People all over the world talk about tolerance, such as racial tolerance, religious tolerance or cultural tolerance, when they have to live in a society made up of people of different backgrounds. And this tolerance is often thought of as being a virtue. Let us try to understand what tolerance really means.

If you try to think clearly about what tolerance means, you will understand that it means to tolerate something or someone that is different, and with whom you cannot identify yourself. It means that you are not ready to accept that difference whether it is racial, religious or cultural. It means that you may “put up” with that difference. Thus, to tolerate something connotes a negative tendency, and it cannot be thought of as a virtue, if you tolerate another race, religion or culture. To tolerate something connotes an idea such as: “as far as I am concerned, it is all right if you cease to exist”, or “I hate you but I will tolerate you”, or “you are no good, but I will tolerate you”. So you tolerate something because you think that it is better to tolerate than to create enmity. It also could reflect the idea that to practice intolerance can get you into a great deal of trouble.

No society is entirely homogeneous, even if its members belong to the same race, religion or culture. Members of the same religion often divide themselves into different denominations, and often hold different cultural and religious values. Homogeneity in value systems is not a characteristic of any one society. Many people of the same society can express opposite ideas over any given situation. Thus to talk about tolerance, in terms of race, religion or culture, is not appropriate.

On the other hand, instead of tolerance, if people practice acceptance, then they will be pursuing a positive goal. To accept a different race, religion or culture is definitely a positive state, based on love, understanding, compassion, sharing and brotherhood. These values are taught in all the religions, and it is thus important for us to accept others, instead of merely tolerating them. To accept a different race, religion or culture obviously does not mean that you have to change anything except your attitude, biases and prejudices. In acceptance, we welcome the differences, because these are all the handiwork of God. People cannot do much about their race. Their culture differs because of their geographical location, history, religion, language, etc. Differences are a part of nature and God’s plan. If God wanted homogeneity, then all people would be exactly the same, as will all the flowers, and all the animals, and all the insects. It will then certainly be a very monotonous world. Such monotony, among people, can best be reflected by a whole population of robots, all looking alike, and doing the same thing. Such is not God’s plan, for in His wisdom, He has chosen to create the differences.

Certainly, there are things in society that we must not accept. Crime, violence of any type, hate, drug and alcohol abuse, stealing and cheating, are some things that we should not, as a society, accept. But the context in which I am discussing tolerance, deals with people in terms of race, religion and culture. And all religions and cultures are intolerant to the same type of evil deeds that bring suffering to individuals, and to society.

If we look at humanity, in general, we would see that we all must share the same earth and its resources. We all breathe the same air. We all need food, water, clothing and shelter. We all need the sunshine. Our bodies function in the same way, irrespective of racial differences. We all have the same basic needs. We are all destined to grow old and die. So while we have this precious gift of life, let us live nobly. Do not stain your life with prejudices or a sense of superiority! I remember a quotation stating that prejudice is a great time saver. It allows you to jump to conclusions without bothering with the facts.

When we look at life spiritually, then intolerance is due to ignorance. We have failed to see the reality that is manifesting in the hearts of all. Kabir said that the same Divine Light created all of us. Who then is superior and who is inferior? Again he said that he is in the marketplace of the world and wishes the welfare of all. He sees no one as friend or enemy.

For God there is no friend or enemy. Let us lift our spirit up to God and give up petty intolerances. Let us all, therefore, live according to God’s will in mutual acceptance, and in love and brotherhood.

Dr. Jagessar Das

Tolerance, Acceptance, Monotony, Population of robots,



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Vegetarianism, Health and Spirituality

Vegetarianism, Health and Spirituality Cont’d

Research conducted at Loma Linda University in California, in the past, has shown that the Seventh Day Adventists, who are generally vegetarians, live a healthier life. They live an average of seven years longer than the meat eaters. This in itself is a strong argument why people need to give up meat eating in order to preserve their health and well-being

Perhaps you will like to know that wieners and hamburgers are popular fast foods among meat eaters. The wieners are sold in hot dogs, and both wiener and hamburger meats contain about 30% of animal fat. It is also interesting to note that all kinds of scrap meats including intestines and sometimes skin and bones and other animal tissues that cannot be sold as meat, are often ground up to make the wieners and hamburgers. Chemicals and preservatives are added to them or else they will appear very unappetizing. It is unfortunate that parents allow their children, or they themselves, to eat such “junk foods.” Once children have been raised on this type of food, then it produces a life long habit that works to their detriment.

