Dear Grihastha Coach,
My wife and I have been married for five years. We have two children and both of us work as computer professionals. She and I were initiated before we were married and in general get along well. Lately, though we are disagreeing more and more about finances. I want to give more money to support some of the projects in Srila Prabhupada’s mission and she is concerned about increasing our savings for family emergencies. I recently read where one of the primary duties of grhasthas is to give in charity and I want to start doing this on a regular basis. We disagree on the amount and where to place the charity.
Can you help?
Determined to give
Yours is an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, you want to start to give regularly in charity and on the other your wife wants to save for family emergencies. Both giving in charity and saving for family emergencies are very important in family life. You both sound like sincere devotees and I appreciate your asking for assistance. The foremost acharya of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, Srila Rupa Goswami has demonstrated how to solve this dilemma. He gave 50% of his income in charity to support Krsna consciousness, 25% to care for family and 25% for emergencies.
Once Lord Caitanya was asked by Satyaraja Khan, one of his grhastha devotees, “What is the duty of a grhastha? The Supreme Lord, Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Chant Hare Krsna and serve the Vaisnavas.. One way we can serve the Vaisnavas is by regularly giving in charity, to temples, projects, and individual devotees engaged in service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. Specifically, Srila Prabhupada emphasized that for householders, charity, self-control and sacrifice (purport, Bh. Gita, 16:1-3) are the main items of surrender to Krsna. Sometimes, devotees are bewildered how to give 50%; Sometimes they say that they don’t make enough income to give 50%. The idea is that as long as one genuinely accepts this principle in one’s heart and endeavors to steadily give in charity, Krsna will accept the devotee’s efforts and help them to keep growing. So, we of the Grhastha Vision Team encourage everyone to start with at least 10%. Find a devotional cause or mission and support it. For example, one local temple or nama hatta program should be regularly supported and there are others like cow protection, sannayasis, Vaisnava projects (e.g. the Grhastha Vision Team and the Festival of India or the Festival of Inspiration, etc.) that exist by the kind contributions of thoughtful devotees.
Steadiness and regularity in giving in charity is so important. You and your wife can sit down and after reading together Srila Prabhupada’s comments in Bhagavad gita, compromise. Agree to save something for family emergencies and agree on a regular amount of charity. You can start at a certain percentage and increase over time. Again, remember that steadiness is very, very important. Both of you can suggest two or three missions or projects that you want to support, put them in a hat and pull out one, two or three to begin to support. One devotee I know doesn’t have much income but she faithfully gives $51 per month in charity to support Srila Prabhupada’s first center in America, 26 2nd Avenue in New York. If devotees everywhere took seriously this commitment to give in charity, the Krsna conscious mission would indeed flourish more rapidly. Hope this helps. Write back and let us know what you decide.
In service to the Vaisnavas,
Your Grhastha Coach