Short story – charity and greatness

Reminded of a short story from Mahabharatha, where Krishna makes Yudhistra realize the essence of charity and how Karna was greater than Yudhistra!

Once Yudhistra and Krishna are walking in a village and their conversation touches many topics about Dharma, Daana and the differences between the two.

Yudhistra: Krishna, in your view, who is the best follower of Dharma?

Krishna: You – Yudhistra!

Yudhistra: Who does a lot of charity?

Krishna: Karna

Yudhistra: I do charity everyday, feed many people, no one ever returns empty-handed when they knock at my door and ask for anything. Still, why do you say Karna is better than me?

Krishna: Come to the outskirts of this village tomorrow morning and I will let you in on the surprise challenge to test how much of charity can you do in a day?

Yudhistra agrees and reaches there the next day.

He sees two huge piles of silver as huge as two hills setup at the outskirts of the village.

Krishna tells Yudhistra

Krishna: Yudhistra, Sun is rising now. You have time till sunset to donate all of this silver. I will come back by sunset to check on the progress!

Yudhistra sends his messengers to announce in all the nearby villages that he is donating silver and people can come to partake and receive it! Long lines form and Yudhistra gets busy and using a pail he pours silver into the bags and containers that people bring. One pail of silver, becomes two pails per person and few pails per family, and then cart fulls of silver for those who came with empty carts. How much ever people wanted, Yudhistra was distributing.

The whole day passes by, and the long lines are getting shorter and only few people left, however – the two hills of silver mounds seem to be still intact, although thousands of people had accepted donations.

Yudhistra stood perplexed as it was nearing sunset and there was no end in sight.

He sees Krishna walking towards him along with Karna. When they reach, Krishna sees Yudhistra and smiles 🙂

Yudhistra: Krishna, I have been doing what you asked me since morning, yet there seems to be no end in sight.

Krishna: Okay. Let us see how Karna takes up this activity.

He looks at Karna and says

Krishna: Karna, can you help donate these two mounds of silver before sunset? With just minutes to go before sunset, do you think you can do it?

Karna: Sure Krishna.

He turns and calls two villagers nearby and says

Karna: Am looking to donate silver today. Would each of you accept one silver hill please!

The two villagers accepted the donation, and the whole activity was completed within a single minute.

Krishna applauds and appreciates Karna for his charitable nature and explains the difference to Yudhistra.

Krishna: Yudhistra – You felt the mound of silver was yours, and it was in your nature as a King to distribute it equally across people, and you figured out your own processes and were willing to adapt to complete your task. The focus of your task was the fact that YOU were donating silver and YOU wanted to do it right.

However, for Karna – the focus of the activity was the donation in itself. He just loves to donate. He did not feel he has any right on the silver, nor on the process, nor on the people. He realized, he is just an instrument in the process and the focus became the donation in itself. So, the two hills just became a mere number for him, and the next two villagers who passed by (as destined) got the donations.

For charity and charitable work, remove yourself from the picture and focus on the charitable work at hand. There is no I, or YOU when it comes to charity and donations. You as a King focus on equality and Dharma, so you cannot distribute it without a rationale. However, for a charitable person who just loves to give, it is easier as they are not constrained by any of these thoughts about righteousness and focus on charitable deeds.

Whatever work we do, becomes noble and great when we do it with love, and not as a duty! That makes Karna greater than Yudhistra, although both have very many good qualities.

When do we choose to be charitable? Who or What triggers us to do charitable deeds?

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