Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gyan aur Dhan (Knowledge and Wealth)

We worship both the goddesses of wealth (Maa Lakshmi) and the goddess of knowledge (Maa Saraswati) to seek their blessings. Their photo with Lord Ganesh sitting between them is a common feature in the puja ghar of most Hindu households. I thought it would be interesting to see how gyan and dhan compare to each other.
Gyan or Knowledge has been sought after and desired by the Indian society for time immemorial. Even today our society respects a person with knowledge more than the wealthy. Dhan or Wealth is being sought after only recently – till 20 years ago the rich were generally looked at with suspicion – most of the villains in the movies were the rich people. Ostentatious display of wealth was also looked down upon. The lakhpatis and crorepatis were hard to spot and had to be pointed out in a crowd. Now wealth is celebrated and displayed rather openly in everyday life. So Knowledge gets you respect, wealth gets you envy.
Knowledge is ever lasting  - unless you are unfortunate enough get a rough knock on your head and lose everything – one more popular scene in the movies. Wealth is more temporary in nature – there are many stories of rich people becoming poor in a very short span of time. Knowledge is permanent, wealth not.
Knowledge can lead to wealth. Wealth need not lead to knowledge – on can be wealthy but not necessarily knowledgeable. Similarly one can be knowledgeable but not necessarily wealthy.
Wealth is easy to measure. We can exactly know how wealthy we are and estimate the wealth of others (except in Delhi where the entire city looks like made up of crorepati residents). Knowledge is difficult to measure, as someone said – the more we learn the more we realise how ignorant we are. And it is not a talent that people normally compete for – you will hardly hear “I want to be more knowledgeable than you are”.
Knowledge and wealth are not mutually exclusive – they are known to co exist, more so in today’s world of IT where good ideas can get popular almost instantly and lead to great amount of wealth. However it would suffice to say that if you don’t have knowledge, you will not be able to retain wealth. Those with knowledge can also hope to recover the wealth they have lost due to an unfortunate event.
Wealth can be got by illegitimate means –short cuts are generally the faster way to accumulate ill gotten wealth. Knowledge can only be gathered by the hard way – continuously keeping at it for a long time daily.
Knowledge is difficult to pass on to the next generation – unless they are suitably disposed. Wealth is easily inherited from the previous generations, although staying wealthy may not be so easy if one is not capable of handling the same.
Both also have similarities – the possessors of both cannot rest. One cannot have too much knowledge or too much wealth – it becomes a lifelong passion to gather more of it every day. Also the attainment of these can easily lead to pride and arrogance – qualities to watch out for as they invariably lead to a downfall of an individual.
From the point of view of desirability – knowledge is better, in its pursuit many have stumbled upon great riches. Many have also discovered that wealth or the worldly pleasures are unnecessary distractions.
As for me, I am more in favour of attainment of knowledge. I will end the blog with a prayer to both the goddesses to bless the readers so as to maintain a fine balance in our lives. Next week I will take the readers through some famous business rivalries which have benefited the society.


  1. For creation of the wealth, what is important is "Applied Knowledge". Why are developed countries so wealthy? They are wealthy because they have mastered the art of application of Knowledge.

    1. Very good point sir. Also the correct application and use of wealth is also essential.