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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why small investors should relentlessly pursue Saraswati and wait patiently for the blessings of Lakshmi - instead of the other way around

In Hindu mythology, the Holy Trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Maheshwara represent the cycle of life - Creation, Preservation and Destruction.

They are also symbols of the three ‘gunas’ (or attributes) of the soul – sattva, rajas, tamas – that have to be understood and then transcended for the soul’s liberation and eventual union (yoga) with the Universal Consciousness.

The Divine Consorts of the three Lords are Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, speech and music. Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and generosity. Parvati is the Goddess of fertility, love and devotion.

Here, we will concern ourselves with Saraswati and Lakshmi – who appear to be mutually exclusive. Where one is present, the other is absent.

There is a Bengali proverb that says: “Those who concentrate on their education eventually get to ride in nice cars.” In other words, pursue Saraswati, and Lakshmi will eventually give you her blessings.

Times have changed. Saraswati has taken a back seat. Lakshmi has become the Goddess to be pursued – by hook or by crook. The concept of ‘capitation fees’ paid by wealthy parents to private medical and engineering colleges to admit their academically inferior sons and daughters is a glaring example.

Those with knowledge and learning have very little money. Those who have lots of money are often crude and semi-literate. Many of our rowdy Parliamentarians have amassed vast amounts of money through dubious means.

Many small investors perhaps get influenced by what is going on around us. The video of a farmer who has not paid the last three instalments of a Rs 1 Lakh loan getting beaten up by uniformed cops no longer shock us.

The King of Good Times, a willful defaulter of over Rs 9000 Crores of loans from several banks, thumbs his nose at authorities and flies off to a foreign land and there is a murmur of protest in social media, which will soon die down.

As someone put it succinctly: “If you owe 1 Crore to a bank, it is your problem. But if you owe Rs 1000 Crores, it becomes the bank’s problem."

So, why am I suggesting that small investors should pursue Saraswati and wait patiently for Lakshmi? First, I belong to the old school of the Bengali proverb mentioned above.

Second, most small investors may not have the resources of our wily politicians to launder their wealth into real estate projects or foreign bank accounts through ‘hawala’.

Making money from the stock market is the easier part. Retaining that money and growing it into long-term wealth requires skill and learning.

If you are suddenly blessed by Lakshmi and make a 10-bagger return on a penny stock, will you know how to turn that 10-bagger return into 100-bagger wealth? Or, in your urgency to chase Lakshmi, will you reinvest in another penny stock and lose it all?

Not only do you need to learn about the economy, money market, bond yields, put/call ratios, fundamental and technical analysis to survive in the stock market, you need to follow proper financial and asset allocation plans.

Without the blessings of Saraswati – which requires life-long commitment to learning – the blessings of Lakshmi may be short-lived. Unless – according to a Marathi proverb – she breaks her leg and has to stay put at your home for some time. 


Lakshmi Ramanathan said...

I have been a small investor of old times and hold the same view.

The enviroment is mainly spoiled by the advent of internet & on line trading.

Sure our TV Channels, who have no stakes on what they air from 8-16 hrs daily follwed by another session in the night too add to the fasination.

There was a time in early 2000s when I used to be told that if only you had a trading account and margin money + 25% more for mkt to mkt you can leave your job ( sarawathi) and mint money ( lakshmi)…..comparing those days when in late 90s Comp Sc people use to tell that if you learn only C++/ VB you are sure of a 80 K + job in India / min 50$ in US.!! And parents paid lahks of borrowed/ black money to get a Comp Sc seat in any T/D/H college to get a CS seat. I do not know where they / things stand now

But the way we debate if VM wasfollowing "Q" to fly out...I am afraid there is very little left on morals

Subhankar said...

Thanks for your comments, Lakshmi.

We live in an age of instant coffee and instant gratification. Today's 'Y' generation does not have the patience in saving first and buying later. The concept of 'EMI' - particularly when combined with the use of credit cards - is a greater danger to personal financial health than online trading.

I understand 'Juridical Studies' is fast becoming the new 'Comp Sci'.

As to morals (or, the lack of it), the current version of the Bengali proverb is: "If you concentrate on your studies too much, you may get run over by some rich person's car!"