There are two theories about the benevolence of Goddess Laxmi who is known to bestow prosperity on her devotees. One theory is that she likes to remain with people who hold on to their money and refuse to share it with anybody – the misers as we call them. According to the other theory, Laxmi is generous with people who share their prosperity with other needy people- the more you give in charities, the more you get and I have always believed in the second theory all my life. Though I was never prosperous in the real sense of the term, (never had enough cash in the bank), I derive great joy in little acts of giving. When I find that a small act of generosity has made some difference to the recipient, I feel happy!
When dealing with skilled workers like electricians, plumbers etc, I usually give them whatever they ask for without bargaining – very often a lot more than what they expected. After all, they are experts in their fields and deserve some special consideration. Do we ever question a doctor when he mentions his fee? Similarly dealing with porters, coolies and auto rickshaw drivers, I pay a few rupees more than what they demand, as long as the demand is not outrageous.
The other day I was traveling in an auto from the station to my home. On reaching home, I paid Rs.20/- more than what I had agreed to pay, when I found the driver accepting the money without asking for anything extra. He did not scratch his head and say ‘konjum pottu kodunga saar’ and the happiness I saw on his face because of my spontaneous gesture made my day. Similarly when I volunteer small donations to charities or religious institutions in which a friend or relative is involved; the grateful appreciation I receive makes me happy.
According to our scriptures a wealthy man giving away money in charities is not as big as a deprived man sharing what he has with a needier person. While the generous donation announced recently by Azim Premji of Wipro fame to his Foundation involved in Charitable Acts is really commendable, the news item about an unknown Kalyana Sundaram of Madurai giving away all his earnings to a charitable cause is even more noteworthy. For every wealthy donor there are hundreds of individuals in this world quietly helping others in their own small ways because it gives them joy, a sense of fulfillment.
While giving cash in charity depends on its availability, there is no limit to your time or a kind gesture and love that you can give to others to make them happy. A helping hand, a word of appreciation, a pat on the back, a hug, a letter of thanks to a service provider - all go to make the recipient and giver happy.
Spending quality time with children and grand children makes them happy. Visiting old lonely people and spending some time with them listening to their woes and making them feel wanted in this world, can earn you their hearty blessings. I always tell youngsters that it is not enough if you say that you care. You have to show or demonstrate that you care by being kind and understanding with elders, however irritating they might be at times! A school friend of mine, himself a senior citizen, regularly spends time with elders in an old age home, talking to them and listening to them. While making the elders happy, I am sure my friend also experiences great joy in sharing his time with them.
Another friend who is a very successful businessman believes in offering intellectually stimulating and entertaining programmes, every month to invited guests at his own well-appointed auditorium free of cost and always pre-ceded by a sumptuous breakfast! Food for the Stomach and Food for the Soul! He has been involved in this and other charitable acts much before Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became a buzz word and I know that he derives great joy in sharing his prosperity with the society.
Undoubtedly there is great joy in giving whether it is in cash or in kind. Give and you shall receive!