Should We Give Money to Beggars?


In India there are a lot of beggars. On one hand I feel pity for them and want to give them money, but on the other hand elders say that beggars who are physically well enough to work shouldn’t be given anything, and most beggars are fraudsters. I’m confused as to what to do. Have Master or Swamiji said anything regarding this?

—NS, India


Dear NS,

Yes, I have heard Swami Kriyananda speak about this topic: it is not spiritually good for beggars to want to receive without giving anything. It takes them in the wrong direction, downward on the scale of evolution. But you can give people something if they offer any little service. Especially children shouldn’t learn the lesson to beg, receiving money for doing nothing. The same is true for those sadhus who, in Sri Yukteswar’s words, are “idlers who profess religion but concentrate on alms.”

Of course there are beggars who are truly in need and who are truly unable to work. That is different, and to them you may give. Swami Kriyananda did so, too. This kind of beggar, however, is the great minority. So look at the beggar in front of you and use your discrimination. If it says “no,” send him or her a thought of light. And if your discrimination says “yes,” then give with an open and loving heart.

All the best,