As you can see, Rachna, your question is an appropriate one, and I wish that more people would pay attention to their health by following a balanced vegetarian diet. They will certainly increase their wellbeing, their lifespan and their vitality. In the process they will spare the lives of innocent creatures.”

Amrita: “Deviji! You have certainly described a great deal about vegetarianism and health. I am glad that I am a vegetarian, because I cannot bear to think that an animal has to be killed to provide me with food. Animals do have feelings and they show love, caring and nurturing, just as humans do. They only are not as intelligent as human beings. How about you, Rachna? What is your thought on meat as food?”

Rachna: “This whole subject is very interesting for me. I have always been a vegetarian, as my parents are vegetarians. Like you, I feel for the animals, and I will not like anyone of them to be killed, to provide food for me. Animals are cute, and God made them to live their lives, and to be a part of nature. Perhaps, we can ask Deviji to tell us more about meat eating versus vegetarianism, in terms of ecology.”

Deviji: “Certainly girls! I would be happy to talk about diet, in relationship to ecology First of all, you need to understand that ecology is a part of biology, and it deals with the relationships between living beings and the environment. As human beings, we share the environment with every other living thing. Any disturbance in the over all harmony, causes disturbance to all living things. In ecology, all living things are related to the land, water and the atmosphere, and with each other. This includes human beings. The space in which living things can survive is called the biosphere. This includes a certain depth under the ground that can support living organisms, to a certain height in the atmosphere, up to where living things can be found, either flying or floating with wind currents. Of course, most living things are on the surface of the earth, or in the oceans.

To be continued

Dr. Jagessar Das

Vegetarianism, health, Ecology, Biosphere, Seventh Day Adventists

Kabir Association

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Cont’d discussion on vegetarianism:

As Rachna and Amrita engaged themselves in this interesting discussion, they were strolling along the garden paths. They were enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the fragrance of the flowers. They were in a happy mood, and felt fortunate that they have been able to learn so many things that will be of help to them as human beings to live in this complex and ever changing world.

Both Amrita and Rachna were interested in pursuing their discussion of vegetarianism. They noted that most people all over the world were not vegetarians. At the ashram everyone was a vegetarian, and small groups of people all over the world are vegetarians. Since they had read and heard about vegetarianism as a way of life, they were interested in understanding more about it. They thus called on Deviji to have her input into this discussion.

Rachna: “Deviji! Amrita and I have just being discussing about health in terms of a vegetarian life. We have concluded that a vegetarian obtains all his nutrition including vitamins, minerals and trace elements from a well-balanced vegetarian diet. What we would like to know are there other health benefits which a vegetarian life produces?”

Deviji: “The question you are asking, Rachna, about health in relationship to vegetarian diet is a very appropriate one. This subject is coming more and more in the forefront in various journals and researches. The medical profession is now becoming more aware that a vegetarian diet produces all the nutrition required in maintaining good health.

First of all, meat production has become a big business. The people in business are more interested in making profits rather than caring for the health of the consumers. Animals are thus injected with antibiotics and hormones in order to promote rapid growth. When calves are a few months old they are confined to feed lots in which they hardly have room to move. This is to ensure that they can be without the risk of losing weight and fat by activity. This confinement produces more fatty tissues that are high in cholesterol. But it brings greater profits to the producers. The antibiotics that are in the meat are consumed by meat eaters as are the hormones. And this to some extent explains why people becomes allergic to certain antibiotics or that the antibiotics are not effective in treating certain infectious diseases.

In the slaughtering process the cattle are afraid by the way they are handled and herded through small cubicles and chutes to the slaughterhouses. This increases adrenalin that is a hormone from the adrenals produced during fear and stress. This hormone is also in the meat and people consume it. Meat is often treated with nitrites in order to give it its reddish colour to make it more appealing to the eye. Nitrites are known to produce cancer in some people.

