Words and values

"Wealth confers status, learning, noble qualities, even the powers of oratory and good looks," says an ancient Sanskrit saying. Whether all these qualities and attributes are really present in the individual is not important. What is of greater significance is the power of his wealth.

Wealth automatically confers all admirable qualities on an individual, overriding everything else. Where there is wealth, can sycophancy, hypocrisy, flattery, falsehoods and ignoble deeds be far behind? There is no dearth of persons who heap praise on wealthy and powerful people in order to gain something for themselves.

It is also commonly seen that persons who are otherwise accomplished in their own fields stoop to lavishing praise and undeserved appreciation on persons who have no credit or achievement whatsoever to their names, excepting for their wealth, which many a time is also ill-gotten.

They do this to further their personal interests. This is what is condemned by the great saint composer Thyagaraja in his composition 'Durmargacharadhamulanu" in the Ragam Ranjani. He addresses his beloved deity Lord Rama thus.

"I will never praise anyone else on this earth excepting you. I will never indulge in the despicable act of selling the gift of poesy which the Goddess of learning has conferred on me in order to win the favour of some wealthy patron who indulges in wrongdoings. I will not flatter some undeserving man who knows not the path of righteousness, devotion, humility, and truth. Knowledge and art is not a commodity to be traded in. Society bows before wealth and powerful men without bothering about their inner qualities and character. I know that by adopting this approach, I will not progress materially. But, to me, O Lord Rama, you are the true wealth, much more than all the riches of this world".

In the present day world, it may not be possible for ordinary mortals to strictly adhere to such lofty ideals and altruistic approach. What could be learnt from this composition, as a sort of extrapolation is the importance of cultivating certain basic human virtues like abstaining from an insincere and hollow talk, not resorting to flattery and hypocrisy and using the powers and gifts that one is blessed with for the good of society.

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