This question asks whether, what, or how to tell other people about giving money to a beggar.


I was seated inside the bus today and I saw a man begging for while selling some incense sticks boxes and he was wearing a mask for an unknown reason. Firstly it occurred to me whether it's worthwhile to donate some amount to him. Them it occurred that drop by drop only the pot will be filled.

So I decided to donate some and I was suppose to give the bus ticket money to the conductor. I had some hundred notes and a 20 rupee note. I was thinking whether to give a 100 rupee note to the beggar at first and then I thought of donating the 20 rupee to the beggar and pay the conductor with a 100 rupee so that I could have change.

Both the beggar and the conductor arrived near my seat and I was having both notes on my hand. (I was holding the phone from the other hand). I tried to give the 20 ripped to the beggar and the conductor unknowingly reached his hand to the 20 rupee note and asked where I was going to. I was about confused on what to do and then I settled my mind thinking "It's fine. Let the beggar have the 100 and let him do something beneficial with it". After saying where I was going I donated the 100 rupee to the beggar. This incident happened very fast. And at the instance I let go of the typical craving for the small 100 rupee note so that I could fulfill the charity purely.

And after that the conductor told me not to give that sort of large amount to them. I smiled and, unshaken in my intention, I continued on the journey.


My question is this: I'm not sure whether the beggar was virtuous or not; but I know for a fact that only drop by drop a pot can be fulfilled. So the question is, if this sort of a situation were to arise another time, should I instruct the other person (in this case the conductor) on what the intention and the situation was, or just shut up and mind my business?

May the Triple Gem bless you.

2 Answers 2


The Buddha has mentioned that it is the givers qualities that matters most in giving. He says for example that if he were to receive something from Ven. Sariputta, that would not be as meritorious as if he gave the same thing to Ven. Sariputta.

So, if you are a person with Arya qualities, as long as your giving is also Arya, the effects will be much greater than that dictated by the receivers qualities.

Arya giving is letting go at a distance.

  • I edited the question a bit. I think the question was about the relationship with the conductor, not the beggar.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:48
  • @Ravindranath I totally understand. Is there a reference on what you mentioned on what Buddha said? Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:55
  • I'm reading Tipitakaya these days. I'll let you know if i meet the reference. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 14:08
  • Sanctification of the Gift is explained here. dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=25889&hilit=
    – SarathW
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 5:36

Firstly, I think you should, because I for one feel like many people are conflicted on how to handle situations with beggars and other homeless people.

Tell them that giving depends on your intentions. Some people help out beggars with the intent of satisfying a desire, or tricking their ego into believing something (example: I'm a good person, because I help out beggars, I donate to charity...etc) when in actuality, they are doing it to satisfy a deep rooted desire they have. If I knew money I gave to a beggar would lead to drug abuse and self-destruction, I believe the Buddhist way would be not to help the beggar. On the other hand, if I had no idea about a beggar's drug problem, and I gave it to him with the full intention of only providing for his well being, then giving would be a good thing to do.

Though I think another important thing is the context. If you feel like you have to help the beggar because the situation calls for it (maybe they approached you and you feel pressured to comply?), then you shouldn't, especially when you need the money yourself, because that is not the same as giving to a beggar out of your own good intentions.

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