In all Holy texts, a practice of detachment and selfless service to the immanent aspect of divinity has been profoundly expounded.
For spiritual realization and experiencing God, detachment is the most important aspect of the path. Thus these Holy texts emphasized on setting apart particular percentage of their total assets and earning in the service of Lord with the priority.
Many saints and sages, messengers of God and incarnations in their preachings expected the truth seekers to practice tithing.
- In Hinduism, the sacred scriptures like Vedas, Gita, Sri Ramcharitmanas, Upanishads, Puranas, the tithing is named as Daan, Bhajan, and Seva.
- In Christianity, Holy Bible very clearly comes out with the concept of tithing 10%.
- In Judaism, the Holy Scripture like and Talmud Torah and Tanakh speaks about tithing 10%.
- In Sikhism, ‘Dasband’ is the word used for tithing the 10%.
- In Holy Quraan, the word Zakat has been used through which every seeker is expected to move on the path of God realization.
- Bebolians, Persians, Egyptians all used to practice tithing sharing of 10% of their income, crop and cattle in the service of God.
Lord Shiva says that the gods have taken abode at the windows of our ten senses and when they see the vibrations from sense objects rushing in, they forcibly open the gates for them
INDRIN DWAR JHAROKHA NANA TAHAN TAHAN SUR BAITHE KARI THANA
AAWAT DEKHAHIN VISHAY BAYARI TE HATHI DEHIN KAPAT UGHARI
If these ten gods are paid properly at least 10% of our earnings, they will co-operate to us. Through detachment they will become they will become introvert.
Thus as per Sri Ramcharitmanas tithing is 10%.
For the heart – predominant seeker, the Lord abides in all beings, and so he must set aside a part of his food, money and time for the service of others.
It is said in Sri Ramcharitmanas that the Divinity is present in all.
PRAKRITI PAAR PRABHU SAB UR BASI.
For the All-pervading-immanent aspect of divinity, one has to adopt the sadhana of sharing and service. If service is done for the Lord then the contact with Him shall be established and then His attributes of health, energy, happiness, knowledge and love can be achieved.
Bhajan stands for service:
For the service of the Lord, the word bhajan has been used. It is a Sanskrit word derived from the root Bhaj. It means service, service of Lord. Lord Shiva, the guru of Guru’s says :
UMA KAHAHUN MAIN ANUBHAVA APANA
SAT HARI BHAJANU JAGAT SAB SAPANA.
“O’ Uma, the experience of my life — the truth is only one — service of Lord”. I tell you, “rest of the world is a dream.”
Hanuman says to Lord Rama
KAH HANUMANT BIPATI PRABHU SOI.
JAB TAV SUMIRAN BHAJAN NA HOI.
‘O’ Lord suffering shall continue till there is lack either in meditation upon you or in your service.
To the devotees in Ayodhya, Lord Ram puts forward a formula for guidance at home
“Now, all my friends, go to your homes and serve Me with strict discipline that I am ever immanent in every being and always desire the good of all, you must love everyone”
AB GRAH JAHU SAKHA SAB BHAJEHU MOHI DRIRH NEM
SADA SARBGAT SARBHIT JANI KAREHU ATI PREM
In Sri Ramcharitmanas tithing through money, ornaments, and all other possessions it
RAM DARAS LAGI LOG SAB KARAT NAME UPBAS.
TAJI TAJI TAJI BHUSHAN BHG SUKH JIYATI AVADHI KEE AAS.
Through meditation, fasting, and tithing, they realized God.
The scriptures have revealed that one can get freedom from past karmas through selfless service. In Sri Ramcharitmanas at hundreds of places, this has been mentioned.
Lord Rama says to Hanuman
SAMDARSI MOHI KAH SAB KOU
SEWAK PRIYA ANANYA GATI SOU.
SO ANANYA JAKEN ASI MATI NA TARAI HANUMANT.
MAIN SEWAK SACHARACHAR ROOP SWAMI BHAGWANT.
“People feel that I do justice. It is not the absolute truth.”
“I love those who serve me with love. In love, there is no justice.”
When one loves another, giving becomes a must for him whether he deserves or not. Thus service to Lord can wipe-out past Karmas and sins.
At another place Lord Rama mentions
KABAHU KAAL NA BYAPIHI TOHI.
SUMIRESU BHAJESU NIRANTAR MOHI.
If you serve me and meditate upon me, you would be free from the cycle of karmas and time.
Giving improves health:
If you are sick, you have, in any way, unknowingly cheated yourself. You can be healed by giving.
