Religious Studies

Hinduism: concern for others

Most religions give guidance about how we should treat other people. The Hindu faith teaches that the poor should always be given help.

Concern for others

The Artha Shastras, one of the Hindu scriptures written in 300 BCE by a wise man called Kautilya, gives advice for householders. It says that they should always be generous and hospitable to guests, and no guest should ever be turned away without food. Tradition says that a place at the table should always be left for atithi (the unexpected guest).

One may amass wealth with hundreds of hands but one should also distribute it with thousands of hands. If someone keeps all that he accumulates for himself and does not give it to others the hoarded wealth will eventually prove to be the cause of ruin.

Atharva Veda 3: 24-25

Poverty in India

Poverty in India

Hindus may believe that if people are poor it's because they lived badly and created bad karma in a previous life.

However, they must still help the poor; this is also a way of building up good karma for themselves.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi

Gandhi

The great Hindu teacher and leader Mahatma Gandhi believed:

  • it is wrong to believe that a poor person is only getting what they deserve because of bad karma in a previous life
  • every person is a part of Brahman (the ultimate reality) and people should take care of each other
  • helping others is the best way to reach Brahman and understand what it really means to be human

Charities

There are many charities in India and the majority of these have been set up by Hindus. Hindus often give large sums of money to schools and hospitals to help the poor.

Bhoodan Movement (Land Gift Movement)

One way of overcoming poverty was suggested by Vinoba Bhave, a follower of Gandhi. Bhave’s idea was to persuade the wealthy to volunteer to redistribute some of their land to the poor. The redistribution of four million acres of land was organised during the first six years.

CAF India

India suffers from many natural disasters such as floods and famines. CAF India is one of the charities that works to care for victims of these events. CAF India is not religious but many Hindus support its work.

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