I was very happy to see a piece of news in one of the last weeks’ newspaper. Two of the richest men of the world, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, are making plans to visit India this year. Actually the fact that they will come is not so much what made me happy but rather the reason why they will come. They want to encourage Indian’s millionaires and billionaires to donate more money to charity!
Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have started this campaign, the ‘Giving Pledge’, urging rich people to donate 50% or more of their money to charities. They themselves have pledged that they will give away freely and they have already convinced many rich people that this would be the right thing to do. They don’t talk about giving to a certain organization or for a certain cause, they just talk about philanthropy, about charity, about giving and sharing with those who need it. I love this idea of a campaign and wish them the best of success!
Especially here in India there are many people who could give a lot and could see their donation used in front of their own eyes, in their own country, if they had the compassion for others to do it. This campaign is urging anybody who has gathered wealth to do good with it and it particularly addresses businessmen. In my eyes, some of the biggest businessmen in India are those who do the business of spirituality and religions.
Most Gurus and religious leaders would never like being called businessmen but they are among the most successful ones in India. It is the ‘Business of Gods’, as nicely stated in this article. I don’t even want to start listing religious people who are rich because the list could get very long. In the article they only mention a few and the figures are already four years old, today they would be much higher already.
There are just so many people who receive donations by claiming they build temples or are some kind of Gods. They even live like Gods, building multiple Ashrams and enourmous temples in India and around the world.
Do they forget that there are not only people who want to hear lectures or perform spiritual rituals but people who need food and struggle to survive? They don’t need temples, they need a roof over their head! They don’t need your blessing, they need your money!
Some people will tell me now that many of these gurus also build hospitals and schools or give in another way to charity. This however is such a minimal part of their wealth, a tiny part of what they could give that they should feel ashamed to advertise their charitable attitude in this way. Ideally they should be able to leave 100% of their wealth because they show themselves as sanyasi, only devoted to God and having renounced from material belongings. Instead they take what they can get and distribute it most generously among their family members. They preach detachment but seem much more attached to their Rupees than Bill Gates to his Dollars!
All these people are businessmen, the gurus as well as the founders of this campaign. But now there seems to be a switching of roles – the spiritual people become more and more involved in and obsessed with business while the business people become more and more spiritual, giving away to helping others. Who do you think is closer to God, those who sell God and make this their business or those who make real business and then donate what they have so that others have a better life?
I don’t want to say much about money in the spiritual business these days but if all those rich super-gurus with all their wealth could also donate 50% or more of what they have, they could make a significant change in this society and make this world a better place to live in for so many.