The Owl And The Plutocrat : Namita Devidyal

3 Nov

” Why do we exalt Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, during the Deepavali season, also known as the festival of lights?

Tulsi jag mein do bade
ek paisa ek Ram 
Ram naam se mukti ho
Paise se sab kaam
This doha was spotted on the back of a truck, the national conveyer of profound pithys. The good saint Tulsidas would probably squirm on seeing his name blithely attached to a thought that is quite contrary to his beliefs. But the couplet is a perfect description of our times — and is especially relevant during Deepavali.

God Of Money
According to Hindu mythology, Deepavali commemorates Rama’s return to Ayodhya. Lamps were lit to welcome the much-loved king on his homecoming, after his prolonged battle and ultimate victory over Ravana, the evil king of Lanka. Rituals often need a more earthly significance to survive. As it happens, the festival fell around the same time as the harvest of the winter kharif crop, prompting yet another reason to celebrate. Thus, Deepavali grew to symbolise not just victory of good over evil, but also signified a time of prosperity. 
Over the years, and in keeping with the times, people have not been content with just lighting lamps and painting rangoli to mark the festival. They express themselves by sending up rocket-bombs and throwing lavish parties. But regardless of the way in which Deepavali is celebrated in various regions, the one ritual that is universally followed is the Lakshmi puja. Across the country, families get together to perform the puja in their homes and workplaces. Indeed, Lakshmi puja has transcended the boundaries of Hinduism, with even Parsi businessmen and Muslim shop-owners waking up early on the holiday to perform the chopri puja — literally, the worship of account books.

But this seemingly secular act, which should perhaps draw a sigh of relief, leaves reason for concern — for the puja has become a fear-driven ritual with the single-minded view of invoking one god: money. 

What really is the spirit behind Deepavali, other than what jewellers and washing-machine vendors would have you believe? A philosophical interpretation of the story of Rama’s return is that it symbolises the wiping out of the evil influences inside man — the 10-headed Ravana represents the 10 indriyas or sensory organs — and the restoration of God-awareness to its rightful place, the throne within. 
And where does Lakshmi come in? To extend the metaphor, when you have found Rama, who is none other than Vishnu, his consort and daasi is sure to follow. The idea is that one who is spiritually enriched will always be materially well-provided for  and even if he isn’t, he will certainly feel the contentment that riches supposedly bring about. 

But clearly, the order of the day seems to be to bypass Rama and invoke only his consort. As the truck inscription acknowledges: paise se sab kaam. This shortcut to Lakshmi undermines the very basis of why we worship her. As elders ominously point out, Lakshmi without Rama — wealth without wisdom — leads not to daulat or wealth and prosperity, but to do laat, two kicks. Resonating with this imagery, the goddess’s vahana or vehicle is the owl, a bird that goes stark blind when she spreads her light. Money blinds. 

Various religions suggest that it is only when you are fed, housed and clothed that you can begin to think of God unconditionally, without hopes and demands. Money should, therefore, be viewed not as an end unto itself but as a means towards a higher end. 

There could be a perfectly sound reason why our ancestors glorified prosperity in the shape of a deity. In fact, the Lakshmi puja has been carefully thought through, to the extent of its timing in the lunar calendar. Deepavali always falls on amavasya or no-moon day. According to astrologers, the moon controls our mind and emotions. It is the antithesis of the sun, which gives off light and truth. In fact, the moon represents maya or delusion, being merely a reflector of the sun’s light, not the sun itself.

Lila Of Life
That explains why Deepavali falls on amavasya, the day when the moon is not visible and the night is inky dark. Lakshmi should be worshipped without delusion, in a spirit of non-attachment to wealth. You ought to pray, rather, for the sustenance that is necessary to go through the lila of life, and ultimately towards enlightenment. 
Most of us have already done the Lakshmi puja, been through the ritual of sprinkling kumkum on our account books. Today, perhaps we can make our New Year resolution in the goddess’ name; that money is a very useful servant, but makes for a dangerous master. “
I read this article first today and it is ” Diwali ” or ” Deepavali” festival of lights in these parts, wanted to share this for you dear friends. So much of the culture in my country is steeped in mythology and traditions. The article gives a pretext to ” Lakshmi Puja” prayer to Goddess of wealth during the festival of lights.  My simplest premise for money is ” do what you love and money should follow you “. I like a honest bread. I wonder if am naive and simplistic or should start reading Warren Buffett books or should do a Lakshmi Puja ( Offerring to goddess of wealth in Hindu traditions.) or start singing  Coolio ( Gangsta Paradise ) ” I’m an educated fool with money on my mind, Got my 10 in my hand and a gleam in my eye ” don’t know 🙂
But do like a Warren Buffet quote “If past history was all that is needed to play the game of money, the richest people would be librarians.”

I wish you material success and prosperity on the auspicious festival of Diwali. I wish you well. Good night dear friends. Hope you have a nice day. Thank you!

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