THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARITY
By Ananta Sesa Dasa
The question of charity has long been of concern within the Krishna Consciousness movement. Should a devotee give in charity, and if so, how and to whom? In answering these questions, let us consider a couple key passages.
Acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance are not to be given up, but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity, and penance purify even the great souls (Bhagavad-Gita 18.5).
So, the Bhagavad-Gita instructs the devotee to perform acts of charity, which are beneficial to the improvement of the soul. However, it also warns that charity must be given in the proper mode.
Charity in the mode of goodness is given out of duty, at the proper time and place, to a worthy person, and without expectation of return (Bhagavad-Gita 17.20).
In the purport to this passage, Srila Prabhupada writes: “charity given to a person engaged in spiritual activities is recommended.” This means that charity is a positive and purifying activity when used correctly.
It is sometimes asked why the devotees of Krishna do not engage in charity work like other religious organizations. Prabhupada would often speak against “mundane charity”, arguing that we cannot do anything to improve the material condition. So, donating money to homeless shelters, cancer research or the police officers benevolent fund will do little but mask the symptoms of the real disease that is playing mankind. Instead, one should engage in real charity—something that will help mankind overcome the material condition and find his way back home to Godhead.
Money should be given to promote Krishna Consciousness around the world—to support those who travel to preach, distribute books, and offer prasadam—in short, to support those things that will awaken the dormant Krishna Consciousness that lies within all.
Prabhupada explained the idea like this:
It is impossible to improve people’s material conditions. Material conditions are already established by the superior administration according to one’s karma. They cannot be changed. The only benefit we can render to suffering beings is to try to raise them to spiritual consciousness…If one is at all sympathetic or able to do good to others, he should endeavor to raise people to Krishna consciousness (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.8.10, purport).
While it is very important to promote Krishna Consciousness, it is equally important to provide the services necessary for devotees to stay on the path of Krishna Consciousness. This is why organizations such as the Vedic Care Charitable Trust qualify as worthy charities. The VCC does not support mundane activities, but rather, it supports transcendental ones.
The VCC is not a mundane charity, nor does it encourage fruitive activities. It works to support those devotees who dedicated their lives to the service is Krishna. It operates on the principle of “das anu das”, the notion that we are the “servants of the servants”, a concept strongly promoted by Srila Prabhupada.
The VCC seeks to establish retirement villages and hospice facilities where devotees can associate with other devotees, regularly chant and hear about the glories of the Lord, and be fed only Krishna prasadam. Far too many devotees leave this body in the company of strangers, materialists who know nothing of devotional service, and some may begin to falter in their faith due to lack of genuine association. The VCC is working to change all of that.
Your donations and service do not support medical research, animal slaughter or financial greed. Your donations to the Vedic Care Charitable Trust only go to support the cause of Krishna Consciousness and all of the devotees who have served. Please consider making a donation or offering your service to this worthy charity today. Hare Krishna!