Meat is a very high source of cholesterol and low source of fibre. The cholesterol is known to cause hardening of the arteries thus increasing the frequency of heart attacks and strokes. Hardening of the arteries also increases blood pressure. Since fats are also very high in calories, meat eaters tend to be more overweight than vegetarians. The increased weigh contributes to degenerative diseases such as arthritis and arteriosclerosis. It also increases the chances of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. Heart disease is the number one killer in all the developed countries, followed by cancer of various types. When people reduce their intake of saturated fats obtained from animal fats, their cholesterol levels decrease and so are their chances of hardening of the arteries.

Since meat has little or no fibre, it is thought to promote constipation because the intestines need bulk in order to function properly. Bulk is obtained from foods that are high in fibre such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Humans have long intestines compared to the meat-eating animals. Thus meat foods linger longer in the intestines and may account for the increase of intestinal cancers among meat eaters. The vegetarian diet that is high in fibres lowers blood cholesterol and reduces cancers of the intestines. It has also been shown that a high fat content in the diet increases breast cancer in women.

(To be continued)

Dr. Jagessar Das

Vegetarianism, Health, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Hormone, Nitrites


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People are spiritual beings. 
Spiritual beings need to live spiritual lives.
In science people are called HOMO SAPIENS – WISE BEINGS. 
So let us all be spiritual and wise!

Spiritual people show a great deal of love and respect for others, especially if the others are older, religious, educators or service providers. Similarly, parents are loved and respected. They do not indulge in violence in thought, word or deed. This respect and love are due to the fact that spiritual people teach the equality of all in the Spirituality of God. They further teach that all people are born in the same way, drink their mother’s milk, and have the same basic needs of survival, food, shelter, clothing and human relationships. People have the same blood flowing in their bodies, and they are all made of flesh, skin, bones etc. So why should we all not accept one another and live as brothers and sisters accepting God as our parent? 

Throughout the ages, great spiritual teachers, saviours, prophets, saints and other enlightened people have laid great emphasis on love, brotherhood, kindness, charity, forgiveness, and acceptance of one another in spite of various religions, doctrines, dogmas, traditions and cultures. Among them Satguru Kabir spoke vehemently against the evils perpetrated by religious people. Being involved in un-spiritual deeds, people do not see the Spirit of God that dwells in every heart. People choose to ignore this basic fact that forms the core of Being, and fight over the chaff, thinking that they are protecting their cherished religious beliefs. What can the saints, saviours, prophets and Sat Gurus do when people’s hearts do not absorb the divine teachings imparted to them? The spiritual teachers have tried their best, teaching by example, parable, metaphor, miracle, analogy, persuasion, exhortation and explanation. They taught realization of the spiritual ideal of liberation from the transitory world of bondage in which the soul feels trapped. Ego, passions, selfishness, greed, and anger remain strong motivators of behavior. How can people of the world find a common ground in which peace, love, harmony, compassion and sharing become a part of daily life? 

Let us not make this life spiritually unrewarding for us and for others. Is there any logic in what is happening when innocent lives are lost on a daily basis because of violence? What will be achieved through such violence? People ought to put their religious beliefs in perspective, and live accordingly. What will the violent people achieve even if they pray to God? The sunlight of God’s love is shining brightly, but the man-made “fog” is keeping it at bay. And man is good at creating fog continuously! 

Let us take the luminous teachings of our scriptures, saints, prophets and Satgurus to heart, and spiritually enrich our lives. We are not creatures made to grope in the darkness of spiritual ignorance. We are human beings embodying the spirit of God, and made to live in the Light of God’s eternal love. Let us open our hearts to God’s divine love, and manifest it in our daily lives. Only then can we have a universally better world that so far has remained a dream.

