Money and Wealth

What do we hope to gain?

Bhagavan is a name of Krishna meaning “He who possesses an infinite supply of opulences.” One of Krishna’s opulences is wealth; whatever wealth we have is on loan from God and meant to be used in His service. How we think about and use money affects not only our ability to lead happy, harmonious lives, but also our ability to see ourselves in relation to Krishna, the Supreme Person and the ultimate source of all wealth.

The more we use our borrowed wealth in Krishna’s service—in other words, in harmony with the supreme will—the more we become free of anxieties arising from greed and fear of loss. Krishna assures us of fearlessness if we surrender to His will, and how we manage our finances is symptomatic of our faith in Krishna’s ability to maintain us.

Krishna is the Absolute Truth, the ultimate source of all energies. His energy of wealth is known as the goddess Sri, or Lakshmi Devi, His inseparable consort. Many people worship Lakshmi Devi separately from Krishna, to get Her favor in the form of wealth, without understanding who Her husband is.

To desire Lakshmi—wealth—without simultaneously worshiping Narayana (Krishna) or honoring Her relationship with Him is a shortsighted, materialistic mentality. We should remember that our wealth will ultimately be taken away. We can lose it in any number of ways, and if we manage to hold on to it till the end, Krishna in His form as time will take it all away at death.

In the words of the sage Chanakya: “Since all our wealth will be taken from us at death, we should use it for our eternal spiritual benefit while we are alive.”

Scriptures recommend that we earn a livelihood by honest means, use our earnings in Krishna’s service, and remember that Lakshmi Devi is Krishna’s constant companion; by serving Krishna, our lives will be enriched in more ways than we can imagine.

We like to quote our sources. This page is based on the following:

  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.5.32, purport: “. . . if one is a businessman, an industrialist, an agriculturist, etc., then one should spend his hard-earned money for the cause of the Lord. Think always that the money which is accumulated is the wealth of the Lord. Wealth is considered to be the goddess of fortune (Lakshmi), and the Lord is Narayan, or the husband of Lakshmi. Try to engage Lakshmi in the service of Lord Narayan and be happy. That is the way to realize the Lord in every sphere of life.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.15.3, purport: “People in the material world are very fond of the goddess of fortune, and they want her favor in the form of riches. They should know, however, that the goddess of fortune is inseparable from Lord Vishnu. Materialists should understand that the goddess of fortune should be worshiped along with Lord Vishnu and should not be regarded separately. Materialists seeking the favor of the goddess of fortune must worship Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi together to maintain material opulence. If a materialist follows the policy of Ravana, who wanted to separate Sita from Lord Ramachandra, the process of separation will vanquish him. Those who are very rich and have taken favor of the goddess of fortune in this world must engage their money in the service of the Lord. In this way they can continue in their opulent position without disturbance.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.14.24, purport: “. . . the best way to possess Lakshmi is to keep her by the side of Narayan. This is the point of the Krishna consciousness movement. We worship Lakshmi (Radharani) along with Narayan (Krishna). We collect money from various sources, but that money does not belong to anyone but Radha and Krishna (Lakshmi-Narayan). If money is utilized in the service of Lakshmi-Narayan, the devotee automatically lives in an opulent way. However, if one wants to enjoy Lakshmi the way Ravana did, he will be vanquished by the laws of nature, and whatever few possessions he has will be taken away. “
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.26.36, purport: “Everyone should use his money to spread the great transcendental movement of Krishna consciousness. If one does not spend money for this purpose but accumulates more than necessary, he will certainly become proud of the money he illegally possesses. The money actually belongs to Krishna, who says in Bhagavad-gita (5.29), “I am the true enjoyer of sacrifices and penances, and I am the owner of all the planets.” Therefore nothing belongs to anyone but Krishna. One who possesses more money than he needs should spend it for Krishna.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.13.32: “The preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement should be extremely careful not to misuse the immense quantities of money needed to spread this movement. Let us not make this money the cause of our distress; it should be used for Krishna, and that will cause our eternal happiness. Money is Lakshmi, or the goddess of fortune, the companion of Narayan. Lakshmiji must always remain with Narayan, and then there need be no fear of degradation.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.9.6, purport: “A pure devotee of the Lord never thinks of himself as the proprietor of his home. He surrenders everything unto the supreme control of the Lord, and thus he has no fear for maintaining his family or protecting the interests of his family. Because of this surrender, he no longer has any attraction for wealth. Even if there is attraction for wealth, it is not for sense enjoyment, but for the service of the Lord. A pure devotee may be attracted to accumulating wealth just like an ordinary man, but the difference is that a devotee acquires money for the service of the Lord, whereas the ordinary man acquires money for his sense enjoyment. Thus the acquisition of wealth by a devotee is not a source of anxieties, as is the case for a worldly man. And because a pure devotee accepts everything in the sense of serving the Lord, the poisonous teeth of accumulation of wealth are extracted. If a snake has its poison removed and bites a man, there is no fatal effect. Similarly, wealth accumulated in the cause of the Lord has no poisonous teeth, and the effect is not fatal. A pure devotee is never entangled in material worldly affairs even though he may remain in the world like an ordinary man.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.27.8, purport: “Everyone who has accepted a material body must maintain the necessities of the body by acting or earning some livelihood. A devotee should only work for such income as is absolutely necessary. He should be satisfied always with such income and should not endeavor to earn more and more simply to accumulate the unnecessary . . . It is not possible that simply by endeavors to accumulate more money a person will be able to do so, otherwise almost everyone would be on the same level of wealth.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.28.4, purport: “Anyone who accumulates more money or more possessions than he needs is called a thief, and one who simply accumulates wealth without spending for sacrifice or for worship of the Personality of Godhead is a great thief.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.14.2, purport: “One may very easily use his assets for the further advancement of Krishna consciousness. One should understand that the wealth and opportunity one gets in the material world should not be squandered in sense gratification. They are meant for the advancement of Krishna consciousness . . . One should practice a little austerity and not spend money on anything other than the regulative life of devotional service. The senses demand that one see beautiful things; therefore money should be spent for decorating the Deity in the temple . . .”

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