74. Riches are a Deadly Temptation

The desire to raise the standard of life is a thirst that can never be quenched. It leads to endless pursuit of sensory pleasures, multiplication of wants, deeper and deeper involvement in worry. Riches are a deadly temptation. No whip can suppress the itch to gain money.

Once, Lakshmî (the goddess of fortune; also the name used for money engaged in devotional service) and Nârâyana (Her Lord) had a quarrel over who was supreme in the hearts of mankind. They decided to settle it by means of an experiment. Lakshmî came down among mankind as a spiritual teacher; when people washed her feet and worshiped her, the plate and vessels used by the devotees turned into gold! So, she was welcomed everywhere and there was a terrible rush of devotees and a huge pile of brass, copper and aluminium vessels in evidence everywhere! Meanwhile, Nârâyana too was upon the earth as an exponent of the sacred scriptures, expounding to the huge gatherings the paths to happiness and joy, marked out by the sages. When the people heard of Lakshmî converting metal into gold, they preferred her visits to those of Nârâyana and cared little for what He taught. Nârâyana was actually sent out of cities and villages when Lakshmî entered them, for His discourses distracted them from the profitable sessions of Lakshmî puja. Indeed, riches are a deadly temptation.