“An assurance unto all creatures with love and affection and abstention from every kind of injury, acts of kindness and favor done to a person in distress, whatever gifts are made without the giver’s ever thinking of them as gifts made by him, constitute, O chief of Bharata’s race, the highest and best of gifts (dāna).” — The Mahabharata, XIII.59

Dāna is a Sanskrit word that connotes the virtue of generosity, charity or giving of alms.

  • It can take the form of giving to an individual in distress or need.
  • It can also take the form of philanthropic public projects that empower and help many.

Dāna has been defined in the scriptures as any action of relinquishing the ownership of what one considered or identified as one’s own, and investing the same in a recipient without expecting anything in return.

4 types of dāna are mentioned:

  • Ahara-dāna (donation of food)
  • Ausadha-dāna (donation of medicine)
  • Jnana-dāna (donation of knowledge)
  • Abhaya-dāna (giving of protection or freedom from fear, asylum to someone under threat).

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