In Hinduism, Annadaan is considered as Mahadaan. It is believed that by donating food, the sins of births are removed and merit is attained. What is the importance of doing Annadanam? This article contains the benefits of Annadanam and the stories associated with it.
“Annadaana” consists of two words – ‘Annam’ or food and ‘Daan’, which is the act of donating. Annadaan is a ‘Mahadaan’ or the most important of all the different types of donations. ‘Bhoodan’ (land donation), ‘Godaan’ (donation of cows), and ‘Arthadaan’ (donation of money) are forms of charity that can only be borne by the rich. But Annadanam can also be done by an ordinary person who lives only on necessity.
Importance of Annadaan:
The wise men of ancient India said that hunger was the greatest evil. It is a disease that can come to everyone and there is no cure for it except food.
According to the Puranas, the stomach can be likened to the ‘fire kund’ where fire resides. Fire is one of the five elements or one of the 5 elements that make up our body. This requires regular food contributions. If the naivedya is not offered, life will not last. When we help to quench this ‘fire pot’, this act yields more punya fruit than performing thousands of sacrifices.
According to Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, “Annad Bhavanti Bhutani”. This means that food nourishes all creation. Satisfying a person’s hunger brings good results in this world and in heaven.
Annadanam is not limited to human beings only. Animals and plants should be fed, because they are also part of creation. The following three stories speak of the importance of Annadanam.
1. First story:- Goddess Annapurna Devi
One day, Shiva and Goddess Parvati were playing a game of dice. Lord Shiva lost everything including his trident, serpent, begging bowl and everything in Parvati’s clever game. While Shiva was wandering in the forest, Vishnu came in front of him and asked him to play again. He also promised to help them win. Thus, Shiva regained all that he had lost. Goddess Parvati became very angry with both of them when she came to know about shiva and Vishnu’s deceitful game.
In order to pacify Parvati, Vishnu says that everything in creation is maya. The air, the light, the food we take are all maya. Then Parvati said, “If food is maya, I too should have been maya. Why am I here now? She becomes a mystery. Without Parvati, all acts of creation stopped.
Soon, Shiva became hungry and started looking for food in all the worlds. Meanwhile Parvati was upset to see the world and her children suffering without food. She took the form of Annapurneshwari and started doing Annadaan in Kashi. Hearing this, Shiva rushed to her and accepted Annadanam from her. Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva realised their mistake and asked Parvati for forgiveness and brought her back to her own form.
2. Second Story:- Karna’s Wish for Death
Karna was waiting for his death on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when Lord Krishna came to him. Krishna gave him two boons and asked him what he wanted. Karna’s first wish is to inform his mother Kunti about his death and reveal that Karna is her eldest son. As soon as Krishna agreed to this, Karna died.
3. Third Story: – Gift of Sudama
Sudama and Sri Krishna were childhood friends. But Krishna became king and Sudama remained a poor Brahmin. One day, Sudama met Krishna to ask for some help. He takes a small bag containing some quantity of rice as a gift and comes to Krishna’s place. In Krishna’s palace, Sudama was warmly welcomed and cared for. Sudama hesitated to ask Krishna for help. So, he decided to go back without requesting anything. Krishna sees a small bundle of rice in Sudama’s hand and enquires about it. Sudama reluctantly handed over the bag to Krishna. He was upset that this was a humble gift for his rich friend. But Krishna liked the gift. He ate two handfuls and gave the rest to his wife Rukmini.
Returning home, Sudama was stunned to see a big house where his old hut was located. Besides, the house was full of money and jewellery. This was the result of his gift of rice to Krishna.
Uses of Annadanam:
– It attracts divine blessings.
– It helps to get rid of the past karma.
– It gives satisfaction to one.
– The blessings of those who accept your Annadaan will bring positivity in your life.
– This will make your ancestors happy and help them get moksha.
– If you regularly do Annadaan, you can get immense benefit in all aspects of life.
Annadanam is considered to be the greatest of the donations. Satiating a person’s hunger by donating rice or by donating rice gives the merit of births and births.