When you give, you eliminate blocking substance from your thoughts, from your feelings and from your body-temple. If you are ailing, there is a clogging somewhere which has blocked the flow of your vital power. By giving the block is set aside.
Shiva in a prayer to Lord says
BAHU ROG BIYOGANHI LOG HAYE.
BHAVDANGHRI NIRADAR KE PHAL YE.
People are suffering from diseases and agony of separation from dear ones because of disrespect for your feet (disobedience of the law of Nature. The most important law is ‘give and take’)
The people who are confronted with health problems are unbalanced. They are always desirous to have more in life but they are not keen to give. They are always
anxious to get something for nothing.
Such people have to pay more to doctors for curing themselves. Such people are always enthusiastic to grab and gather wealth and worldly objects.
You cannot receive anything without giving. You do not have the place to keep unless you give something away.
Have a right attitude:
The attitude of the giver is of greater importance than the amount given. The person who serves the Lord by giving must have full faith that the Lord is the master and owner of all that he has. This was Bharat’s conviction when he was leaving Ayodhya for Chitrakoot to meet Sri Ram. He said —
THE LORD IS OWNER OF ALL THE WEALTH AND PROPERTY.
SAMPATI SAB RAGHUPATI KAI AAHI.
So, he made adequate arrangements for the defense of the capital.
Service offered with such feelings is the direct worship of the Divine. The recipient of such service may appear to be poor, but in reality, he is the Lord Himself. As a number of electric gadgets will be of use only when power flows through them, so the person who gives, knowing, that the Lord resides in the person who receives, gets in contact with the Supreme Infinite. If a person gives out of pity, this only feeds his ego. The Lord and his people do not depend on anyone for their service.
Whom to give:
In Sri Ramcharitmanas, Guru has been defined
BANDAUN GURU PAD KANJ KRIPA SINDHU NARROOP HARI.
MAHAMOH TAM PUNJ JASU BACHAN RABIKAR NIKAR.
The enlightened person who explains the true principles and guides the devotee to attain enlightenment to remove darkness or Moh is known as Guru.
The aspirant after understanding the clear principles has to tread on the path himself for the real enlightenment.
Thus the aspirant must offer his tithing, services, belongings etc. to such a source of enlightenment.
Spiritual development through giving:
Giving for God’s work regularly and with love imparts spiritual awareness, makes living contact with God, resulting in security and fearlessness. The devotee comes to believe in the assurance which Sri Ram gave to Sugriva
“O’ friend, relying on my strength, give up all worries. I will help you in every way.”
SAKHA SOCH TYAGAHU BAL MORE
SAB BIDHI GHATAB KAJ MAIN TORE.
This belief not only makes life fearless but full of glory and even miracles. Waves of Divine love and peace will radiate from such a devotee influencing not only members of his family but the community atmosphere in a positive way.
Serving mankind and giving to others is unavoidable because it is an essential element in the working of the world order.
Lord Krishna has put forward a special doctrine of ‘Give and take’. He says —
“In the beginning, having created men along with Yagya, the Lord of creation said, “By Yagya you shall prosper and this shall bring forth the fulfillment of desires. Through Yagya you should nourish the gods and the gods will nourish you. May this be to you the legendary Cow of plenty, who gives all that is asked of her?”
SAHYAGYAH PRAJAH SRISHTWA PUROVACH PRAJAPATIH.
ANEN PRASVISHYADHVAMESH VOSTVISHTAKAMADHUK.
All existence is one and there is a law of mutual dependence binding its various parts. A mutual giving and receiving is the law of life, without which it cannot endure. For the Gita, the word Yagya is a symbol for self-sacrifice.
Only offering in the fire is not Yagya:
According to the Gita, pleasing the gods through offerings in the fire is not the only form of Yagya. A Pauranic story teaches the lesson that serving a distressed being is a greater yagya than the ritual of putting things in the fire. A Brahmin performed Yagya every day with Vedic mantras. But when after many years he became poor, his wife asked him to go to the king, formally part with the virtue acquired by one or two Yagyas and in return get money.
When he was leaving, his wife gave him five pieces of bread for his lunch. When he sat down for his meal in the afternoon, a hungry bitch came to him with her five offspring. He offered bread to her and then a second one which only whetted her appetite. The feeling of God in the heart of the bitch forced the poor hungry Brahmin to part with all the bread he had.
