Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Akārpaṇya - Generosity – An attribute of the soul

Kannada Article by: Vidwān Narasimha Bhat
English Rendering by: M R Bhashyam
Respond to (lekhana@ayvm.in)

Not Being Generous is Kārpaya

Kārpaya means niggardliness, miserliness, stinginess, the feeling of being incapable, feeling pitiable about giving to others. The nature opposite to this is called Akārpaya - Not being miserly, being generous. This is a characteristic that every human has to cultivate. It is a natural trait in all beings other than humans. They need not sweat to cultivate this habit. It is for giving that the trees bear fruit, the rivers flow, the clouds rain, the cows give milk. Because of this nature of giving, from the seed to the roots, roots to the trunk, trunk to the branches and so on, we can witness the growth of trees. This characteristic of giving exists in all aspects of mother nature.  All creations in nature exist to give away, their life exists for sacrifice.

One must give away gladly to others every day, at least a little from what one has. This is termed as Akārpaya– not being miserly.   In Sanātana Bhāratīya culture the activities of Yāga–Homa–sacrifice, are all indicative of the same.   The activities of sacrifice performed with the gods as focus is termed as Yāga. Charity (dāna) rids us of our attachments to our possessions. While giving away, it is customary to pronounce "idam na mama – This does not belong to me". Once an article is given away, it does not belong to us. This practice has been incorporated to instill in us the idea that "all my possessions have been bestowed by the Almighty to elevate me. I will enjoy after parting it to others". We can here remember the words of Śrī Śrīraga Mahāguru who used to say that "the practice of hospitable reception and treatment to guests who arrive without prior intimation (Atithis) every day, has come along the same lines."

The reason for collecting is to donate

The great poet Kāidāsa in in His Raghuvamśa has described the kings of the lineage of emperor Raghu as "tyāgāya sambtārthānā – they used to acquire wealth only to give away."  If we do not cultivate the habit of generosity, these possessions will ultimately perish and vanish. There is a Subhāita – a poem of sagely advice in Sanskrit, which means "The grains collected by ants, the honey collected by the bees and the wealth collected by the miserly will vanish without trace". One should cultivate the habit of ruminating that "all these do not belong to me". Then, the attachment towards the world and worldly things will vanish automatically. Let us not forget that only when we forget everything, we can get a sound and sweet sleep. Hence, we must practice philanthropy in order that we may forget the world to attain the eternal.  Akārpaya – Giving away, is one of the characteristics of the purest soul – an Ātmagua.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.