Hinduism View on Money and Wealth
To Hindus, to gain wealth is not evil, if it promotes and protects Dharma. Hinduism supports the belief that when wealth is used in this way, it becomes your way to salvation. Wealth, though, can also be evil if used for your own selfish ends.
What is Hinduism?
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Originating from India, Hinduism is not only a religion but is a way of life, involving practices, rituals and beliefs that promote Dharma.
What is Dharma?
Dharma means duties and ethics. It constitutes actions that alleviate the suffering of other people and promote their happiness and contentment. It's considered the path to righteousness and the "law of being". It's a natural and moral law that must govern each man's actions towards spiritual and physical fulfillment. It also saves Hindus from self-debasement and ruin.
Hindus believe that there are four purposes in life. These are:
- Dharma - duties for others
- Artha - gaining wealth
- Kama - enjoyment
- Moksha - liberation
Dharma, Kama and Moksha can be accomplished through Artha. When you have enough finances or wealth, you can help others prosper. Because you're able to perform your Dharma, you can then enjoy life and be happy and contented. This will lead to your liberation (moksha).
To make you understand more about Hinduism's beliefs, and on how wealth can bring salvation, here are some pointers for you.
Pointers on Hinduism and wealth
- Wealth must be spent in promoting Dharma. This is done by helping others prosper and live. This is one of the main purposes of your existence.
- In doing good to other people, you should not expect anything in return. Giving your wealth to other people doesn't require a reward. Your spiritual growth is a reward in itself.
- All wealth in this world belongs to God. He owns everything in this universe; hence, it has to be returned to Him through sharing and helping other people.
- For ascetics (persons who renounce all material things in life), possessing wealth is evil. So, he must give it all out to promote Dharma. For these people, earning wealth should not be their goal. In cases when wealth falls on their laps, they ought to use it to help others.
- Avoid bad Karma. Those who need to earn wealth must use them to promote Dharma. If this doesn't happen, then your wealth will become your path to destruction.
- There are 4 classes people:
- Brahmins - These are Vedic priests and teachers, who have the purpose of serving God.
- Kshatriyas - These are kings, warriors and nobles, who are responsible for serving the smaller gods.
- Vaishyas - These are businessmen, farmers and merchants, who are responsible in serving others.
- Shudras - These are laborers or servants
- There are 5 obligatory duties of man. These are services to the following:
- Fellow human being - manusya yajna
- Other creatures - bhuta yajna
- Gods - deva yajna
- Ancestors - pitr yajna
- God - Brahma yajna
- Service to your fellow human beings can come through giving out food to the indigents, sharing your food to those who are hungry, providing shelter to the homeless, and all selfless acts.
- Service to other creatures can be demonstrated by providing food and a safe haven for animals. Service to gods can mean offering sacrificial items or food offerings to the gods. Service to ancestors denotes offerings in the form of ghee or food.
- Service to God denotes being able to serve God by fulfilling all the first four obligations. When you're able to do this, then you have served God properly. It also means that you have fulfilled your offerings successfully.
- For man to fulfill these duties, he has to obtain wealth. However, the wealth obtained must be used to serve all of these 5 categories. When you serve them, you're also serving yourself.
- This is the primary purpose of the lives of Hindus. When their wealth is used this way, their purpose in life is attained. Hence, they achieve Kama (happiness) and moksha (liberation).
- Wealth must be used as an offering to God. All wealth belongs to Him, so all wealth must be offered to Him. This can also be done through service to others.
- Detach yourself from money. It should be spend for the welfare of others. It's not yours in the first place. It's from God, and hence should be given back to him through giving and sharing them with others.
- Your karmic burden depends on how you used your wealth. If you use your wealth for your own selfish ends, this will haunt and make you unhappy in the future. Karma can hunt you down until you pay for your actions.
- You, alone, have a personal responsibility to share and distribute your excess wealth. The government is not responsible for that. Based on this premise, the world would be a better place to live in if all of us are Hindus. Don't you think so?
- In cases that you cannot give away money, you can share your skills, talents, knowledge or expertise instead. What's important is that you're willing to share to help other people.
- Practicing Yoga can help in detaching yourself from material things. Yoga includes meditation, which can lead to a deeper spiritual awakening and self-understanding.
- Be charitable. It helps you detach yourself from your worldly possessions and be more concerned for the welfare of others. Spending money for other people will make your life more meaningful. Experience the unique "high" feeling when you're able to make other people happy.
- There are three types of wealth. These are:
- Rajasic - This is wealth earned through selfish and destructive means to promote one's own selfish ends and to enhance one's own power. It's all about attending to your needs alone.
- Tamasic - This is wealth obtained through unkindness and trickery and is used for evil means such as, inflicting pain and suffering to others, creating chaos and denouncing God.
- Sattvic - This is wealth gained through legitimate and lawful means, and is used to bring prosperity and blessings to other people. This is one of the primary purposes of Hindus in this lifetime.
- The Goddess of Wealth is Lakshmi. She stands by Lord Vishnu's side. Lord Vishnu is the primary proponent of Dharma; he acts as the universe's householder, who sees to it that wealth in - in any form - must be spent in helping others. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi act together to assist human beings to achieve all their obligatory actions in life.
- Wealth must be obtained rightfully and disposed of rightfully. This denotes that in obtaining your wealth, you have to do it without hurting other people in the process. Also, you must rightfully share this with other people.
- Wealth doesn't involve money only. Wealth can be your knowledge, skills or expertise. When you use all these to alleviate the sufferings of others, you're promoting Dharma.
- Sharing your wealth doesn't mean ignoring yourself. It means attending to your own welfare too, while ensuring the welfare of others.
- Praying to God for wealth and blessings is a good action, but the wealth obtained must be used properly. People pray for wealth because they need it to survive. Any excess must be given to others. Survival means meeting the basic needs and not living luxuriously. Living in excess is always harmful.
- How you spend your wealth has Karmic effects that will affect your life. Use money rightfully to obtain good Karma.
- Dharma can resolve human pain and suffering. If all individuals practice Dharma, then there won't be inequality, pain and suffering.
- Wealth is celestial. The people who handle it make it evil or good. Your wealth should be a tool to attain divinity. It should not be a tool to cause the destruction of others and of yourself.
These are the main points about wealth that Hinduism wants to impart. Nowadays, however, some Hindu ascetics no longer shun the attainment of wealth. During the olden days, ascetics were not allowed to earn wealth. Albeit, the practice of some ascetics nowadays is understandable, it should still refer to the old belief that as long as they give back the wealth to others, then it will be good Karma.
The caste system in India is also being gradually resolved. There are reported unkind incidents due to the caste system. With the younger generations slowly absorbing the West culture, the caste system may disappear slowly.
The four purposes of Hindu life, namely: Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha, though remain up to this day. Hindus are bound to fulfill these obligations. They're also tasked to render service to all in the name of Lord Vishnu. Hence, if you want to become a Hindu, you'll have to become selfless, more generous and less self-centered.
You'll have to abide by their beliefs in Karma, Yoga, reincarnation and Dharma. Sharing with others must become your daily slogan.
In the end, you'll learn how to be responsible in sharing your wealth to alleviate the pain and suffering of your fellow human beings. It's a divine purpose from the standpoint of any religion. So, whether you're a Hindu or not, sharing what you have with other people is always a virtuous act, which you must fulfill as an individual.
Do you know any other ways Hinduism view money? Let us know in the comments.