Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dasvandh, Patti and Tithing

As I continue to learn more about India and Hinduism I continue to be amazed at the things I find out. Just this morning I was talking with another Indian and discovered another similarity between Hinduism and Christianity.

In Christianity there is the concept of tithing. What this means is that each Christian should give 10% of their earnings and all that God has given them back to the church. This money is used to pay the churches expenses, for programs running in the church and to help those in need. For Christians, this concept started thousands of years ago and is first mentioned in Genesis 14:20. (Abram gave 1/10th of all he had to Malchezidek as a thank you to God.) There are also other scriptures in the Holy Bible mentioning giving or tithing 10 percent.

Now, keep in mind that many Christian churches teach that this 10 percent is not just your money but also your time. The scripture above specifically discusses all that Abram had. Money wasn't nearly as prevalent in those times so it stands to reason he could have given food, clothing, land, etc. Whatever he had to give.

Today I discovered dasvandh (known as patti in South India). It's the same concept to Hinduism as tithing is to Christianity. Dasvand specifically means 1/10th and it is used to refer to the act of donating your time, services and money. This concept has manifested into concepts that are well known to the pardesi community such as sangat and langur, all throughout India.

For Hindus this concept is described in Rig Veda 10.117.1-6 as saving a portion of your income for the Brahmins. In Hinduism the concept extends to spending time doing yoga, meditation, prayer in addition to finances.For Sikh's this concept is found in the rahitnamas (manuals of Sikh conduct). It includes your time and money as well.

Fascinating isn't it? Do you give of your time, resources and money to your religion? Do you feel it makes a difference (or that God gives back to you)?

Want to read more? Check out these links:
Christianity Today: The Ancient Rise and Recent Fall of Tithing
The Langar Hall: Dasvandh and End of Year Giving


  1. One of the 5 pillars of Islam is 'zakat' - the giving of a portion of one's income to the poor or disabled. In Islam one MUST give zakat for the sake of one's salvation, purifying one's wealth, and soul.

    Hinduism and Sikhism also have sega (or sewa)- selfless service to make life easier for others.

    Buddhism also stresses selfless service as part of the Boddhisatva ideal.

    “Only selfless service can encourage a person to reach the higher state of humanity.”
    -Sri Sathya Sai Baba

  2. oops, that is 'seva' not 'sega', apparently spell check doesn't like seva!

  3. Hi,

    The Sikh in particular engage in all sorts of services to help the devotees in the Gurudwaras which is commendable. For Hindus, it is a bit difficult. There is no common identification point for people to concentrate their time or resources. We have numerous gods, goddesses & gurus. The Hindu society is divided into castes, sects, ethnic groups. There no one rallying point. Hindus are also lax about their religion. The temples have become commercial points with all sorts of superstition. The upkeep of Hindu temples, baring a few, is not good. Each Hindu will serve his own sect or particular god. In the South, believe it or not, there is severe clash between Tamil Brahmins Shaivaites (followers of Shiva) and Vishnuviates (followers of Vishnu.). Apparently, this is some sort of castes system followed among Brahmins.

    Among Sikhs, there is discrimination between different sects and for Dalit Sikhs. The same is the case among muslims and Christians Amir Khan's Show "Satyamev Jayate", brought out the evil of caste system in all religions. However, unlike Hindus, the Christians, Sikhs and muslims, have fewer divisions and are more cohesive as a unit. Hindus definately need to get united and work for the betterment of their community.

  4. I have definitely noticed that many religions have some form of giving time and money back to the community. Before this, I didn't realize Hinduism did too. It seems more like most Hindu's don't follow the custom to me. After seeing the difference between temples, gurudwaras, mosques and churches it just didn't seem like giving was the standard rather than the exception.

  5. Lol. Sega....Sonic the Hedgehog! Auto complete thought for sure that is what you meant.

  6. I think it's like this all over the world. Even among Christians there is some division and discrimination. Catholics and Protestants don't see things the same nor do Baptists and Methodists. All sects of Christianity. It's sad but most (Hindus and Christians) seem to do specific things for their churches/temples. I know I remember our family making a chola and preparing gifts and offerings for Hanuman. Some of it was monetary. I never made the connection between that and giving part of your income. FIL goes to the temple alone as well.

    I enjoyed watching Satyamev Jayate and I think Amir Khan was the best actor to take it on. He had the right face and personality to stand up there and do the show. I think it was a great idea. I would love to see him have an ongoing show where he features people who are working toward making India a better place. He could be like the Indian version of Dr. Phil.