True charity is selfless

By Julia Fernandes

January 20, 2012


"Give without expecting anything. That's how God likes charity." -- Julia Fernandes


Two months back I got transferred to a new work location. En route to work, I would be greeted with a sight very common in India. A woman daily tends to a cow selling grass and balls made from wheat flour and gram (dal). I would often see people stopping by and paying the woman a small amount of money, and then proceeding to feed the cow with either grass or the food balls that she makes with her hands.


This is a Hindu practice and a form of noble and charitable work which people undertake for various purposes in India. The innocent eyes of the cow somehow caught my attention. I felt curious and would be tempted many times to feed the cow. Whenever I am at home, I enjoy feeding toast crumbs to two little sparrows that visit our kitchen window. Like good children they eat everything, until I put more. But here, somehow, I would get scared and hesitant to feed the cow. I would go straight to the church, pray and head to my office.


This continued for many days. Few days back I happened to meet an astrologer. He drew up my chart and suggested that to reduce the malefic effect of certain planets I need to, among other things, pray to God and then feed a cow on a particular day. What a coincidence! When he spoke of the cow, the thought of this cow immediately came to my mind.


Sometimes, God provides us opportunities to do charitable works but we fail to pick up His signals. We fail to listen to our inner voice and follow our gut instincts. Only when the astrologer told me I realized that God had provided me an opportunity to feed a hungry cow, but I ignored His sign.


Today, while heading to office, I stopped by at the cow.There was no grass, but there were the wheat balls. I gave the woman some money and fed two wheat balls to the cow. The cow ate the balls. It was such a nice, humbling and pure feeling to be able to provide and be a blessing to an innocent animal.


And no, I am not going to follow the advice of the astrologer of feeding the cow only a particular day. Till the brief time I am at this location, I have decided to feed this cow on all days. When you perform a charitable task there should be no selfish motive behind such act. One should not expect any sort of benefit from charity giving.


It is sad that the cow has to wait till benevolent feelings of charity arise among the people passing by and some generous person decides to buy food for the cow. Till then the cow looks at the grass and the wheat balls but she cannot have them. It is sad.


Nothing that we have truly belongs to us. Everything is given to us by God. When we share our resources with the less fortunate, we are simply sharing God’s blessings with others as true charity is selfless.