Dana Kala Nirnaya (दानकालनिर्णयः)

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Scriptures have laid down several rules regarding the appropriate time for offering Dana (दानकालनिर्णयः). Apart from the daily offering of dana, (nityadana । नित्यदानम्) donations made at specific times of the year and festival days are said to be highly meritorious.

Planetary Transits and Eclipses

A donor is bestowed with inexhaustible rewards when he offers gifts on [1][2]

अयने विषुवे चैव षडशीतिमुखेषु च। चन्द्रसूर्योपरागे च दत्तमक्षयमुच्यते॥ (Maha. Vana. 200.125)

  • first day of Ayana (अयनम् । passage of sun to the north or south)
  • on equinox days (विषुवत् । vishuvat)
  • during an eclipse of sun or moon (चन्द्रसूर्यो ग्रहणम् । surya or chandra grahanam।)
  • beginning of Shadashiti (षडशीति) marked by sun's entrance into the zodiac signs of Gemini, VIrgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces according to Laghu Shatatapa text.[1]
  • all twelve samkrantis () are auspicious for offering dana, the most prominent being Makara samkranti which is the festival for dana itself.

A gift made on Amavasya imparts rewards by a hundred times more than that obtained by making a dana on an ordinary day, a thousand times when made on the suppression of a tithi, a hundred thousand times when made on on the equinoxal day, and a gift brings endless rewards when made on Vyatipata (one of the 27 yogas given in a panchanga, an inauspicious day).[1] (See Chaturvarga Chintamani Page 69 reference [3] for samskrit sloka).

शतमिन्दुक्षये दानं सहस्रन्तु दिनक्षये । विषुवे शतसहस्रं व्यतीपातेत्वन्तकम् ॥

Dana Calendar

Offer of dana is an integral part of bharatiya samskriti and till date many people continue this act for various religious as well as philanthropic reasons. While the mahadanas are attempted rarely in the present days, simplified forms of dana have continued among those who religiously look up the Panchanga (Almanac) on a daily basis.

Panchanga is a collection of 5 Angas based on sunrise and sunset, moon's position, time of the day and based on these gives the primary information about the Tithi (based on monthly lunar movement), Vara (day of the week), Nakshatra (star of the day from the 27 stars), Yoga (27 Yogas are present) and Karana (11 karanas are present).

Masa

Information about special danas during different months of the year is also mentioned in the texts.

Chatra Dana[2]

This refers to daan of an umbrella or parasol, and a pair of shoes or wood slippers to a learned Brahmin or a Brahmin scholar. The donor of an umbrella is honoured by divine beings and Brahmins in Indra Lok. The donor of a pair of shoes is able to crush all obstacles (thorns) and enemies and attains divine Gau Loka.

The story of Prince Hemkant of Bangdesh illustrates the value of donating an umbrella during Vaishakha month. The Prince had killed 300 students once for not offering him hospitality while he was out hunting. As a result, his father, King Kushketu, sent him into exile. After 28 years of wandering, he once saw a learned Brahmin who had fainted due to the heat of Vaishakh month. The Prince, feeling pity, fashioned an umbrella with twigs and palash leaves, and held it over the Brahmin. He then also gave him some water. The Brahmin recovered due to this. This act of pity helped expiate the papa (पापम्) of murder of 300 students. The Prince was then reconciled with his father, and eventually crowned as King.

Kartika masa is considered a holy month with special donations of Amla (Bharat's gooseberry) pumpkin on some days of this month.

