Why do we acquire wealth? The answer would be that we need to provide for our old age, and for our families.

But while this may be true to some extent, it does not answer the question why we need to keep on acquiring wealth. What can anyone do with so much wealth, and why should one leave huge fortunes behind for one’s children?

One needs to do one’s duty to one’s children, by providing them with food, education, clothing and shelter and help in times of need. But beyond that, it is not necessary to amass wealth for them.

In fact, ancestral wealth only makes a man lazy and unproductive. Wealth should be used to give to those who are in need, said Malayaman. This is what all religious leaders ask us to do.

The Tamil work, Puranaanooru , says the purpose of wealth is to give generously to the poor. If a man is wealthy, but refuses to help those who come to him asking for help, he should be considered a beggar himself.

Yet another Tamil work says the man who is generous with his wealth will acquire fame. The Tamil work, Elaadhi , gives a list of possible things one could give to others; on this list are blankets and even oil.

Thiruvalluvar says a good ruler must think of ways of augmenting the wealth of the land, and having done so he must safeguard this wealth. Thiruvalluvar says the wealth so safeguarded must be used for the benefit of the people and must be distributed among them.

The author of Elaadhi says he who shares his wealth with others will be elevated to the rank of king. He says the sharing of wealth is as important as not uttering falsehood, not abusing others, not encouraging the telling of lies and reforming those who stray from the path of virtue.

Thiruvalluvar says that among the purposes of life is to offer food to those who visit one’s house. He details what our attitude to guests should be. We should serve food willingly to guests and when one set of guests has departed, we must look forward to the visit of the next set, so that we can serve them food too.

If we have this attitude to guests, we become the equal of celestials.


At WorkSeptember 24, 2010

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