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In Hinduism, is regularly depositing some money in a PPF account with the intention of getting handsome interest when we retire, a sin?

I came across this blog post that says:

A Brâhmana and a Kshatriya shall not lend anything at interest...

'He who acquiring property cheap, gives it for a high price, is called a usurer and blamed among those who recite the Veda.'

'God weighed in the scales the crime of killing a learned Brâhmana against the crime of charging interest; the slayer of the Brâhmana remained at the top, the charger of interest sank downwards.'

(Vasishtha, The Sacred Laws of the Aryas, Part II, Chptr 2, vs 40-42)

 

A person of yoga obtains everlasting peace by abandoning the rewards of action. The person ignorant of yoga, selfishly attached to reward, remains bound.

(Bhagavad Gita 5:12. This verse, in fact, is representative of the very theme of the Bhagavad Gita)

Please clear my doubt.

  • @UdayKrishna means if any old age person (who can't work further) gets his bread and butter through Interest via certain amount in Bank then its "Sin" ??? – C Sharper Dec 9 '16 at 8:39
  • @CSharper AFAIK, I highly doubt we can find anything related to banking in scriptures as that time it wasn't present. Scriptures were written considering that age and all other commonalities which won't change ever. You might be able to compare with some scriptures but still that could be contradictory. – Mr_Green Dec 9 '16 at 8:47
  • Islamic banking doesn't approve of interest on loans. – iammilind Dec 9 '16 at 13:36
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    @iammilind Here's what John Maynard Keynes says: "I was brought up to believe that the attitude of the Medieval Church to the rate of interest was inherently absurd, and that the subtle discussions aimed at distinguishing the return on money-loans from the return to active investment were merely Jesuitical attempts to find a practical escape from a foolish theory. But I now read these discussions as an honest intellectual effort to keep separate the rate of interest and the marginal efficiency of capital." marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/… – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 9 '16 at 15:28
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    :-) You are right. There are subtle differences however. Saving for a rainy day and preserving one's upadhi are dharma. So, if you are doing it legally by consuming interest given by the bank on your legitimately earned money, I think it is not wrong. See, there is a difference between ursury and reasonable savings for one's own financial security. Ursury is considered a sin in Abrahamic religions. – user1195 May 18 '17 at 1:39
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Lending at interest is not a sin at all. Its perfectly legitimate. But usury (lending money at unreasonably high rates) is a minor sin(an Upapataka).

Manu Smriti 10.115. There are seven lawful modes of acquiring property, (viz.) inheritance, finding or friendly donation, purchase, conquest, lending at interest, the performance of work, and the acceptance of gifts from virtuous men

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Manu Smriti 11.61. Defiling a damsel, usury, breaking a vow, selling a tank, a garden, one’s wife, or child,.....(are all) minor offences, causing loss of caste (Upapataka)(11.66)

The Yajnavalkya Smriti also lists usury among minor sins.

13 — 20. There are many Upapātakas (minor sins and turpitude)....learning from a servant, teaching a superior, adultery, usury, sale of salt, contemptuous livelihood, misappropriation of a deposit, breaking of a vow, sale of meat, sale of a cow, abandonment of father, mother or a friend, sale of tanks and parks, selling of daughter's ornaments, crookedness, causing others to break their vow...(Yajnavalkya Smriti)

Update 1-More relevant verses:

Manu 8.140. A money-lender may stipulate as an increase of his capital, for the interest, allowed by Vasishtha, and take monthly the eightieth part of a hundred.

Manu 8.155. If he cannot pay the money (due as interest), he may insert it in the renewed (agreement); he must pay as much interest as may be due.

The Parashara Smriti says;

  1. To invest money on interest, to be a jeweller, to tend cattle, tillage and trade, — these are declared as occupations for the Vaisya caste,

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The verse(partly mentioned in the question) which is attributed to Vashishta is also present in the Manu Smriti. One should always read the full verse,the full scripture. Otherwise it can be misleading.

Manu Smriti 10.117. Neither a Brahmana, nor a Kshatriya must lend (money at) interest; but at his pleasure (either of them) may, in times of distress when he requires money) for sacred purposes, lend to a very sinful man at a small interest.

