Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sathya Sai discourse to Indian Merchants Chamber, Bombay in 1984 about right (Dharmic) ways to do business

Last updated on 30th April 2016

In the Aradhana function (Mahasamadhi day function) held in Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) on 24th April 2016, the morning program had a discourse clip of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba where Bhagavan is very critical of wealth and power craze (Artha trishti adhikaara drishti) of people today. This can be viewed from around 2:25:30 in the video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h09a02UdDpc, Aradhana Mahotsavam Morning Programme - 24 Apr 2016.

I tried to locate the discourse text (English) corresponding to this discourse using Google search on sssbpt.info but failed to locate it. It seems to be a birthday discourse as Bhagavan is wearing a white robe. So if somebody shares which year the discourse was given, it should be easy to locate the discourse text.

While doing this Google search on sssbpt.info I came across this very interesting discourse of Bhagavan on similar lines, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume17/sss17-12.pdf. The pdf document states, "Discourse at a meeting organised by the Indian Merchants Chamber, attended by several thousand businessmen at Brabourne Stadium, Bombay, 14 May 1984". Given how vital businessmen have become for the world and given how the global financial crisis of 2007-08, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_crisis_of_2007%E2%80%9308, brought the world financial systems, and so the world economy, to near collapse with millions of people worldwide still suffering from the severe negative impact of that near collapse, I think this discourse of Bhagavan in 1984 itself (nearly a quarter century before the global financial crisis), is a very prescient one. Another striking aspect of the discourse is that even the Avatar could only advise the businessmen about the right way of doing their businesses. It was up to the businessmen to heed the advise and teachings of the Avatar to change themselves into Dharmic businessmen and through that, change the country and the world, besides making individual spiritual progress.

Perhaps the global financial crisis may serve as a wake-up call and the current economic and political turmoil in some countries of the world today may serve as a wake-up call to the powerful princes of the early 21st century world, namely the businessmen and businesswomen, to heed the advise of the Avatar both for their own good and for society's good as a whole.

I have first given below a few sentences that really stand out (from my perspective) from this discourse (all these are in the discourse extracts given later on in this post).

1) Rectitude [Ravi: morally correct behaviour; righteousness] means that one should earn his living by just means and be an example to others by just living.

2) Whatever may happen to Oneself or one's relations, whatever difficulties one may have to face, one should not swerve from the path of rectitude.

3) Today, whatever prosperity one enjoys, whatever comforts one secures, all of them are derived from society. Some rules of Dharma have been laid down for ensuring that the wealth that is earned from society is devoted to the benefit of society.

4) It is for businessmen to set a limit to their business and their profits and utilise their abilities for the promotion of public good.

5) It may be difficult to combine business with morality. Therefore, the first requisite is to install morality in the heart and, with faith in the Divine, engage oneself in business. If this is done the nation will benefit from the business man's efforts and he will be serving society.

6) The people cannot disown their responsibility for the actions of a government which has been placed in power by their votes. Whether a government is good or bad depends on the people themselves.

7) There is widespread talk in the country about corruption. Many come and ask me: Swaami! when will corruption end in this country? Who is responsible for this corruption? Is it the government? No. It is the businessmen who are directly responsible for this corruption.

8) For their own selfish reasons and private gain businessmen have been financing those in power and making them more and more powerful. If you businessmen live up to your right principles, all this corruption can be ended in a moment.

9) If conditions in Bhaarath [Ravi: India] are to be improved; it is only businessmen who can do this. Businessmen can even reform the government. Businessmen can promote the world's progress. They can also ruin the world economy. [Ravi: Some of the businessmen of the world almost did that in the 2007-08 global financial crisis.] By their own right conduct, businessmen should try to set right the administration.

10) Bhaarath is the land of our birth. It is a Thyaaga bhuumi, sacred land (devoted to sacrifice), Karmabhuumi (devoted to right action) and Yoga bhuumi (devoted to the practice of yoga). We are trying to convert such a sacred country to Bhoga bhuumi (a land of luxury and pleasure). All the sources of Bhoga (pleasure) are in fact the causes of Roga (disease).

11) Our ancients laid down four avenues for the utilisation of wealth or earnings. One fourth should be used for personal use and for supporting the family. Another fourth should be used for charitable and religious purposes. A third quarter should be spent on other living things like animals, birds, etc. The remaining fourth should be offered for supporting the State. It is only when one's wealth is utilised in this manner will it be really beneficial and meaningful.