When he met the king in the evening, he offered the virtues of a couple of Yagyas. The king looked at his spiritual instructor, on whose advice the Brahmin was asked to come the next day. The instructor, it appeared, had developed his intuitive powers. When the Brahmin came the next day, the instructor asked him to transfer to the king the virtue acquired by the Yagya performed the day before. When the Brahmin said that he had not performed any Yagya the previous day, the instructor told the king that no one had performed such a great Yagya as the Brahmin had done.
The Brahmin believed that only the offerings in the fire could be called Yagya. Then the instructor corrected him and asked him to transfer the virtue acquired by feeding the bitch. But the Brahmin had now changed his mind and walked out of the court. The various disciplines for self-realization have been termed as Yagya in chapter four.
The Gita says that many similar Yagyas have been extensively described in the Vedas.
EWAM BAHUVIDHA YAGYA VITATA BRAHMANOMUKHE.
The Gita includes self-control, use of wealth for others’ welfare, observing one’s duties, a study of religious books, breath control and recitation of the Lord’s name among the Yagyas.
The Lord’s interpretation is so extensive that fighting the war became a Yagya for Arjun. He told Arjun that all actions, except Yagya, bind man.
You must go on doing actions for Yagya giving up all attachment and the desire for their fruits.
YAGYARTHATKARMANOANYATRA LOKOAYAM KARMBANDHANAH.
TADARTHAM KARM KAUNTEYA MUKTSANGAH SAMACHAR.
Later, he told him — go on doing the duty of fighting the war, ever thinking of me.
TASMATSARVESHU KALESHU MAMNUSMAR YUDHYA CHA
Thus, in the Gita the offerings in the fire, a ritual commonly practiced, becomes a symbol of moral and spiritual practices.
Yagya has been defined as an action which helps in evolution and ultimately in God-realization. It upholds giving as the source of all prosperity. It brings the blessings of the powers which control and direct the evolution of the entire creation. The gods are the deities presiding over the forces of nature. The Lord wants us to maintain mutual harmony with the highest powers of nature through Yagya.
The Creator formed the world and Yagya together because humanity will be destroyed if the elements of Nature do not cooperate with a man.
There will be no produce in the fields if the clouds do not bring rain.
All beings will perish if the sun ceases to be for a couple of days.
But for the air we breathe, we cannot live for even a single minute.
Krishna defines thief:
In the next verses, Lord Krishna further examines the principle of ‘give and take’ in detail. He says, “Satisfied by the Yagya, the gods will certainly bestow the enjoyments you desire. But he who enjoys their gifts without offering them in return is a thief. Thus, according to Lord Krishna’s definition, a thief is one who spends all that he gets on himself and his family without first setting apart in the service of the Lord.
ESHTANBHOGANHI VO DEVA DASYANTE YAGYABHAVITAH
TAERDATTANPRADAYEBHYO YO BHUNGATE STEN EV SAH
Freedom from the karmic cycle:
Krishna says that from food, creatures are born. Food is produced by rain. Rain is born of Yagya and Yagya is the result of an action. Action, the work of sacrifice, originates from the Veda, principles which have been revealed by the Supreme Being. So, the all-pervading, unchangeable Supreme, the Lord Himself is eternally fixed in Yagya, self-sacrifice.
KARM BRAHMODBHAVAM VIDDHI BRAHMAKSHAR SAMUDBHAWAM.
TASMATSARVAGATAM BRAHM NITYAM YAGYE PRATISHTHITAM.
No actions can bind a man who has experienced this knowledge. He offers all his actions into the Lord’s hands. He lives and moves in Him. Thus he is freed from a Karmic cycle. Krishna further warns — “He who follows not the wheel thus set in motion, is evil in his being and is sensual. In vain, O’ Arjun, he lives.”
EVAM PRAVARTITAM CHAKRAM NANUVARTYATEEH YAH
AGHAYURINDRIYARAMO MOGHAM PARTH SA JEEVATI.
Offer to the source of enlightenment:
People do not want to give and suffer even those who do so give only to the poor. Many people, whom tithing was not giving good results, have experienced that their lives were changed when they started giving one-tenth to the source of spiritual illumination. It is in this context that we have to examine two couplets addressed by Lord Krishna to Arjun towards the end of the Gita discourse —
YA IMAM PARAMAM GUHYAM MADBHAKTESHWABHIDHASYATI.
BHAKTIM MAI PARAM KRITWA MAMEVAISHYATYASNSHAYAH.
NA CHA TASMANMANUSHYESHU KASHCHINME PRIYAKRITTAMAH.
BHAVITA NA CHA ME TASMAD ANYAH PRIYATARO BHUVI.
“He who teaches this supremely profound doctrine among persons devoted to Me, having thus offered to Me the highest form of loving service, shall undoubtedly come to Me. No man can do anything more pleasing to Me than what he is doing nor shall anyone on earth be dearer to Me than he is.”
Such devotees are dear to God as a newborn infant to its mother who would not love to have God’s blessings by offering cooperation in a work, the performance of which makes the devotee dearest to the Lord, now and forever? So, wise people never fail to utilize an opportunity to share in the noble mission of spreading the Lord’s gospel.
So we should Give to the person or institution from where we receive spiritual illumination. It is the duty of all seekers of God to do their best to serve them. There is no service so great and ennobling as sharing in the holy work of spreading the Lord’s message. Sri Ramcharitmanas has stated very clearly the glory of the saints who do so. It says —
RAM SINDHU GHAN SAJJAN DHEERA.
CHANDAN TARU HARI SANT SAMEERA.
“God is like the ocean and saints like the clouds. God is like the sandalwood trees, saints are like the air laden with their fragrance.”
Seawater cannot be used either for irrigation or to quench thirst. Snakes live around sandal trees. But clouds bring us water from sea and air the fragrance of sandal. So do saints bring us in contact with God and His glory? Now, it should not be difficult to understand why one-tenth of our earning should go to those saints or institutions which give us the light of God. All religions have laid down that the spreading of the divine message is of the greatest importance.
A lot of people believe that this one-tenth can be used to help relatives or domestic servants in distress. This is wrong, for this amount is only to carry forward God’s work.
We do not pay a doctor for the work done by a washerman or advocate. We put oil only in the lamp that gives us light. We do not receive our supply from charity but from God.
Enlightenment and its source:
Lord Krishna himself defines the Real Enlightenment —
EDAM SHAREERAM KAUNTEY KSHETRAMITYABHIDHIYATE
ETADYO VETTI TAM PRAHUH KSHETRAGYA ETI TADWIDAH
KSHETRAGYAM CHAPI MAM VIDDHI SARVAKSHETRESHU BHARAT.
KSHETRAKSHETRAGYORGYANAM YATAJGYANAM MATAM MAM.
Kshetra consists of eight components — earth, water, fire, air, ether — mind, intellect, and ego self.
- The impurities are accumulated in a body because the five elements have been erroneously considered as a source of energy.
- Desires and attachments are accumulated in mind because favorable circumstances and money have been erroneously considered as a source of happiness.
- The ego is in the intellect because books have been erroneously considered as a source of knowledge.
Kshetragya or soul is purest Sat-Chit-Anand — the infinite reservoir of energy, bliss, and wisdom. It has been covered by the impurities of Kshetra. The above realization of Kshetra and Kshetragya is the True Enlightenment.
After getting the above knowledge the true aspirant removes:
- Impurities from the body through fasting (Tap),
- Attachment from the mind through distribution (Seva)
- Ego from intellect through meditation (Sumiran).
Thus the aspect of Kshetragya, the Soul, Sat-Chit-Anand are manifested in the body, mind and intellect. The person or institution from which one gets the detailed aforesaid knowledge is the real source of enlightenment.
In Sri Ramcharitmanas, Guru has been defined —
BANDAUN GURU PAD KANJ KRIPA SINDHU NARROOP HARI.
MAHAMOH TAM PUNJ JASU BACHAN RABIKAR NIKAR.
(BALKAND SORTHA 5)
The enlightened person, who explains the true principles and guides the devotee to attain enlightenment to remove darkness or Moh, is known as Guru. The aspirant after understanding the clear principles has to tread on the path himself for the real enlightenment. Thus the aspirant must offer his tithing, services, belongings etc. to such a source of enlightenment.
A. Holy Bible
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1973, 1978, 1984 By International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights Reserved.
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Since Old Testament scriptures are very similar to the Torah please refer to The Torah.
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In the New Testament Christ is talking with the priests about how to live and states in Matthew 23:23-24:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
It is clear from this that all spiritual organizations are to tithe 10% of the tithes received, but it is just as important to practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
The same scripture is quoted in
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mind, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”
Matthew 25:31-46 Christ is telling a story to the people of what will happen to those who give to God and to those who do not give.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
Then the King will say to those on his right, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
“The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angles. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you game me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”
He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Giving is to be in secret:
Christ tells people to let their giving be in secret in Matthew 6:1-4:
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
B. The Torah
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All scriptures taken from Tanakh. The Holy Scriptures
Copyright 1985 by Jewish Publication Society.
