What is Currency?

You would relate with me, irrespective of what is your age, profession, business or if you are responsible for the home. You would identify my musings if you are playing with your grand children or if you are searching for a new purpose post your retirement. Currency communicates in any language, caste, and nationality. Currency communicates to a Mahatma or a criminal, its feeling may be different, but the object is the same.

Today’s teens might not understand our cricket matches of yester years. Decades ago, when we were kids, cricket matches would be played for pencils. We used to have a pride to accumulate pencils won in a cricket match. The losing team pays for the loss in pencils; assorted colours would adorn our lives. At that stage pencil won or lost was our currency.

Thereafter, the piggy bank moved in, and the tinkle of the coin gave us such sense of joy and to see the huge pile of coins when the mud piggy bank was broken open was itself a sense of abundance. I still remember the sight of a few tens of coins, shining, copper, which formed a pile and this pile was the biggest material ownership I had. Soon as we grew, the piggy bank died.

The piggy bank was replaced by pocket money of a few currency notes, which was folded carefully, and even antiquated notes had a pious place in our wallets. The fund management out of the reasonable luxuries of few rupees could be an earnest exercise; which we used to judiciously encounter every month.

Post college and studies, these pocket money was moved to our salaries, which came in cheques, and often payment used to be in cheque. A few years ago, standing in the queue in the bank to meet the cashier would be a ritual of a few hours, this had such a sudden death when we spoke to the ATM’s and moved out with crisp notes without even acknowledging the presence of the machine. The first time possessed a credit card or a debit card was advent of plastic. Just a few years ago, the cash was pride, today it seems like a burden. The plastic cards are getting replaced by net banking, which is dying in mobile banking.

Within a short period of our lives, coins replaced the pencils. The piggy banks gave way to currency notes. The wallets became empty while chequebooks became prominent. The chequebooks died faster and the birth of net banking started, and now mobile banking. By the time we get used to this, something else will come; it could be bit coins or any other digital currency.
The form has changed over my lifetime, but the meaning has remained the same. The object is in a different form; the subject has been the same. The feeling is the same, the need and greed for currency does not change with the form of currency.

Currency gets different meaning in different geographies, a coffee in US could cost me a $ which is some 63 rupees, while a coffee in Bali could cost me 19000 IDR. That apart, the meaning of currency changes in our lives too. What a 1000 rupees meant a few years ago would mean nothing much now. The value of mine changes, and value of money in our life changes, and as our life moves ahead, value also has a different meaning.

So currency has encountered different forms, different value, different time zones and needs. It varies between need and greed. Some times the pendulum oscillates between humility and arrogance, while other times it has a middle path. Currency fructifies differently at varied geographies. Stones in the historic age was valuable, today a PIN number does the job.

What we associate with a material currency changes in our lives. After achieving lots, currency could mean a method of giving. After achieving nothing, currency could mean a significance of scarcity. A huge earning could either give a feeling of growth or arrogance. The feelings associated with the green is what matters, green does not matter as much as the feeling with it.

Is the feeling for the green and use of the same good, then the more the merrier! The forms differs, let our feelings take prominence. The method changes, let our association with money be for abundance & doing well. We cannot measure a feeling, but we can live one. Can we measure greed, but we can identify one. Is abundance a quantity, never, it is a state of mind. There could be a billionaire beggar, and at the same time a wealthy commoner. Currency has forms; the feeling makes the difference, not the form.

Guru Prasad Makam