In explaining four distinct qualities of an ideal patient, Vagbhata has enlisted first quality as Adya – rich. Vairagya Shatakam – a spiritual textbook says – “in wealth, is the fear of poverty. He alone is fearless who has given up everything”. Charaka explains there are three basic human desires. The second one is – Dhaneshana – desire for wealth. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (Guru of Swami Vivekananda) opined, poverty begets dispassion (Vairagya). If someone is really following spiritual path, he should not have desire for wealth. There are four stages for salvation, the third one is Artha – wealth / money.
In the midst of all these, let us try to find out how to strike a balance.
Four qualities of a patient
Vagbhata has explained the first ideal quality of patient is being rich. (Reference: Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 1) Being rich enables the person to undergo superior quality of treatment, giving him maximum chance to survive, if other parameters are kept constant.
Vairagya Shataka says:
“In wealth is the fear of poverty, in knowledge the fear of ignorance,
in beauty the fear of age, in fame the fear of backbiters,
in success the fear of jealousy, even in body is the fear of death.
Everything in this earth is fraught with fear. He alone is fearless who has given up everything”
Charaka has explained three types of desires.
Praneshana – desire to live,
Dhaneshana – desire for money and
Paralokeshana – desire to have superior position after-death.
(reference: Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 12th chapter)
The chapter further explains that – one must have a desire for wealth because there is nothing so miserable as a long life without wealth. So one must try to tap in various sources of wealth. These sources of wealth are – farming, cattle breeding, trade, government service, etc. One can adopt any other means of livelihood that is not disapproved by good men. Doing so, one lives a long life, without suffering any loss of prestige.
There is also a true belief that if someone is really on a spiritual path, he needs to be dispassionate about wealth. If someone gets engulfed in the vicious desire of wealth, he will gradually lose analytical mind to decide what is right to do and what is not.
Saint Kabeer sings –
Childhood is spent in playing, youth is spent in making money and old age is spent in disease. Thus the gem-like human life is spent in waste.
4 stages to attain Moksha
There are four basic stages to attain Moksha – Salvation
Dharma – following the path of righteousness
Artha – earning money in a legal way
Kama – fulfilling our desire
Moksha – achieving Salvation
Swami Vivekananda opines:
“There is a tendency to bind everyone down by the same laws as those by which the Sannyasin is bound, and that is a great mistake. But for that a good deal of the poverty and the misery that you see in India need not have been. A poor man’s life Is hemmed in and bound down by tremendous spiritual and ethical laws for which he has no use. Hands off! Let the poor fellow enjoy himself a little, and then he will raise himself up and renunciation will come to him of itself.”
He says, do not preach spirituality for a person with hungry stomach. He doesn’t need your spirituality. He needs food to fill his stomach.
He further says that, for a person to become Satvic (spiritual, righteous), he should leave out Tamas and have good amount of Rajas (attraction, energy to do work). Once when his desires are completely satisfied, then only he will be able to follow the spiritual path.
I think in this world, we need to live a spiritual life. Without some basic level of spirituality, there cannot be any meaning for life. Life will become lack-luster. Take out spirituality from our lives and we will end up being – “I have all, but there is nothing to enjoy”.
At the same time, we need to earn money to take care of ourselves and our families. Supporting them with facilities, education, healthcare etc is our basic duty.
If you are really after your profession and wealth creation, if that is where, your heart lies, then, it is best for you to follow your dreams with full vigor. If you try to deviate from that path to spirituality, you may not feel real happiness because, it is a forceful conversion. If your real desire lies in money, for the time being, then it indicates that, in the four stages of salvation, you are at the level of Artha. Have belief that you will overcome it one day, for a higher cause. But for now, continue to follow your heart and passion.
We should make all legal efforts to earn money to support our families and ourselves.
We should make all efforts to earn but with a sense of detachment, knowing that ultimate goal of ours, is to be one with Divine.
The detachment for money can be practiced by giving away some part of our earning towards charity.
We should maintain the balance between money and dispassion with the help of spiritual practices like devotional songs, chanting, meditation etc.
Money and Ayurvedic doctor
Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 1.4/55-62
A person who has been treated by the physician should reciprocate by helping him (in some way or the other) whether such reciprocation was assumed in advance or not. If he does not do so, he has no redemption.
The physician should treat all his patients like his children. He should take care of their health and keep them away from miseries, if he is desirous of Dharma (Virtues) par excellence.
The great sages devoted to righteousness have propagated Ayurveda with their desire for attainment of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (satisfaction of the worldly desires) and Akshara Sthana (salvation).
A person who pursues medical profession just out of compassion for the living being and not for Artha (wealth) or Kama (satisfaction of the worldly desires) excels all others.
A physician, who practices his profession as a commercial commodity for earning wealth, is (as a matter of fact) running after heap of ash instead of gold.
Patients suffering from serious diseases are dragged towards death by Yama (the God of death). Therefore, in this world, there is none equal to a physician, who can help an individual with both dharma (righteousness) and Artha (wealth). There is no other gift which excels the gift of life.
Compassion for the living creates is the dharma (righteousness) par excellence. A physician, who enters into medical professions keeping this ideal in view, accomplishes his objects best and gets happiness par excellence.