Lord Krishna told us to surrender to him and do our duties for him and not for dharma and adharma and if we do it (for dharma or adharma) we will take rebirth to take the effects of good deed or bad deed.

My question:

If a man provides food to another who's starving, only to help that person, then, will it be considered dharma? And because it's dharma will he take rebirth just because of that (good) action?

Assume the man is not aware of any scriptures and is uneducated and does not know about moksha or anything but he shows affection towards others and helps them without knowing about punya or papa, then will he ever attain moksha?

  • i am asking if a man who is not aware of any scriptures and is uneducated and does not knows about moksha but he shows affection towards others and helps them without considering punnya then will he attain moksha
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:22
  • By the way, it is not so easy to predict/determine whether one considers punyu or not!
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:10
  • Friend many people for example many leaders and even a man who not believes in god plants a tree for other life forms to be good and there is no punnya thinking but a action intended to other beings welfare
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:15
  • ok. I've revised answer to cover both case, it may clear the thing.
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:39
  • BG does urge us to do Dharmic(righteous) acts and forbid from doing Adharmic activities. See BG 4.17. Also 'If man is not aware....'; I would say ignorance is not an excuse. just like if someone who cant read parks a car under no parking; he has to pay the fine; he cant get away with that. Also anything that is not done purely for satisfaction of Lord results in material entanglement. So if I offer food to poor even without considering the punya or paap. It will result in rebirth; (1/2) Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 3:56

6 Answers 6


Let's apply superposition theory. Imagine that in your life only this Karma will decide, whether you will take rebirth or not.


If someone is starving for the food and then,

  1. You offer food thinking that "I did good job of fulfilling hunger.", then you may take rebirth to 'enjoy' the result of such good deed.
  2. You don't offer food & are aware that "I didn't help him, even if I could.", then you may take rebirth to 'enjoy' the result of that bad deed.

Let's assume that, above are the only 2 possibilities. Apparently the 1st seems Dharma and 2nd one seems Adharma.

BTW, we cannot say if it's Dharma/Adharma, just based on this much information. For example, what if you know that the starving person is a terrorist, or the person is starving with his/her own whims, or the person may throw the food due to mental instability.

How to avoid rebirth?

By observing Akarma in Karma!
Suppose, as a witness you are aware that,
'[Your] body with senses, helped or didn't help another [poor's] body with senses.'
In such case, you haven't related yourself with your own mind + senses. But gone beyond mind + senses.

In such case you may not have rebirth. As discussed in this answer, a new body attracts, mind + senses to return. But you are neither of them, hence no return!

This is also called NishkarmatA.

BG 3.27 — All actions (karma-s) are enacted in Prakruti by [3] modes. Bewildered with ego, Self (Atma) believes "I am the doer".
BG 5.8, 5.9 — "I certainly don't do anything" is believed by knower of fundamentals; Even while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, dreaming, breathing, talking, discarding, accepting, opening, closing -- "Senses only are acting in the subjects of senses" - is understood.

But aren't there so many previous (sanchita) Karma-s, which we have to pass through?
No, that is the power of knowledge or realisation. The moment one fully realises: "I am not the actor", it becomes free from the bondage, whether it's living (jeevan mukta) or dead (nirvAna).

BG 4.36-37 — Even if you be the worst sinner among all sinners, still you will cross over all the wickedness with the raft of Knowledge alone. O Arjuna, as a blazing fire reduces pieces of wood to ashes, similarly the fire of Knowledge reduces all Karma-s (actions) to ashes.

