Affluence Cannot Bring Lasting Happiness</ARTTITLE> Satyendra Garg The other day I came across an interesting report that despite earning lots of money people in affluent countries are insecure and depressed. Oliver James, a psychologist, during his research found that two-thirds of Britons believed that they cannot afford to buy everything they really need. Though the average income of a British citizen is nearly £23,000 per year, about 50 per cent of people who earned more than £35,000 and about 40 per cent of those who earned more than £50,000 per year felt that they did not have enough money to buy things they need. The psychologist went on to say that this perception promoted selfishness and left people feeling bored, empty and lonely. The article reminded me of the deep insight enshrined in our scriptures. In Srimad Bhagavatam we come across Yayati who was ruler of a large kingdom with all material resources at his command. He married Devyani, daughter of a renowned sage, Sukracharya. According to legend he was cursed for his infidelity and was made prematurely old and infirm. When he begged for forgiveness, he was told that if somebody willingly exchanged his youth with his old age he could regain his youth. When four of his sons declined to exchange their youth for their father's old age the fifth and youngest son who was aware of the inadequacy and futility of sense enjoyment obliged Yayati and agreed to his request. Youthful once again, Yayati continued his sense enjoyment spree for one thousand years. Still unsatisfied, he craved for more. Fortunately for him wisdom dawned on him and he realised that if sensual enjoyment which he had continued for thousand years could not satisfy him, how was it possible that this will be able to satisfy him in future. On reflection he realised the futility of material and sensual desires and he made up his mind to leave his kingdom and abjure sense enjoyments. He told his wife Devyani that even if one got all the material wealth of the world — food grains, gold and precious metals, and cattle — this will not satisfy the greed of even one single person who is driven by desire for sensual cravings. In modern parlance it could include money, electronic gadgets, land, shares and all other desirable things. So if the researcher finds that despite having £50,000 as annual income and having all modern gadgets, people are not satisfied and they feel they need more money, it is true that even if one is given the entire wealth of the world one will not be satisfied. Yayati goes on to explain as to why this happens. He says that with every additional sense enjoyment the desire for the same becomes more. The more you enjoy, the cravings become more. For the same level of satisfaction, you need more sense indulgence and because one gets satisfaction from every indulgence, one indulges more. And the vicious cycle goes on. Yayati quotes the example of fire and ghee. He says that with every additional pouring of clarified butter in the form of sense enjoyment the fire of sensual desire grows fiercer and fiercer. By indulgence one can never quench the thirst of sensual urge. Only if one realises this and gives up this insatiable sense craving, can one achieve that inner satisfaction which leads to bliss and eternal happiness.