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Re: A Real Life Example! (re real wealth

Date: Tue Jul 27 1999 - 14:09:49 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

I humbly thank all those who've written in appreciation of my dumb write-up 
on the sordid topic of money. I'm always amazed at the kindness of the true 
scholars. In the absense of any real knowledge, I only base my comments on 
the emperical evidence and that simple tale where the guru says one who 
tells the truth is a true Brahmana...

I would like to thank Sri.Venkat Nagarajan for that moving tribute to his 
illustrious grandfather. It's only because Gandhiji's message fell on the 
ears of such stalwarts as his grandfather (and many in our grandparents' 
generation) that the dream of India's freedom was realized and we could walk 
free. Thank you for sharing the Hindu write-up. But with all due respect, if 
it was in the learning of shaastras that the great man had found that he 
must not earn as a lawyer and must shun wealth, I'm sure the transition 
would have happened much sooner in his life, since he was obviously 
well-versed in the shaastras. But it only happened when he came face-to-face 
with Gandhiji's message. I've long felt that that was part of the confusion 
for us. What has been the collective lesson people took from Srivaishnavism 
and which portion has come from Gandhiism and socialism? Coming as we do 
from a poor country, is ostentation either right, necessary or attractive? 
(when it could be buying someone's first meal in days or a shoe for a child 
walking on a hot pavement etc..). Such questions of conscience based on 
current affairs must definitely be faced by each one of us, and of course 
the best teacher for that lesson is Gandhiji. Every one of his quotes on the 
subject is brilliant and thought-provoking, whether "The first offense is 
the accumulation of wealth by one person" (in reference to a poor man 
stealing) or my personal favorite: "The earth has quite enough for 
everyone's need. Alas, not enough for everyone's greed."

Getting back to the shaastras, though, as far as I can see, our worship and 
adoration of our Lord involves the choicest of objects: Silk, gold, 
gemstones, sandalwood, silver, camphor, 'muzhangai vazhiyaara' ghee, milk, 
chariots...   Week after week we've had 2 sets of postings running 
simultaneously. One set fervently appealing to all to shun wealth on the 
basis of religion, and the other fervently appealing for worldly wealth for 
religious causes. I just wanted to note that all evidence suggests that 
Srivaishnavas in their collective wisdom (?) had decided at some earlier 
point that they would not go only to 'Vedapaatashaala' and ready for a 
purely spiritual life, but would take their place in 'lowkika' affairs. Once 
decided and obviously on this path, to what purpose is guilt or pious 
lectures to others?

Transfer of karma?
Of coure it's Kali Yugam and we run the risk of imagining that this is 'real 
wealth' and 'real power' and then PerumaL gives a lesson or two. Just last 
week's event surrounding JFK Jr. must have reminded many of Sankara's words: 
"maa kuru Dhana Jana Yowvana garvam, harathi nimeshaa kaala sarvam..". That 
young man had all the worldly wealth and highest 'connections'. Didn't do 
him a jot of good when the call came, and all was over in less than a 
'Nimisham'. In fact in an eerie way that makes one wonder about the 
'transfer of karma', the family patriarch was told about the certainty of 
the results of the accident exactly on the anniversary of the day many years 
ago when he left a young girl to drown (under suspicious circumstances) and 
walked away.. It's a sad loss for the near and dear, and one does feel for 
all involved, but these are events, when the US vessels search at the bottom 
of the ocean for days on end while the 'powerful' wait helplessly, that make 
us note how far our 'wealth' will go and realize our limits vs His Limitless 

So I think it's like the boardgame Trade or Monopoly, it's ok to play as 
long as you always remember that when you joined the game you were a pauper, 
you may own Kanpur or Chicago now, but when Mother or Father calls you, 
well, back goes everything in the box, you leave with nothing, and then 
someone else may come,  'own' houses and charge rent.

There have been so many postings now about $s, whether appeals or 
viewpoints, on what is really our "Bhakti" list, that to atone for my 
contribution to the same, I wanted to go back to a little village called 
Gokulam where some innocent village-maidens were doing their darnedest to 
keep the Lord from stealing their 'wealth'. So there's this Gopi who returns 
from the well to find her house broken into. Signs of an intruder are 
everywhere, and strange sounds are emanating from the kitchen. She tiptoes 
in, and what should she see but a little boy, holding the butter-pot steady 
with his dimpled knee and his greasy left hand while the right hand is busy 
stuffing as much butter as possible into his rose-bud mouth. The Gopi stands 
frozen for a moment, lost in the Beauty of the Face. (If you've seen a human 
child's face lost in concentration while putting a puzzle together or 
whatever, you can only imagine how much more Charming our little 
Butter-Thief must have been...). Then she remembers her hours of labour to 
get the butter, and she rushes forward, catching the pudgy hand on its way 
once more with a handful of butter.

"Who're you?", she asks.

Now KrishNa always knew what to say. If it was His gullible mother, He would 
talk about how innocent she was, she believed all these lies these other 
women were telling her. Unh, why would He steal, didn't His dear mother feed 
Him enough? When He stood accused, of course, the name Balarama was never 
far from His lips. Also, there's an opportunity to make this Gopi feel 
small, that she doesn't even know this famous character in the village...

"Oh, I'm Balarama's little brother KrishNa..don't you know me?" The unspoken 
implication in mentioning Balarama is that He may be a little rogue, but the 
older brother's certainly a bigger rogue, or that Balarama's the leader of 
the gang, KrishNa's just his little brother...  In the teleserial "KrishNa", 
He says to Balarama "Chhote ho ki bade ho, bhaiya, pachtaoge zaroor.." (You 
may be my younger or elder brother, but you will not escape trouble..and 
live to regret it...)

"Oh", says the Gopi, "but what are you doing in my house?"

The little crook is thinking fast...Yeah, what Am I doing in her 
house....?..oh, oh, I know,...
"Why, I thought it was my house, and so I came in." He's very pleased with 
himself. He's looking up at her through those long curly lashes to see how 
well she has swallowed the tale...

But the Gopi knows better. "Oh,really", she says, "and why is your hand 
inside the butter-pot?" (By now, her original anger has turned into much 
amusement and curiosity to know how He might answer this one..)

But our Lord is not yet old enough to know what's plausible and what's not 
('poy sonnaalum porundha sollaNum..')..."Oh, oh", He invents quickly, "My 
calf got lost, you see, and I thought I saw it jump into the butter-pot, I 
was just trying to take it out..." At this point, of course, the poor Gopi 
can't control her laughter anymore and she hugs the Beautiful Child to her 
heart as she dissolves in mirth...

How Rich they were, those Gopikas of Gokulam...

(A free-form picturization of a shloka from the Srimad Bhagawatham..)

Nandakumara, navaneetha chora, RadheGovindha!
Vrindavana Chandra
AnaaTha naaTha Dheena-banDho, RadheGovindha!!

Sarvam Sri KrishNarpaNamastu..
Viji Raghunathan