  • friend i understood that karma theory but the rebirth theory i cannot understand if i want to help a man of starving without attachment of karma what should i do please guide me with this situation
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 7:33
  • @sakthi Why do you think helping starving man gets rebirth? Do without expectation. Even offer this good work to your Ista Deva as said by Krishna.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 8:09
  • 1
    @sakthi, as said in above comment, you can do it without expectation. If you 'expect' something, it will surely come back sooner or later. Hence it's better not to make a big deal about "helping". Just treat the "helping the starving person" as, "walking" or "sneezing" or "running" or "sleeping" kind of activities. All these day to day activities we do without any kind of conscious involvement. They just happen by themselves. Add "helping" also into this list. Add any other such activity, which you feel good/bad into this list. Do it subconsciously & let your conscious remain free of thoughts.
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 8:23
  • @UdayKrishna, yes your understanding is perfect. Even if we think that "I am doing without expectation of reward", is still as good as "Doing for rewards". And also as you said, BG 2.47 perfectly answers that issue, it says "... neither be the purpose of results of Karma, nor be attached to 'not doing it'". If we read the 2nd sentence again, that says: "Don't make a big deal, if doing without expectation," Good!
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 9:21
  • @sakthi, if you help starving man thinking "Helping starving man just for the sake of it without any expectation, so that I won't get rebirth"; then it will surely result in rebirth. Because you now attach yourself "not to get rebirth". To observe that you are not getting rebirth, you will have to get rebirth! :-) Hence, as Uday told in his comment, don't set Moksha as a goal. The state of "Moksha" is without any goals, purpose or anything. By setting it as a goal, you are self defeating Moksha. If you feel to help that man, help him. If you feel otherwise, then don't help. Both are right.
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:31

Q. If a man provides food to another who's starving, only to help that person, then, will it be considered dharma? And because it's dharma will he take rebirth just because of that (good) action?

Yes it will be Dharma and rebirth does't depends only on it.

If you want to know different paths to Moksha, then visit How many distinct independent paths are there to achieve Moksha?.
Also How can one know which path among karma, bhakti and jnana is suitable for him? can be useful.

If one do such Karma thinking that it will give him higher benefit, it will not lead to Moksha.

From Mundaka Upanishad (1.2):

इष्टापूर्तं मन्यमाना वरिष्ठं नान्यच्छ्रेयो वेदयन्ते प्रमूढाः ।
नाकस्य पृष्ठे ते सुकृतेऽनुभूत्वेमं लोकं हीनतरं वा विशन्ति ॥ १०॥

Ignorant fools, regarding sacrifices and humanitarian works as the highest, do not know any higher good. Having enjoyed their reward on the heights of heaven, gained by good works, they enter again this world or a lower one.

From Chhandogya Upanishd (5.10):

अथ य इमे ग्राम इष्टापूर्ते दत्तमित्युपासते ते धूममभिसंभवन्ति धूमाद्रात्रिꣳ रात्रेरपरपक्षमपरपक्षाद्यान्षड्दक्षिणैति मासाꣳस्तान्नैते संवत्सरमभिप्राप्नुवन्ति ॥ ५.१०.३॥

"But those who, living in the village, perform sacrifices, undertake works of public utility and give alms go to smoke, from smoke to night, from night to the dark half of the moon, from the dark half of the moon to the six months during which the sun goes to the south. But they do not reach the year.

So, helping others is considered as Datta Karma or fall under the category of Ishta, Purta and Datta Karma. Now those who do these type of Karma reaches to higher lokas but didn't attain Moksha or liberation.

All the higher Lokas except Brahma Loka, are subjected to circumgyration/reparation (birth-rebirth)

Note: Read Khanda 3 of Aadhyaya 6 of Chhandogya Upanishd to know and understand various paths followed by death.

So, performing only Ishta, Purta and Datta Karma is not enough and will not lead you to Moksha.

But if one doesn't expect the fruit of his Karma - In other words, If one do this as Nishkama Karma, then such Nishkam Karma will not bind him. And if one do all Karma Nishkama, it will lead to Moksha.

That's why it is suggested to do such karma without attachment by Krishna:

From Bhagavad Gita:

एतान्यपि तु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलानि च । कर्तव्यानीति मे पार्थ निश्चितं मतमुत्तमम् ॥ १८-६॥

Hence these acts of sacrifice, charity and penance, and all other acts of duty too, must be performed without attachment and expectation of reward : this is My well-considered and supreme verdict, Arjuna.

