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In Soul of the Beast, John encounters beggars in Calcutta, India. Below is a discussion about beggars with quotes from Wikipedia .

SOBbeggar_4Beggars and Begging “have existed in human society since before the dawn of recorded history.” Begging is still common in nearly every society today with a variation in  the prevalence and exact form.

 Beggars are typically people who are unable to work because of personal problems such as handicaps, injuries and mental illness or because of a lack of jobs. They beg to obtain the basics of life: food and money. 

In the past,  governments helped beggars by forcing them into workhouses, “a state-operated institution where those unable to obtain other employment were forced to work in often grim conditions in exchange for a small amount of food. The welfare state of the 20th century [has] greatly reduced the number of beggars by directly providing for the basic necessities of the poor from state funds.”

Religious Begging

Many religions believe  begging is the “only acceptable means of support for certain classes of adherents [i.e.- priests, pastors, nuns, holy men], including ChristianityHinduismSufi Islam,Buddhism…” This allows the “adherents to focus exclusively on spiritual development without the possibility of becoming caught up in worldly affairs.”

SOB beggar3“In Buddhismmonks and nuns traditionally live by begging for alms, as did the historical Gautama Buddha himself. This [allowed the] lay people (to) gain religious merit by giving food, medicines, and other essential items to the monks.”

Current Legal Restrictions to Begging .

“Begging has been restricted or prohibited … for various reasons, typically… to preserve public order or to induce people to work rather than to beg …”

“ Aggressive panhandling has been specifically prohibited by law [in the United States and Canada. It] is defined as …a beggar putting his head and hands inside a victim’s car, [or]a beggar physically searching the victim for money.”

“…In May 2010, … Boston started cracking down on panhandling [and advised residents] not to give to panhandlers. The Boston police distinguished… aggressive panhandling, [from] passive panhandling [such as] opening doors at store with a cup in hand but saying nothing….”

“Begging has been legal in Finland since 1987 when the Poor Law was invalidated. In 2003, the Public Order Act replaced any local government rules and completely decriminalized begging.”

Notable beggars


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