Dāna, commonly translated into English as gifting practices, entails the permanent giving of an object, such as food, land or money, or an intangible good, such as knowledge, from one owner to another. It has held religious significance in the Hindu textual traditions dating back to the Ṛg Veda. In these texts, dāna is presented as an umbrella term under which utsarga (public works), pūrta (meritorious work), and iṣṭa (offerings made during Vedic sacrifices) stand as different types of gifting. Additionally, Hindu devotional movements have embedded these historical practices of giving within larger devotional frameworks through the concept of sevā (service), thereby leading to exponential growth of social service throughout India. Taking these textual and historical occurrences together, dāna maintains a multivalent character in Hinduism today.
Parameters of Dāna in Dharma Literature
A systematic definition of dānais found in the body of texts known collectively as the...
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