Once a noble thought struck Daankaran, a pious man. “I should do some thing for the good of people”. But, how to do it? He pondered over it and decided to organise a langar (a community kitchen), to serve food to the hungry.

He collected some donations and started with the langar- initially for about 10-12 people. Seeing that the donation collected was being used for a noble purpose, more and more people started donating. The donations increased and so did the scale of the langar. The process went on. Soon the donations increased manifold and were well utilized. Hundreds of people partook of the Langar every day. More donation – bigger langar–The cycle strengthened day by day.

Flush with funds from donations, the well meaning Daankaran thought of adding dakshina- money or clothes etc. offered along with food- to the poor on special occasions, festivals etc.

By now, thousand of people had started to take food at the langar. On festivals etc., the attendance was extraordinarily high. Some small businessmen began to utilize the opportunity to set up shops around the langar site. Soon the unscrupulous small-timers also sneaked in and started selling cigarette and other intoxicants around the place.

The modest langar had by now grown into a huge ashram. People from far off areas also started trickling in. Street fights and unruly scenes were now common. The lazy and indolent were enjoying a laid back life. Many of them had stopped working at all. With the free food and accompanying dakshina coming easily, they did not find it necessary to work. They would just hang around and indulge into fights with each other. Some of the clever ones even donned the garb of ascetics. Such people, in the hope of offerings from passers by, would sit at the roadside reciting Ram-Ram, Wahe Guru etc. At the same time, they would not hesitate in hurling abuses on others.

Seeing the environment getting vitiated thus, some rational ones tried to draw Daankaran’s attention towards the negative aspects of the langar organised by him. They tried to bring to his notice that many evil elements had crept into his system and the overall atmosphere had become impious and unruly. They also requested him to utilize the opportunity for infusing some true piousness and serenity into the society. However, he was too busy, in the langar management, to pay heed to their suggestions. So his so called piety continued with increasing pace.

Finally, arrived the day of true judgement. Our pious Daankaran died a usual death. It was time now to face the Dharamraj (the legendry judge who is believed to keep an account of the sins and noble deeds done during one’s life time and sends one to heaven or hell accordingly.)

Dharamraj had Daankaran’s scroll before him. Daankaran stood before Dharamraj, his head held high with pride, confident of receiving showers of praise for the ‘noble’ deeds done during his life time. But a glance on his own scroll shocked him. It was full of letters written in black- signifying negativity.

. “I spent crores of Rupees for the welfare of others. I fed lacs of people, gave them clothes and even money”, he said believing that there was some mistake in accounting. “Why black letters in my account Dharamraj?”

“Listen carefully”, replied Dharamraj in a clear and calm voice”. You are responsible for promoting vices in the society. By distributing money and food etc. to those who did not deserve it, you made them addicted to vices like drugs and gambling. They did not need the things donated by you. So they sold them at throwaway prices and used this money to pander to their nefarious vices. By helping these crooks don the garb of piousness, you actually harmed the really pious ones, because they also became targets of the disrespect generated in the society for the fake ascetics supported by you. Your ego and your folly have shut the heavens’ doors for you. Prepare yourself now to face the consequences of the foolish deeds committed by you.”

By feeding a snake, you are only enhancing its venom. By nourishing a thorny plant, you are nourishing the poisonous thorns. Money given to an alcoholic or a gambler will only promote the vice in them. Even heaviest of rain on the sea, will not help in irrigation. Any charity given to someone who does not need it will only be misused.

These days, pilgrimage places like Haridwar and Rishikesh etc. are replete with shops (read ashrams) where materialistic businesses flourish in the name of langars.

Always remember, only that donation or help is pious, which is given to the needy and the deserving. Donate food where there is famine. Donate clothes, food, medicines, house hold goods etc. where natural calamities (flood, earthquake etc.) have struck. Donate books etc. to bright but poor students. Donate medicines to poor patients. Donate your body organs after death. Donate food and clothes etc. to the learned ascetics. There are numerous opportunities for true donations. Avail them.

Think before you donate. Donate with devotion. Donate secretly if possible. Be careful, lest you should unwittingly feed the poisonous snakes.

Some simple sadhakas may argue that since they donate with a clear conscience and god willed noble motive, they should not be looking at deservingness of the receivers. They also believe that due to this logic of theirs, they are absolved of the responsibility of any negativity in this regard.

However, please remember, in this context, folly (ignorance) is the biggest offense. Therefore never donate knowingly to an undeserving one. Agreeably, if you donate truly with a “God willed” motive, then your donation will be well used even by an undeserving one – a drunkard will not use it for drinking, a gambler will not use it for gambling and so on. However it is important to know that “god willed” discretion is not for every one to acquire. It comes only to the highly accomplished (spiritually) ones. Therefore in ordinary course, donate only to the ones you find deserving keeping in view the prevailing circumstances.