Wealth - Spiritual or Material?

Dear Devotees,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

Almost all of us come to devotional service with some material motive. Infact many times we measure our success in spiritual life by how much of advancement we have made in our material life. On the contrary, if some difficulties arise in our day-day life, immediately we question Lord Krishna's integrity. It is almost impossible for us to see Krishna's hand in it and accept that He is doing it only for our spiritual advancement. This mentality is an outcome of immature devotional service. 

It is common among karmis and material-minded devotees to pray to Mother Lakshmi for increase in their material wealth. Let us see what She says in SB 5.18.22 in this regard:

mat-prāptaye ’jeśa-surāsurādayas
tapyanta ugraṁ tapa aindriye dhiyaḥ
ṛte bhavat-pāda-parāyaṇān na māṁ
vindanty ahaṁ tvad-dhṛdayā yato ’jita

O supreme unconquerable Lord, when they become absorbed in thoughts of material enjoyment, Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, as well as other demigods and demons, undergo severe penances and austerities to receive my benedictions. But I do not favor anyone, however great he may be; unless he is always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet. Because I always keep You within my heart, I cannot favor anyone but a devotee.

So what does Mother Lakshmi mean when She says "I do not favour anyone but a devotee" ? Do we not see so many millionaires in this world who are non-devotees ? How do we understand this point then ? Srila Prabhupada, as usual gives us the answer in his purport.

"In this verse the goddess of fortune, Lakshmidevi, clearly states that she does not bestow Her favor on any materialistic person. Although sometimes a materialist becomes very opulent in the eyes of another materialist, such opulence is bestowed upon him by the goddess Durgadevi, a material expansion of the goddess of fortune, not by Lakshmidevi Herself... By pleasing goddess Durga one can obtain such benefits, but since they are temporary, they result only in maya-sukha (illusory happiness). ... On the other hand, devotees like Prahlada and Dhruva Maharaja achieved extraordinary material opulences, but such opulences were not maya-sukha. When a devotee acquires unparalleled opulences, they are the direct gifts of the goddess of fortune, who resides in the heart of Narayana."

Now another question comes to my mind. Suppose there is a millionaire. How can we find out where did his riches come from - from Lakshmidevi or Maya devi ? This is a very important question because there are so many asuras (starting from Ravana all the way upto the modern day demons) in this world who are millionaires and billionaires and at the same time we have examples of Prahlada Maharaj and Ambarisha Maharaj who possessed all the wealth in the world. How can I find out who is a real devotee and who is not? 

Again, Srila Prabhupada succinctly answers this question in his purport to SB 7.10.1:

"When one is allured by material possessions, they are considered to be given by maya, but when one uses material possessions fully for service, they are considered God's gifts, or facilities offered by Krishna for enhancing one's devotional service."

In other words, when a person uses all his riches for his own sense gratification or for destructive work, it is to be considered as given by maya, because he is going further down to the hell due to the same wealth, but when the person uses the same wealth in Krishna's service, then we should understand that it is given by Mother Lakshmi.ie., The source of the person's wealth can be determined only by looking at whose service he is using it.

It is worthwhile to study the first few lines of the same purport, where Srila Prabhupada gives a few powerful punches.

"Material achievements are not the ultimate goal of devotional service. The ultimate goal of devotional service is love of Godhead. Therefore although Prahlad Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, Ambarish Maharaja, Yudhishthira Maharaja and many devotee kings were materially very opulent, they accepted their material opulence in the service of the Lord, not for their personal sense gratification."

The above-quoted mahatmas are the receivers of the real favor of Mother Lakshmi. On the other hand, if we want to enjoy Lakshmi for our own sense gratification, then the result will be the same as that of Ravana.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Kalacakra Krsna das.