathama real milk to drink. He realized its sweetness. When his mother gave him flour mixed water on another occasion, he started crying loudly saying “This is not milk”.
  • 10) Seeing his son cry a lot, Drona was hurt inside and left his home desirous of obtaining a cow. His deep attachment to his son, the sankalpa of Lord Janardana and the repeated encouragement of his wife Kripi were the reasons for his departure.
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Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya: Chapter 14: Part 6

  • 101) Having listened to these words of Dhritharashtra, Akrura said to himself “His mind is spoilt”. He then told Dhritharashtra “Your children won’t survive” and left for his hometown Madhura, taking along Bhima, Arjuna and also Sahadeva.
  • 102) Bhima and Arjuna stayed in Madhura, receiving excellent knowledge about the essence of paramatma from Lord Krishna Himself. The two of them, possessing excellent qualities, always engaged in good activities, and were worshipped by Yadavas.
  • 103) “If I learn the art of using a mace from Bhagavanta, then I will have to wield the weapon against him. I cannot do so” – thinking thus, Bhima took the permission of Lord Krishna and learnt the art from Balarama in his presence itself.
  • 104) Balarama too taught Bhima whatever he had himself learnt from Lord Krishna in his presence. Later, Arjuna learnt astras from Lord Krishna. Similarly, Sahadeva studied the excellent ‘rajaneeti’ from Uddhava in its entirety.
  • 105) Later Krishna sent Uddhava, the one who was excellent in niti, to nandagokula saying thus – “O Uddhava! Relieve Nanda and others from the grief of my words and my separation. Go soon”.
  • 106) “No one truly has any separation from me ever since I reside inside of everyone always. You should never have the impression that I am human. Don’t the jnanis call me as the most pristine Brahma?”
  • 107) “Previously when a python had swallowed Nanda it had not been possible for anyone to free him. Then, it turned into a divine vidyadhara due to the mere touch of my feet. You should recall all that it had said then”
  • 108) “Due to the pride of his handsomeness he had mocked a brahmana by name Angirasa who had become weak and lean due to constant tapas. Due to that mistake, he had become a python. He obtained his true form due to me and then told Nanda”
  • 109) “He is not human. He is Lord Hari himself. He is better than the best. He is the lord of the Universe. He is the cause of everything. He is independent. The munis understand Him thus and obtain liberation from samsara and reach his feet after becoming truly detached”
  • 110) “Earlier when the messenger of Varuna had caught Nanda once, I had been to Varuna’s residence. There too, Varuna had worshipped me a lot and then released Nanda and told him – ‘He is not your son. He is the supreme being Himself’ “
  • 111) “Didn’t I show the Vaikunta loka to all the Gopas? Didn’t I reveal my excellent form so they give up the thought that I am a mere human and One without a physical body?  Therefore have devotion in me. Obtain peace”
  • 112) Having listened to all that Lord Krishna said, Uddhava left for Vrundavana. He then relieved all the sorrow of the Gopas with the words of Krishna and returned to the presence of the Lord.

|| End of chapter 14, known as ‘Uddhava Pratiyana’, from the Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, composed by Srimadanandatirtha Bhagavatpada ||

