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Pursuit of Wealth

One of the most important questions that concerns all of us at different stages of life is about the pursuit of wealth or otherwise and how it relates to us in the modern day context . For some , this question poses itself early in their lives and for others , this question never shows up in their mental horizon .

Ours is a Vaidhikha Matham , which holds Vedams sacred and fundamental . Vedas do not frown upon the acquisition of wealth .It encourages the accumulation of wealth by righteous means and gives clear pointers as to the usage of that accumulated wealth for our spiritual benefit .

The idea of property is referred to in the Vedam at many places as Vittam, Dhanam and rayi . A paasage of Vedam specifically states: " without wealth , a man does not have an honorable position in the society ( etavAn khalu vai parusha: yavadasya VITTHAM ).The Vedic statements have to be intrepreted at many levels . Here , "honorable position " does not mean ostentatious-status , marked by crude & jarring display of wealth .

VedAs attribute divinty to the circulation of wealth in a way far different from "shop unitl you drop" . Vedam says that the circulation of that wealth/money should be as WIDE as possible , based on a strong foundation of ethical and moral values . Miserly Hoarding and mindless spending for purely selfish purposes (self-gratification ) are not recommended .One of the important connections that Veda manthrams makes is between accumulation-disbursement of wealth and family as the first and fundamental social unit. We will come back to the (NaarAyana )kuDumbam /family aspects in the next posting in the context of familial responsibiliites and Brahmacharya-gruhasthAsrama dharmams .

VedAs stress the importance of work in a man's life and states that a man or woman should not be ashamed of their work and shirk it . The adage that" much is expected of those to whom much is given " certainly applies. Man is described as getting divine blessings and ultimately divinity only by work ( na ruthE srAntasya sakyayA devA:). The wealth accumulated from dharmic (righteous) means and sharing of that wealth for the welfare of THE FAMILY and SOCIETY at large is recommended STRONGLY .

Definitions and Comments

(1)PrEyas: That pleases one ; worldly gains like " strong investment portfolio " , estate in Beverley Hills , Posssession of a Lambherghetti auto ,travel by Concord plane , beautiful children and spouse , silken garments et al

(2)SrEyas: That which is auspicious and truly beneficial . The Upanishads make a clear distinction between PrEyas and SrEyas.One is warned by the Upanishads (Veda Siras) not to be lured by what is merely pleasing and appears to give material and fleeting sense of security , since there is no end to the pursuit of that kind of pleasure and consequent insecurity as well as anxiety over losing that prEyas .

Comments:During Our stay on this earth, we have the capacity to set our " thermostat /rheostat " between PrEyas and SrEyas .Our goal through a clear understanding of the Tattva Trayams , Four PurushArthams , Artha Panchakam doctrines is to move that setting towards PrEyas end incrementally through SadAchArya anugraham and ceaseless Bhagavath /Bhaagavatha kaimkaryam .

(3) Tattva Trayam (The three realities):In one half of a SlOkam of Srimadh Rahasya Thraya Saaram , Swami Desikan has summarized for us , the tattva thrayam and the magnificience of Sriman NaarAyaNA as our Supreme Lord :

Sriman NarAyaNO nah pathi: akhila- tanu: MukthidO mukthabhOgya:

The three tattvams --Achith/insentient/achEttanam , Chith/sentient/chEthanam and Isvaran-- and their relationships are covered by this half slOkam . The salient points referred to here are :

3.1: NaarAyaNA , the consort of Sri Devi , is our supreme Lord , who has sentients/beings and insentients/Prakruti as His body .

3.2: He is the only one , who can bless us with mOksham or freedom from the cycles of birth and Death .

3.3: He is the object of the blissful enjoyment for those , who have attained Moksha Siddhi .

Comments: The Tattvathrayams have to be understoood well and reflected upon in the context of the enhancement of our SrEyas and use that as a compass to mOksham thru Bhakthi or Prapathti Yogam .

(4) PurushArthams :The Four goals of Human Life

These four values are (a)wealth/arthA (b) desire/kamaa (c)righteousness/dharmA and (d)liberation/MokshA .

Some have described arthA as the economic value , kaamA as the psychological value , dharmA as the moral value and mokshA as the spiritual value. All these values are considered vital and effort should be taken to integrate them on an appropriate personal value scheme .

Among the four values of life , arthA and kAmA ( the hedonistic and the acquisitve ) values have been described as the SECULAR values of Life. DharmA (the ethical and moral ) value teaches us how that secular life should be lived. Dharma and MokshA are considered as SPIRITUAL values .

ArthA and KaamA are considered as instrumental values for life's goal ; DharmA is considered as the regulative and integrating value ; MokshA is recognized as an " intrinsic and end value ". Even mahAthmAs get confused by the interplay of the four purushArthams .

