Ambition, the desire to acquire wealth and material goodies and issues as these were on mind after reading Smitha's post titled "Thinking Big with Honesty". This post is about, some of what our scriptures say about wealth and material acquisition. Before I go ahead, I want to say that all my understanding (which is still very little) of Vedant comes from my Teacher.
I am aware, that Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma is probably one of the few philosophies or teachings where wealth is celebrated. We worship Lakshmi,the Goddess of wealth. Shree Suktam is one of the most beautiful and lyrical hymns where one invokes Lakshmi and asks for wealth. Our scriptures ask us not to hate the rich, be friends with our equals and have compassion for the poor.
So is Sanatan Dharm or Hinduism which is traced back to some 4000-5000 years ago blatantly pro-capitalist in nature? We do Lakshmi Puja during Diwali, but might be unaware of the fact that Vedic philosophy does not stop at approving the wealth generation but also lays down the code of conduct after acquiring that wealth. We have conveniently hung on to invoking God for ever increasing personal wealth, but have overlooked the qualities one should inculcate after amassing all that wealth. Therein lies the source of troubles that ail the society today. Hence it is not surprising that there are many in the world who live in abject poverty.
Ambition and a desire for the worldly goods takes on a darker color when we become a slave to our worldly possessions and also when we sacrifice the core values and barter our souls in exchange for money,power,fame,career.......Our scriptures say that wealth if used correctly can be a tremendous social force. I guess the same applies for power and fame amongst other things.
Our Scriptures have distinguished between ,Alakshmi,Vitt,Dhanlakshmi,Mahalakshmi.
Alakshmi: To simply put, wealth spent for wrong things.
Vitt: Wealth spent on oneself.
Dhanlakshmi: Wealth spent on someone else.
Mahalakshmi: Wealth spent for God's work.( This does not mean money spent in building ostentatious temples though. More like helping a needy family, but minus the unequal equation between giver(superior)-receiver(inferior).
It is said that when wealth is spent on God's work or given back to the society generously, the money stays in the family for generations. One example is the Raghuvansh Dynasty.
Tam M aavah jatvedo lakshmimanapgaminim
Yasyam Hiranyam Vindeyam Gamashvam Purushanham
Roughly and Literally Translated: Hey Jatvedas, I want to own a golden cow, horse and great friends, so grant me indestructible wealth.
Having siad that Shlok I must add that great wealth and power come with great responsibility. Owning upto the responsibility is what our scriptures ask of us. We maybe forgiven for our sins but we are always responsible for our actions. Wealth sans responsibility cannot become a positive social force.
I ask for wealth for all those who will spend it wisely and judiciously and worship it and treat it as Dhanlakshmi and Mahalakshmi.