|| Sri Krishnarpanamastu ||

shrI rAghavEndra ashTAkshara stOtram

गुरुराजाष्टाक्षरं स्यात् महापातकनाशनम् |

एकैकमक्षरं चात्र सर्वकाम्यार्थसिद्धिदम् || १ ||

रकारोच्चारमात्रेण रोगहानिर्न संशयः |

घकारेणात्र बलं पुष्टिः आयुः तेजश्च वर्धते || २ ||

वकारेणात्र लभते वाञ्छितार्थान्न संशयः |

द्रकारेणाघराशिस्तु द्राव्यते द्रुतमेव हि || ३ ||

यकारेण यमाद्भादो वार्यते नात्र संशयः |

नकारेण नरेन्द्राणां पदमाप्नोति मानवः || ४ ||

मकारेणैव माहेन्द्रमैश्वर्यं याति मानवः |

गुरोर्नाम्नश्च माहात्म्यं अपूर्वं परमाद्भुतम् || ५ ||

तन्नामस्मरणादेव सर्वाभीष्टं प्रसिध्यति |

तस्मान्नित्यं पठेद्भक्त्या गुरुपादरतस्सदा || ६ ||

श्री राघवेन्द्राय नमः इत्यष्टाक्षरमन्त्रतः |

सर्वान्कामानवाप्नोति नात्र कार्या विचारणा || ७ ||

अष्टोत्तरशतावृत्तिं स्तोत्रस्यास्य करोति यः |

तस्य सर्वार्थसिद्धिस्स्यात् गुरुराजप्रसादतः || ८ ||

एतदष्टाक्षरस्यात्र माहात्म्यं वेत्ति कः पुमान् |

पठनादेव सर्वार्थसिद्धिर्भवति नान्यथा || ९ ||

स्वामिना राघवेन्द्राख्यगुरुपादाब्जसेविना |

कृतमष्टाक्षरस्तोत्रं गुरुप्रीतिकरं शुभम् || १० ||

|| इति श्रीगुरुजगन्नाथदासार्यविरचित श्रीराघवेन्द्राष्टाक्षरस्तोत्रं संपूर्णम् ||

|| श्री कृष्णार्पणमस्तु ||

Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya: Chapter 14: Part 5

  • 81) “The vipras are declaring this Bhima to be naturally dear to Lord Vishnu. That surely is turning out to be true. Otherwise such natural strength would never be present (in him). Therefore, we must destroy him along with Hari. That is our aim”.
  • 82) “That Hari has taken birth as Krishna amongst the Yadavas and He is the refuge for this Bhima. Therefore, oppose Him in all possible ways” – having discussed thus, the most evil princes started causing opposition to Lord Krishna as well.
  • 83) Having been inspired by Duryodhana and his brothers, those princes, along with their fathers, got together with Jarasandha and went to war 18 times with Lord Krishna. They came back with their strength, pride and ego having been smashed by Lord Krishna.
  • 84) All of them lost their chariots, horses and elephants due to Lord Krishna. Their bodies got damaged greatly due to the weapons of Lord Krishna. All of them returned spouting blood. They had lost their weapons, armour, flags, horses and charioteers. Their dresses had slipped. Their hair was dishevelled.
  • 85) In this way, Jarasandha used to return to his city every time after getting stuck in a pitiable and sad condition. Lord Krishna, the One with complete strength and valour, used to defeat him completely and let him off, saying “go – live”, after leaving only his breath with him.
  • 86) In this way, after all the Kings were made to return with their heads bowing many times, the victorious Lord Krishna, the Lord of Lakshmi, the One whose strength can never be comprehended, returned to His city of Madhura and, along with Balarama and the other Yadavas, enjoyed His time there.
  • 87) In this way, the mindless princes who were bent on making fruitless attempts, got together with Duryodhana and repeatedly tried to kill Bhima. The powerful Bhima rendered all those attempts futile and focused on winning the various directions (i.e. Kingdoms on all sides).
  • 88) First, he won over the eastern direction. After that he was victorious in the western, southern and the remaining northern directions. He then won against Shishupala and Dantavakra, who were his Aunt’s sons and Ravana and Kumbhakarna in their previous lives.
  • 89) Amongst them, the son of Damaghosha was born first. The kings used to call him Shishupala. Another of his aunt’s son was the son of King Karoosha and he was known as Dantavakra.
  • 90) After winning over the two of them, Bhima won his battle against Paundraka, the son of Vasudeva. After that he won the battle against Rugmi, who was born as the son of Bheeshmaka. Rugmi was a daitya by name Ilvala in his previous birth. He was now the Lord of Kundini desha.
  • 91) Rugmi had an amsha of Shuchi, an agni-putra. His father Bheeshmaka was the amsha of Mitra, an Aditya. He also had the amsha of Rahu. His brothers Kratha and Kaishika had the amshas of Pavamana and Shundhi, the sons of Agni.
  • 92) In order to test the strength of his relative, King Shalya fought with Bhima and lost to him. After that, Bhima won the battle with the brave Ekalavya. In the same way, many other Kings were defeated by him.
  • 93) Arjuna, who was safe due to the strength of Bhima’s shoulders, then won over the remaining Kings with ease. Bhima then defeated Salva and Hamsa-Dibika and returned to Hastinapura along with Arjuna.
  • 94) Having seen the strength of the two, Dharmaraja, along with Nakula, Sahadeva, Bhishma and Vidura felt very pleased. In the same way other noble people, the residents of the city and the country also felt joyed. Hearing this news, all the Yadavas also felt extremely happy.
  • 95) Lord Krishna, the Parameshwara, knowing that Dhritharasthtra was being attacked by Duryodhana and his other sons and was under their control, wanted to stop his bad activities. He therefore went to Akrura’s house and ordered him to go to Hastinapura.
  • 96) Akrura went to Hastinapura and was well received and felicitated by Dhritharashtra, along with Bhishma and all the Kauravas. In order to understand the mindset of the Kaurvas with regard to the Pandavas, Akrura spent a few months there.
  • 97) From the words of Kunti and Vidura and his own experience there, he understood who were the friends, enemies and neutral ones with regard to the Pandavas. He also understood Dhritharashtra was seized by his sons. Being a wise man, he used a mix of bheda and saama to advise him well.
  • 98) “O Excellent King! If you treat your own sons and Pandavas equally, you will obtain fame, excellent dharma and also wealth and all desires. (If you do so) Lord Krishna along with all the Yadavas and indeed all the Devatas will shower special affection on you”
  • 99) “With the pleasure of Lord Krishna, you will obtain Dharma, Artha, Kama and special Mukti certainly. On the other hand, if you do the opposite, you will certainly accrue the opposite results. Whatever I have told you is Lord Krishna’s words!”
  • 100) Having been told these words in the midst of all Kauravas, Dhritharashtra, who was completely under the control of his sons said thus – “Everything is subject to the control of the Lord. We are not independent. Hasn’t he taken birth specifically for reducing the burden of (mother) Earth?”

Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya: Chapter 14: Part 4

  • 61) The Pandavas, along with the Kauravas and other princes, obtained maha astras from Kripacharya. All of them were engaged in a lot of tantrums and playing. However, all of them used to get defeated by Bhima.
  • 62) The princes used to climb trees to pluck big, ripe, ready to eat fruits. Seeing them on top of the trees, Bhima used to kick the trunk of the trees causing all of them to fall. Bhima then used to eat the fruits.
  • 63) In all competitions including fights, duels, running, jumping and swimming, it was Bhima, the one who always did pious activities and had the complete blessings of Lord Vishnu, who would win against the princes.
  • 64) Bhima, the one who was complete and had great valor, used get hold of all of them and drown them in Ganga. When they got tired, he used to release them and laugh at them. On other occasions, he used to carry them across the overflowing Ganga.
  • 65) Without developing hatred against Lord Hari and Vayu, the ayogyas never obtain tamas. Therefore, the two of them took avatara on Earth and did things that led to the ayogyas developing hatred against them. This is always the work of the two excellent and valorous devatas (Lord Hari and Vayu).
  • 66) Noting the limitless activities that Bhima, the son of Vayu, was engaging in, and realizing his limitless strength, the hatred of the princes kept increasing. They got together and secretly devised a plan.
  • 67) Those amongst the princes who were amshas of devatas, all of them developed great affection for Bhima. The others in the royal lineage were daityas born as princes and they colluded and decided to kill (Bhima).
  • 68) “If Bhima dies, then all others are as good as dead. It is not possible to kill this powerful Bhima by strength. Let us eliminate him through deceit, kill Arjuna through valour and keep the rest in captivity”
  • 69) “If we do this, the Kingdom of Duryodhana will be rid of problems. Otherwise it is not possible. Bhima must be killed. Arjuna must die. Then the others will become servants of Duryodhana”
  • 70) Having thought this way, they gave Bhima the poison called Kaalakoota – the poison which was terrible, the one which came about during the samudra manthana, the one which was obtained by Shukracharya from Shiva and which was then obtained by Shakuni from Shukracharya after a lot of pleading.
  • 71) Having discussed with the other princes, the Kauravas, through their cook, poisoned all the sweets and other dishes with the Kalakoota. Yuyutsu informed Bhima of the same. The powerful Bhima, having known of the poisoning himself as well, was able to digest the entire poison due to the grace of Lord Vishnu.
  • 72) Having realized Bhima was able to digest the poison, the evil minded Kauravas were distraught and they then built a mansion on the Ganga very quickly. Bhimasena got to know of the same through Yuyutsu and went and slept there with the Kauravas on his own.
  • 73) In order to show the defects in the Kauravas, Bhima, the best amongst men, slept there in the mansion. The Kauravas tied him up with iron ropes on which spells were cast, and they dropped him into the Ganga.
  • 74) Bhima, who had entered the water which was a crore yojanas in depth, was able to break the shackles by merely shaking his body. Bhima, whose mind is always at the feet of Lord Vishnu, the One with infinite attributes, came out of the water and stood along with the sajjanas, giving great joy to them.
  • 75) Seeing Bhima escape from death once again, the Kauravas’ mind became even more poisoned. They had discussions once again and brought to their city eight great Nagas (serpents) using the mantras given to them by Shukracharya. They kept the snakes in secure cells and handed them over to their charioteer.
  • 76) The charioteer of Duryodhana picked up those snakes which were obtained by Duryodhana through mantra-bala and released them on the broad chest of the sleeping Bhima. As soon as they bit him, all their teeth were broken.
  • 77) After that Bhimasena picked up the snakes belonging to the 8 groups of nagas and threw them far away. He crushed many other snakes with his fists and killed them. Using only his forearm, he killed (Duryodhana’s) charioteer. And then he slept on the bed just like before.
  • 78) The princes saw the incomparable natural strength of Bhima and felt extremely grieved. “Even those snakes, whose mere breath and bite are enough to burn down the lokas, proved to be futile in Bhima’s case”.
  • 79) “Even though the snakes bit Bhima with a lot of effort, they could not cause any distortion in him. We had never heard of anyone this strong earlier; Naturally there is no question of having seen any such person. Even Hiranyakashipu’s son did not have such capability”
  • 80) “For his protection, Prahlada had made special prayers to Sri Hari and hence was rescued. It wasn’t his natural strength. Were not the attendants of his father forcefully taking him away? On the other hand, this Bhima’s strength is natural”

