Money Matters in Mahabharata


In Mahabharata, When the Pandavas enter the forest to spend 13 years after the game of dice, they are disappointed. Draupadi and Bheema blame Yudhishtira for their condition and loss of the money, wealth, riches and kingdom. Yudhisthira is feeling guilty of this but he is so dedicated to following his dharma that he just accepts their condition.

Shaunak Muni quotes Janak of Mithila, and tells different life lessons to Yudhisthira that has lot of wisdom on money matters. Let’s look at some of them.

Just like living being fear death, a wealthy person is always afraid of the King, Water, Fire, Theives and his own people.

Isn’t this still so relevant in money matters? A business person or even a small entrepreneur today is scared of the government as they may impose taxes anytime or they may make a policy change that can turn the business upside down in a minute. Then there can be political wars and equations that impact international businesses immediately. Look at the businesses impacted in the Russia Ukraine war lately.

Water and Fire refers to natural and man made disasters that are a huge risk. These can cause the physical damage to the products or can create obstacles for the free flow of goods. Technology layers may make things look simpler to a lay consumer, but the fact remains that businesses and trade happen on the ground with movement of goods and people. Even digital infrastructure can be attacked today.

Thieves simple like a no-brainer. However, the businesses have to deal with the emerging classes of thieves. Till digital look over our lives, we were scared of physical security of goods, cash, assets and people. Now, we all know that it is the digital thieves that scare us everyday with their creative and innovative ways to steal our money.  So, businesses need to constantly secure themselves of these new forms of thieves.

They say conmen are the first and best users of any technology. It is a kind of police and thief game that goes on between businesses and thieves as well as between Government agencies and thieves.

Own people is an interesting fear. You need a good team to build a great business but it is these very people who can turnaround and become your worst enemies. Remember the story of Samadhi Vaishya in Devi Mahatmya who was deceived by his own family or remember the case of Vibishana being the reason for Ravana’s fall in Ramayana, leading to the famous quote – Ghar Ka Bhedi Lanka Dhaye. People close to you know your secrets and this gives them the power to hurt you the most when they go against you.

Just like a piece of flesh is grabbed by the birds in the sky, animals on earth and fish in water, everyone wants to bite into the wealth of a wealthy person.

As a wealthy person you are not just an object of envy but everyone wants a piece of your wealth. Some want in form of charity, some in form of employment and others want to sell you their products and services. People may want it by being good to you, by being sycophants or by being vicious. A wealthy person needs to be aware of all these people.

You can think of sky, earth and water as all possible categories in your life – be it family and friends, be it employees and business contacts, be it government and charity seekers, be it saints or sinners. When it comes to money matters, you need to be cautious of all of them.

I wonder if this is the reason that most Vaishya families try not to show off wealth, as it would attract all kinds of people. Is this why they choose to live simple like unlike Kshatriyas who like to display wealth to create influence? What do you think?

3 ways to get Wealth?

Draupadi nudges Yuddhishtir to get up and work towards getting his lost kingdom and hence their wealth back. She is not happy seeing him settling down in forest and living on the fruits of the jungle. She repeatedly tells him that without doing Karma, no one gets anything. Once she walks him through the Brihspati’s Neeti on Karma.

There are three ways to get money – Hatha or Karma, Destiny and Nature.

Hatha or Karma is what we all understand – the work we need to do to earn wealth. This is what is in our control.

Destiny is something we are born with, based on the balance of our previous karmas. So, you may get wealth by destiny if you are born in a wealthy family or if you win a lottery or many such factors. Consider this your blessing, but do not sit idle because you have received wealth without doing anything. Certainly, do not expect a repeat of it unless you repeat the karmas that led you to this.

What work you do depends on your Swabhava – your innate nature. If your work is aligned to your nature, you earn easily, else the work looks like a burden to you.

Money Matters in MahabharatA wise man first learns that there oil inside a seed, milk inside cow and fire inside wood and then figures out a way to extract them for his use.

She even quotes Manu and says – It is possible that even after doing work, you may not get the desired results. In such a case, one must analyse and find out the reason behind what went wrong in the Karma and redo it. Even if you repeatedly do not get the results, do not be disheartened as there is always an element of destiny and devatas grace that fructify the results of our karma.

However, if you do not do karma, you are bound to get no results.

In money matters, you need to work towards earning, growing and keeping the wealth safe.  If you keep spending without earning, even the wealth comparable to Himalaya will be lost soon. You can sit relying on the destiny only. The one who sleeps relying on the destiny, he will finished like a raw clay pot filled with water, meaning in an instant.

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