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Yesterday I was thinking about donating some money to charity who help people. But at the same time a thought come that if that money will be used for things other than help, say in bad things, then am I responsible for that bad karma done by the charity? And if the money is used in good way, then again upto which level am I responsible for that good karma?

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    It is important to donate only to deserving people. ApAtra dAnam (donation to the un-deserving) is a sin. So make an effort to discern the integrity of the receiver before you give. – user1195 Feb 8 '15 at 17:47
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    there is no sin. it is just action and reaction. what one does comes back to him. Do good and good comes back. Donate your money and will get that money back. Intention matters more than the action. Did you donate knowing that it will be misused, I doubt it. Then why fear? It all depends on one's intention. Finally perform actions as Sri Krishna prescribes in the Gita. That is donate, but do not expect anything as a reward, neither good nor bad. Surrender the action and the reward to God. Then where is the question of karma? Karma cannot touch the One who seeks refuge in Lord All the best!! – Sai Feb 9 '15 at 6:26
  • @Sai: its obvious that if i found that money will be misused, then i never give it to that charity. But if i don't know and money used for say such a bad activity like kidnapping, then if one who get hurt is also indirectly by me. For that reason i am fearing. – Kiran Feb 10 '15 at 5:40
  • @Kiran yes so intention matters. Use your best discrimination when donating and leave the rest to Bhagavan. So long as one has good intentions, the negative karma (if at all) is not much. The bad karma is only to the one who has cheated the other by misusing the money given for good purposes. Not the other way round. finally it is prescribed to leave all results and surrender to Sri Krishna as He says in Gita. Do not expect neither good nor bad from actions and simply perform tasks. Then no karma good or bad can touch Thee - says the Bhagavan Sri Krishna in His Glorious Gita. All the best sir. – Sai Feb 10 '15 at 6:23
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Donation is a very good thing, in fact a man should donate 1/3 of his earnings. According to Gurus, charity is not only good karma but it brings a lot of peace inside. A person donating to get good karma will not get the fruits of his deed. But,if you do it selflessly or unconditionally i,e. not expecting a return out of it, then, the good karma is stored.

Intention is key here. If your intention is good, then good karma will come, but if your intention is bad or conditional, then your good karma will not become active.

  • You are right, But here i am thinking about the intention of Charity. and intention about myself then, I want to donate because "just want" not for any return gift from god. – Kiran Feb 11 '15 at 12:40
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    @Kiran What Abhishekstudent is trying to say is that no matter what the intention of the charity is, you will gather good karma if your intentions are good. But, selfless service is needed to get Punya. When you donate just to get good karma, it doesn't fall under the selfless service category IMO. – Dharmaputhiran Feb 11 '15 at 14:41
  • EXACTLY! @Dharmaputhiran – Abhishekstudent Sep 24 '15 at 16:58
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Yes, donation is a good karma. In fact donation or charity is the primary virtue of this age of kali:

tapaḥ paraṃ kṛtayuge tretāyāṃ jñānaṃ ucyate
dvāpare yajñaṃ evāhurdānaṃ ekaṃ kalau yuge
[Manu - 1.86]

Meaning
Austerity is the supreme virtue in the age of Satya and jnana (knowledge) is said to be supreme in Tretaya. Yajna is supreme in the age of Dwapara and dana alone in the Kali age.

But even if donation by default is a good karma and awards punya, the result of donation actually depends upon the cause for which the money is donated. For example, someone may donate money without expecting anything in return to support a party or organisation which does bad works or harms others with that money. Then by the law of karma one will get the corresponding negative effects instead of acquiring merit. So it is the responsibility of the donor to see whether he is donating to the right person or organisation and whether his intentions for donating are also good. Hence, depending upon these dana becomes of three kinds which Shri Krishna explains as below in the Gita:

  1. Satvic Dana (when done to right person without expecting anything, gives no results)

    Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. [BG - 17.20]

  2. Rajasic Dana (when done to right person with expectations of return, punya, etc. )

    But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood is said to be charity in the mode of passion. [BG - 17.21]

  3. Tamasic Dana (when done to wrong person in wrong way, can give negative results)

    And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance. [BG - 17.22]

In Kali Yuga however people are very much greedy and don't donate or donate very little. So even if donation is done to a wrong person unknowingly, this act of donation certainly does something good for the donor and at the least makes him a little free from greediness. Hence, saint Tulsidas writes in the Ramcharit Manas:

प्रगट चारि पद धर्म के कलि महुँ एक प्रधान।
जेन केन बिधि दीन्हें दान करइ कल्यान।। [RCM - 7.103]

Meaning
There are four legs of dharma (satya, daya, tapa, dana), and in Kali one is the chief. Donation done in whatever way and in whatever form always causes benefit.


Update

Satvic Dana is that which is done from a sense of duty (dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ) without expectations hence it becomes karma yoga and doesn't bind the person with papa or punya.

  • Are you saying that sattvic actions, done without expectations of reward or punya, do not generate punya? – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 1 '15 at 17:55
  • @KeshavSrinivasan You are only generalizing it unnecessarily to start an argument or something when I have clearly written Svatic Dana in the post. No where in my post or in the Gita actions has been divided as svatic, rajasic, or tamasic. Only certain actions like dana, yajna, etc. have been defined as such and for svatic dana, as it has been mentioned, it produces no results that bind the jiva. – Be Happy Mar 5 '15 at 9:22
  • But where does it say that Sattvic Dana produces no punya? It just says that it's done without expectation of punya, not that it doesn't produce such punya anyway. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 5 '15 at 9:36
  • @KeshavSrinivasan And where does it say that svatic dana produces punya? So to again remind you, not everything is explicitly mentioned in the scriptures. This is what creates difference in opinions depending upon how statements are reconciled by people of different nature and intellect. Regarding svatic dana the presence of the clause dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ renders the action motiveless expressing karma yoga where as there is no such clause present while describing other types of danas. Ask a saint, sadhu or guru, He will explain it to you. I am not interested in disclosing more. – Be Happy Mar 6 '15 at 2:48
  • If i do dana so as to store good karma.. I know my dana is going to be utilized at good reason, then do i get punnya out of it??? Or does it considered as a good karma? – C Sharper May 6 '15 at 11:43

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