12) Misuse of money is a great evil. Wealth must be used only for good purposes. Money is capable of leading man to any place, good or bad. Hence he should take care to see that wealth does not lead him to bad ways, or bring a bad name to this great country.

13) It is only those who are imbued with the spirit of selfless service that are fit to become leaders of the nation. [Ravi: and not those who are power and/or money crazy.]

14) Service to society is everyone's primary duty. Businessmen should develop a moral approach, use right means for earning wealth and utilise it for the benefit of society.

--- end stand-out sentences from Bhagavan's discourse ---

I have given below selected extracts from this 1984 discourse delivered mainly to Bombay/Mumbai businessmen (I presume), which focus on wealth and power craze today, and how wealth and power should be used in an appropriate way. Of course, Bhagavan's words below apply to all businessmen & businesswomen not only in Bombay/Mumbai but all over India and all over the world. Note that all the above stand-out sentences have been taken from the extracts below and so the reader will have to bear with some repetition.

--- start extracts from Bhagavan's discourse ---

Obsessed with the acquisition of wealth and power, he [Ravi: man] does not realise the Divinity that is his essential nature. Immersed in ignorance, he wastes his life in the pursuit of impermanent things.

Thirst for wealth has no limit, it is insatiable

It is on the basis of this fact that Sri Shankaraachaarya declared in a famous verse in the Bhaja Govindham: "Oh man! Do not be proud of your wealth, progeny or youth. All these will be taken away in a moment by Time. Destroy this world of illusions and enter the seat of the Eternal." The thrishna (thirst) for wealth is folly! Thrishna has two meanings, "thirst and desire." It is natural for man to have desires and thirst. But there is a difference between desire and thirst. It is natural for men not to be content with what they have, but to desire for more and more goods and more and more comforts. But in seeking fulfilment of such desires, one should take care not to cause any harm or suffering to others. Thrishna is different from desire. It has no limit. It is insatiable.

One should earn his living by just means

Dharma (the code of righteousness) lays down for men a regulatory path. Like the effulgence of the rays of the Sun, Dharma illumines the paths which men should follow for the welfare and progress of society. Among the laws of Dharma, Nyaayam (justness) is most important. Rectitude [Ravi: morally correct behaviour; righteousness] means that one should earn his living by just means and be an example to others by just living. Justness consists in making no difference between oneself and others. Whatever may happen to Oneself or one's relations, whatever difficulties one may have to face, one should not swerve from the path of rectitude. Justness is like the mariner's compass. In whatever way you put it, the needle will point only towards the North. Similarly, justness reveals the Divinity in man and makes him enjoy the bliss of the Divine. Hence, the ideal human life should be one in which rectitude forms the basis for every action.

Today, whatever prosperity one enjoys, whatever comforts one secures, all of them are derived from society. Some rules of Dharma have been laid down for ensuring that the wealth that is earned from society is devoted to the benefit of society. In the process of acquiring wealth one may be guilty of some lapses. It is to make amends for such lapses that one must practise charity.
...
There is no use blaming the government for all the evils prevailing today. The people are responsible for the injustice, the wickedness, the falsehood and the corruption prevalent in the country. The people cannot disown their responsibility for the actions of a government which has been placed in power by their votes. Whether a government is good or bad depends on the people themselves. There is widespread talk in the  country about corruption. Many come and ask me: Swaami! when will corruption end in this country? Who is responsible for this corruption? Is it the government? No. It is the businessmen who are directly responsible for this corruption.

