Drain of Wealth Theory

Indian Mythology, Myth Theory 18 Comments

Published in Devlok, Sunday Midday, June 22, 2010

As school children, we were told how the wealth of the nation was drained by the British, which is why we had to fight for our independence. Today, when I read reports of the corruption in the Common Wealth Games in New Delhi, I realize India is still being drained of her wealth – this time not by the British, but by Indians.

I am told that for every four grains of rice that the government releases in times of drought, only one grain reaches the poor. Such is our distribution system. This time, even that one grain is not reaching the poor. It is rotting in warehouses. This is also drain of wealth of India, by Indians.

Poverty is fuelling rebellion, crime and separatist politics, in many parts of the nation, forcing our army to wage war against our own citizens, leading to even more drain of wealth of India, by Indians.

I guess we don’t need to be British to drain India’s wealth. We are quite capable of doing it ourselves. All we need to be is corrupt.

Why do we drain wealth? We drain wealth because we want wealth to come to us, and not go to others. Politicians need wealth to fund the democratic machinery. How else does one fund those ugly posters that dot the city of Mumbai celebrating the birthdays of obscure leaders? How else does one fund political rallies? How else does one buy votes?

In mythology, Yakshas are considered wealth hoarders. They are visualized as being fat, ugly and misshapen creatures – clearly a visualization by poor artisans. Beside them sit powerful bejewelled Yakshis (understandably so). They ride not animals like other gods. They ride humans. The king of Yakshas, Kubera, is called Nara-vahana, a reminder of how humans are slaves of wealth, and how in the quest for wealth humans enslave humans.

Kubera once lived in the south, in Lanka, but he was driven away by his half-brother, Ravana, leader of the Rakshasas. So he took refuge in the North, with Shiva, the hermit-god, who has no wealth.

Once, Kubera felt sorry for Shiva’s son, Ganesha who loved to eat. “Let me feed you,” said Kubera, “as clearly your father cannot afford to do so.” Ganesha accepted Kubera’s invitation, went to his house, and ate all that was offered. “I am still hungry,” said the elephant-headed god. Kubera had to procure more food using the money in his treasury. Ganesha ate all that was served and kept asking for more. Finally Kubera fell at his feet and begged him to stop eating. “You are draining me dry,” he cried. Ganesha then said with a smile, “Any attempt to satisfy hunger will never be successful. My father, Shiva, therefore seeks to outgrow it.”

Ganesha watches the world in bewilderment as the hunger for wealth among people increases and few are interested in outgrowing it.  One day, the heart of the hungry will stop beating and the body will be brought to the crematorium. During the funeral rituals, the pot carried by the son on his shoulders will be cracked by the priest to drain out the water, symbolic of all the wealth collected in a lifetime that cannot be claimed by the dead. Then, bereft of possessions, the dead will be cremated. Fire will consume the body and the ash that remains will bedeck Shiva’s body.

  • do you think there is no way to satisfy hunger?

    • R K Gupta

      This hunger is mere greed perception,beyond all metabolic process. At the end resulting in frustration & frustrated ego.

    • Venkat Vadlamudi

      What type of hunger removing mission are you upto in India, under the garb of JDBasketBall ??

  • Sanjay

    Dear Dev,
    Thank you for the continuing to enlighten us with all the articles

    The reasoning for pot is interesting. I always thought the water from the pot is to protect the others from fireball that might shoot off.

    I have a couple of questions.

    1) What is the significance of lighting Ghee diya and doing dhoop (smoke of coconut burning with ghee) during puja ? What is the significance of prasad ?

    2) What is the significance of dropping the puja remains like ash and flower to water bodies ?

    Keep smiling and keep writing.

    Best Regards

    • Haresh

      Dear Sanjay

      These are symbolic gestures. Ghee Diya is lite to have some light without harming environment. Diya lite with oil (some type of oils) releases black smoke.

      Distributing prasad is symbolic of sharing virtues of pooja with all the people who have attended the same

  • AJAY

    great article.ur last lines (Fire will consume the body and the ash that remains will bedeck Shiva’s body.) reminds me that many days before the mahankal temple of shiva in ujjain (M.P) use to put ash from the cremetorium for shiva


    Hi Devdutt sir,
    i have read almost all articles here and this one was one of the best.

    So connecting this article to Corruption, can you please suggest a story wherein someone can actually stop this Corruption by certain means.

    I mean, how do i stop Corruption if i have decided that this is my job now. Is there anyone in our mythological history to do such a feat???


    • Devdutt

      Corruption stems when we don’t have faith in the system…..no faith leads to corruption…a world without corruption exists only in the imagination.

      • You as a renowned Mythologist are there any steps to weed out corruption.
        otherwise steps to enhance FAITH in our designed system…..
        i think there must be many solutions…pl Think and enlighten Indians on this

        • Devdutt

          Mythology reflects, does not prescribe……

    • Do not seek the fortune that greed gathers, For its fruit is bitter in the day of enjoyment. -Thirukural

  • Nonyameko Afiya

    Very good article. I am not Hindu or Indian, but an African American. I am still learning so many things about the mystical land of India.

    Your articles truly helps to understand myself and to help others.

    Nonyameko Afiya

  • I never knew the story behind the cracking of the pot in the funeral ritual. Please do continue to enlighten us.


    Dear sir,
    Excellent article I always wait for your articles.
    I think this is the first article on corruption.
    Seriously I feel vey bad for our country and pain increases because I am not able to do anything for it.
    I think nobody can do anything against corruption not even god……
    I am not against corruption let them eat away our money but there should be limit How much they are eating they are not ashamed of it also.when there hunger will be full filled once they dies their relatives come to continue corruption.
    It is unstoppable nobody can stop it not even GOD (in capital letters)
    And once again thanks for such brilliant article

  • Chames Pond

    Dear Fellow Indian,

    I guess corruption starts with an individual first. If that individual lacks higher moral platform (required to think for and as a society) then he will become corrupt. Now, ‘higher moral platform’ is normally provided by religion.

    Thus can we infer that Indians do not have a good religion = do not have a higher moral platform = corrupt?

    I am an Indian and seeing my fellow Indians, I am so sorry that I am one.

    Best to all!!

  • The other day I was glancing through the books of my daughter, who has been a student of Political science. I read the chapter on Democracy – its merits and demerits, in it. Surprisingly, I found that there was no demerit, which our democracy did not have. Politics has become a business these days. And people invest a lakh in this business to earn a crore and much more. Gone is the generation of politicians in the days of our freedom struggle, where they used to enter politics to give something –even their lives – to the nation. In the present day there is no politician, who is honest. As the Hindi saying goes , “Hamaam mein sab nange hain,” there are no angels in the present day politics. The first thing I feel is that we do not deserve a Democracy. If our Democracy has to be successful and free from corruption, we should have the punishment of hanging the person till death, whatever be his position, if corruption charges are proved. I understand it is available in one nation, and is working wonders.

  • Shruti R Shankar

    Excellent article. Can u tell us more about rituals in our life and the reasons for them. some practices i couldd figure out. but most of them still remain a mystery.
    Thanks in advance


    Saint Kabir put the needs beautifully – Sai Itna Dijiye…….