The Art Of Giving: Bhimsen Thapaliya
Great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota said that true happiness comes from giving even while ignoring your own needs. On the contrary, we feel like giving when we are well off and want to boost our image as a kind-hearted altruist. When we give, we also expect newspapers to cover the story and television to air the footage. Such publicity is the ultimate source of happiness and satisfaction. For this bunch of givers, giving but remaining unnoticed from others is not appealing. They would rather wait till the attention is around.
Some people give away sweets that arrived home as gifts because they are diabetic. Others want to distribute old clothes as their wardrobes no longer have room for them. Outdated desktop computers come to our rural schools as this is deemed better than junking them. These donors often seek the financial support of second party donors to shoulder the shipping costs of the hardware. On the ritual side, specified items are given to learned Brahmins who may not necessarily need them. On the receiving side, beggars cannot be choosers and will have to be satisfied with what is offered.
There are those who give little of the enormous wealth they have, and they give it for recognition, and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all, Lebanese artist, poet and writer Khalil Gibran has said.
Actually the best gifts are given when the most needy person receives from a generous giver who has no surplus left for his own consumption. There are tit-for-tat beggars who test the purpose of people on the look out for one with a begging bowl. Tit-for-tat beggars make them sad by rejecting the planned offer. There was one at New Road who refused to accept food in favour of cash.
Hinduism sanctions mendicants who beg alms for the day’s consumption instead of keeping surplus stock for the future. But who will take care of them when they can no longer go around begging? Buddhist nuns and monks also accept alms from donors. Islam requires people to donate a certain portion of their income to the poor and needy.
However, there is a different school of thought that goes against giving without a reason. Receiving gifts and depending on the generosity of others only weaken a person. One must find work to feed himself and become self-reliant.
There is also a principle of giving that discourages over dependency. Development donors talk of a strategy that discourages giving fish but teaching the receiver how to fish. That is far from happening in reality. When donors give assistance, they want something in return though that may not be in visible cash and kind. Giving is a feature of love that expects nothing in return. What you will do with your immense wealth is a tricky decision. Try to learn from Bill Gates who is giving from his heap of fortune.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha is the secretariat member and spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Although he had staked his claim to the post of...