Tithi

Danas made on certain tithis are said to yield inexhaustible rewards.[1][2]

  • Dinakshya : When three tithis occur on the same day, it is called as Dinakshaya (दिनक्षयम्) as the middle one is suppressed in the calendar.
  • Purnima (full moon day) 12th Titihi (Dvadashi) yield inexhaustible rewards and are highly commended when associated with bath, japa, homa, annadana, and fasting.
  • Shanka describes the importance of four tithis in combination with particular days of the week for dana : Amavasya falls on Monday, 7th Titihi (Saptami) on a Sunday, 4th Titihi (Chaturdhi) on Tuesday, 8th Titihi (Ashtami) on Wednesday. These four combinations are compared to eclipses in the rewards they give. Hemadri quotes the significance of these tithis in Chaturvarga Chintamani. (Page 66 of Reference [4]).
  • Hemadri in Chaturvarga Chintamani dedicates a total chapter on danas to be made on each tithi quoting various references from Puranas and Smritis along with the rewards obtained from doing so[5] summarized by Shri. Sanjay Agarwal.
  • Vishnu Dharma sutras (Adhyaya 89) deals with rewards of the gifts of various articles made on Purnima, the full moon days of the twelve months of the year.

Nakshatra

Mahabharata Anushasana parva in Adhyaya 64[6] mentions the danas to be made on the 27 nakshatras starting from Krittika (विभिन्ननक्षत्रयोगेषु विभिन्नवस्तुदानमाहात्म्यम्).

कृत्तिकासु महाभागे पायसेन ससर्पिषा। सन्तर्प्य ब्राह्मणान्साधूँल्लोकानाप्नोत्यनुत्तमान्॥ (Maha. Anusha. 64.5)

Meaning : A person who offers sweet porridge (cooked with ghee) to brahmins on the day of Krittika nakshatra will attain heavenly worlds.

Similarly in Anushasana parva the whole adhyaya describes the various dana items and the rewards obtained for the same.

Day and Night

The preferred time to make a dana is during the day, however on particular occasions, it may be made at night, such as those stated in Atri Smriti[1]

  • eclipses
  • marriages
  • samkrantis
  • birth of a child

However, other references mention that only on the Cancer and Capricorn samkrantis the gifts are allowed to be made at night.

Time of the Day

Shatatapa smriti states that 16 ghatikas (a measure of time found in Bharatiya panchanga) before and after the moment when the sun enters a new zodiac sign is a holy time for offering danas. Specific ghatikas are as given below:

  • 30 ghatikas (before and after) for Karkataka Samkranti (sun's entry into Cancer).
  • 20 ghatikas (before and after) for Makara Samkranti (sun's entry into Capricorn).
  • 105 ghatikas (before and after) for Tula and Mesha Samkranti (sun's entry into Libra and Aries respectively).

Nishiddha Kala

Dana is also forbidden during some times and occasions such as

आहारं मैथुनं निद्रां सन्ध्याकाले तु वर्ज्जयेत् । कर्म चाध्ययनञ्चैव तथा दानप्रतिग्रहौ । [7]

Dana is not to be taken when eating, sleeping, during courtship, sandhya time (dawn and dusk), while working, during studies.

Epigraphic Evidence

That the above rules about the special donations during eclipses and tithis were followed in Bharatavarsha are amply borne out by epigraphic evidences. That a large number of kings made huge gifts of land and gold during solar and lunar eclipses, ayanas and vishuvats, Mahakarti (full moon day of Kartika), Jupiter transition in rasis, Akshaya Tritiya, during Mahayajnas is evident from copper plates and stone inscriptions preserved in places such as Lucknow and Patna museums.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Kane, Pandurang. Vaman. (1941) History of Dharmasastra, Volume Two, Part 2. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Agarwal, Sanjay. (2010) Daan and Other Giving Traditions in India. New Delhi: AccountAid, India
  3. Pt. Bharatachandra Siromani (1873) Chaturvarga Chintamani by Hemadri, Vol 1, Dana kanda. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society of Bengal
  4. Pt. Bharatachandra Siromani (1873) Chaturvarga Chintamani by Hemadri, Vol 1, Dana kanda. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society of Bengal
  5. Pt. Bharatachandra Siromani (1873) Chaturvarga Chintamani by Hemadri, Vol 1, Dana kanda. Adhyaya 12, Pages 849 to 868 Calcutta: The Asiatic Society of Bengal
  6. Pt. Ramnarayandatt Shastri Mahabharata, Volume 2, Vanaparva and Virataparva. Gorakhpur: Gita Press
  7. Vachaspatyam (Refer to Da - दा)