“Pecuniomania is a disease of the type of Insanity, very contagious, transmissible by hereditation incurable or hardly curable, of the most virulent type.”
‘PECUNIOMANIA’ – धनोन्मादः പണപ്രാന്ത്
The Dis-ease of Pecuniomania
Pandit Guru Datta Vidyarthi
t is very infectious. It is a force that plays off man against man. Why does one fly at the throat of another? Why should be this blinding clash of human wills? Why should one man be so phlegmatic, so indifferent to the actual needs of another? Why should there be a constant feeling of hungry stomach, a parched throat and a feverish brain? Why should you so persistently talk evil behind the scenes of the very man whom you just now flattered face to face? Why should you consider the whole world selfish and feel yourself bound to blacken your soul through selfishness and deception? Take your mirror in hand and now just study your face. You are already on the hunt for that which will help you to gratify these cravings that the face portrays and that something is money. You are already a worshipper of the Golden Calf. You are praying to Plutus—the god of gold. This is pecuniomania. This thirst for gold to gratify the demands of your animal soul is a madness that dulls the eyes, stupefies the senses, coarsens the features and dwarfs the intellects of the young and the middle-aged as well as the old; women as well as men.
Yoga Lessons for Developing Spiritual Consciousness, by A.P. Mukerji, 
It is only those who stand aloof from the pursuit both of wealth and of carnal pleasures that can ever obtain a knowledge of true religion. It is the duty of every one who aspires after this object, to determine what true religion is by the help of the Vedas, for, a clear and perfect ascertainment; of true religion is not attained al together without the help of the Vedas.
In the verse quoted above, Manu maintains three propositions ; first, that the pursuit, of artha (wealth), is opposed to the acquisition of the knowledge of true religion; secondly, that the pursuit of kdma (carnal pleasures) is opposed to the acquisition, of the same ; and, lastly, that the study of the Vedas is necessary for those who would make it their business to investigate true religion.
The first and second propositions of Manu may be regarded as one ; for the pursuit of carnal pleasures is, in the majority of cases, so interwoven with the pursuit of wealth, that it is generally impossible to command the gratification of the former without a previous inordinate accumulation of the latter. We take, therefore, the first half of the verse of Manu to mean that an inordinate pursuit of wealth is inconsistent with the acquisition of true knowledge of religion, and this will be the subject of the present paper. The second half of Manu’s verse, we shall deal with some other time.
Had Manu lived in the present nineteenth century the cry of which from all quarters is, the struggle for existence, or the survival of the fittest, the demand of which is ever something practical, either in the shape of money, or of goods, or of materials, it would have been very bold of him to have asserted the propostion conveyed in the first line of his verse quoted above ; for, the actual meaning of it will be that men of the present generation, immersed as they are in practical pursuit of wealth are not qualified for an understanding of the truths of pure religion. This assertion of Manu, no doubt, seeds to be a very sweeping and insulting one. It is, nevertheless, nothing but true. For, the light of religion only dawns on the soil of abstraction, meditation, mental quiet, and contemplation. And the headlong pursuit of wealth, in which the present practical world is wholly absorbed, is so very prejudicial to the growth of these mental conditions, that, in the interests of truth, religion and higher human nature, it has become needful for the busy, practical world to reconsider its position, and at least, to bestow a thought before plunging into the active labor entailed by the pre dominant principles of Jealousy, Competition and Ambition. It is true that, under the stimulation of these powerful incentives for material progress, man has become neglectful of his higher duties to Truth, and so very true is it that even eminent men of science have be^un to feel the dangerous and disgraceful efforts of this tendency. Remarks Dr. White, President of Cornell University,:
” We are greatly stirred, at times, as this fraud or that scoundrel is dragged to light, and there rise cries and moans over the corruption of the times ; but my friends, these frauds and these scoundrels are not the corruptions of the times. They are the mere pustules which the body politic throws to the surface. Thank God, that there is vitality enough left to throw them to the surface. The disease is below all, infinitely more wide-spread.”
