As I discuss in this answer, the Kedara Kanda of the Skanda Purana describes Mahabali's previous birth as a gambler who was a sinner all his life. Before he dies, the gambler accidentally makes an offering of betel leaves, flowers, and sandal paste to Shiva. As a result, in the afterlife Yama the god of death gives him an hour and twelve minutes to rule Devaloka. The gambler spends his short reign as Indra giving away all of Indra's possessions, including the wish-giving Kalpavriksha tree and the flying horse Ucchaishravas (which I discuss [here]), to various Rishis.

When the actual Indra regains his throne, he finds that all his possessions are gone, and when he finds out what has happened he complains to Yama. Yama chastises the gambler, saying that charitable giving is only allowed on Earth, not in Devaloka:

Charitable gift is commended on the earth where the fruit of Karman is had. In heaven charitable gift should never be given to anyone at any place. Hence, O stupid one, you are worthy of being punished. What is opposed to the injunctions of the scriptures has been perpetrated by you.

Yama is just about to punish him, when Chitragupta points out that charitable giving is allowed even in Devaloka when it is done out of devotion to Shiva:

Everything that is given away with Shiva in view either in heaven or in the world of mortal men is, it should be known, everlasting. It is called a flawless Karman. Hence there is no question of this gambler falling into hell.

So the gambler is freed from the sins he had committed in life, and he is reborn as Virochana's son Mahabali, although his father Virochana dies before he's born for reasons that I discuss in this answer. But my question is not about the gambler himself, but rather about what Yama says to him.

My question is, why does Yama say that the gambler's actions are "opposed to the injunctions of the scriptures"? Are there any statements in Hindu scripture that charitable giving is not allowed in Devaloka? I'm not familiar with any scriptures that give particular rules for inhabitants of Devaloka.

Or is the point of this story that Yama is misinformed on this issue? Chitragupta says that charitable giving "with Shiva in view" is allowed in Devaloka. But what about someone who engages in charitable giving for other purposes, like if he's just feeling generous?

  • Why would Yama be misinformed? I think giving "with Vishnu in view" also allowed in Devaloka. – The Destroyer Apr 23 '16 at 2:57
  • @TheDestroyer Well, Yama was ultimately wrong about punishing the gambler, so he might have also been wrong about charitable giving in Devaloka in general. In any case, yeah, the reason it says "with Shiva in view" is that the Skanda Purana is a Shaiva Purana. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 23 '16 at 3:09
  • Yama was not wrong at all. As as Sri Vaishnava you may suspect authenticity of this story. Actually, the story i heard was that he anointed Shiva Lingam which represents Sadashiva or Brahman. Here it just says Shiva or may be Shankara. So, there's a difference. This story may be mentioned in any other Purana as Chaganti's version is slightly different from Skanada Purana's version. He never mentioned that charity is prohibited in Devaloka. – The Destroyer Apr 23 '16 at 3:21
  • @TheDestroyer Well, as a Sri Vaishnava I don't make distinctions between Shiva vs. Shankara vs. Sadashiva vs. Rudra, akin to how the Shaiva Agamas don't make distinctions between Para Vasudeva, Vyuha Vasudeva, etc.. But that's irrelevant. The point is, Yama was going to punish the gambler for what he did in Devaloka but then Chitragupta corrected him. So at least in the Skanda Purana's version of the story, which is the only scriptural version I know of, Yama was wrong about something. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 23 '16 at 3:50
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    @Keshav You can't prove something by stating the non existence of another thing! In any case I don't think either of them were wrong. Yama just stated that charity is not allowed in Devaloka, and I believe him because he is Dharmaraja - you don't cast doubts on Dharmaraja himself. Chitragupta (who is anyways responsible for noting down Karma) points out that he did Dana with Shiva in mind - so whatever he does is forgiven - NOT that because he thought of Shiva he is entitled to do Dana. It is the thought of Shiva that makes it a flawless Karma. – Surya Apr 23 '16 at 6:13

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