The Hindu Concept of Wealth and Its Function Part 2

Dr. Shanker Adawal                                                                  

Part 2

The importance of wealth and it positive role as a contributory force for the development of man is affirmed by the Hindu thinkers. Money is the one indispensable means for the formation and growth of society, for the promotion and cultivation of commerce, industry, scientific research and discovery. For the destruction of evil force money is necessary.

To the Hindu an affluent society is not necessarily unspiritual. Poverty, famine, and pestilence were regarded as the divine visitations resulting from the past of integrity of rulers and the impurity in administration. In the past the opulence of India fired the cupidity of many foreigners who overran us.
The Hindu sages were not unaware of the potentialities of money. They were keen that it should be utilized with control and perfect knowledge of its functions. Sri Aurobindo observes: “one of the three forces, power, wealth and sex are the strongest attractions for human ego and they are most generally misheld and misused by those who retain them. The seekers of keepers of wealth are more often possessed rather than its possessors; few escape entirely the distorting influence stamped on it by its long seizure”.

It is not the possession that is the evil but the bad use to which it is put to Vidura states in the Mahabharata: “there are some people who have the conceit of learning, others conceit of wealth, yet others have the conceit that they are born in a renowned family. Learning, wealth and good birth are sources of conceit to those who lack self-control. To the disciplined they are the very sources for the exercise of self-control.”

Vidya mado dhana mado abhijata madastartha
Mada ime avaliptanam taeva mahatma dambah

Property is upheld as a necessary institution by the Hindu, but the holder of it is asked to use it for just purposes and hold it as its trustee. The Hindu concept comes very near the Gandhi’s trusteeship theory of property. It is not given to men to indulge in all their desires and seek gratification in all the ways.

Kalidasa in his sage of the Raghu rulers exemplifies the ideals to which instrumental values like wealth and power must be used. The Raghu kings “acquired wealth for giving away, spoke sparingly in order to be truthful, they were desirous of conquest for fame and they entered upon married life for progeny”. We should not have an ascetic loathing for money and be afraid of it. We must use it wisely.
Manu requires us to give a part of one’s money in charity, and keep a part for the rainy day and spend the rest for himself, his family and dependents. In short, “all wealth belongs to the Divine and those who hold it are its trustees, not possessors. It is with them today; tomorrow it may be elsewhere. All depends on the way they discharge their trust while it is with them; in what spirit, with what consciousness in their use of it, and to what purpose”.

Hindu spirituality does not put a ban on money, it seeks to conquer it for the divine and moral use of men. To neglect it would be to strengthen the enemy who will use the money for the increase of evil. We should not fore share all wealth, but must use it for social purposes. One has to be entirely selfless, scrupulous, exact and careful in the use of money. Purity in matters of money in a great virtue (artha suddhi).


Self-protection is to be always kept in view. Surely the self has always to be protected. Wealth is one of the great protectors.

Dr. Shanker Adawal
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