” What is that disease ? I believe that it is first of all indifference – indifference to truth as truth ; next, skepticism, by which I do not mean inability to believe this or that dogma, but the skepticism which refuses to believe that there is any power in the universe strong enough, large enough, good enough, to make the thorough search for truth, safe in every line of investigation,; thirdly, infidelity, by which I do not mean want of fidelity to this or that dominant creed, but want of fidelity to that which underlies all creeds, the idea that the true and the good are one ; and, finally, materialism, by which I do not mean this or that scientific theory of the universe, but that devotion to the mere husks and rinds of good, that struggle for place and pelf, that faith in mere material comfort and wealth which eats out of human hearts all patriotism and which is the very opposite of the spirit that gives energy to scientific achievement. ”
*President White’s Address, Lectures on ‘Light’ by J. Tyndal, 3rd edition, 1832, pp. 238-239
Here is an eminent man of science complaining that the society is at present pested with four fatal diseases, indifference, scepticism, infidelity and, finally, materialism. And the cause of all this is evidently the modish worship of mightly matter and money.
In order that this truth may be more easily brought home to the earnest reader, let us cast a look upon the large number of lawyers, physicians, capitalists, tradesmen, engineers, contractors, clergymen, educationists, clerks, and other life-draggers in the innumerable fashionable professions of the day, that swarm in our own country, and whose main object, in choosing the very professions they hold, is the hoarding of the shining gold, so alluring to the jaundiced eye of the competition-sick practical man. It is in vain that we seek for a rational explanation of the existence of these harassing professions on the grounds of benevolence or of rational usefulness. But for the filthy lucre they bring, these professions would never have sprang into existence. Bees do nob hum and buzz so thickly on a lump of sugar, as do lawyers and traders, physicians and contractors at the shrine of money. It is literally true that money is the God that is more worshipped than the God of Nature.
Nor is that alone, money being the pursuit of almost all. Nay, it in the topic of topics. There is the self-styled reformer bewailing over the extreme poverty of his country, over the consequent misery, sin and crime that prevail. He is awfully pained to see that arts do not flourish in his country. By long and tiresome efforts, he succeeded in establishing an institution that might have richly improved the resources of the material prosperity of his country, but his disappointment is past all description at the fact that the institution is soon doomed to starvation. Thus meditates the reformer in his solitary moods : our country is poor, because we have no wealth ; sin and misery prevail, because we have no wealth ; arts cannot flourish, because we have no wealth ; institutions cannot live long and succeed, because we have no wealth. From all sides is the ambitious reformer repelled towards the problem of wealth. He employs his gigantic material intellect in the solution of this problem. Individual enterprises alone can render his country wealthy; but how can individual enterprises be undertaken without money ? Perhaps, there is another solution. He would introduce machinery into his country, and that would yield rich harvest of wealth and opulence. But machinery is costly, and a poor country cannot buy it. Or, perchance, our reformer is a protectionist. He would not import machinery or foreign improved modes of carrying on industry, but would encourage and foster native manufactures. Unfortunately for our reformer, unwise human nature is made after cheapness, and competition fells, with its direful a$e, the structure of protection so carefully raised by the reformer.
There is the materialistic philosopher. What a charming thing is civilisation! In accordance with his superficial modes of philosophizing, he analyzes civilization into its elements, and discovers the whole fabric of civilization to rest upon wealth. Steamers and locomotive engines, telegraphs and post office arrangements, printing presses and labor-economizing machines would vanish into mere coal, iron and sand fruitless articles without the mighty, labor- sustaining hand of wealth.
Nor is this the case with the reformer and the philosopher alone. The politician, the statesman, the newspaper-writer, the public lecturer, each in his turn, is hurled back upon the problem of wealth. And thus the world, in its talks and conversations, lectures and public meetings, private meditations and silent reflections, echoes and re echoes “MONEY,” till the whole fabric of Society begins to reverberate, and the atmosphere is filled with phantoms of a like nature.
