To whom should Charity be given

Guru Nanak says, "Perform charity with due caution. Sow the seed of charity in the field after examining it."

Examine the field and sow the seed of charity.

Salok M1, 1411-18

Charity should be given only to such of the needy, the helpless and the orphans, who are not engaged in evil deeds. Serve the hungry and the thirsty. What is the use of giving wealth to those who already have it? To perform charity without due consideration, is like sowing seed in barren land.

Sadhus of various denominations, temples and religious institutions have grown rich. The wealth of religious institutions is being wasted. They are forgetting the Lord because of the riches. It is often seen that they are entangled in sensual pleasures. We see such examples every day. We have, owing to our thoughtlessness, made them millionaires. They find it difficult to manage their affairs. These institutions are full of valuables and jewels, and idlers are enjoying the same. The really needy, orphans and holy men find it difficult to make two ends meet.

For this reason Guru Nanak says that by sowing seed in the barren land there can be no profit and even the seed is lost.

What can we get by sowing seed in the barren land?

Asa M1, 419-10

By subscribing to institutions other than the needy, the seeker after spirituality is, in a way, sowing seed in barren land.

The tenth Sikh guru says that if charity is to be given, it should be given to pure men, i.e. society of spiritual seekers. All other charity is false. He says that only service of such persons is acceptable to the Lord. It does not befit us to serve others. Charity given to them is good. No other charity is good. Such charity bears fruit hereafter. It is vainglory to be praised for others charity. My mind, body, head and wealth are all for such persons only.

Only service to them is acceptable. To serve others is not proper. Charity to them is good. Charity to others does not lead to good results. Charity to them gives fruit hereafter. Other charity is false. My house, body, head and wealth belong to them.

Guru Gobind Singh

Bhai Gurdas also says the same thing:

On looking at infinite sweetness of worldly comforts the Gurmukh puts a single grain in his mouth.

To earn by one's own labor and to share it with the needy leads to acceptance at the door of the Lord. An old man went on pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj). In his dream he saw two angles. One asked, "How many persons have come for pilgrimage?" The other replied, "Six lakhs." The first one asked, "How many are accepted?" The other said, "None." He however, said that there was a cobbler in Damascus who did not come, but his Haj was accepted. On inquiry it was found that he collected the money for Haj but as his neighbors were hungry he spent the money on them. Formal worship is of no use. True spirituality consists in earning not only for our own subsistence, but in spending it on others and for spiritual good.

It is related in the traditions of the Prophet that he with his followers was once journeying in Syria. They reached a village in the evening and all persons who were fasting gathered and the villagers gave them food to break their fast. The Prophet then said that the villagers thus became entitled to the result of their good actions for the day.

Giving of wealth to true holy men is real charity. They do not hoard it or spend it on sensual pleasures. They spend it merely for feeding themselves. The rest they distribute among the needy. The rice used in worship is really sugar-coated poison.

Bhai Gurdas says:

That rice from the Dharamshal (temple) is like sugar-coated poison.

War 35, Pauri 12

As to who is entitled to receive charity can be known from a holy man only. Give in charity after inquiring from him. They do not covet your wealth as they have the wealth of Naam. They are care-free. They will distribute the money given by you to the hungry and the thirsty and thus do good to you. You would thus become the cause of making them happy and earn their Grace.The service of wealth is that it may be spent in service of the Master. The Master does not covet your wealth. He has the wealth of devotion and Naam. He does good to you and has it distributed to the hungry and the thirsty.

You get his Grace without effort by making Him happy. His being pleased is very good. The Lord Himself showers His Grace.

Sar Bachan 13, 30-34

The world can be helped by several kinds of charities.

In the first place, it is of wealth, food, clothes, etc., which has been described above.

In the second place, it is mental. It is to wish well of others and to pray for the welfare and happiness of your enemies.

Oh Nanak, glory be to the Lord. May all live well within His will.

In the third place, it is charity of intellect, such as teaching the illiterate.

The highest form of charity is soul charity or giving of Naam (Naam dan). This can be done by Gurmukhs and Mahatmas only.

They do not accept any consideration for the same, and are happy in giving it. They confer a great boon on the world but do not even mention it. They give life and persuade persons to engage in devotion. These Gurmukhs help millions by making a Gift of the Ray of Naam.

They give life, persuade persons to engage in devotion,a nd unite them with the Lord.

Suhi M5, 749-2

They redeem millions by giving them a ray of Naam.

Sorath M5, 6-8-17

They consider that all belongs to the Lord. They devote money and wealth, palaces and houses, sons and daughters, relations and friends, body and mind, intellect and reason, to the service of the Lord. The Lord is bountiful. The holy man gets identified with Him and it becomes his habit to give His boons in charity. He considers it his duty to do so. He does not consider that anything belongs to him. He offers his all to the Lord.

His inner condition becomes as is depicted by Kabir Sahib.

Oh Kabir, nothing belongs to me, all is Yours in giving You what is Yours, I lose nothing.

Kabir, Salok, 1375-9