yavad bhriyeta jatharam
tavat svatvam hi dehinam
adhikam yo ’bhimanyeta
sa steno dandam arhati
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
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.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
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-gita (16.13) as asuric, demoniac.
idam adya maya labdham
imam prapsye manoratham
idam astidam api me
bhavisyati punar dhanam
“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 sastra 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 Krsna. According to the Vedic civilization, it should all be given to the Krsna consciousness movement, as ordered by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):
yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam
“O son of Kunti, 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.” Grhasthas should spend extra money only for the Krsna consciousness movement.
The grhasthas should give contributions for constructing temples of the Supreme Lord and for preaching of Srimad Bhagavad-gita, or Krsna consciousness, all over the world. Srnvan bhagavato ’bhiksnam avatara-kathamrtam. In the sastras — the Puranas 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-gita every day, all eighteen chapters, in each reading we shall find a new explanation. That is the nature of transcendental literature. The Krsna consciousness movement therefore affords one an opportunity to spend his extra earnings for the benefit of all human society by expanding Krsna 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.