Reader, carefully observe the ephemeral bustle and transient activity of the so-called civilized society. Do you not note that at least seventy-five percent, of the phenomena that find their way to publicity in the civilized world, owe their origin to the love of power, love of enjoyment (i. e. of pleasures of the senses), love of honor, love of superiority, love of fame, and love of display ? Why is it that the master extracts obedience from his servants ? Why is it that men always desire to move in circles of society higher than their own ? Why is it that so many reises and rajahs would willingly incur or maintain useless regal expenditure, but to win mere empty titles of Rajah or Rai Bahadur, or Sardar Bahadur? Impelled by imperious love of power or love of superiority, love of honor or love of fame, love of display or love of enjoyment ! And where is the mighty engine to manufacture means for the gratification of these basely, inordinate, selfish loves ? It is MONEY.
Again, go into the lower strata of society, (by lower, I mean lower morally, though not necessarily socially,) and see what part the feelings of jealousy, anger, envy, rivalry and competition play in that blind rush of living forces, called civilized life. The constantly increasing litigation, the strifes and feuds of nobility, the corruptions of courts and police, the life-sucking exhaustion of competitive candidates all bear testimony that the society is at present deeply agitated by wretched feeling of jealousy, envy, rivalry and competition, so unbecoming of man. Where would you find the man, who, although benevolence of nature, would restrict the operation of vengeance or anger ? In the civilised society, hardly any ! Perhaps, the poverty-stricken, misery-laden wretch, who has not the means to practice the dictates of his rebellious nature, but has only the -misfortune to be subject to disappointment and melancholy, may be found, here or there, dragging his life with impatience and restless nightmare. O, if he had the power to wreak his vengeance upon oppressing civilized society ! Does not all this, again appeal to the potency of mighty MONEY.
Imitation is the grand principle upon which society is at present constructed. Imitation is the fulcrum upon which hinges the mighty lever of society. Not to speak of custom, fashion, dint of beaten groove, fear of idiosyncrasy, all of which spring in one way or other from the parental principles, imitation, even in matters of religious belief, or in the department of opinions, ninety percent, of the inhabitants of the world are swayed by the influence of the same all-pervading principle, Imitation. Speaking of the same ape-like faculty of Imitation, J. S. Mill says :
In our times from the highest class of society down to the lowest, everyone lives as under the eye of a hostile and dreaded censorship. Not only in what concerns others, but in what concerns only themselves, the individual or the family do not ask themselves – What do I prefer ? or, what would suit my character or disposition ? or what would allow the best and highest in me to have fair play, and enable it to grow and thrive ? They ask themselves, what is suitable to my position ? What is usually done by persons of my station and pecuniary ( circumstances ? Or (worse still) what is usually done by persons of a station and circumstances superior to mine ? I do not mean that they choose what is customary in preference to what suits their inclination. It does not occur to them to have any inclination, except for what is customary. Thus, the mind itself is bound to the yoke ; even in what people do for pleasure, conformity is the first thing thought of ; they live in crowds, they exercise choice only among things commonly done : peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes ; untill by dint of not following their own nature, they have no nature to follow ; their human capacities are withered and starved ; they become incapable of any strong wishes or native pleasures, and are generally without either opinions or feelings of home-growth, or, properly their own. Now is this, or is it not, the desirable condition of human nature ?
1859 classic On Liberty. In “Chapter III: Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being,”
Such, then, is the power of imitation. Who can resist its imperative influence ? Can one see the busy, practical world, lawyers, physicians, engineers, contractors and all running mad after the pursuit of MONEY; can one hear philosophers, politicians and patroits, all with one cry extolling the efficacy of glittering GOLD ; can one see the enthusiastic admirer of civilisation – confessing the omnipotence of the PECUNIARY deity ; can one observe the aristocratic hunters after ease, pleasure and comfort ; the ambitious suitors of power, distinction or title, offering libations at the shrine of MAMMON ; or, can one mark anger, revenge, envy, rivalry and jealousy, all suplicating PLUTUS, to bestow them means of their gratification ; can one see all this, and yet not swear fealty to the soverign power, GOLD ?
By dint of imitation or example, man is pushed from right to left, to seek MONEY. Society is a whirlpool, wherein are caught all swimmers on the current of life, then tossed with violence hither and thither, now hurled this way, and then the other till man is no better than a money-making machine? Is not this state of society deplorable ?