Dr. J. Das
Kabir Association of Canada

UN Day of Peace, Spiritual, Scriptures, Homo-Sapiend, Satguru Kabir

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on his Jayanti October 2, annually

For Gandhiji, spinning their own cloth – khadhi – at home was employment for entire villages. This was not only a political decision, but also an economical one. He wanted people to be self-sufficient and to take pride in recreating the industry that was once a cottage industry. “Before the British advent, India spun and wove in millions of homes, but this industry was ruined by industrialization.” He was not against machinery, but against the use of machinery at the expense of millions of people. As we all know, industrialization is wealth concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of the many. Beside the political and economic power, the wearing of khadi according to Gandhiji had a “transformative power” and that “through wearing it people could actually become more worthy.” We may ask ourselves how can this be applicable to today’s society? Most things today are done by mass production and by advanced technology. We live in the age of very sophisticated technology. Of course, this is good. But what has happened to us? We have lost certain skills and, instead, allowed technology to take charge of our lives. Gandhiji not only wanted us to be self-sufficient, but to take pride of our achievements.

Gandhiji’s simple attire of loincloth, wooden sandals, a bowl and a walking stick were the possessions of this politician cum saint. Once again I am reminded of another aspect of yoga – aparigraha (non-possession of material wealth) that inspired Gandjiji immensely. He kindled a re-awakening of the deeply rooted thoughts and ideas found in the ancient Indian system. By his actions one cannot deny the fact that he was a Karma Yogi. Gandhi was a very practical person and deeply religious, hence there was no place for superstitious beliefs. Instead, he wanted people to walk in his footsteps, rather than kiss his feet. At the end of a day his feet were full of scratches, because people would grab his feet as he walked. For them it was paying respects to him, to the point of seeing him as God. But Gandhiji said, “I have expressed my horror and strongest disapproval of this type of idolatry.” The illiterate behaved like this because they saw in Gandhiji the strength that will sustain them from the poverty of the world. But there is one instance when a lawyer traveling in the same train with Gandhiji fell out, head first. When he was picked up he was unhurt, and said that because he was in the train with Gandhiji he did not get hurt. Laughingly Gandhiji said, “Then you shouldn’t have fallen out at all.” 

Though people are more technologically advanced today, superstitions still play a part in their lives. Our contribution to Gandhiji is to reject superstitious beliefs and look at the practicality of life. This will enrich our lives.

We have seen the strength of the frail Gandjiji in many different ways. Just to mention a few – the Salt March, Champara village. After the Jallianwalla Bagh incident in Panjab and the deposing of the Turkish Sultan (Khilafat Movement), he returned the medals which he had received in South Africa, to the British Viceroy and said: “I can retain neither respect nor affection for a government which has been moving from wrong to wrong in order to defend its immortality.” Fasting for Gandhiji was his way of going inward for solutions to solve the Indian problem. How many of our leaders today would respond in this way to violence. Instead, we meet in the battlefield to settle our differences. Of course, he was accused of using fasting as a political blackmail. But for him he saw it as introspection to problem solving and gaining spiritual strength. Those of us who were born prior to 30th January 1948, can say that we lived on the same earth where Gandhiji walked and also breathed the same air. As Albert Einstein said, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”.

I know we are remembering his birth, but birth and death are on both sides of the spectrum of life, therefore I would like to quote what the British Delegate at the UN Security Meeting said, “Gandhi was the friend of the poorest, the loneliest, and the lost.” Furthermore he stated that Gandhi’s “greatest achievements are still to come.”

The life of Mahatma Gandhi should serve as a beacon of light to guide humanity to a better world. He taught a lesson to all political leaders on how to work great social and political changes for the betterment of humanity in every walk of life. He said, “An India awakened and free has a message of peace and goodwill to give to a groaning world.” We can see his greatness expressed in his own words: “I have known no distinction between relatives and strangers, countrymen and foreigners, white and coloured, Hindus and Indians of other faiths, whether Musalmans, Parsis, Christians or Jews. I may say that my heart has been incapable of making any such distinctions.”

On this occasion of his jayanti, let us reminisce on the greatness of Gandhiji, the half naked fakir according to Winston Churchill. This fearless half naked fakir had the audacity to meet the king who commented on his attire, and Gandhiji told him that His Majesty had enough clothes on for both of them.

