Giving alms is extremely important as means for achieving punya. Alms always have to be donated when one goes to visit a temple or a place of pilgrimage. The giver must always face the east and the receiver must always face the north when alms are being given. Such donations have to be made after one has had a bath.
The best objects for donations are gold, horses, oilseeds, snakes, maids, chariots, trees, houses, daughters and cows. If one promises to give something but later goes back on one’s promise, one is sure to be destroyed. It should be remembered that the entire object of donation alms is lost if one expects gratitude or friendship in return. It is better to give something to a brother than to a daughter, it is better to give to a father than to a mother.
The entire concept of donation alms is different in the four different eras. In Satya Yuga, the giver went out in search of recipient to whom he could give something. In Treta Yuga, the recipient had to come to the giver’s house before he would be given anything. In Dvapara Yuga, the giver never gave anything without being asked for it by the recipient. And in Kali Yuga, the giver gives only to those who are servile to him.