Dharma Of Money
Can money buy Grace? When the basics are covered, extra money can buy extra food, clothes, houses and whatever else. However, you can live in only one house at a time, wear one set of clothes at a time, and eat as much as your stomach can hold at a time. Therefore money is useful to buy goods and services and there is nothing wrong with money, per se. It is after all the core need and everybody’s entitled to earn it in order to have some kind of purchasing power.
Our scriptures go as far as to declare it as artha, one of the four purusharthas of human life-- dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Yet, money corrupts. Why? According to Sri Sathya Sai Baba this is because the basic and first principle of dharma is bypassed. It is on the basis of dharma that the balance purusharthas have to be worked out.
The key concept is righteousness. Is the money that you earn acquired and used in a righteous way? Everybody has the right to earn a living and be recompensed for their labour. The trouble starts when money becomes the ultimate goal and end in itself. This leads to a distorted perspective that in turn could lead to hoarding of wealth. According to Baba, “Wealth accumulated beyond unreasonable levels intoxicates the self and breeds destructive desires and habits. Riches, when one comes by them, have to be revered as something given on trust, and the surplus must be used for the betterment of society and for helping the needy and less fortunate.’’
Scriptures say that a portion of one’s wealth ought to be earmarked for charitable purposes and such an attitude of benevolence earns valuable merit. It is believed that only when you give, you get -- sometimes ten or hundred-fold. However, for all the noble exhortations of sacred scriptures, the thrall of money weakens even the best resolve. Excessive wealth is not only seen as a symbol of worth, it creates a false sense of status and power.
The gains of material wealth are never reliable or lasting. Moreover, unrighteously acquired wealth is bound to lead to karmic consequences. Every act, whether good or bad, will germinate with time, according to scriptures. Sri Sathya Sai Baba would say that man’s primary endeavour should be to earn the Grace of the Lord, which can confer everything, both material and spiritual. Baba says, “Tthe riches that you should strive to amass are not fields, factories, bungalows or bank- balances but the wisdom and experience of oneness with the grandeur of the Force that runs this universe, without a hitch. Arjuna is called Dhananjay by Krishna because he won (jaya) the wealth (dhan) that saves man and not that which can be taxed, stolen or transferred. The method of winning these riches is through practice of sadhana.., and living a righteous life.’’
Man strives hard and unceasingly for accumulating the riches of the world. However, all these riches that are so sought after do not have the quality of eternal nature – for ultimately it all turns to dust! The material world is but transitory; hence to invest too much into it at the cost of spiritual growth could prove detrimental. It would be well worth our while to take some time off to pause, and try earn that inner wealth too, that can make Dhananjayas out of us. Then we could call ourselves masters of that wealth which truly counts.