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Re: pursuit of wealth

Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com
Date: Mon Jul 05 1999 - 12:13:41 PDT

Dear Bhaghavatas:

In response to Mani's thought-provoking question,
Adiyen's simple (perhaps a non-scholarly) view
is as follows:

> Mani Varadarajan wrote:

>Dear Bhaktas,

>A question has been on my mind lately:
>to what degree is the pursuit of wealth
>compatible with the principles of our
>religion?

I would include in the definition of 'pursuit of wealth'
health and happiness/joy arising out of felicities
that we generally enjoy in life.

If the greatest achievement of our Ramanujacharya was to
reconcile different aspects of wisdom contained in the vEdAs
- then we cannot ignore the fact that vedic mantrAs constantly
pray for health, wealth and prosperity (For eg. Sri-Suktam).
Moreover, all samskArAs pray for material prosperity.
Thus pursuit of wealth per-se is fully compatible with our
religion.  Vyasa says in the Maha Bharatha:

"Do not pursue Artha and kAmA to the detriment of DharmA
Do not purdue Dharma to the detriment of ArthA and kAmA"

In my opinion one should earn enough to lead a comfortable life
and this is amply supported by our religion.  In fact one should
strive to become wealthy and direct the surplus wealth to promote
culture and religion.  The question is: how is this compatible with
spirituality.

Mani wrote:

>We are repeatedly taught that materialism
>leads only to misery and nothing higher.
>Our ideals are people such Nammalvar, Desika,
>and other early acharyas, who completely eschewed
>building their personal fortunes in favor of
>spiritual pursuits. There are many other
>real-world examples, even outside our sampradAya,
>such as Sankaracharya.

There is a saying in the Maha Bharata that : An Individual
makes a sacrifice for the sake of his/her family, a family for the
sake of community, a community for the sake of society, a society
for the sake of nation and the nation for the humanity (or the world).
However, for the sake of AtmA you must sacrifice the entire world.

These two views (that of pursuing wealth and sacrificing
wealth) indeed present a conflict.  This is somewhat
reconciled by the Hindu idea of 'stages in life' - Brahmacharya etc.
We must do what is appropriate for our "Ashramam".
Only in very rare cases can we expect a boy of 10 years
to be a paramikantin.

>Here's the bottom line question: is a detached, unmaterialistic
>life religiously necessary? Is it possible? If so, how does one
>go about it? To what extent should one pursue wealth, if one
>is truly desirous of liberation?

Ultimately "ParamAtmani yO rakthaha virakti aparamAtmani"
"Attachement to the One who has no attachment frees you
from all other attachments"
In the final stage we must have the VairAgyam to give up
everything - and be ready to take Unchavrutti if necessary.
It will not come all of a sudden.  With regard to everything
we possess, we must develop the so-called "rental car" attitude -
unaffected by its loss.  Like the people of North India say -
"nangE aayE hain - nangE jAnA hai". Philosophic wisdom of Jnana and
VairAgyA is the ultimate and final goal of life.


Vijayaraghavan
Buffalo, NY