Urmila Das

Kabir Association of Canada

Gandhi, Mahatma, Spinning khadi, Half naked fakir

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How do we listen to what God says to us? We expect God to respond when we pray to Him or practice various religious rituals in His name. But we also know that God expects something from us. It may not be a material thing. People say that God expects us to glorify Him, to honor Him, to do devotion to Him, to love Him, etc. Try to understand how far will we rise in spiritual life, if we did devotion to God and thanked Him, honored Him, loved Him, wherever He is. How far will it uplift us, spiritually? Guru Kabir said: pothi parhi parhi jag muv, pandit bhaya na koi; ekai akhar prem ka, parhe so pandit hoi (People have read many scriptures and have died, but have not become spiritually learned. If they learned the one word ‘love’ then they will indeed become learned).

We are taught to read the scriptures of whatever language we are familiar with, and can recite the scriptures, and can talk to people about what the scriptures tells us. But Guru Kabir taught that the world has read scriptures; argued and debated about them, split hairs about their meanings, and formed different sects because of different doctrines and interpretations of the same scriptures. In this case, he is using the word pandit, which means to be knowledgeable about God. Guru Kabir says that we will truly know God, if we learn only the word love. So what does he mean by that? It is said that God is Love and Love is God, and Love is what we express towards God. And since God manifests in the hearts of all beings, (His Omnipresence) Guru Kabir said that we have to love all beings. Only when we love all beings can we love God.

After having done our part, how does God respond to us? The language God uses is not a written language. Language has come about because of the consciousness and the intelligence God has given us. We are the instruments, because of our location, our geography, our culture and our time. God’s “language” varies according to us, not according to Him. His language is always one of inner awakening, a realization, and there is no word in any language to explain that condition which we arrive at by attuning ourselves to God. So how are we going to describe that? That is why saints speak in parables. The parable uses concrete examples of things that people are familiar with, and try to explain what God is teaching.

Now God does not come and teach anybody any particular thing. But God tells us, through His enlightened sages, that if we are attuned to Him, and realize there is a Great Power, and that Power resides within us, and for us to know that Power, we have to go within ourselves and reach the source. Let me make a comparison. We see a lighted bulb. Let us say the electricity has consciousness, or it is intelligent and can think, and the bulb is you and the consciousness is in you. But there is a source, let us say the powerhouse, sending the electricity to this bulb, and the bulb, by means of that “intelligent electricity” manifests consciousness and life. Now, if this bulb that is you, i.e. the physical body, wants to communicate with the powerhouse to see where the source is, how will it do it? It has a scripture. It has a road map with specific directions how to proceed. The description is clear, but if this bulb, endowed with consciousness, continues to read the instruction from one day to the next and to the next, will it find the source? It cannot. It has to do something to get there. It actually has to go to the powerhouse, which is the source. But if we want to reach God, how are we going to do that? The easiest way for this bulb, which is likened to us and has some intelligence or consciousness, to communicate with the powerhouse, is to go back through the electricity. Go back into itself, attune itself with the electric current which goes right back to the power house that is the source.

Similarly, if we want to get to God, can we do it by going externally – by any external means, devised by any person, anywhere in the world? Where are you going to go to meet God? Is there a place where you can go to meet Him physically? The scriptures tell us that God is within us. Guru Kabir said that God is in the breath of your breath. He also said: ghunghat ke pat khol re, toko piya milenge. (Remove the veil of ignorance and illusion, and you will see the Divine Master within you). For us then to get to God, we have to turn our consciousness from the external things, turn it inward, because it is our inner being that is connected with God. It is nothing external. No matter how much instruction we read, if we do not do it, we cannot get to God. Many people are fooled in this world thinking that they will recite the scripture everyday dutifully, or will do their rituals, or go on pilgrimages to find God. Whatever teaching they have, they will use that method, and they are going to say that they are going to go to God. But God is already within you. Does God want you to go and find Him somewhere? Did He lay down a path that is external to you where you can go and find Him? No one has been able to find an external path to God yet. That is why Guru Kabir said: jag khojat hare… (The whole world has searched and has failed to find a path to God, because they are searching outside of themselves). They want to find God in some holy person, or a holy place, or a temple, or in a holy cave, or in a mountain, or holy river. But Guru Kabir’s teaching is that the secret is this: That God is already with you, your real Self. You do not have to go anywhere. Only remove your own ignorance; control your desires; control your mind and realize that God is already within you. You have to use your mind and intellect to direct you on the inner path to the depth of your being and there you will find the resplendent Light of God. You will be Enlightened!