  • "All the higher Lokas except Brahma Loka, are subjected to circumgyration/reparation" -- Gita has a different view on this part. According to BG 8.16, even Brahma loka is also subjected to return (i.e. PunarAvarti). Note the Sanskrit word: "Brahma" and not "BrahmA". According to that, as long as one is any loka, that's still not liberation. Liberation is believed to be "unmanifested beyond unmanifested" [BG 8.20].
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:15
  • @iammilind Hmm.. I had that question in my mind. I'm planning to post question on this conflict.
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:27
  • I am having similar doubts on it, hence posted this question: Is the “I / Me” beyond “Brahman”?. In that, I have also explained that Brahman and BrahmA should be treated same. Irrespective of that view, in Gita at some places "I" and "Brahman" appear same and sometimes different. My gut feeling says that they are different. Or even if they are same, then "I" is NirAkAra Brahman and what we call "Brahman" is probably SAkAra Brahman.
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:34
  • @iammilind wait, I've read Brahma Sutra and I think it has some clarification/conclusion about Brahma Loka. (Though I don't have Brahma Sutra right now. I'll discuss you on this topic in chat later)
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:50
  • @iammilind Interpreting Bhagavad Gita verse 8.16
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 10:08

My question is: if we help a one who is starving for food, only to help then it will be a dharma? If we do it will we take rebirth?

It depends on your intention actually.Whether you are doing the Punya karma(of feeding the starved and needy) to reap the benefits of it.Or if you are doing it without any desire for the fruits.

Here is what the Manu Smriti says in this regard:

12.88. The acts prescribed by the Veda are of two kinds, such as procure an increase of happiness and cause a continuation (of mundane existence, pravritta), and such as ensure supreme bliss and cause a cessation (of mundane existence, nivritta)

12.89. Acts which secure (the fulfilment of) wishes in this world or in the next are called pravritta (such as cause a continuation of mundane existence); but acts performed without any desire (for a reward), preceded by (the acquisition) of (true) knowledge, are declared to be nivritta (such as cause the cessation of mundane existence).

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12.90. He who sedulously performs acts leading to future births (pravritta) becomes equal to the gods; but he who is intent on the performance of those causing the cessation (of existence, nivritta) indeed, passes beyond (the reach of) the five elements.

So,if your act of feeding the poor is without any such longings for the fruits of it then that act will not be responsible for any future births.

As,you can see,from the verse above,such acts cause the cessation mundane existence ,that is no rebirths result due to the performance of such acts.

On the other hand,if the act was done keeping in view the fruits in mind,then you will surely need more births to reap those benefits.

  • 1
    if i give the food only to eliminate his starving( NOT THINKING OF PUNNYA) then rebirth is not possible................CORRECT OR NOT
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 11:50
  • If u give food only to eliminate his hunger then that act will not produce rebirths..but whether u actually will have rebirths or not will of course depend on a lot of other factors..but if u give food thinking that u'll get good rewards in return then to just receive those rewards u'll be born again..that's for sure..
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:36
  • even if help without knowing the parabhramin then moksha is possible am i correct
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 15:20
  • I have not understood properly ur question but NO..without knowing the supreme brahman moksha is not possible..but y r u thinking so much?..helping the poor, feeding ones who don't have food are always very good acts....
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 15:48

It is hubris to think that one can help another.

Only Ishvara can help

Therefore, O dear one! Give up your infatuation born of ignorance, which makes you feel worried, thinking – how will these helpless people get without me? To think that one can save or protect another while one’s own body, subject to the power of time, karma and guna, is decaying, is like a person in the grip of a python thinking of saving another.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.13.44-45

One is allowed to serve (not help) others in the spirit of nishkama karma. So the question is how one can avoid rebirth. One has to attain moksha to avoid rebirth. What is the requirement for moksha?

As for the Yogi striving diligently, he is cleansed of all sins and gains spiritual perfection after passing trough several embodiments. Finally he reaches the highest state (which consists in release from the bondage of the body.)

