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Pursuit of Wealth & Sri VaishnavA's stand : Part 1

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Jul 18 1999 - 09:03:42 PDT

Dear BhakthAs :

One of the most important questions that concerns all
of us at different stages of life was posed recently 
by Sri Mani Varadarajan . This was 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 . 

Many thoughtful answers have been presented by the members of 
this list to Sri Mani's Question . Listening to the wonderful 
Tele-upanyAsam of this morning by Srimadh Azhagiya Singar , 
a lot of thoughts crossed my mind . I will share them with you 
for keeping the discussions going .In the final analysis , this is
an equation to be solved at a personal level in dialogs 
with one's own AchAryan in the context of the intensity of 
one's own saadhanA (spiritual pursuits) .These observations of
mine are more like stream of consciousness comments for
generating a sharper analysis by you all later.

Ours is a Vaidhikha Matham , which holds Vedams
sacred and fundamental . In this context , I wish 
to state at the outset that Vedam does 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 

I will start with some definitions and background information
items to provide text and context for this important discussion: 

Definitions and Commnets

(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
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 )".   

I will conclude this series of two postings with
a discussion on NaarAyaNa KuDumpam next and the centrality
of the Family as a social unit in the context of the acquisition
and orderly disposition of wealth.