Discovery of Money:
According to anthropological studies, the first discovery which changed man’s life and directed him to a better civilisation was ‘fire’. Then came the discovery of wheel. Fire changed his food system and wheel improved his transportation tremendously. Then man discovered hundreds and hundreds of machines to improve his lifestyle. He learnt to fly like a bird by inventing aero planes, to swim like fish by inventing boats, ships and submarines. He invented radio, television and above all Computers, the modern age miracle. But his discovery of money, rather the monetary system is the greatest evil to the society because the entire human society is corrupt by greed of money.
How did the entire system start?
Man is a selfish animal. He wants to keep everything which comes on his way under his possession. The land on which he lives is his, he alone has the right to use water, plants, animals etc. Thus the process of ownership started from early stages of evolution itself. If others wanted a lawful share on his belongings, they had to part with some of their belongings in return.
As civilisation developed, man started living in societies. Each society had its own leader. The leaders then became kings having enormous powers with respect to the area under their rule. People had to pay some charge for whatever they utilised like water, food grains etc. Initial transactions were only through exchange of articles known as Barter. In due course, barter exchange was found tedious and cumbersome and hence a ‘token’ was introduced for exchange of articles. These tokens were modified as Leather strips with king’s seal having universal acceptance inside the kingdom. Gradually the leather strips were converted as metal coins with king’s ‘muhar’ or ‘rupa’, both meaning a replica of face. This is the origin of the words Muhar or Rupees to identify money. In modern days paper currency has replaced all other coins and each country has its own currency. Gold, the only equivalent of money is kept as a reserve by various countries. In countries like India alone, gold is still powerful and more valuable than cash. But its value is so high that nothing could replace the value, the paper currency is occupying in day to day life.
This is the story of money, cash or paper currency.
The influence of money on human kind:
From the above it will be clear that selfishness is the motivating force behind money. On one hand civilisation develops and there is a tremendous advancement of Science and Technology and on the other, the selfishness and the greed for money crossed all the boundaries and nowadays money is everything for man. In the past, money was a via media between various business transactions. But now the situation has changed that it is the prime concern for any action of man.
Quoting Indian conditions, starting from birth of a child, medical facilities are available only for the affluent. Healthy foods are also available for them. Regarding school and college admissions, they are converted as pure business. Getting a job, a bride etc all are revolving around monetary considerations. When a person becomes sick, unless he is rich, he won’t get necessary medical treatments. Even after death, his burial or cremation demands huge bribe. There is a proverb in Tamil which states that ‘ A living person, if he does not have money, is equivalent to a dead corpse’. But even the dead corpse requires money for its funeral. Another proverb is ‘ if you offer to pay currency, even the corpse will wake up and sit down”. Even parents do not get the respects form their children. In India, there is a mushroom growth of senior citizens’ homes which are taking care of the abandoned parents, that too against financial payments. The treatment differs person to person depending on the amount paid by the wards who admit them.
A funny situation may be quoted here. There is a very great pilgrim centre for Hindus in South India, almost like VATICAN to Christians. People offer their hair by having complete shave of head, known as Mundan or Mottai. If a good amount is paid, there will be a nice and smooth shave. There are so many poor pilgrims who can not afford to pay. Government has ordered free shave to all, but those who can not afford to pay can have partial shave only, with some hair left and with wounds on the head caused by rough handling of razors. If a person is able to pay thousands of rupees, he can have quick Darshan of Lord, if he can’t offer money he will be handled very roughly and to have a glimpse of the Lord, he has to wait for hours. Influence of money has entered even in Sanctum Sanctorum.
Now we shall see how real values are lost for considerations concerning money:
There is no real affection nor attachment among family members. People are not taken care by their children when they attain old age. Sometimes parents and siblings are murdered for gain.
It seems LOVE has also lost its real value. A girl prefers an affluent to a person who cannot afford to spend. This aspect has also given place to acid throws and murders.
Getting a good job depends on the money spent as bribe. For any work to be completed one has to part with money as bribe. The author does not know about other countries. In India, corruption is rampant. It is a sorry state of affairs that India which is the religious capital and the largest Democracy of the world is a bad example in corruption and bribery.
Education is costly. Even for LKG admission people have to spend in lakhs. For medical admissions one has to part with at least 5 million. The medical graduate, after graduation, tries to bill heavily and people have to sell their properties to settle the bills,provided they come back alive from hospitals.
Huge money is spent by candidates on elections. Once elected, the winners resort to all type of money collection methods. Even awards and other recognitions for real talents are purchased by spending money.
Thus one can see the evil influence of money has spread in all the fields thus corrupting the entire human value. Now, we are at a crucial stage to stop further spread of evil influence and bring back the lost values. In fact, India which gave four Vedas and Bhagavath Githa to the world is to start this exercise.
How to end influence of money and bring back values?
From the above paragraphs, it is clear that selfishness and craze for ownership is the primary reason for money, holding the prime position in man’s life. Money instead of being a via media or a reference object has occupied the prime position pushing all the values behind. One is reminded of the monkey which assured to divide the sweet cake between two cats and finally eating the entire cake. Now money has eaten or corrupted all the human minds.
The primary need to fulfill in reducing the influence of money is to reduce ‘selfishness’. The feeling of ‘possessiveness’ is to be totally annihilated. Claiming everything one comes across as ‘my own’ is to be stopped. This can be done by reducing the desires. Yes! One cannot annihilate totally the desires as Buddha told. But it is possible to reduce desires.
Reduce desires. Practice sacrificing dear things. Try to have empathy. Help others by reducing your own comforts. Try to live a simple life.
These five steps will automatically bring the influence of money under control.
Role of Governments: We need not expect Government to exercise control over expenditure. Instead, we should elect such a Government which will stand as a testimony for simple expenditure. Especially, in a democratic country like India people should not be carried away by pomp and show, but elect simple leaders who show austerity in their day to day living.
Is it happening? Unfortunately the answer is a firm ‘no’. People are carried by empty promises and elect leaders who empty the exchequer for personal ends.
What is needed today is leaders like Mahatma Gandhi who toured the entire world and had the courage to meet the British queen with a loin cloth on his lap. One need not be a replica of Gandhi, but may follow at least some of the principles which he followed in his life. Mahatma Gandhi’s life and teachings are the best emulations to an austere and simple life.
Let me conclude the article with the sayings of not a much well known South Indian Saint preaching a medium approach in every aspect of life to his disciples:
Be kind, but don’ be a slave.
Show pity, but don’t get conned.
Donate liberally, but don’t lose everything and become a beggar,
be thrifty, but don’t be stingy.
Be active, but don’t be hurried.
Be patient, but don’t be a dunce.
Be chivalrous, but don’t be a rogue.
Be a family man, but don’t be sex hungry.
Have detachment, but don’t become a Saint.
Love Good people, but don’t hate evil people.
The above sayings applied mutatis mutandis to monetary considerations will solve most of the evils of the world and bring back human values which are lost.