Dr. Jagessar Das

Twitter @jagessar Das

Language of God, Kabir, scriptures, Enlightenment, Self


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(Students discussing vegetarianism: Excerpted from the Kabir Voice)

Rachna: “I think it is important for everybody to realize that life is precious to all living things. Because life is so precious, all living things try to protect their lives as best as they can. On an instinctive level, we see that some animals survive by killing and eating other animals. Some insects also do the same thing. But animals and insects are not motivated by love and compassion, nor do they have the ability to think about the preciousness of the life of other beings. For them it is a matter of natural activity. For human beings, on the other hand, it is not just a natural instinctive thing to kill other animals. Humans have the ability to have love for God’s creatures, to have compassion and to show mercy to other living things. Humans have the ability to know that other beings feel pain and do suffer. Besides, humans can live very well and in better health, and live a longer life, by following a vegetarian lifestyle. This has been proven in many researches.”

Amrita: “I realize that it is true that people can live very healthy lives being vegetarians. Unfortunately, many people all over the world feel that they must have animal flesh to maintain health. But I have read that medical science now knows that animal flesh is not really necessary, as long as one eats a variety of vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and various types of peas, beans, and lentils. These provide adequate nutrition to maintain growth and general health. They often also help to lower blood cholesterol, to maintain proper weight, and to reduce some degenerative diseases and cancer. Some people, who have seen the cruelty practiced against animals, have given up eating meat. Vegetarianism is spreading more and more as people begin to realize its healthful benefits.”

Rachna: “For a long time nutritionists and scientists believed that animal protein was necessary for the body. At that time they were not aware of what are called complementary proteins. When carbohydrates are mixed with peas or beans, then the proteins contained in each complement the others, and complete proteins are the result. It is now known that no meat product is necessary for human nutrition and health. The only caution is that the diet must consist of a variety of grains, cereals, nuts, peas, and beans, and so forth. Even dairy products are not necessary. I once read that only human beings continue to drink milk after they have been weaned. But humans think it is a necessary food. There are many vegetarians who are called vegans, who do not even take dairy products. They still survive and maintain good health. It is sometimes thought that vitamin B12 must be taken in the food. Milk is a source of vitamin B12. But some vitamin B12 is synthesized in the human large intestine. Besides, there are traces of vitamin B12 in many foods that are grown in the ground. So a vegetarian does not really become deficient in vitamin B12 unless his diet is very restrictive.

Amrita: What you are saying, Rachna, is really true. There are also many other ways in which a vegetarian lifestyle is desirable over the meat eating lifestyle. It will be really nice to discuss some of these points.”

Dr. Jagessar Das


Vegetarianism, Diet, Health, Vegan, Lifestyle

(To be continued)

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Poem composed for
“Year of the Family”
(May 15, Annually)

The family, the backbone of society, 
Has lost its pristine gaiety.
What was plain for all to see,
Is now observed by political decree.
How far have we wandered,
From family beauty now squandered?
The good old days of family unity are gone,
And families now scatter hither and yon.
Dignified love and respect was the rule,
But now they are almost topics of ridicule.
Each now vies for his own rights,
Causing squabbles and family fights.
The beckoning call of modernity,
With sensual pleasures aplenty,
Lure the fickle mind with gratification,
But earns sorrow and dissatisfaction.
Strong family bonds are a treasure,
Where each is loved in equal measure.
May this year of the family,
Strengthen all families equally,
And allow God’s divinity to manifest,
Making each family truly blessed.

Dr. Jagessar  Das

Year of Family, Society, Families, Family Unity

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Duty beckons! Yes it beckons you!
You have life, so duty inevitably follows.
Remember your duty to the giver of life,
And to nature for sustaining it!
Do not pollute and destroy your environment,
And you will be abundantly rewarded.
You are a part of nature,
So always dwell in harmony with it.
Let your heart be thankful,
Filled with love, devotion and caring!
Do not forget your duty to health –
Let your diet be moderate and nourishing,
Taking nothing noxious in the temple of your being!
Show dutiful respect to parents and elders,
And to friends, family and society too.
In work you show keen interest,
And display affability with co-workers.
Work well done is its own reward.
Pile up the rewards and reap contentment.
Make your inner nature pristine.
Do not stain it with lust, anger, greed and hate!
Educate yourself in every discipline you can,
For it is your duty to know the art of living!
Your life is a most precious gift,
Endowed with mind, rationality and intelligence.
So dutifully embrace it with love and humility,
Fulfilling your destiny in peace and harmony!

