Srimad Bhagavatam 01.12.14 - Walking on razors edge (download mp3)
by Gaur Vilas Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
hiraṇyaṁ gāṁ mahīṁ grāmān
hasty-aśvān nṛpatir varān
prādāt svannaṁ ca viprebhyaḥ
prajā-tīrthe sa tīrthavit
Upon the birth of a son, the King, who knew how, where and when charity should be given, gave gold, land, villages, elephants, horses and good food grains to the brāhmaṇas.
Only the brāhmaṇas and sannyāsīs are authorized to accept charity from the householders. In all the different occasions of saṁskāras, especially during the time of birth, marriage and death, wealth is distributed to the brāhmaṇas because the brāhmaṇas give the highest quality of service in regard to the prime necessity of humankind. The charity was substantial in the shape of gold, land, villages, horses, elephants and food grains, with other materials for cooking complete foodstuff. The brāhmaṇas were not, therefore, poor in the actual sense of the term. On the contrary, because they possessed gold, land, villages, horses, elephants and sufficient grains, they had nothing to earn for themselves. They would simply devote themselves to the well-being of the entire society.
The word tīrthavit is significant because the King knew well where and when charity has to be given. Charity is never unproductive or blind. In the śāstras charity was offered to persons who deserve to accept charity by dint of spiritual enlightenment. The so-called daridra-nārāyaṇa, a misconception of the Supreme Lord by unauthorized persons, is never to be found in the śāstras as the object of charity. Nor can a wretched poor man receive much munificent charity in the way of horses, elephants, land and villages. The conclusion is that the intelligent men, or the brāhmaṇas specifically engaged in the service of the Lord, were properly maintained without anxiety for the needs of the body, and the King and other householders gladly looked after all their comforts.
It is enjoined in the śāstras that as long as a child is joined with the mother by the navel pipe, the child is considered to be of one body with the mother, but as soon as the pipe is cut and the child is separated from the mother, the purificatory process of jāta-karma is performed. The administrative demigods and past forefathers of the family come to see a newly born child, and such an occasion is specifically accepted as the proper time for distributing wealth to the right persons productively for the spiritual advancement of society.