yāvad bhriyeta jaṭharaṁ
tāvat svatvaṁ hi dehinām
adhikaṁ yo ’bhimanyeta
sa steno daṇḍam arhati
yāvat—as much as; bhriyeta—may be filled; jaṭharam—the stomach; tāvat—that much; svatvam—proprietorship; hi—indeed; dehinām—of the living entities; adhikam—more than that; yaḥ—anyone who; abhimanyeta—may accept; saḥ—he; stenaḥ—a thief; daṇḍam—punishment; arhati—deserves.
One may claim proprietorship to as much wealth as required to maintain body and soul together, but one who desires proprietorship over more than that must be considered a thief, and he deserves to be punished by the laws of nature.
By God’s favor we sometimes get large quantities of food grains or suddenly receive some contribution or unexpected profit in business. In this way we may get more money than needed. So, how should that be spent? There is no need to accumulate money in the bank merely to increase one’s bank balance. Such a mentality is described in Bhagavad-gītā (16.13) as asuric, demoniac.
“The demoniac person thinks, ‘So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more.’ ” The asura is concerned with how much wealth he has in the bank today and how it will increase tomorrow, but unrestricted accumulation of wealth is not permitted either by the śāstra or, in the modern age, by the government. Actually, if one has more than one requires for his necessities, the extra money should be spent for Kṛṣṇa. According to the Vedic civilization, it should all be given to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, as ordered by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (9.27):
“O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” Gṛhasthas should spend extra money only for the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
The gṛhasthas should give contributions for constructing temples of the Supreme Lord and for preaching of Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all over the world. Śṛṇvan bhagavato’bhīkṣṇam avatāra-kathāmṛtam. In the śāstras—the purāṇas and other Vedic literatures—there are so many narrations describing the transcendental activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and everyone should hear them again and again. For example, even if we read the entire Bhagavad-gītā every day, all eighteen chapters, in each reading we shall find a new explanation. That is the nature of transcendental literature. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement therefore affords one an opportunity to spend his extra earnings for the benefit of all human society by expanding Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In India especially we see hundreds and thousands of temples that were constructed by the wealthy men of society who did not want to be called thieves and be punished.
This verse is very important. As stated here, one who accumulates more money than needed is a thief, and by the laws of nature he will be punished. One who acquires more money than necessary becomes desirous of enjoying material comforts more and more. Materialists are inventing so many artificial necessities, and those who have money, being allured by such artificial necessities, try to accumulate money to possess more and more. This is the idea of modern economic development. Everyone is engaged in earning money, and the money is kept in the bank, which then offers money to the public. In this cycle of activities, everyone is engaged in getting more and more money, and therefore the ideal goal of human life is being lost. Concisely, it may be said that everyone is a thief and is liable to be punished. Punishment by the laws of nature takes place in the cycle of birth and death. No one dies fully satisfied by the fulfillment of material desires, for that is not possible. Therefore at the time of one’s death one is very sorry, being unable to fulfill his desires. By the laws of nature one is then offered another body to fulfill his unsatisfied desires, and upon taking birth again, accepting another material body, one voluntarily accepts the threefold miseries of life.
Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/7/14/8