Dr. Jagessar Das

Facebook /Jagessar Das

Twitter  @Jagessar Das

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Daan is the act of giving, and can be seen in various ways i.e. giving a gift to someone, parents giving their daughter’s hand in marriage, giving service to the community, doing an act of kindness to others, and also even giving good thoughts to others, and so forth. In whatever form the giving takes place it can be called daan only if it is done unhesitatingly and without expecting anything in return. When the act of daan is done in this manner then it becomes a noble and spiritual act.

Today gift giving is a viable enterprise in the business world. When it is Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Grandmother‘s day, Grandfather’s day, Secretary’s day, etc., the business world reminds us that it is time for gift buying. While this kind of giving has its merits, this act of giving must be done for the love of giving, and not because we are reminded to give a gift. In this essay, I will discuss the act of giving in a spiritual context.

The concept of daan is an integral part of the Hindu way of life. It is not only physical but, more importantly, spiritual. Our scriptures, saints and sages have taught us to acquire wealth with a hundred hands and distribute that wealth with a thousand hands. Alexander, The Great, went to conquer India, but instead India conquered him with its noble philosophy. At the time of his death he instructed the people to outstretch his arms to show the world that he brought nothing into the world and he is leaving with nothing. Whatever we have, was given to us by someone else, and that someone else is God, or a Higher Power. No one, not even our parents or grandparents, or their parents have brought anything into the world. God has supplied all our needs over the ages. He has given us intelligence, strength and the ability to acquire whatever we need to sustain life on this earth. God has showered His wealth on us from all sides. Therefore we can reciprocate God’s act of daan only by truly making it an integral part of our life.

Since God has given us intelligence, strength and the ability to acquire whatever we need to sustain life on this earth, we have a moral duty to support charitable organizations that work for the betterment of humanity. The moral support of such organizations is a daan for the welfare of all people. We are taught that to live only for oneself is a selfish act, but to live for the welfare of others is a noble act. Therefore use the intelligence, strength and the ability that are God-given for the upliftment of humanity. Saint Francis of Assisi says, “For it is only in giving that we receive.”

Another aspect of daan is giving of ourselves to others in thought, word and deed. Noble and uplifting thoughts are also a form of daan. As Swami Sivananda says, “Thought is a vital living dynamic power. What is this world, after all? It is nothing but the materialization of thought-forms of Hiranyagrabha or God”. When we inculcate good thoughts, those good thoughts do good to us and to the world. We infuse good thoughts with whomsoever we come into contact, and those good thoughts help others. This is a unique way of giving something of a spiritual nature to others.

Daan is a noble and spiritual act of giving materially and spiritually, of oneself to humanity. Like a well, the more water one takes from it the more it gives. Therefore the more we give to humanity, whether it is material, mental and spiritual giving, the more our blessings and ability to give multiply. It will be like that well that keeps on giving water. Similarly, God being the greatest giver keeps on giving. He gives in abundance the air, water, sunshine, energy, food, life, love, compassion, sleep and recuperation, and all things that make the world habitable, and asks for nothing in return. If we give likewise, according to our ability, we will become God’s ambassadors in this very important aspect of our life or, shall I say, daanwalas.

Saakhis (Dohas) on daan:

 Anmaange mile toh doodh baraabar, maange mile toh paani;

Kahe Kabir wahh khoon baraabar, jaame aincha taani.

 (Unasked giving is like milk; asked giving is like water; asked and argumentative giving is like parting with blood, says Kabir)


Cheedi chonch bhar le gayi, nadi na ghateo neer;

Daan dewe dhan na ghate, kaha gaye daas Kabir.

 (A bird’s beakful of water does not diminish the river; Kabir says that giving similarly does not diminish your wealth)


Giving, spiritual act, thought, charity, St. Francis of Assisi


Urmila Das (Dear wife of Dr. J. Das)


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