See what a wreck of nobler feelings this love of money makes. Duty clashes with interest. Evils are shielded under the suppressing power of Mammon. The dictates of higher human nature are cruelly eet aside and trampled under foot ? Physicians, instead of dissemi nating the knowledge of p hysiology and making the laws of health public, disguise even simple disease and medicines under the garb of foreign names, and the modes of their preparation under the mysterious symbolism of prescriptions. The numerous host of physicians, now existing in the country, instead of wisely administering to the destruction of disease and blooming of cheerful health, earnestly pray, every day, that men endowed with purse and power to pay should fall sick oftener, and suffer more frequently. Lawyers, instead of breeding feelings of peaceful friendship and encouraging reconciliation, encourage feud and strife, and fan the flames of haughty pride or revengeful animosity. Tradesmen, instead of administering to the wants and needs of the people, and regulating with justice the law of demand and supply, get all they can, and give as little, keep their trade recipes secret or patented, and delude the ignorant consumers with adulterated materials. Even the preacher or the clergyman, whose business it should be to bestow consolation of simple truth and morality, and to shed the sacred blessings of religious piety and spiritual l^ght, revels in the grand money-making scheme of winding up his lengthy, glooming, effected, hipocrysy- infected sermons with a mysterious nonsense, which he himself does not and cannot understand.
It is not thus alone that urged by the society-born instinct of hoarding money, the physician and the clergyman, all alike, are led to the perversion of their duty and avocation. More serious still are other evils into which the society is plunged, but for the possession of wealth. There is the rich wine-dealer, or the opulent tobacco or opium-seller, suffered to live and flourish by his trade in society, and no one ever casts a look of disgust or disapproval at him, simply because he is rich. There are thousands of poor innocent people charged with crimes they never committed, and are punished ; but the wealthy culprits/ armed with bribe or corruption, influence or intercession, escape with impunity. Inspite of the inspiration of the poet and the philosopher to the effect that all mankind are kin, in spite of the weak whisperings of pure religion that all are children of one, common father, is the wealthy class fostering inequality by its constant aggressions, oppressions, iniquities and tyrannies inflicted upon the weak and the poor. Under the strong infatuation of money, even the graduating student forsakes his tastes and inclinations, if he has any, and although fully confident of his intrinsic unfitness for the profession he chooses, he rushes into medicine, law, engineering and service, and floods the world with the consequences of his iniquitous calling. And the newspaper writer, who is never ashamed of calling himself the leader of public opinion, without a pang, delivers up his conscience, and feeds the vanity of the party that supports him. Head the degenerate newspaper literature for newspaper literature is seldom reforming, regenerating or elevating and you will see, how little is devoted to sound advice, true leadership, or to the cause of justice and trsth, and how much to party-feeling, sentiment alism, race-prejudice, selfish bias, and wilful misrepresentation. All ^benevolence and disinterestedness is affected for mere show and ceremonialism, and in truth and in heart, exchanged for base selfishness and combatant sectarianism. Is this humanity ?
The conclusion that irresistibly flows from the above considerations is, that the love of money is now-a-days a disease, a form of insanity. Modern science of pathology would be imperfect and in- complete without a record of this discovery of the widest-prevalent disease, that at present infects society and saps the very foundation of morality and religious feeling.
This disease is to be styled “PECUNIOMANIA,” for, like all other forms of insanity, it produces destruction of mental equilibrium and generates incoherency of thought : it communicates an irrevocable bias in one direction, withdrawing the human mind from all other channels of activity, and excercise; and, lastly, it creates an over-excited condition of the whole system, incompatible with moderation, or normal exercise of functions. Like many contagious diseases, cholera and the like, it spreads its germs of destruction most profusely, and most widely, and is easily caught by the susceptible organisation of man. And like hereditary diseases, this is also easily transmitted from father to son, from brother to brother, and from companion to friend. Hence :
Pecuniomania is a disease of the type of Insanity, very contagious, transmissible by hereditation incurable or hardly curable, of the most virulent type.