Used with permission by the Jewish Publication Society.
All rights reserved.
The following Holy Scriptures of the Jewish faith are from the Tanakh the Holy Scripture.
The practice of paying tithes is very ancient as is found in Genesis 14:17-20 where Abram gave tithes to King Melchizedek, a priest of God Most High, upon his return from his expedition against Chedorlaomer and the four kings allied with him. Abram gave him a tenth of everything taken from the enemy.
Jacob imitated this piety of his grandfather when he vowed to the Lord the tithe of all the substance he might acquire in Mesopotamia – Genesis 28:22.
Under the law, as commanded by God, Moses ordained in Leviticus 27:30-33:
“All tithes from the land, whether seed from the ground or fruit from the tree, are the Lord’s; they are holy to the Lord. If anyone wishes to redeem any of his tithes, he must add one-fifth to them. All tithes of the heard and flock – of all that passes under the shepherd’s staff, every tenth one–shall be holy to the Lord. He must look out for good as against bad, or make a substitution for it. If he does make a substitution it, then it and its substitute shall both be holy: it cannot be redeemed.”
There were three types of tithes to be paid from the people (besides those from the Levites to the priest) as specified in Numbers 28:26-31.
|1)||To the Levites (the priests in the temples) for their maintenance, Numbers 18:21-24;|
|2)||Deuteronomy 14:22-27: “You shall set aside every year a tenth part of all the yield of your sowing that is brought from the field. You shall consume the tithes of your new grain and wine and oil, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks, in the presence of the Lord your God, in the place where he will choose to establish His name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God forever. Should the distance be too great for you, should you be unable to transport them, because the place where the Lord your God has chosen to establish His name is far from you and because the Lord your God has blessed you, you may convert them into money. Wrap up the money and take it with you to the place that the Lord your God has chosen, and spend the money on anything you want – cattle, sheep, wine, or other intoxicants, or anything you may desire. And you shall feast there, in the presence of the Lord your God, and rejoice with your household. But do not neglect the Levite in your community, for he has no hereditary portion as you have.|
|3)||Deuteronomy 14:28-29: There was to be every third year a tithe for the poor, “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the full tithe of your yield of that year, but leave it within your settlements. Then the Levite, who has no hereditary portion as you have, and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your settlements shall come and eat their fill, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the enterprises you undertake.”|
Priests are required to tithe:
In Numbers 19:25-29 God instructs the Levites (priests) to set aside one-tenth of the tithes received from the Israelites as a gift to the Lord. Verse 29 states:
“You shall set aside all gifts due to the Lord from everything that is donated to you, from each thing its best portion, the part thereof that is to be consecrated.”
This is also explained in Nehemiah 10:39-40. It is clearly the priests’ responsibility to bring up a tithe of the tithe to the House of God and use if for the strangers, widows, orphans, etc.
A scripture in Malachi, chapter 2 and 3 has been used for years to encourage people to tithe, which is good. However, this scripture is when the Lord is reprimanding the priests, instead of the individuals, for not bringing the full tithe into the storehouse;
“And now, O priests, this charge is for you: Unless you obey and unless you lay it to hear, and do honor My name – said the Lord of Hosts – I will send a curse and turn your blessings in to curse…
3:6: “For I am the Lord – I have not changed, and you are the children of Jacob – you have not ceased to be. From the very days of your fathers, you have turned away from my laws and have not observed them…But you ask,” How shall we turn back?”
In tithe and contribution. You are suffering under a curse, yet you go on defrauding Me – the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, and let there be food in My House, and thus put Me to the test – said the Lord of Hosts. I will surely open the floodgates of the sky for you and pour down blessings on you; and your family.”
It is clear from this scripture that all priests are to tithe 10% of the tithes received from their followers. If not, they are robbing God and will be cursed.
God blesses those who tithe to the priests:
One of the reasons you are to tithe to the priests or organizations where you receive your enlightenment is clearly explained in II Chronicles 31:4:
“He ordered the people, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to deliver the portions of the priests and the Levites so that they might devote themselves to the Teaching of the Lord.”
Further, when Hezekiah came into the house of the Lord and saw heaps, he asked the priests and Levites about all the heaps. The chief priest Azariah replied in II Chronicles 31:10:
“…Ever since the gifts began to be brought to the House of the Lord, people have been eating to satiety and leaving over in great amounts, for the Lord has blessed his people; this huge amount is left over!”
Therefore, it is understood that in giving tithes to those who teach God’s ways, the giver will be blessed.