Altruism and Dana: impact on self and well-being

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


K. Lakshmi


Journal of Human Values, Sage Publishers, Volume 19, Number 2, p.65–71 (2013)



In this article, I will attempt to link altruism, a concern of Positive Psychology, a recent branch of psychology, and d?na, the deeply entrenched aspect of Indian thought. These aspects strive towards a connection with the self and well-being. In addition, an association between Indian psychological attributes, especially with reference to the Mah?bh?rata, and Positive Psychology will be shown. In the Indian context, d?na or the act of giving involves not merely the act of giving material or tangible goods or objects but also involves doing an act, doing something for others in which one has no stake or claim. In other words, the giving involves giving something from the depths of oneself, for the ?good? of another, without expecting anything in return. The cultivation of generosity facilitates a pliancy of mind that allows for the eradication of delusion of a limited self as well as disables greed and hate. In addition to anna-d?na, jala-d?na, bh?mi-d?na, vidy?-d?na and jnana-d?na, the Mah?bh?rata also talks about sharing with love and affection. A desire for good is a desire for self-satisfaction, bearing a positive therapeutic value for a better, truer, more real self.