From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Dayā literally means ‘compassion’. Showing dayā or compassion to all the living creatures and not harming them has been a basic moral discipline enjoined in whole religion. The word ‘dayā’ has been defined in various ways which are:

  1. The desire that arises in one’s heart to mitigate the sufferings of others by putting forth the necessary effort.
  2. The desire to do good to others even as one wishes that others should do towards oneself.

The Devībhāgavatam[1] describes Dayā as one of the eight female companions accompanying the Devī (Divine Mother). The word is also used as an appellation for Lakṣmī, the consort of Viṣṇu, since she is the very personification of compassion towards all the living beings who are her children. Vedānta Deśika (A. D. 1268-1370), the celebrated teacher of the Rāmānuja school, has composed an exquisitely moving hymn called Dayāśatakam on Lakṣmī as Dayā.


  1. Devībhāgavatam 1.15.60
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore