On religion and Gods – Contd

–Varta continued–

Readers will find here the continuing discussion from where it got left off last

Shri Prithvi is responding to my arguments in two parts the first of which are posted here. I will wait for his complete response before I reply –

Response to Point 1 –

I agree to a certain extent with point 1 and I will address this in two parts.

a) So long as the individual’s earnings are through fair means it is his sole will do to with it as he pleases. But the concern here is how do you keep the earning fair or how do you make sure the person is not screwing someone else over for profits? How do you make sure he is paying his taxes? How do you make sure his employees are being paid fair wages? In order to do this there has to be a fair and non-corrupt government and fair, unbiased and non-corrupt law and order (basically a monitoring system). This is not the case in India, corruption is blatant here. So how then do you get rid of corruption; one way to reduce it would be to pay higher appropriate salaries to the government employees so they can live a decent life and provide a decent good education for their children and proper food for their families. This will at least reduce the temptation to accept bribes and look for other illegal sources of income. This kind of leads into the second part and ties into it.

b) I agree with capitalism with some control over it. At present there is no control, there is no monitoring. We can take the current economic crisis which started in the US and is effecting the whole world today as an example, the whole reason for this mess was lack of control. I find it  amazing how the greed of a handful of people has now within a span of one year ruined millions of lives. There are so many people out of jobs here, it is unbelievable. They have families who they can’t feed anymore, they have houses that they are being forced out of because they cannot make their mortgage payments, they don’t have health insurance anymore (health care in the US is obnoxiously expensive) and you know what is really sad about this, none of it is their fault. But they have to live through it while the handful of people I mentioned earlier probably don’t even care because they have already made their millions and have enough for them and their children to live in luxury for the rest of their days without having to work ever. Where is the justice in this?

India is still growing and should learn from this and put regulations and policies into place so this doesn’t happen in our country (granted we have a few hundred million people with no proper food and shelter today but these policies are for the future when all these people will hopefully have food and shelter). I am not saying we should become a communist country but why can’t we be a true Capitalist, Socialist Democracy? The discrepancy between the rich and the poor in India is HUGE!

Now coming to the Reddy brothers, from what I read they have amassed a few thousand crores and I doubt the total worth of all the miners working for them will amount to even one crore! See the gap.

I have a question – What is wrong with classical Marxism and why cant we implement some of the good parts from it? And how did the economy in India work in the Vedic times?

Whereas you wouldn’t call it extravagant, I would say for a donation of 42 crores to a stone deity in a temple in the form of a diamond studded gold crown, even extravagant is an understatement. I would probably even call it obscene. Please don’t take this personally, my intention is not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Since this is an open dialogue, I am just stating my views about it. This gold crown is going to be locked away in some room and will be brought out on some special occasions, the temple will probably have to spend extra money just to keep it safe and from thieves. How is this benefiting anybody right now? At least if it was in the form of cash, you could probably use it to feed a few million hungry stomachs for a few years which is what is presently needed.
 
And after all this, yes, he is free to donate IF he fulfills a set of expectations deigned valid and/or responsible.

Shri Harish Krishnan shares his interesting perspective on Shri Prithvi’s response –

I think there is an inherent contradiction in these 2 statements.

“So long as the individual’s earnings are through fair means it is his sole will do to with it as he pleases.”

“Whereas you wouldn’t call it extravagant, I would say for a donation of 42 crores to a stone deity in a temple in the form of a diamond studded gold crown, even extravagant is an understatement. I would probably even call it obscene. Please don’t take this personally, my intention is not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Since this is an open dialogue, I am just stating my views about it. This gold crown is going to be locked away in some room and will be brought out on some special occasions, the temple will probably have to spend extra money just to keep it safe and from thieves. How is this benefiting anybody right now?”

I don’t think we have any conclusive evidence to nail the Reddys for amassing so much of wealth. If they are cheats they ought to be in jails. Just for the sake of argument lets assume  that a “righteous” businessman donated 42 crores. Should anyone have problems with that? I guess no. Why should 42 crores of hard earned money benefit anyone else other than the businessman. If by donating a 42 crore worth crown, he gets some mental peace so be it. Why should he be responsible for feeding the poor? The businessman because of his investments would be providing employment to many such poor people. Why should one discount that?

