dātavyam iti yad dānaḿ
dīyate ’nupakāriṇe
deśe kāle ca pātre ca
tad dānaḿ sāttvikaḿ smṛtam

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 17.20

Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

In the Vedic literature, charity given to a person engaged in spiritual activities is recommended. There is no recommendation for giving charity indiscriminately. Spiritual perfection is always a consideration. Therefore charity is recommended to be given at a place of pilgrimage and at lunar or solar eclipses or at the end of the month or to a qualified brahmana or a Vaishnava (devotee) or in temples. Such charities should be given without any consideration of return. Charity to the poor is sometimes given out of compassion, but if a poor man is not worth giving charity to, then there is no spiritual advancement. In other words, indiscriminate charity is not recommended in the Vedic literature.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

One should be convinced that the gift should be given (datavam iti). It is understood here that there is no desire for personal gain.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

17.20 Gifts given without thought of return of favours and with the feelings, ‘These gifts must be given,’ at the proper places and time to a worthy person who makes no return — such gifts are said to be Sattvika.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

The three fold divisions of danam or charity are now being delineated by Lord Krishna. To give in charity to worthy recipients is a duty. Those who give such charity without the slightest inclination for any reciprocal return are those situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Such aspirants will offer danam at an auspicious place such as Kuruksetra where Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-Gita or anywhere along the bank of the 2000 miles long sacred river Ganga. They will offer danam at an auspicious time such as during a solar eclipse or the holy day of ekadasi the 11th day preceding the new moon and the full moon. They will offer danam to auspicious personalities such as Vaisnava brahmanas endowed with wisdom in knowing the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures or they will offer danam to a temple of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic scriptures. These are all danam situated in sattva guna. The word patre means qualified person, it can also mean protector if analysed from its root pa. Who is better to protect one then the Vaisnava brahmanas who can reveal the conclusive truths of the Vedic scriptures and save one from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Lord Krishna describes the threefold divisions of danam or charity. It is an act of duty to give danam accordingly to one’s capability. The danam that is offered freely from the heart to Vaisnavas and brahmanas without expectation of receiving anything back in return, that is bestowed in a holy place like Navadwip Dham or Jagannatha Puri, that is bequeathed at an auspicious time such as the month of Kartika or the month of Magha is danam situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

17.20 Tat, that; danam, gift; is smrtam, referred to; as sattvikam, born of sattva; yat, which gift; is diyate, given; with the idea in mind datavyam iti, that it ought to be given without consideration; anupakarine, to one who will not serve in return, and even to oen who can; and dese, at the (proper) place-in holy places like Kuruksetra etc. ; kale, at the (proper) time-during Sankranti [During the passage of the sun or any planetary body from one zodiacal sign into another.-V.S.A.] etc.; and patre, to a (proper) person-to one who is versed in the Vedas together with their six branches, and such others.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

17.20-22 Datavyam etc. upto udahrtam. With the thought that ‘One must give’ : thinking that the [scriptural] injunction ‘One must give’ is to be obeyed in order to avoid sin. Very much vexed : because of the fault of [giving] very little. A gift is converted into a bad one by offending its recipient, and so on. Thus the activities of the worldly men are explained on the basis of their three-fold intentions born of the Sattva and so on. How do those persons perform actions, whose intellect has gone beyond the region, that is impassable because of the triad of the Strands ? Now that manner is described as –

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

datavyam iti yad danam
diyate ’nupakarine
dese kale ca patre ca
tad danam sattvikam smrtam

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

dātavyam — worth giving; iti — thus; yat — that which; dānam — charity; dīyate — is given; anupakāriṇe — irrespective of return; deśe — in a proper place; kāle — at a proper time; ca — also; pātre — to a suitable person; ca — and; tat — that; dānam — charity; sāttvikam — in the mode of goodness; smṛtam — is considered.