Dharma According to Desha and Kala

While it is true that the foundation of sanatana dharma is built on the infallibility and universal applicability of shrutis, it is equally true that the shrutis themselves offer great flexibility in how it is interpreted and applied based on various factors.

This truth is reflected in the various smritis and shastras which draw completely from the shrutis (and therefore serve as valid pramanas for dharma nirnaya).

Unlike the abrahamic faiths which mandate that their core texts are interpretable only one way, and therefore must be adhered to IN LETTER, irrespective of the time, place or occasion, our shastra has allowed a great amount of flexibility in this area.

Thus, various smritis touch upon the topic of *applicability* and give clear guidelines on what constitutes dharma. Let us look at the two aspects of this – viz applicability from a desha (region) point of view and kala (time) point of view i.e. desha dharma and kala dharma.

desha dharma:

The unequivocal and clear message from our smritis is that the the place, its culture and law play an important role in determining what is dharma. A blind interpretation or application of any rule is disallowed.

brihaspati smriti says:

देशजातिकुलानां च ये धर्मास्तत् प्रवर्तिताः |

तथैव ते पालनीयाः प्रजा प्रक्षुभ्यतेsन्यथा ||

“desha dharma, kala dharma and jaati dharma are different at different places. these dharmas must be adhered to, and practised, as is. If done otherwise (imposing other dharma), there shall be great kshobha (deprivation)”

devala smriti explains this further:

येषु देशेषु ये वेदाः येषु देशेषु ये द्विजाः |

येषु देशेषु यत् तोयं या च तत्रैव मृत्तिका ||

येषु स्थानेषु यच्छौचं धर्माचारश्च यादृशः |

तत्र तान् नावमन्येत धर्मस्तत्रैव तादृशः ||

यस्मिन् देशे पुरे ग्रामे त्रैविद्ये नगरेsपि वा |

या यत्र विहितो धर्मस्थं धर्मं न विचालयेत् ||

“In every (different) place, whatever is the knowledge, whoever are the knowledgeable, whatever is the appropriate water and soil, whatever constitutes cleanliness, whatever constitutes the right practice – these must never be rejected. They alone are dharma in those places. Whatever is acceptable as dharma to the knowledgeable (of that place), those alone must be practised as dharma – be it a country, town or a village”

Not just in smritis but even in our ancient works on astrology, a similar approach has been indicated with respect to applicability of dharma.

mihiracharya has this to say:

देशाचारस्तावदादौ विचिन्त्यो देशे देशे या स्थिथिः सैव कार्या |

लोकद्विष्टं पण्डिता वर्जयन्ति दैवज्ञोsतो लोकमार्गेण ||

“One must examine the ways of the land very deeply. After that, whatever is the most appropriate dharma to follow, those must be adhered to. The knowledgeable, and indeed the daivajnas (astrologers), always stay away from that which is against the dharma of the land”

Thus, we can see that our scriptures give us great flexibility, and practical outlook, towards appropriateness of a practice, ritual or rule in a particular place.

kala dharma:

This same line of thinking has been conveyed by our rishis with regard to applicability of dharma shastra from a temporal point of view. Thus, even though the smritis were composed as books of law, the rishis made it clear in those works themselves, that applicability was subject to the yuga (or generation).

