“If one feeds Narayana sumptuously, the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, automatically becomes a guest in one’s house, which means that one’s home becomes opulent.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 26)
Friend1: I will raise two known principles within the Vedanta school of teaching and you will try to resolve.
Friend2: What is there to resolve? You see a contradiction?
Friend1: Yes. An obvious one.
Friend2: Alright. Start with the first teaching.
Friend1: God is Bhagavan. This means “the most fortunate person.“
Friend2: He possesses every bhaga simultaneously and to the fullest extent.
Friend1: He is also married to the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi. She is a chaste and faithful wife.
Friend2: Married in dharma; not stolen or brought to His side by a bribe or threat of force.
Friend1: She is a pure devotee, the energy of God. He is the energetic and she the energy. The combination naturally attracts. Separation is not possible.
Friend2: Any fortune that we receive should be considered a blessing from her. It should be utilized for the same purpose: pleasing her husband.
Friend1: I am getting there. The idea is that Bhagavan has all the luck. Vishnu never falls on hard times. He is never daridra, or poor. We, on the other hand, change situations as often as the waves of the ocean hit the shore.
Friend2: That is the meaning of duality. Nothing is fixed. Rain is harmful to my morning commute but helps the farmer living in the same city. A unseasonably warm day is soothing for my fever, whereas it is debilitating for someone doing physical labor outside, under the sun.
Friend1: This first principle states that a person needn’t feel down on their luck. Simply through connecting with Bhagavan, they share in His glory. Vishnu’s fortune is theirs. It is something like being the son of a millionaire.
Friend2: You have this giant inheritance coming your way. Even prior to that, there is nothing to worry about in terms of life’s needs. They will be met, for sure.
Friend1: The comparison is to the animal community. They lack that kind of concern since they don’t know better, but at the same time nature already provides everything for them.
Friend2: It is simply an issue of remembrance. Know that I am spirit soul, part and parcel of God. He is always with me through the expansion of Supersoul, Paramatma. Atma and Paramatma are meant to always be together. He never forgets, but I fall down in the sense that I think I am alone.
Friend1: A person becomes a devotee by remembering. They practice yoga, where the link gets created. They chant the holy names in order to help them remember: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: Exactly. I no longer have bad luck. I share in the wealth of Lakshmi-Narayana.
Friend1: Okay, so the second principle says that devotees of Vishnu tend to be poor. The juxtaposition is with worshipers of Mahadeva, the great god. They tend to be wealthier, though their object of worship is the most renounced person ever known.
Friend2: So much to analyze there. If you stop and think about it, you will wonder why to even ask anything material from Lord Shiva, as he has no need for the boons he distributes to others.
Friend1: We can discuss that further another time, but you see the contradiction, right?
Friend2: About devotees of Vishnu generally being poor?
Friend1: Yes. If they are connected in yoga to the husband of the goddess of fortune, Madhava, how does this happen?
Friend2: There are several explanations. One is that ever since Bhrigu Muni kicked Vishnu in the chest as part of his scientific experiment in determining the superior object of worship, Lakshmi has been upset with the brahmana community in general. She withholds some of her blessings as retaliation.
Friend1: Oh, interesting.
Friend2: The actual reason is that the Vaishnava does not require much. They are wealthy in the sense that they get to worship, no matter the situation. They do not need a palatial mansion, a large bank balance, or fancy cars. None of those are automatic disqualifiers to the proper consciousness, but the simple life is generally more conducive for remembering the all-pervading one.
Friend1: You have the story of Sudama Vipra.
Friend2: He was a poor brahmana, but a pure devotee of Shri Krishna, who was the king of Dvaraka. On the insistence of his wife, he visited Krishna to ask for some financial assistance. In the end, he couldn’t get up the courage to make the request. Nevertheless, Rukmini Devi, who is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, blessed the entire family with tremendous wealth. It was not deleterious to their religious practices, so we see that sometimes Vaishnavas do become wealthy. The idea is that there never should be worry. Whatever is necessary will arrive in due course.
How investments to be directed,
And net worth to be protected?
Or even just food to put on table,
In poverty condition not able.
Idea that with Bhagavan no need,
Since Lakshmi sufficiently to feed.
Poor perhaps His devotees found,
But wealthy through consciousness bound.