You cannot blame rich businessmen for the economic (dis)parity. Its the government that needs to be blamed for not empowering the poor. I assume we spend ~30% of our salary on income tax. We need to ask these questions and make our government accountable for the same, not harp on someone spending 42 crores. Its the government that’s accountable for the poor conditions, not rich individuals.

Again on feeding the poor, I guess these Temples are doing exemplary work there. A visit to Tirupati, Shringeri, Dharmasthala, Mantralaya etc should be enough. The concept of “Annadaana”, “Annadaata sukhi bhava” are very well ingrained in our Hindu way of life. For a few decades these had stopped, but its a welcome change that even small Temples like Nanjangud, Devarayanadurga etc have started the Annadasoha programmes because of patronage that they are getting from rich businessmen. If the governmental control over these institutions are removed imagine how much more work they can do !! (Pala S – I think this is a very important point. What shape does ‘charity’ take amongst the Hindus? Is our concept of ‘charity’ inherently different from Christian and Islamic (zakat/tax & or sadaqa) charity? Is Hindu charity binding or voluntary? Is Hindu charity a necessity or a tool that would facilitate religious duties/injunctions; like it is within Christianity and Islam? Or is Hindu charity a truly voluntary act that does not visit this or other worldly punishment upon those that choose to abstain from this act? Does this latter understanding make the act of charity more morally worthy? Or is this equivalent to laying too much by innate human goodness that is difficult to come by? Should charity, to become effective, be necessarily enforced somehow? Is such enforcement ‘charity’ at all? Do people naturally give when not forced to? – I think most if not all these questions will be answered if we address one basic question. What is the primary motivation and purpose of the act of ‘charity’ in Islam, Christianity and Hinduism? )

There was no upper limit on what one could earn during the Vedic age. Life was defined by the 4 purusharthas – Dharma, Artha , Kama and Moksha. Only those who have experienced the former 3 and have realised the futility of those would embrace the moksha marga. (Pala S – In my opinion all four purusharthas are valid and relevant. None futile. Naturally, all four of them cannot be practiced together. Therefore we have the four Ashramas that focus and bring to the fore specific purusharthas at each stage (Ashrama). 1. Brahmacharya 2. Grihasta 3. Vanaprastha 4. Sanyasa – We realize that one cannot exist without the other and each is aligned with the other. Moreover these stages are not really enforced but quite natural in the everyday progress of human life. We study, we marry and raise kids, we grow wiser and offer counsel and finally, we seek meaningful fulfillment.)

Nobody had the right to question a man earning Artha and Kama based on tenets of Dharma (righteousness).

I for one strongly believe that socialism is an advisory, capitalism is one’s birth right.

Shri Narendra P adds –

Great discussion !

Capitalism (Artha) moderated by Dhana and Dharma is everybody’s birth right/human right. Greed and selfishness are animal rights. For example Iraqi war and economic collapse. (Pala S – I don’t think greed and selfishness are animal ‘rights’ nee instincts. Both greed and selfishness are products of leasurely thought more suited to human life and not of sheer survival in the wild, the latter which animates animal life. So animals will do what they must to survive. No more and no less. For instance a tigress will not kill more deer than required to satisfy her hunger and feed her cubs. The fact that the tigress may eat first ahead of her cubs is not a measure of ‘selfishness’ but of survival because if the tigress is weak due to lack of sufficient food for herself, she will not be able to protect and provide for her cubs.)

It is hard to imagine that anyone can earn 10,000 times more than anyone else in (an) 8 hour a day’s honest work.

If the money comes inheritance he/she has even more reason to donate to a good cause, such as through a Temple(s), which has both a spiritual and social significance.

India has survived for 10,000 years because of Dhana and Dharma, a healthy culture expressed through through social and spiritual centers such as Temples, not because of good governments. Governments are unreliable, even when people are well informed  as in the US!

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