In order that the appreciating reader ^may have no difficulty in diagnosing the disease, we give below its most remarkable symptoms, Its symptoms are : insatiable thirst, or ambition ; always hungry stomachy a phlegmatic (filled with indifference) and splenetic (peevish) temperament ; extreme sensitiveness and irritability ; strong heart burn of animal and inhuman passions; restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness ; fits of pride, power and f everishness ; paralysis of moral and spiritual faculties, insensibility to impressions ultra-sensual or not physical; extreme proneness to over-feeding, over-clothing, indolence, luxury and comfort; an assumed air of superficial independence; personal weakness and infirmity.
And now, we will ask the anxious reader, whether, in the namo of truth, justice and goodness, a disease that renders man insane ; a disease that sneers at all metaphysics, looks down upon all thoughtful reflection or philosophy, and discards all theology as speculative, un practical and absurd ; a disease that stigmatizes all efforts to ennoble- and elevate mankind morally, rationally and spiritually, as theoretical ; a disease that pronounces self-knowledge as impossible ; a disease that brings morality down to the level of expediency ; a disease that,, instead of the worship of God of Nature, sets up a worst and most wretched form of idolatry, the worship of copper, silver and gold ; a disease that denies to man the possession of any nature other than the one capable of eating, drinking and merry-making : we again ask, whether such a disease should not be at once uprooted, destroyed, and burnt never to grow again ? For, so long as this disease exists, there shall be no morality, no religion, no truth, no philosophy.
The law of the influx of religious ideas is sound mind, disinterested truthful temperament, composed and tranquil attitude, powerful persevering intellect and concentrated meditation. And it is the foundation of these very conditions that the headlong pursuit of money undermines. The anxiety and pride, which the possession of money invariably brings, rob the mind of its composure ; and the complicated relations and interests which the possession of power (wealth is power) always engenders, even take away the iota of disinterestedness or truthfulness that may have been left; till, restless, through anxiety, turbulent through pride, and biased through interest man loses both the power of concentration and of clear thought.
How elevating and dignifying is independence, true real independence, where man is no more a slave of his surroundings and circumstances, but a master. And yet, there is nothiug that does, more violence to the growth and existence of this blissful condition in man than the possession of wealth. A man proud of wealth is invariably a slave of his wealth. A stout healthy man is always in enjoyment of his health. He feels self-conscious of his power, and is legitimately proud of the independence he feels in the exercise of his power. He exerts his locomotive apparatus, whenever he desires change of place or scenery ; he takes to physical exercise whenever he desires restoration of strength and vigour ; he goes on a walk to breathe the free air of heaven or to enjoy the scenery of nature-, whenever he desires refreshment ; he entertains elevated thoughts and plunges into meditations, whenever he desires to feel as true man, a, human spirit; and he rouses the dormant conservative forces of his self-healing nature, whenever diseases or extremes of heat ind cold attack him. In short, he is amply provided, in himself, with whatsoever he needs. But the rich man is altogether dependent on the tinsel of matter ; conveyance by carriages, instead of locomotion by muscular action ; plethoric fulness, borrowed from the activity of drugs, or the ministrations of attending physicians, instead of inborn healthy glow ; rich viands but impaired digestion which strongly needs the stimulation of the liquor to perform its functions, instead of simple diet and healthy stomach ; dead photographs, and mute portraits hanging by the walls of his rooms, instead of the scenery of nature ; entire dependence upon the cooling power of pankhas, and the warming properties of fire, refreshing power of beverages,, and stirring influence of wines, instead of natural endurance. Is this tha independence which a human being should feel ?
