Charity (Dana) is the wilful relinquishment of possession and transference of ownership of something to another willing recipient who accepts the transfer, and consequently, becomes the new owner.
According to Hindu traditions, Dana has a great importance. Charity can be in many forms such as giving alms, gifting, sharing and financial help for large projects such as building a rest house, school, drinking water or irrigation well, planting trees, and other similar activities in the public interest at large. In fact propkara (benevolent deed for helping others), Prema (loving-affectionate kindness towards all fellow beings), bhakti (devotion or a boundless, unconditional, undemanding love toward God), Preeti (a heightened emotion of love, especially joy or adoration), and other similar deeds covering many shades of human attachment toward aspects of creation and relations where there is “total surrender” are also added in the definition of Dana. However, Dana to unworthy people or where charity to one person can harm another person is not recommended.
Different ways of Dana
Kanya-dana (Father offering the hand of the daughter to her husband), vidya-dana (Knowledge imparted by the teacher), jeevan-dana (sparing the life of a defeated weak opponent in war), anna-dana (offering of food and water for quenching hunger and thirst), and Abhaya-dana (offering protection to the person who surrender and requested to seek safety). These are considered to be charitable acts of great value.
In Hindu society, annual giving or sharing a percentage of earnings or possessions with society for a noble cause is considered good. It is advised, to do charity to get the blessings of the deities and can have all their desired fulfilled.
In modern times, morally virtuous and truly selfless acts of giving continue to be respected as Dana that will honor India’s familial and social relations.
In the end, it can be concluded that if any kind of dana done without any expectation in return is considered an utmost form of Dana.