parashara smriti says this:

कृते तु मानवा धर्माः त्रेतायां गौतमाः स्मृताः |

द्वापरे शङ्खलिखिताः कलौ पाराशराः स्मृताः ||

“In the kruta (satya) yuga, it is manu smriti that is applicable while gautama smriti is the one for treta yuga. In the dvapara yuga, shankhalikhita smriti must be adhered to, while the parashara smriti is the book for kali yuga”

The definition of sin itself was subject to kala dharma. Knowing fully well that kali yuga propagates evil, our shastras have been kind enough to provide the proverbial long-rope to sinners in this age.

parashara smriti says this about what constitutes sin:

कृते सम्भाषणादेव त्रेतायां स्पर्शनेन च |

द्वापरे त्वन्नमादाय कलौ पतति कर्मणा ||

“In the kruta yuga, one acquires sin merely by talking to a sinner. In the treta yuga, coming in contact with a sinner accrues sin. In the dvapara yuga, one accumulates sin by eating the food of a fallen while in the kali yuga sin accrues only by the actual act (of killing, hurting, etc)”

The Mahabharata provides beautiful guidance on this topic. It describes how the nature of various objects themselves vary over time and hence how they must be kept in mind while deciding on dharma.

In the aranya parva, it is said:

भूमिर्नद्यो नगाः शैलाः सिद्धा देवर्षयस्थथा |

कालं समनुवर्तन्ते तथा भावा युगे युगे ||

“Be it the soil, rivers, trees, hills, the siddhas, devatas or rishis – all of them are according to kala. Their dharma and nature varies according to time”

Thus, we see how our most knowledgeable rishis have foreseen the varying guNa of all matter, and lives, according to desha and kala and recommended that these factors be fully accomodated before deciding what is right or wrong or appropriate. Of course, it goes without saying that the decision of what is right or wrong MUST BE taken by knowledgeable people who have both scriptural and practical *jnAna*.

The flexibility our shastra offers, as highlighted above, is also one of the important reasons why sanatana dharma has survived from time immemorial.

References:

  • smriti muktAvali – by shrI krishnAchArya, shishya of shrI guru rAghavEndra swAmiji
  • Various smritis.

shrI krishnArpaNamastu

The Significance of Daana

Introduction:

dAna is one of the important constituents of dharma acharana prescribed by our shAstras.  Be it the shrutis, smritis, puranas, itihasas or later day shAstra granthas, all of them have given great importance to dAna. dAna fetches immense puNya and destroys great sins.

Out of the many karmas suggested in the shAstras such as yaga, homa, upavasa, tapas, adhyayana and so on, dAna is also an important karma. Especially in kali yuga, dAna is most needed since it is the easiest way to burn pApa and acquire puNya.

Our elders have rightly identified that a man’s hands are adorned by dAna, and not by golden bangles.

“dAnEna paniH na tu kaNkaNEna”

dAna for humans:

Once, a group of dEvatas, asuras and mAnavas approached brahma and requested him for granting knowledge on what dharma to follow.

brahma advised all three of them to perform “da”. Since dEvatas are always immersed in bhOga, enjoyment of pleasures, he asked them to practice “dama” or control of senses. Asuras are always inclined towards cruelty to others. Hence brahma asked them to practice “daya” or kindness.

human beings are always full of lObha or greed. To give up something is unnatural. Hence brahma asked humans to practice dAna. Thus dAna came about as a great tapas and prayaschitta sadhana for humans.

dAna under any circumstance:

shAstra ascribes such great merit to dAna that irrespective of how it is done, the donor still gets puNya.

a) shraddhayA dEyam – one should perform dAna with full shraddhA or devotion. One must do it with the conviction that it is meritorious since it is prescribed by shAstra.

b) ashraddhayA dEyam – one must give even if one doesn’t have conviction. dAna is the activity and shraddha is its constituent. Just because one lacks a constituent, the activity itself cannot be given up.

c) shriyA dEyam – one should give dAna with a completely pleasant mind. One must give as much as possible.

d) hriyA dEyam – even if one doesn’t have the generosity to give dAna, he should do it at least looking at others who are doing so, even if with a sense of competition or guilt.

e) bhiyA dEyam – it is fine even if one gives dAna due to fear of naraka and poverty that may strike if such a dharmic activity is not done.

f) samvidA dEyam – one should do with good knowledge of what actually dAna is. He should do it with the knowledge that it is actually the paramatma inside the donee who is actually accepting our humble offering. We should do it with the prayer that paramatma should become pleased with our dAna.

