According to the scriptures a ritual involving charity (DAnam) will not be successful without the use of water. For example, while going through a Tantra related book that I have I found the following verse:

VinA darvaistu yat snAnam yaccha dAnam vinodakam |
Asankhyo yastu japyam sarvam tad phalam smritam ||

Without Darba (Kusha grass) a bath does not purify; without water charity is fruitless and likewise if the count is not kept the Japa is equally fruitless an act.

This verse is quoted in that book not to emphasize about the charity thing but to highlight the need of keeping the count while doing Japa.

I know, from several other verses from the Tantras, that if the count is not kept then the Rakshasas, who hover around, take the fruits of the Japa.

And, I also know that in a Hindu ritualistic bath one has to keep in hand Kusha grass and only then the bath is said to be complete/purifying by scriptural standards. For example see the following verses from Devi Bhagavata Purana:

Without this bath, no acts bear any fruit. Therefore everyday, this morning bath is very necessary. Taking the Kus'a grass in hand, one is to perform one's bath and Sandhyâ. If for seven days, the morning ablutions are not taken, and if for three days, the Sandhyâs are not performed, if for twelve days, the daily Homas be not performed, the Brâhmanas become S’ûdras.

A verse quite similar to the one given above is also found in the Angira Smriti.

Now, I do not know why water is indispensable that it is said that without it the charity ritual will be a failure? How according to scriptures the water is to be employed here? What role does it play?

I am asking this question because previously I was involved in a charity ritual which was extended over many days but then nobody told me how to use water in the ritual and how it was important. So, I want to make sure that I do not make the same mistake next time around.

  • 2
    When Vamana went to ask Mahabali for Dana, Shukracharya closed the jala patra to prevent water from reaching Bhagavan's hand. When a husband gives donation, his wife has to first approve it by sprinkling water on the object being donated, thus giving anumati. it is like a signature. i don't know which scripture mentions it though, just heard from elders. btw, water is not the only indispensable item - shraddhaya deyam, hriya deyam, bhiya deyam - must give with faith (in shastras, not for show), with shame (that we only gave little), with fear (so that we don't look down upon receiver)
    – ram
    Nov 15, 2018 at 22:30
  • shraddhaya deyam, hriya deyam, bhiya deyam - --- Yes I know about these requirements, mentioned in Manu and other Smritis. How to use the water is my Q here. @ram
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2018 at 6:03
  • 2
    you may know this by now.. but many of my comments are not intended mainly for OP, they're more for users browsing so they can get additional info. Regarding water, i don't have scriptures, but from personal experience it has to be sprinkled on the item being donated (the wife should use tips of kusha / dharba to do prokshana of items given to priests who are invited for homa), or the water has to be sprinkled on receiver's hand from jal-patra like in case of Mahabali.
    – ram
    Nov 16, 2018 at 6:09
  • Okay you can very well post comments. I am not saying that u shd not.. @ram
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2018 at 6:13
  • Nice knowledge sharing by @ram
    – Vineet
    Nov 16, 2018 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


Self answering because I have now found out the role that water has to play during charity.

It's quite simple actually. Before making the gift, one should pour some water on to the ground and then make the charity. And, only then the charity is considered a success.

So, water plays only a small role here but a crucial one.

He should make all creatures, down to dogs and Chandalas, partake of the offering to All-gods. Some, however, maintain that he should not give food to unworthy people.

He should pour water before giving any gift; within the sacrificial enclosure, however, he should follow the vedic prescriptions. The rule is that the distribution of food should be carried out in a way that does not cause inconvenience to those who receive food every day. If he wants, he may deprive himself, his wife, or his son, but never his slaves or workers; but he should not deprive himself to such a degree that he is unable to carry out his ritual duties.

Apasthambha Dharma Sutras 2.8.

  • Your self-answer tells regarding "How according to scriptures the water is to be employed here?". Fine. But it doesn't answer your own Q "WHY water is indispensable that it is said that without it the charity ritual will be a failure?". Your answer has just one statement regarding this -- "Before making the gift, one should pour some water on to the ground and then make the charity. And, only then the charity is considered a success.". But you were asking WHY is it so? That part is unanswered still. Actually I was expecting a magnificent answer from you (considering your past answers).
    – Vineet
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:34
  • No it is answered too.. It is indispensable because we hv to pour water on the ground before gifting .. that's it.. so without water how is it possible? @Vineet
    – Rickross
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:36
  • Oh.. come on... 'pour water on the ground' is about how to deploy water. But Why water? I thought that was your Q.
    – Vineet
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:38
  • And, the water is to be poured in a metal saucer (pAtram or tAmhan) after the 'sankalpam' as we see at any ritual. Not directly on ground. In same was as 'arghya pradAnam' in 'sandhyA wandanam'. In your block quotes also, stated is "He should pour water before giving any gift". No 'ground' is specified.
    – Vineet
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:48
  • No why water was not my Q... What to do with the water was my Q, I am asking for some practical info ... @Vineet
    – Rickross
    Nov 22, 2018 at 9:46

Let me start with scriptural references. After citing references, I will address the question at fag end of this answer.

In Sandhya Vandanam, we say-

|| OM ApovA idaM sarvaM vishvA bhUtanyapaH PrAnavApaH pashavApaH annamApaH amruthamApaH samvaradt ApaH viradApaH svarAdApaH jyothiM shyApaH yajumshyAapaH sathyamApaH sarvA devathApaH bhuhu bhuvaH suvaH Apa OM. ||

All this is verily waters.

The elements of the universe, the vital airs, and living things

Indeed food, immortality, sovereignty, the godheads

The hymns, the yajuses, the Light, the Truth

All the Deities, and the three Planes

Are all indeed the waters.

A few lines from Apah (water) suktam are:

आपो हि ष्ठा मयोभुवस्था न ऊर्जे दधातन । महे रणाथ चक्षसे ॥१॥

यो वः शिवतमो रसस्तस्य भाजयतेह नः । उशतीरिव मातरः ॥२॥

तस्मा अरं गमाम वो यस्य क्षयाय जिन्वथ । आपो जनयथा च नः ॥३॥

O Water, because of your presence, the Atmosphere is so refreshing, and imparts us with vigour and strength.
We revere you who gladdens us by your Pure essence.

O Water, this auspicious Sap of yours, please share with us, Like a Mother desiring (to share her best possession with her children).

O Water, when your invigorating essence goes to one affected by weakness, it enlivens him, O Water, you are the source of our lives.

अपवन्तरमृतमप्सु ( apvantram amritamapsu )

There is Nector in water , there is medicine in water ।—…. ऋग्वेद १.२३.१९

आप: सर्वस्य भेषज: ( aapah sarvasya bheshjh )

Water is the cure for all diseases . _- ऋग्वेद १० .137.६ ।

Coming to your question, in Hinduism, every ritual is associated with some symbolic act. Charity (Danam) is very sacred & divine act. So for charity, which symbolic act is more suited than 'donating water'? Because nothing is more sacred than water.
So, water being so much important and divine, it is considered as an indispensable commodity in a charity ritual.

  • I am sorry but this is not answering my question. Water plays a definite role whn a ritual of charity is performed. I need to know exactly what is that role. The comments by ram give hint that it indeed plays a vital role and without doing something with it during the ritual the ritual itself is a failure. What u say here is good and correct. Basically without water we can't perform any rituals. But that's not the point and I need a very precise answer here.
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2018 at 12:41

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