For their own selfish reasons and private gain businessmen have been financing those in power and making them more and more powerful. If you businessmen live up to your [Ravi: right] principles, all this corruption can be ended in a moment. It is true that there is no one who does not desire wealth. An old Thelugu proverb says that even a dying person will get up if he sees somebody offering money. It is not surprising if, when bribes are offered, officials do not refuse them. It is for businessmen to set a limit to their business and their profits and utilise their abilities for the promotion of public good. It may be difficult to combine business with morality. Therefore, the first requisite is to install morality in the heart and, with faith in the Divine, engage oneself in business. If this is done the nation will benefit from the business man's efforts and he will be serving society.
...
If conditions in Bhaarath [Ravi:India] are to be improved; it is only businessmen who can do this. Businessmen can even reform the government. Businessmen can promote the world's progress. They can also ruin the world economy. By their own right conduct, businessmen should try to set right the administration.
...
Bhaarath is the land of our birth. It is a Thyaaga bhuumi, sacred land (devoted to sacrifice), Karmabhuumi (devoted to right action) and Yoga bhuumi (devoted to the practice of yoga). We are trying to convert such a sacred country to Bhoga bhuumi (a land of luxury and pleasure). All the sources of Bhoga (pleasure) are in fact the causes of Roga (disease).
...
Our ancients laid down four avenues for the utilisation of wealth or earnings. One fourth should be used for personal use and for supporting the family. Another fourth should be used for charitable and religious purposes. A third quarter should be spent on other living things like animals, birds, etc. The remaining fourth should be offered for supporting the State. It is only when one's wealth is utilised in this manner will it be really beneficial and meaningful.
...
How much better would it be if the crores of rupees spent on erecting temples are used for improving the condition of the poor, the destitute and the helpless? Institutions for helping the indigent unfortunates are more useful than edifices for worshipping some deities. To give a helping hand to the helpless is real service. Love towards one's fellow beings is the best spiritual discipline. Misuse of money is a great evil. Wealth must be used only for good purposes. Money is capable of leading man to any place, good or bad. Hence he should take care to see that wealth does not lead him to bad ways, or bring a bad name to this great country.
...
It is only those who are imbued with the spirit of selfless service that are fit to become leaders of the nation.

Service to society is everyone's primary duty. Businessmen should develop a moral approach, use right means for earning wealth and utilise it for the benefit of society.
--- end extracts from Bhagavan's 1984 discourse to IMC, Bombay ---
======================================

An anonymous USA based correspondent wrote over email (and was OK with public sharing):
I have nothing against profits, but with great wealth come great obligations, and none gets rich without the support of their society.
---

I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited):
I agree entirely with (the words given above).

In my considered view, many of the greatly wealthy not realizing that their great wealth has come from society (and not out of their individual/family capabilities alone or even from capabilities of them and their companies' management & workers alone) and not realizing that they have great obligations towards contributing to the well-being of the very same society that allowed them to become greatly wealthy in the first place, is the fundamental malady of modern society of this early twenty-first century. This today, is the situation not only in an out-and-out capitalist country like the USA but also in in-between capitalism & socialism India, and, based on my limited readings about China, perhaps communist (at least communist in name) China as well.
---

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote over email (and was OK with public sharing):
Superb!  Excellent and appreciated research.
---

A former Indian banker wrote in response (and was OK with public sharing; slightly edited):

Aum Sri Sairam

Sir,

Thanx for the good share.

Swamy reiterated the same during the 2010 [Ravi: Seems to have been 2009] Conference - Ethics and World of Finance, if NOT that elaborately. In this conference Swamy told we lost sight of our basics.

[Ravi: Here are some articles related to that conference:
a) A photo feature of the conference: http://sathyasaiwithstudents.blogspot.in/2014/08/national-conference-on-ethics-and-world.html
b) An overview of the book published from the conference proceedings, http://www.saipublications.com/b009_Ethics_and_the_world_of_finance_4.html
c) Discourse given by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba at this event, http://sathyasaiwithstudents.blogspot.in/2014/08/need-and-significance-of-morality-and.html
end-Ravi]

Distribution of wealth is part of our culture. For the same reason we have so many functions. ceremonies, festivals in which haves / hosts distribute magnanimously.

Slowly we have forgotten this, more so after currency/money was invented. In barter system, scope for accumulation of wealth is less. For eg one has hundred cows and milch 100 litres a day, one has to consume what is required and distribute the remaining without fail else it will spoil. But today situation is different. One can store/preserve and sell to convert into money which is first step for the greed.

The earner ( gruhasta ) is the producer of all other ashrams - Brahmacharya ( student ), Vanaprasta ( retired ) and Sanyaasa ( renounce / monk ). So what one earns is to be distributed equally among all ashrams which means the earner is eligible to have only 25% for himself and rest distributed among other ashrams. We all forgotten this. Thanks to inventions esp. money.

Pray Swamy to bestow wisdom on the humanity to think and act in right direction.
---

[I thank sssbpt.info and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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