“Camel can pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man reaches heaven.”

These are very Biblical / Western thoughts.

In Hinduism, material wealth is just as important as spiritual wealth.  If you give up material wealth without having become mentally detached from it, it will ruin your peace of mind.  Same with desires, fame, fortune, power etc.

So, Hinduism teaches there are four essential stages of life. 

1)      Student – learn whatever you have to in order to give you a food life.  Knowledge is essential to gain anything in life.

2)      Family life – to enjoy finer things in life, enjoy sex, have children, create wealth etc, is a natural instinct.  To thoroughly indulge in this, men and women need to get married.  This is the socially acceptable way to enjoy all of the above.  Marriage is a social institution and has been created to help regulate all our desires.

3)      Semi-retirement – Having enjoyed the finer things life and having had children, its nice to give something back to society.  Semi-retirement is a good time to help out with the wider family / community / country.  It allows the person to feel they are contributing to the success of others.  Become active in society / politics, mentor others, teach etc.

4)      Total retirement – Ideal time to retire from active life is when the children are able to take care of their own lives and you feel you have contributed what you wanted to lives of others.  If you feel the spiritual urge, you should leave all attachments and go on an indefinite pilgrimage, giving yourself up to the care of the divine.  You can also choose to stay in some peaceful ashram, away from the hullabaloo of life and meditate on the divine.

This way, a person gets to fulfill all their desires – social, spiritual, financial, political, name, fame, fortune etc.

Hindus value wealth not just for its material aspects, but spiritual too.  For this reason, she is viewed as Lakshmi, the auspicious goddess of wealth.  She is seen as the wife and consort of Shri Vishnu, the preserver of the universe because to maintain / preserve things, you need wealth.  Wealth is more comprehensive than just cold cash.  Its everything from good looks, health, children, peace etc  (There is an article on that on my website) 

For this reason, Hinduism does not have any problem with material success.  Its seen as an essential aspect of life.  Of course, karma has its role to play and so the wealth you gain must be of pure and of untainted nature.  If the wealth is tainted – through ill-gotten means – it is called Alakshmi – evil wealth – and that is to be avoided at all cost (no pun intended).  Hence the wealth Yudhithir gained was Lakshmi.  What Duryodhan snatched from him by cheating at a gambling match became "Alakshmi".

Same with power, position, fame etc.  If it is gained in a legitimate way and is utilised to the benefit of the society / world, it is considered to be auspicious and good.  If it is acquired by crooked means and is used to destabilise society or the world, it is considered to be evil and undesirable.  There are karmic debts to pay too if the position, power or wealth is acquired by unsavoury means.  Hinduism advises its followers to avoid bad karmas and always work on getting things by the right methods.  To avoid long term karmic bonds, Hinduism also advises its followers to be detached from all such external things as power, position and wealth. 

Hinduism advises that if a person has gained their wealth legitimately and is detached from it, even if he is the wealthiest person in the world, he will get to heaven :)


© Bhagwat Shah   
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