Gita 6.45

Gita lays down the need to attain spiritual or moral perfection to attain the highest state or moksha. Those who try to attain spiritual perfection by doing nishkama karma are called karma yogi. Just serving others will lead to heaven. You can avoid rebirth only if your service leads you to moral and spiritual perfection.

  • " Just serving others will lead to heaven" means it is a pious activity
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:07
  • Of course serving others is very good and pious activity, specially if you can do it without attachment. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:09
  • attachment clear definiton please
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:26
  • " Just serving others will lead to heaven" means it is a pious activity which leads to heaven or hell and bheesma was a great warrior who had great knowledge and he gave a gita called "BOOK OF INSTRUCTIONS" and he lived only to his duties he was only serving the kingdom but in a wrong side and had no and didnt take any opinions or decisions to avoid attachment,same drona,karna as by karma yoga -- WERE THEY SENTENCED TO REBIRTH................................Lord krishna told that those who die in the kurusekthra will go to HEAVEN and he did not mention anything about MOKSHA for them
    – Sakthi
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:31
  • 1
    This is what Mahabharata says. Bhishma attained the status of the Vasus. Drona entered into Vrihaspati. Karna entered Surya. I think that they attained heaven and not moksha although I am not completely sure. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 12:50

Such an act of kindness is never against dharma. Krishna does not insist one to shun the action itself. He insists upon giving up the idea of doership if one aspires moksha. If one thinks "I am doing a good deed", one implicitly assumes one's own self as the cause of a good action. Since every action has a reaction according to karma siddhanta, the ego that assumed the doership of the action reaps the rewards of the good deed as happiness and bliss in another state of mind (reborn in some other plane of existence). When one gives up the sense of doership and the results of an action to a higher Self (God), the ego does not have to reincarnate. This is the reason why Hindus say Krishnarpanam after doing daana (charity). This means the one who is doing the charity and the one who reaps its result is God himself and not the individual self, which is merely an instrument. This is also reason why elders in the traditional families quote that a good deed done by the right hand should not even be disclosed to the left hand lest the individual ego takes over the ownership of the good deed.

  • 2
    References are encouraged on this site. Please add some references if you could. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 9:56

It all has to do with karma. It is on what our entire life rests upon.

Giving food to the poor while 'expecting' something in return will inturn make it go in vain. Many people offer a lot of things to the Lord in form of prasad but does he really need it? Why do they do that? They want something in return, it is their ego which makes them ask for things, and not true love to the Lord.

Always think of this, you came here for some specific reason and you'll go once your duty is over. Just enjoy your present. You'll get what you deserve, either way.

You are as a result of your past actions and you will become something depending on what you'll do in this life, your future life or body depends on what you do in this life, so always do good deeds.

There is no point in asking for something to God and neither will he give it you. So always do your duty (dharma) with determination and sincerity while enjoying it.

We should not think of anything in return, we should let go of expectation and think of it as God who is using us to feed the poor person. He is using you to help that poor person and as you're doing this good deed it will come to you in return, as it is a universal law of karma—what goes around comes around.

While doing any duties, first let go of passion and desire and think of it as a sacrifice to God. This will destroy your ego and you'll obtain bliss.

Attaining moksha is not easy and requires a lot of sadhana. Offering food to the poor is one of that sadhana but it is not the only thing which is required. Attaining moksha requires a person to go through some series of steps of which samadhi—taking sanyas—being the final one. Sadhana can also reduce the effects of bad karma of your past life if done wholeheartedly and without attachment and without expectations.

If you want to attain moksha there are plenty of ways but it requires a lot of hard work and sadhana, and being in the state of God himself i.e. Sat Chit Anand, one who has no feelings, who treats everyone equally. One who is not affected by happiness and sadness. Those are the qualities of Brahman. I would suggest asking your Guru as he can only tell you the correct path, depending on your capabilities, Karma Yoga, Dnyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Raja Yoga. I hope you found this useful. Jai Shree Ram!


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