The Hindu Concept of Wealth and Its Function Part 3

Dr. Shanker Adawal                                                                  

Part 3

The uninformed critics describes the Hindus as a nation of anchorites, all of them ready to die and reserve a berth in heaven. Nothing is farther from trust than this fallacy. There is little authority in the Hindu thought to support this criticism. The Hindu never despised vital aims, social satisfactions, and obligations. He conceded absolute reality to life and its needs, and did not neglect its demands and duties. He had a social conscience. Kautilya in  his Arthasasatra states that it is a criminal offence liable to punishment by fire or imprisonment for a man to turn an anchorite or take sanyasa without making adequate provision for his family and dependents. He had to take a no-due slip from the town or village magistrate.

The Hindu nation’s love of beauty and its secular genius are seen in many of its inventions, e.g., the number zero, the art of drama, dance, sculpture or architecture, etc. They have developed many of the fine arts to great heights and are acclaimed as exemplary.

Taitiriya Upanishad records the prayer of the aspirant for money, gain, cattle, children and a life of hundred years. The Hindu mind never neglected the economic values but they saw that it was not abused.  Mild non-violent type of socialism is advocated in the Bhagavata Purana. It states: “Living beings have a right only upto what is necessary for satisfying their hunger, he who feels like acquiring more is a thief and deserves punishment.” The Hindu outlook did not stand for an acquisitive society nor for an affluent society without any state control. It stood for a dharmic society. It allowed men to make as much wealth as possible without contravening the principles of dharma. The Hindu mind was not doctrinaire in its approach and so it did not believe in the doctrine of absolute equally. It believed that each should grow to his best in the manner suited to his grain and svabhava. They knew the true implications of the doctrine of equality. They proclaimed an optimum ideal for mankind which is summed up in the Gita-sarva bhuta hite rataha, the good of all, the sarvodaya of Gandhi. The Hindu never declared that “all men are equal” (sarve janaha samano Bhavantu) but that all men must be happy (sarve janaha sukhino Bhavantu).

The Hindu view of social organization is democracy. But it is not the democracy where what the majority think is the law. It does not believe in the cult of numbers which in the words of Matthew Arnold gives us a new type of barbarism.

It is a type of democracy which is described by Gerald Herald as organic. “It is the rule of a people who have organised themselves in a living and not a mechanical relationship, where instead of all men being said to be equal, which is a lie, men are known to be of an equal value could but find the position in which their potential contributions could be realised.”


Manu rejects the different views that dharma alone or that dharma and wealth, or that wealth and enjoyment are the most important values. He holds that all the three harmoniously cultivated, jointly constitute the threefold end of human life. This represents the most essential current of Hindu social philosophy and ethics. 9.

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