What is wealth?

Mankind has worshipped, desired and lusted for wealth since the dawn of civilisation. Yet, history shows that "wealth" hasn't always brought happiness to mankind. Yet, wealth, as Lakshmi, is suppose to bring us happiness !! So, what is this wealth that can bring us happiness ?

Eastern view of wealth is far more varied than the West. In eastern scriptures, such as Shrimad Bhagvatam, Ramayana and even the Bhagvad-Gita, wealth is seen as something far more subtle than the metals and stones we covet. By way of parables, such as that of Lord Krishna's friend Sudama, or king Bali, these great scriptures show us how we can enrich our lives by appreciating what we have.

Bhaktaraj Sudama was sent by his wife to attain material wealth from the divine ruler of Dwarka. Sudamaji came to the golden city as a beggar, but left it as a very wealthy man. Not just in the physical sense, but intellectually as well. When the Lord of all Dwarka, husband of the goddess of wealth Himself washed his feet, Sudama realised the truest nature of "wealth" he actually had.

That of friendship, patience, intellect, spirituality, knowledge of all the Vedas etc.

King Bali's faith in God was his greatest wealth.  So much so, that when God Himself "tested" that faith, Bali did not flinch and readily gave away everything he had.  His wealth of love and devotion to God merited immortality, a gift only God can grant.

Eastern philosophy of the Vedas insists true Wealth is happiness incarnate. The wealth of the Vedas is more varied than the cold glimmer of gold and silver. Wealth is more than the inanimate objects we normally associate with "wealth". It is beyond the house, car, Hi-Fi and the numbered Swiss account. Wealth which can bring happiness to us all is far more than any of this. It comprises of (1) health, (2) honour, (3) intelligence, (4) popularity, (5) fame, (6) friends, (7) parents, (8) wife, (9) children, (10) strength, (11) good looks etc..

Whether we call on Krishna or Christ, Allah, Buddha or Mahavir, we can not have peace of mind until we know what we really want. Our mind needs to be clear as to what sort wealth we want or need. Often our requirements are at odds with what we really need. Until the "want" fits the "needs", we can't ever be really happy. Intellect and knowledge, essential wealth for us all, can help us enormously in our search for peace and happiness.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people practising meditation, yoga, mantras etc.. The whole point of these exercises is not to suddenly have unlimited (material) wealth, but to realise the god given gifts and talents you possess. Meditation gives one the peace of mind, which in it self is the greatest gift of all. Yoga gives health and balance of mind and body, while the mantras are meant to calm the sprit and awaken the latent energies within us all.

Appreciation of the abundant natural wealth, that surrounds us, is also important if we are to appreciate our good fortune in life. Kind weather, abundance of food and water, absence of droughts and hurricanes, no threat of earth-quakes etc. is the wealth of nature bestowed upon us all. Appreciation of all this, and more, can bring us true happiness. wealth can not be and must not be limited to mathematical figures on an account's ledger.


Originally published in the Souvenir magazine for the ballet "Krishna Sudama" 1996, produced by the Vallabha Nidhi UK.


� Bhagwat    [email protected]


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