Right now, the economic engine in the world has picked up so much momentum that never before in the world this many people were exposed to as much affluence and money and wealth as they are today. Still, large masses of people are left without even basic requirements, but still the number of people who are affluent in the world is maximum compared to anytime in history.
If you take India as an example, one of the things that has become a big buzz in the Economic Summit is, in 1825 the biggest GDP in the world was India. So that means India was the richest country in 1825, that’s why everybody wanted to come, right from Columbus’ time. So now they are saying this is a 200-year cycle, in 2025, once again it will be the biggest economy in the world.
Even in 1825, when India was very rich, the Maharaja wore a diamond studded crown, gold braided coat, golden shoes with the biggest diamond in the world on his left foot, even his toilet was gold. They actually ate gold, if you do not know this. Mysore Maharajas every day ate a certain amount of gold mixed in food, and people went to process his excreta every day. People fought to pick up his excreta, because there was an ounce of gold in it every day because he cannot digest it anyway. This is not a joke, this is the reality. He actually consumed gold and it naturally came out of him, so people fought to pick up his excretion. So, India was the biggest economy in the world, but it was just focused on a few people; the larger masses of people always lived the same desperate life. This time around it is not going to be like that. If economic wellbeing comes, it has to spread. No one person can sit on it, but there are many people who want to overdo whatever life offers them.
The affluent communities in the world are beginning to live a life of excess in so many ways, on all levels. Unfortunately, United States is a big example of everybody doing excess. The affluent part of the Indian community is also doing too much excess. There are people, last year somebody spent $200 million for one wedding. Another wedding they spent 150 crores in two days. These are the new maharajas, but that has to change because as Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is enough in this world for everybody’s need, but there is not enough even for one man’s greed.” There is no end to what a man would want to do to enhance his own grandeur. Somewhere, every human being should be able to put some limit. He need not live a life of deprivation, but some self-limit they have to put that beyond this is not needed. When they do not put that limit, then it will become a life of excess.
A life of excess is not a good life, it is a perverted life. When people do excess of anything, it leads to perversion with no joy in it, people will become totally frustrated and mentally broken. This is happening to the affluent classes in the world everywhere. Money should have brought wellbeing, but for most people it brings terrible situations within themselves.
Once it happened, Shankaran Pillai’s son went to Africa as an IT professional. You know Indians, they can go anywhere only as IT professionals. There he made some local friends and one weekend his friend said that he is going into the tribe to visit his witch doctor, and asked if he would like to come. Shankaran Pillai’s son had nothing else to do so he decided that he will go. On the way his friend said miraculous things about his witch doctor and all the things that he could do. Shankaran Pillai’s son is seasoned, he is from India, he has seen enough mumbo jumbo. He said, ‘Okay, let me see’.
They went there and the witch doctor did many things. As only an African witch doctor can mumble, he mumbled and mumbled, however he did a few things which impressed him. Then the friend said if you want to ask anything, you ask he can make it for you. Then Shankaran Pillai’s son thought about his father. His father always regretted that he has become old and how he would have liked to be youthful. So, he asked the witchdoctor, ‘Can you bring back my parents’ youth?’ The witch doctor pulled out a dark evil looking container in which there were dark, very evil looking pills. He said, ‘You give one of these pills to your parents, it will take years off their life.’ Promptly he took it and couriered it to India.
And after three months, after his project was over in Mombasa, he came back to India. He came to his home, he walked in and there was a young man who was taking care of an infant there. He came in and looked around and said, ‘Where are my parents? Where is my father?’ Then the young man said, ‘Hey, don’t you recognise me? I am your dad.’ ‘Oh dad, what happened?’ ‘You know those wonderful pills that you sent? I just took it and it took years off me.’ ‘That’s wonderful dad; are you happy? Where is mom?’ He pointed at the infant and said, that’s her, she took three.’
This doing excess has a tradition of its own and from small people to big people; everybody tries to do excess, not considering the realities in which they are living or the limitations of the planet itself. Whether we make a safety pin or a big machine, you dig it out of the planet and there is a certain limit to what you should do and what you should not do. We do not have to live on goat’s milk, but somewhere some cap should be there, otherwise this will just lead to perversion.