Both are equally good ways in meeting with psycho-relief of the self. Visiting temples and getting attached to the divine activity is spiritual mainly to meet with inner satisfaction and peace. Donating to the poor is a practical way to derive the same (manava sevaye madhava seva – service to man is service to God). Thus, both ways of donation, either to the temple or to the poor, serve the same purpose.
Generally people prefer to give to institutions for tax benefits rather than seeing how effectively it helps the beneficiaries. It is important to study the cause, effectiveness and transparency of an institution before we make a donation.
While donating to temples or religious causes, care should be taken to ensure that the money given to any temple or religious institution reaches the poor in some way or for maintaining the temple. A well maintained religious place gives best peace of mind to the devotees and masses who visit there.
There is no greater charity than giving peace of mind to people.
While visiting a temple and performing Archana , Abhishegam or other Sevas, so many charitable activities indirectly happen like
– A flower / fruit /milk vendor makes his /her livelihood,
– A priest gets his financial support by way of Dhakshina to support his family.
– so many people get nutritious food through distributed prashads / Annadhanams
– by offering the Lord, gold or Diamond or expensive ornaments, the value of the temple assets goes up and thereby increasing the national asset value.
– Any contribution to Temple fund as corpus donations or land and building also add to the asset base of temples and associated banks indirectly supporting the lending power of banks to industries and other schemes of Govt.
– so many Temple / Trust staff get their salaries / allowances for living through contributions made by devotees.
A person who can think about the results of donation can never donate any where. Let me tell u a story from MahaBharat.
Karna was known for his charity. One day yudhister felt jealous about the fame of the Karna and he told krishna that karna was donating money because it is not hard earned money, Any one can donate money if it is not theirs.
Krishna told Yudhister not to worry and he offered later a big bowl of gold coins to donate with a condition that he should donate all coins in a day. Yudhister felt happy, agreed to the condition and he announced in the city that he is going to donate in a big way and all are required to attend the donating ceremony. The next day every one came and he started donating gold coins, however the bowl given by krishna was a magical bowl that it gets filled up as u remove coins. Yudhister tried his best by donating ones, tens, hundreds……. but failed to donate all coins due to magical nature of the bowl. Yudhister accepted his failure and surrendered to krishna.
Now Krishna called karna and gave the same challenge to karna, Karna with a smile on his face just called a random person from the group and asked him to take every thing including the bowl.
So, the point is donating is a virtue which every one cannot do and so being judgmental is a way to search for ways to escape.