Yesterday I blogged about the different perspectives Jews and Christians have about gaining personal wealth. Religious perspectives on money are important because they influence the behaviors of the people we live with. It was just so interesting that I thought I would keep it going a religion or two longer so that people get a chance to see how the various religious people we live with in the US are taught to think about money and manage personal finances. Today we’ll have a look at Hindu money.
We have about 1.1 million Hindus living in the US, about forty-eight percent of them hold graduate degrees and about forty-three percent of them earn more than $100,000. So, what does their religion teach them about money?
Hindu “dharma,” which means “duty,” encourages Hindus to work hard and earn money. They are supposed to support themselves and their families. Earning money is in keeping with one of the four “purushartas,” aims or goals of life, but it must be done according to “artha,” which are standards about gaining wealth by honest and lawful means. In the US we rarely consider unlawful ways of gaining wealth, but when we consider the long established corruption practices of many places in the world, we can be grateful that a major religion has encouraged a higher standard of behavior.
Beyond earning in a lawful way, Hindus have to comply with different duty requirements based on one of four groups of Hindus one belongs to, and money is expected and treated differently through different stages of life, such as the “householder” stage in which a person is expected to provide for a family, as opposed to the “post-householder stage” in which a person is taught they should focus less on money and more on leading a religious life.
Many Hindus do pray for money, and at Divali, the Festival of Lights, many Hindu businessmen make offerings to Lakshmi asking her to make them prosperous.
While money is one thing in Hinduism, greed is another. Greed is in no way acceptable, and the Hindu scriptures teach that money alone cannot bring happiness especially if it is not shared with the poor.
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