Chapter 13 — Denunciation of Wealth

Rama said:—

O sage, here wealth is reckoned a blessing, yet she is the cause of our troubles and errors. She bears away like a river in the rainy season. All high-spirited simpletons are overpowered by her current. Her daughters are anxieties fostered by many a bad deed, like the waves of a stream raised by winds. She can never stand steady on her legs anywhere, but like a wretched woman who has burnt her feet, she limps from one place to another.

Wealth like a lamp both burns and blackens its owner, until it is extinguished by its own flame. She is unapproachable like princes and fools, and likewise as favorable as they to her adherents, without scanning their merits or faults. She begets only evils in them by their various acts, as good milk when given to serpents serves to increase the strength of their poison.

Men are gentle and kind hearted to friends and strangers, until their hearts are hardened by their riches, which like blasts of wind serve to stiffen frost. As brilliant gems are soiled by dust, so are the learned, the brave, the grateful, the mild and the gentle corrupted by riches. 10 Riches do not lead to happiness but redound to sorrow and destruction, as the plant aconite when nourished hides fatal poison in itself.

11 A rich man without blemish, a brave man devoid of vanity, and a master lacking partiality are the three rarities on earth. 12 The rich are as inaccessible as the dark cave of a huge serpent, and as unapproachable as the deep wilderness of Vindhya Mountain inhabited by fierce elephants. 13 Riches, like the shadow of night, overcast the good qualities of men, and like moonlight, bring to bloom the buds of their misery. Like a hurricane, they blow away the brightness of a fair prospect. Riches resemble a sea with huge surges. 14 They bring a cloud of fear and error upon us, increase the poison of despondence and regret, and are like dreadful snakes in the field of our choice.

15 Fortune is a frost to those who are bound to asceticism, and is like the night to the owls of libertinism. She is an eclipse to the moonlight of reason, and like moonbeams to the bloom of the lilies of folly. 16 She is as transitory as the rainbow, and as pleasant to see by the play of her colors. She is as fickle as lightening which vanishes as quickly as it appears. Hence none but the ignorant have reliance on her. 17 She is as unsteady as a well born maiden following a base born man to the woods. She is like a mirage that tempts runaways to fall to it as the doe. 18 Unsteady as a wave, she is never steady in any place, like the flickering flame of a lamp. So her leaning is known to nobody. 19 She, like the lioness, is ever quick to fight, and like the leader of elephants, she is favorable to her partisans. She is as sharp as the blade of a sword, and she is the patroness of sharp-witted sharpsters.

20 I see no joy in uncivil prosperity, which is full of treachery and replete with every kind of danger and trouble. 21 It is pity that prosperity is like a shameless wench who will again lay hold of a man who has abandoned her for her rival poverty. 22 What is she, with all her loveliness and attraction of human hearts, but a momentary thing obtained by all manner of evil means, and resembling at best a flower shrub growing out of a cave inhabited by a snake, and beset by reptiles all about its stem?