It is not to this extent alone that the effects of this tendency “have extended. Modern civilisation, a phenomenon, mainly due to the chameleon-like properties of wealth is brimful of the illustrious consequences of this tendency. The ancient world produced barbarians and savages; because, they were gigantic specimens of human nature, living almost naked in caves or mere huts built just for a temporary protection from wind and rain ; because, their wants being few, their arts were simple and not numerous; because, possessed of powerful memories, their knowledge was all they learned by rote, and their reference books or library, the infallible record on the tablet of their memory ; because, possessed of a clear head, their illustrations were so simple and common that their reasoning must appear as shallow : because, being penetrative, they reasoned by analogy, and therefore they knew observation only. In short, they were men quite different from what the modern world produces. The modern world produces civilized men who are starved specimens of human nature their architecture is grand and more permanent; their arts are complex and more numerous ; their memories are weak and defective, and more faithless ; their libraries are unportable and more cumbersome ; their illustrations are heavy and unique because they have been bedaubed as scientific by a process of baptism in unintelligible, classical and technical phraseology. Their reasoning is inductive ; their test is experiment ; and their logic is the theory of probabilities. Such, then, is the widespread influence of wealth on civilisation, both moral and intellectual.
If, then, the possession of wealth be fraught with so many evil tendencies and dangerous consequences, let it not be imagined that what is commonly regarded as its reverse , i. e. poverty, is less so. For, to quote a Sanskrit line :
There is no sin or crime that is unknown to poverty. By poverty we do not mean the absence of that hard heavy metal, otherwise known as gold, (for how can dead substances like copper, silver and gold, affect the physical, mental and moral prosperity of the living soul), but we mean the poverty of mind. Where the absence of metal is the only thing to be complained of, industry of muscle and thoughtful ingeniousness of the brain can, with much greater advantage, be substituted for it. But how and whence is to be supplied i that deficiency in the true substance of the mind, in the mental and moral stock, which alone is the foundation of all industry, genius, honesty and enjoyment alike ? The error of the world consists in thinking the gross material ojocts of the world to be of any value, in regarding the abundance of such meterials as an emblem of wealth. True wealth is the riches of the soul, repletion of the mind with its fourfold endowments the endowment of health, of will and muscular power, the endowment of intellectual faculties, and the endowment of moral and emotional stock. Let every one, who is possessed of a due share of these mental gifts, discard, with contempt, the little hard indigestible shining bits of metal, known as coinage, for, there is ho liberty, genuine independence and dignity outside the exercise of these normal faculties of the mind. Mind is everywhere the regnant princi ple. The furious lion, the gigantic elephant, the ferocious tiger, the howling wolf, the blood-thirsty hound, have been cowed down by the subdi^ing power of the superior mind of man. The wild beasts of the forests have been tamed and rendered docile. The solid rocks have been compelled to part with their quarry, the depths of the earth have been forced to yield up their locked-in treasures, the mighty* rivers have been made to change their course, the cataracts to give up their impetuous force to the whirling machinery, the water and fire have been driven to drag thousands of tons of loads every moment, at the tremendous rate of 40 or 50 miles an hour, and even the electricity of the heavens has been imprisoned by pointed conductors ; all this, under the guidance and control of the superior mind. Nor has the material universe, or the animal kingdom alone, been thus vanquished by the power of the mind. Even arbitrary royalty, powerful oligarchy, the aristocracy of nobility and the pride of heraldry have been thrown down and surrendered by the democracy of reason, the monarchy of mind/ the republic of intellect/ And further the pride of aged pedantry, hoary with age, has cast off its self-assumed importance, and learnt lessons at the feet of superior, though young, minds. Even the industrious dexterity and skilful ingenuity have bowed under the swaying omnipotence of new ideas. It should, then, be clearly borne in mind that the richness of mind, is the true richness. It is the undecayable wealth that deseves the greatest respect and highest reverence. Physical, material wealth, should be the lowest thing in our estimation. Says Manu :
” Wealth, nobility of blood, age, professional skill or honest industry and knowledge (the wealth of mind), these are the five things to be respected, the one following more than the one preceding it. This truth has been amply illustrated in the remarks made above, concerning the superiority of the mind. The conclusion to be cherished is that the possession of mental riches is the best possession, and that the pursuit of these (as contradistinguished from the pursuit of wealth), is the pursuit that is becoming of the nobility of human nature. Mind is the true source of power, and ideas (or knowledge) are the true wealth, before which all else crumbles to dust, to rise no- mere. Says the Upanishat :
True power comes from the spirit, and immortality from the possession of ideas.