In the above context ,we can study the statement of LakshmaNan (LakshmaNO Lakshmi sampanna:)in Srimadh RaamAyaNam (Yuddha KhANDam ) .Here , the remarks about property , the value of dharmA are being made by LakshmaNan . Hence , it is nothing new .Here the embodiment of kaimkaryam , LakshmaNan , is in a mood of anger and frustration and questions his brother tightly. This is When Indrajith cuts off the head of maayA SitA in front of AnjanEyA .RaamA and LakshmaNA hear about it . RaamA is choked with grief and LakshmaNA in great anger rails at the embodiment of DharmA , Sri RamachandrA .

Laksmanan lectures his brother indignantly :" All people including You follow dharmA and You ask other people to follow dharmA . But none is able to know that dharmA is intangible . Even assuming that there is dharmA , it only threatens people of weak mind and obeys those , who stand courageously against it. Dharma has driven you to thr forest and made you lose Your wife because You have a weak mind . On the other hand, RavaNA , who stood against DharmA has attained all prosperity . Seeing RavaNA , DharmA disappears. Dharma is therefore nonexistent , for which you are sacrificing your whole life.DHARMA HAS MADE YOU A POOR MAN WITH NO PROPERTY.PEOPLE WILL NOT HONOR A MAN ,WHO HAS NO PROPERTY.Only people with wealth can stand in the society and command respect . Relatives also surround him . He can claim anything. People also believe him . Alas! You have lost all property. No one will appreciate You ---Get up , Oh Tiger among men ! Why don't You recognize Yourself to be the Supreme Spirit endowed with vast intelligence , who have kept Your vows ? This submission has been made by me to win your pleasure ( tava priyArtham udhitha:).Enraged to learn about the destruction of JanakA's daughter, I shall completely destroy with my arrows the entire LankhA with RavaNA and his kins and wealth "--Srimadh VaalmIki RaamAyanam: Yuddha KahANDam: 83.31-44.

Lakshmana is expressing these doubts to the DharmAthmA for whom he left his riches and family behind to perform uninterrupted service in the forest . LakshmaNA is articulating these doubts for our benefit . Sri Raama ordered next Lakshmana in to battle with Inderjith and Lakshmana , destroys Inderjith in a fierce battle on his brother's behalf. Lakshmana appears before his eldest brother afterwards and falls at his feet and tells the good news of the destruction of Inderjith . Sri Vaalmiki describes that happy scene this way :

sa tham bhrAtharam aasvAsya parishvajya cha Raaghava:

( Having restored His brother to equalibrium , Sri RaamA embraced His dear brother and ordered SushENA , the physician to free LakshmaNa from the pain caused by Inderjith's saharp arrows ).

This chapter starting with the discussion on artham and dharmam concludes with the death of Inderjith . Adhi Kavi says at the end of this sargam , " That high-souled son of DasarathA appaluded the feat of LakshmaNA , which was exceedingly difficult for others to accomplish (Sudushkaram ):

apUjayath karma sa LakshmaNasya sudushkaram DaasarathirmahAthmA

Relections on the moving appeal of a Lakshmi Nrusimha BhakthA

artham anartham BhAvaya nithyam naasthi tatha: sukhalEsa: satyam

Please reflect on artham (Wealth/prosperity/sampath) and anartham (poverty/alakshmi)always. Think about what they truly are . There wont be even a particle of "sukham " at the end from both .This is satyam !

Here , this great Nrusimha BahkthA seems to hint that the ParamArtham or Parama purushArtham is Sriman NaarAyaNA Himself and to perform SaraNAgathi to Him .

Elsewhere in the same sthOthram , this VedAnthin gives us the recipe for Paramaartham with the statement:

" Guru CharaNAmbhuja nirbhara Bhakthi " is the route.

Extended persaonal Comments: With deep devotion at the lotus feet of your AchAryan and thus getting rid of the burden of samsAram through Bhara samarpaNam , Govindham Bhaja ! NaarAyaNam Smara ! DaamOdharam darsaya ! KrishNam keerthaya ! Maadhavam manasA archaya !Sridharam sEvaya ! HrushIkEsam hrudhayE thishtaya! You will achieve serenity and contentment in the spirit of " pOthumenRa manathE ponn seyyum marunthu " in this world and matchless nithya kaimkarya Isvaryam (paramArtha prayOjanam) in the other world .

He sums up later the observances for deliverance :

"Recite the GitA . Chant the thousand names of the Lord ( Sri VishNu SahasranAmam), meditate ceaselessly on the divine consort of Sri Mahaa Lakshmi , lead the mind towards Bhaagavatha sathsangam , give away your wealth in charity to those in need and who are poor and be rid of your bharam( load of SamsAram )".

Credits: V.Sadagopan

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