In modern times, girls and ladies have ornaments made of plastic instead of gold, and plastic utensils are used instead of golden ones, yet people are very proud of their material wealth
SB Canto 5
The mud on both banks of the River Jambū-nadī, being moistened by the flowing juice and then dried by the air and the sunshine, produces huge quantities of gold called Jāmbū-nada. The denizens of heaven use this gold for various kinds of ornaments. Therefore all the inhabitants of the heavenly planets and their youthful wives are fully decorated with golden helmets, bangles and belts, and thus they enjoy life.
By the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the rivers on some planets produce gold on their banks. The poor inhabitants of this earth, because of their incomplete knowledge, are captivated by a so-called bhagavān who can produce a small quantity of gold. However, it is understood that in a higher planetary system in this material world, the mud on the banks of the Jambū-nadī mixes with jambū juice, reacts with the sunshine in the air, and automatically produces huge quantities of gold. Thus the men and women are decorated there by various golden ornaments, and they look very nice. Unfortunately, on earth there is such a scarcity of gold that the governments of the world try to keep it in reserve and issue paper currency. Because that currency is not backed up by gold, the paper they distribute as money is worthless, but nevertheless the people on earth are very proud of material advancement. In modern times, girls and ladies have ornaments made of plastic instead of gold, and plastic utensils are used instead of golden ones, yet people are very proud of their material wealth. Therefore the people of this age are described as mandāḥ sumanda-matayo manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ (SB 1.1.10). In other words, they are extremely bad and slow to understand the opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They have been described as sumanda-matayaḥ because their conceptions are so crippled that they accept a bluffer who produces a little gold to be God. Because they have no gold in their possession, they are actually poverty-stricken, and therefore they are considered unfortunate.
Sometimes these unfortunate people want to be promoted to the heavenly planets to achieve fortunate positions, as described in this verse, but pure devotees of the Lord are not at all interested in such opulence. Indeed, devotees sometimes compare the color of gold to that of bright golden stool. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has instructed devotees not to be allured by golden ornaments and beautifully decorated women. Na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīm: (Cc. Antya 20.29, Śikṣāṣṭaka 4) a devotee should not be allured by gold. beautiful women or the prestige of having many followers. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, therefore, confidentially prayed, mama janmani janmanīśvare bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi: "My Lord, please bless Me with Your devotional service. I do not want anything else." A devotee may pray to be delivered from this material world. That is his only aspiration.
- ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
- patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
- kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
- sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya
(Cc. Antya 20.32, Śikṣāṣṭaka 5)
The humble devotee simply prays to the Lord, "Kindly pick me up from the material world, which is full of varieties of material opulence, and keep me under the shelter of Your lotus feet."
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prays:
- hā hā prabhu nanda-suta, vṛṣabhānu-sutā-yuta,
- karuṇā karaha ei-bāra
- narottama-dāsa kaya, nā ṭheliha rāṅgā-pāya,
- tomā vine ke āche āmāra
"O my Lord, O son of Nanda Mahārāja, now You are standing before me with Your consort, the daughter of Vṛṣabhānu, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kindly accept me as the dust of Your lotus feet. please do not kick me away, for I have no other shelter."
Similarly, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī indicates that the position of the demigods, who are decorated with golden helmets and other ornaments, is no better than a phantasmagoria (tri-daśa-pūr ākāśa-puṣpāyate). A devotee is never allured by such opulences. He simply aspires to become the dust of the lotus feet of the Lord.