India’s greatest attraction for many foreigners is the Taj Mahal, arguably the greatest symbol of love. Richard (now Radhanath Swami) however was disappointed on knowing that such a massive marble structure was built with violence and insecurity in the mind of the king. After building the Taj mahal as a memory monument for his wife, the Moghul king severed the hands of the gifted craftsmen so that the structure would never be duplicated. Besides, one of his own sons imprisoned him and killed his brothers to take over the kingdom. Richard felt sorry that after building such a magnificent structure the family members battled and murdered one another. He realized that as long as the heart harbors greed for power as exemplified by this king’s dynasty, the monument of love has no meaning. Richard mused, “It’s really monumental if we can conquer over our lust, greed and envy.”
The world is witnessing unparalled poverty and deprivation caused by the greed of the affluent few. In the well-researched book Food First, Francis Moore Lappe points out that much of the world’s best land is being misused for production of cash export crops. Therefore it is greed among the affluent that’s at the root of the resulting starvation. Food First reports a study of famines in Africa showing that during every drought the affected nation had within its own boundaries the food resources to feed its starving citizens, but relief was withheld because of economic or political motives. The merchants wanted to hoard the grains, cause artificial inflation, and earn more profit. Or the politicians wanted to deprive regions supporting the opposing politicians and thus settle old scores or gain the upper hand. Sometimes the food-grains rotted in the storehouses while people all around starved. Or worse still, crops were burned or grains sunk into the ocean. The same sad story of Africa often repeats itself in various parts of the world wherever natural calamities strike. Thus whether it’s a Moghul King’s greed or modern man’s exploitative mentality, the phenomenon is universal; greed for power is the bane of human society.
Radhanath Swami offers an interesting presentation on greed; he says we don’t want to abolish the sentiment of greed; we just want to change the object. Instead of being greedy for material enjoyment we should seek to be greedy to serve God and others. Radhanath Swami reasons that the feelings of lust and greed that we have in this world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual reality; a reality where there is purity of thought, feelings and action. Therefore we should be lusty and greedy for making spiritual advancement and for serving others. Radhanath Swami further clarifies that lust means a longing for something. Therefore we have to long for God, says Radhanath Swami. He says that the price we have to pay for spiritual enlightenment is the tears we shed, a longing for God. This is the way we purify our lust- by longing for God. Similarly greed is a terrible demon in our hearts. Quoting Rupa Goswami, a sixteenth century Vaishnava saint and philosopher, Radhanath Swami says we don’t want to vanquish greed but purify it by serving God and others.
Radhanath Swami assures that individually each one of us can make a difference to the world if we attempt to transform our material greed to a spiritual emotion.