How much money does one really need?

Acharya Prashant
6 min readMar 14, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, please explain what Shri Ramakrishna meant by the following:

“One day a Marwari gentleman went to Sri Ramakrishna and asked him for permission to present him with some thousands of rupees. But the master had nothing but a stern refusal for this well-meant offer. He said, ‘I shall have nothing to do with your money; for if I accept it, my mind would always be dwelling on it.’ The gentleman then proposed to invest the amount in the name of one of Sri Ramakrishna’s relatives to be used by him for the Master’s service. To this, the Master replied, ‘No, it would be double-dealing. Moreover, it would always be in my mind that I am keeping my money with so-and-so.’ But the Marwari still persisted in his proposal, quoting one of Sri Ramakrishna’s own sayings, ‘If the mind is like oil, it will float even upon an ocean of woman and gold’. At this, the Master retorted: That is true indeed; but if the oil floats on water for a considerable length of time, it becomes putrefied. In the same way, even if the mind were only to float over the ocean of ‘woman and gold’ the continuous contact of the latter for a long period would surely tend to vitiate the mind and make it give out an evil odor.”

Acharya Prashant (AP): What does money represent in this story? Money represents that which you do not really need. Meditate on the word ‘need’. Only the Self is needed, everything else is an externality. Only God is really needed, everything else is just a burden, a baggage.

It is not as if Ramakrishna had nothing to do with the material, after all, he lived in a particular place; and that place is material. Surely that place was constructed out of somebody’s money. Even temples require material resources to be built. But, at the point when this gentleman is offering the material to Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna does not need it. He already has what he needs.

Going beyond your needs is what Ramakrishna is cautioning against. And what is your need? I repeat, only God is your need. What does that mean to us human beings of flesh and blood? It means, take only as much from the world as is needed to take you to God; only that is your real need. Take only as much from the world as is…

Acharya Prashant