What does word DANAM mean

The word DANAM is a commonly used Sanskrit word. It is used by people, who do not even know Sanskrit, as it is present in almost every Indian language. The widely used meaning of the word danam is charity, but it is necessary to see the other meanings and the origins of this word. This is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.

The word danam is derived by adding the suffix  lyut  to the root verb  da, which means to give, bestow, grant, yield, impart, present, offer, give in marriage, hand over, give back, pay, give up, cede, sell, communicate, teach, utter, speak, permit, allow, place, put, apply, or add.


Danam  means the  act of  giving,  giving  in  marriage,  giving  up, communicating, imparting, teaching, delivering, handing over, gift, donation, present, liberality, charity, munificence, bribery for overcoming one’s enemy, cutting, dividing, purification, cleaning, protection, pasture, addition, distribution of food,  distribution  of  a  Vedic  sacrificial  meal,  part, possession, share, paying back, restoring, oblation, the rut-fluid that flows from an elephant’s temples, distributor, dispenser, straighten, be straight, nourishing, cherishing, beating, striking, or wild honey.


Danam  could also mean destroying; cleaning of a lamp; coarseness; stimulating; kindling; setting on fire; the excretory fluids like phlegm, vomit, and urine; giving to gods, priests, and teachers;  renunciation;  letting  loose;  dismiss; discard; abandon; throw; desert; relaxing; emit; evacuate; discharge; answer; cast; shoot; drive out; produce; give away; handle; afflict; affect; act upon; touch; air; wind; sensitive nerve; sensation; contact; putting in; commence; beginning; stating;  causing  to  attain;  claim;  appoint;  inauguration;  worldly  conduct;  accomplish;  illustrate; explain; sprinkle; that by which a sacrificial offering is made; scatter; pour out; completion; final emancipation or beatitude; illness; trouble; distress; anxiety; inheritance; retirement; precept; dejection; laying aside; suspending; a general rule; resignation; quitting; setting free; a ceremony on the suspending of the repetition of the Vedas; excreting; end; killing; the colon-like sign in Devanagari; shedding; light; splendour; hurling; offspring; sun’s southern course; opening; getting rid of; creation; destruction of the world; cause;  hurting;  injuring;  or  slaughter.


Danam is giving with shraddha, faith and sincerity, when a worthy recipient has arrived.  Both the giver and the accepter should have shraddha and should follow dharma. The giver should maintain both external and internal purity while giving the danam. The amount of wealth that is gifted is immaterial, however less it might be. The wealth being given in danam should be without any encumbrances, should have been earned by one’s own efforts in a righteous manner. Danam should not be given to a person, who is unwilling to accept it.


Danam that is given following dharma, is considered to be the best and purest form of worshipping the gods. It is also considered a means to cure one of illnesses, to be done along with treatment by a physician. One has to give danam with shraddha, and should not give it without shraddha.


Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata


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 This article was first published in the September 2018 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription


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