|Rama and King Janaka, Image Source, V&A Archives|
Not feeling particularly "successful" myself at that moment, my response was, "I think I should ask a Swami!"
The reply I received from Swami Kashi said to read the stories of King Janaka, the wise Philosopher-King and father of Janaki, also known as Sita, wife of God-King Rama.**
"King Janaka is an example of a very rich, very successful person, who was a Brahma Jnani. There's no contradiction between the two. It is about your approach to your possessions and how you deal with it (such as generosity etc.) and not the numbers that make the difference."
Hahaha! How characteristic that Swamiji's answer would require a little "homework"!
Authentic teachers always prompt us to investigate for ourselves. Besides, those of you who know me as Swamiji does, know how much I loooooooove geeky yoga homework!
I suspect that such educational and entertaining research might benefit others as well, so I'm offering a sampling here, in a series of posts over the next several days titled, "Stories of King Janaka".
I hope you find them as amusing and inspiring as I do.
Thank you Sharon for your excellent question, and thank you Swamiji for your fitting reply!
**Important Update** Swami Kashi has informed me that actually, King Janaka, the father of Sita is NOT the same King Janaka mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (3.20) and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Looks like I have some additional homework to do to make sure I'm sharing stories of the correct King Janaka. Lol, otherwise, I'll have to change the title of the series to "Stories of King JanakaS"!