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Dhanannadana Suktam – Hymn Extolling Charity In Rig Veda

Dhanannadana Suktam (Rig Veda X. 17) censures miserliness and extols charity. Yaska has cited this hymn in his classification of the contents of the mantras (Nirukta VII.1-2).
Dhanannadana Suktam comprises nine verses (mantras). Its seer (rishi) is Bhikshu Angiras. The virtue acclaimed in this hymn is dana (the gifting) of dhana (wealth) and anna (food).

Vedas shower liberal praise on people with magnanimous nature and condemn the miserly, the greedy and the selfish.

The sukta first describes the relation of hunger with death, clarifying that “hunger is certainly not used by gods as a means of death, for even those who eat will meet death in various forms.”

The verses that follow talk of food and the virtues and vices related to it like: “he who hardens crying for nourishment in spite of having food in his possession finds no consoler” or “bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him for help”; “he who eats alone commits sin”; he is not a friend who gives no food to a friend; let the wealthier person be generous to the supplicant, for wealth passes on from one man to another like the wheels of a chariot. No two persons of the same family display equal liberality, but a man should be generous to others”.

One verse (Rig Veda 10.117) uses familiar imagery to drive home the virtue of charity: “The ploughshare which ploughs alone (and does not remain idle) makes a farmer well fed; a traveler alone leaves behind him his footprints; an eloquent priest wins over more than another who cannot speak; a liberal friend may excel another who does not give.”

Source – 
The Vedic Age (1996) Edited by R C Majumdar et al. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mumbai
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume III page 412 – IHRF




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