The hierarchy of dAna:

There are 3 main categories of dAna – satvika, rajasica and tamasica.

That dAna which is done with belief and with a sense of duty; that which is done in an auspicious place and at an appropriate time; that which is done without a sense of expectation (from the receiver) and given to a deserving person – such a dAna is said to be satvika.

dAna which is done with some expectation in return, or that which is done in order to obtain swarga or comforts; that dAna which is done from wealth acquired through dubious means – such dAna is said to be rajasica

dAna which is done at inappropriate places and times; that which is given to non-deserving receivers; that which is done without following any procedure or by insulting the receiver – such dAna is said to be tamasica.

Another classification of dAna is in terms of uttama, madhyama and adhama

dAna which exceeds ones capacity is uttama (best)

dAna which matches ones capacity is madhyama (par)

dAna which falls short of ones capacity is adhama (below par)

The six attributes of dAna:

There are six attributes of dAna and the same has been highlighted very well in the Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva.

dAtA pratigruhItA cha dEyaM sOpakramaM tathA |
dEshakAlau cha yattvEtaddAnaM shaDguNamuchyatE ||

1) dAtA – or giver. The person performing the dAna, if he is clean, of good character and with devotion to Lord and full of conviction – such a giver is the best.

2) pratigruhItA – or receiver. One who is from a good family, is well educated (in the shastras), performs dharmic duty without fail and has a good character – such a person is the best pratigruhItA

3) dEya – or that which is being given. The substance which is being given as dAna should have been acquired through dharmic means. Stolen property, illegally acquired material, that which has been gained by cheating or troubling many others – such dEya are to be avoided as they bring no merit.

4) upakrama – or state of the substance. One should always perform dAna of that which is very dear to self.  Giving away what is precious brings great hita and puNya to the giver.

5) dEsha – or location. dAna which is performed in teertha kshetras, on the banks of rivers, in holy cities and in places where satvik people have resided is best.

6) kAla – sharad and vasanta rutus, vaishaka, karthika and magha mAsas, shukla paksha, pUrnima and the time of eclipses – these are most appropriate for dAna.

The relative merits of dAna:

Like mentioned earlier, the puNya obtained by dAna is proportional to one’s capacity to give away. Vishnu rahasya explains this with a beautiful example.

If three people who earn 10, 100 and 1000 rupees respectively give dAna of 1, 10 and 100 rupees, then the puNya earned by all three is same. However, if the person earning 100 gives 5 while the one earning 1000 gives 10, then the person giving 5 earns more puNya even though the other person donated double the amount. The amount of dAna, therefore, should always be measured against one’s own capacity and not against what others give.

Exigencies:

If a person is in great poverty (mahA dAridrya), then there is no pApa if he does not perform dAna.

The various dAnas:

a) anna dAna – is one of the most auspicious dAnas. This is one category of dAna where the recipient could be any person (no special qualification required). Anyone who is hungry is a satpAtra. anna dAna destroys many sins.

b) suvarna dAna – suvarna dAna brings great pleasure to devatas. It fulfills all desires of the giver.

c) gO dAna – the dAna of a cow gives thousands of years of swarga to the giver. It also ensures great prosperity to the lineage of the giver.

d) bhU dAna – the donation of land is extremely auspicious. It bestows long life, health and immense prosperity.

e) kanyA dAna – the dAna of a kanya to a suitable groom ensures one’s own lineage grows prosperously.

f) vidyA dAna – one who teaches a student gains great intelligence, confidence and retention ability.

g) tila dAna – one who donates tila (sesame) burns away numerous of his sins. He gets the puNya of having performed the agnishTOma yAga.

h) deepa dAna – donating deepa brings immense knowledge.

Many other dAnas are prescribed in the shAshtras, all of which have their own merits. Some other important dAnas are

Ajya dAna, vastra dAna, dhAnya dAna, lavaNa dAna, pustaka dAna, saligrama dAna, madhu dAna, ksheera dAna, phala dAna, kumbha dAna, ashwa dAna and so on.

shrI krishnArpaNamastu

References:

1) dAnada vidhi vidAnagalu – a book in Kannada by shrI rAma viTTalachArya, tattva samshodhana samsat
2) A history of Dharmashastra – volumes II and III – by shrI panduranga vAmana kAne
3) Srimadbhagavadgita – chapter 17
4) mahAbhArata – anushAsana parva
5) vishnu rahasya – chapter 38