Update 2- I also have the Vashista Dharma Sutras downloaded from Astrojyoti.com. Now here's how they have translated the verse mentioned in the question:

  1. Now they quote also (the following verses): ‘He who acquiring property cheap, gives it for a high price, is called a usurer and blamed among those who recite the Veda.’
  2. ‘(Brahman) weighed in the scales the crime of killing a learned Brâhmana against (the crime of) usury; the slayer of the Brâhmana remained at the top, the usurer sank downwards.

As one can see it only talks about usury which is already discussed in this answer and which the Scriptures declare as a (minor) sin.

Now,see what is being told in the next verse from the same Dharma Sutra:

43. Or, at pleasure, they may lend to a person who entirely neglects his sacred duties, and is exceedingly wicked, 43

So,basically these verses say the same thing which Manu 10.117(given above) says.

And,the verse from Parashara Smriti ,about lending money at interest, given above, is also repeated in the Vashista Dharma Sutra:

  1. (The lawful occupations) of a Vaisya are the same (as those mentioned above, Sûtra 16),
  2. Besides, agriculture, trading, tending cattle, and lending money at interest,

So,again the same thing,one should not come to a conclusion after only reading parts of a Scripture.

  • What does "selling a tank" refer to? – Samthere Dec 9 '16 at 10:26
  • @Samthere A tank refers to a man-made pond, often built near temples for people to take a bath in. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 9 '16 at 14:40
  • @KeshavSrinivasan That's interesting. Is that (along with parks) based on an idea that they're a community or holy area? As in, if you've made/own one, it's still for the benefit of everyone, so you could give away ownership but not profit individually from it? – Samthere Dec 9 '16 at 14:45
  • A tank refers to a water reservoir which is used/shared by a community. – Rickross Dec 9 '16 at 15:08
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Hindu scripture condemns charging of exorbitant rates of interest and not reasonable rates of interest.

Bhishma said, '..They who betakes themselves to improper conduct, they who take exorbitant rates of interest, and they who make unduly large profits on sales, have to sink in hell.'

Mahabharata Anusasana Parva Section XXIII

  • "they who make unduly large profits on sales" -- so Hinduism doesn't support a capitalistic economy, where companies try to increase their profits? E.g., if Apple is making billions in profits from sale of its iPhones, should they try to lower the cost of iPhone so the profit is 'reasonable?' – sv. Dec 15 '16 at 17:55
  • Whether any profit is reasonable or exorbitant is in the eyes of the beholder. I would say that compassionate capitalism is what Hinduism is talking about. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Dec 16 '16 at 1:55
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The interest which we get in PPF or other banking sector is a way for RBI/Govt. to ...

  • Check inflation: If too much of money is floated in economy, then prices of goods will increase, which will increase inflation; By promoting better interest rates in savings, people will be inspired to reduce spending
  • Promoting white money: All money is accounted when deposited to bank; This avoids any parallel economy
  • Funding for infrastructure: When banks have so much of fund, it can be lent to govt. for improvement on infrastructure & other schemes

Hence, the interest rates which we get is actually the healthy & ethical return for 'investing' our money. In fact, Einstein called the "Compound interest as the 8th wonder of the world".
Until this there is nothing to do with Hinduism.


However, giving away loans on interest is considered unethical at least by Islamic banking (& may be Christians as well). Such kind of loans have shattered many lives during modern era of India prior to independence.

One small reference is found in ShAnti Parva, which disapproves this practice if done unreasonably:

The food provided by a usurer (who lends money at unreasonably high rates of interest) is equivalent to dirt.

However in modern era, most of thelegal banking sectors & their customers are protected by respective governments. Hence not to worry!


Your analysis on Gita verse 5.12, may be true in some context, but that verse is too generalised for your specific question. Here is the better translation (from Gambhirananda):

BG 5.12 - Giving up the result of work by becoming resolute in faith, one attains Peace arising from steadfastness. One who is lacking in resolute faith, being attached to the result under the impulsion of desire, becomes bound.

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