by bhakta Eric Johanson
Srila Prabhupada’s mission was to make people conscious of Krishna, or God, and to free them from the material conception of living. In the process of coming to the full state of Krishna prema, or pure transcendental love of Krishna, people were taught to simply tolerate temporary problems like extreme weather:
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya/sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah/agamapayino ‘nityas/tams titiksasva bharata – O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. Bhagavad-gita 2.14
Although Srila Prabhupada knew about the environmental movement practically from its inception in the 1960’s, he was not even slightly interested in adapting his mission to include its goals, or any others of that era’s youth culture.
“We will present our program at Bhaktivedanta Manor exactly in the line of Lord Caitanya, by kirtana, prasadam distribution and speaking from Bhagavad-gita. We cannot deviate even an inch in order to attract the followers of the ecology philosophy or any other materialistic, utopian movement. You say you know a number of influential leaders of this group, but what is the use of knowing them, since you yourself found them deficient and left them? Our ideal Vedic community will attract everyone on its own merit, and we shall be glad to welcome and accept everyone who comes without our compromising in order to attract them.” Letter to: Mahadeva — Mayapur 3 March, 1974
Krishna, or God, consciousness included everything. Srila Prabhupada preached that if you watered the tree at its root, all the leaves and branches would be included. Yasmin vijnate sarvam etam vijnatam bhavanti (Mundaka Upanisad 1.3) – If you simply understand Krishna then you have full knowledge.
For Srila Prabhupada this had practical application. It was not simply philosophy. His Vedic idea was that if God is pleased with the world, all the material aspects of life would fall into harmony. In this regard Srila Prabhupada would generally cite the Bhagavatam’s accounts of life during the reigns of saintly kings like maharaja Yudhisthira and maharaja Prithu or during Lord Krishna’s appearance. In the next quote Srila Prabhupada says that phenomena such as global warming, an “excessive climatic influence,” would not occur if the world was under the superintendence of such a pious Vedic ruler.
“So the, in the present age of Kali, the government men will be dasyu (thieves). This is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Dasyu-dharmabhih. You can, we can see practically. You cannot keep your money. You earn with hard labor, but you cannot keep gold, you cannot keep jewelry, you cannot keep money. And… They will take it away by laws. So they make law that… Yudhisthira Maharaja was just quite opposite. He wanted to see that every citizen is so happy that they are not troubled even by excessive heat and excessive cold. Ati-vyadhi. They are not suffering from any disease, they are not suffering from excessive climatic influence, eating very nicely, and feeling security of person and property. That was Yudhisthira Maharaja. Not only Yudhisthira Maharaja. Almost all the kings, they were like that.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.18 — Mayapura, September 28, 1974
This is further described in the next verse from Srimad Bhagavatam. In the lecture comments immediately following the verse reading Srila Prabhupada describes how Vedic culture is inherently part of what we now call a healthy ecosystem:
Pradyumna dasa leads chanting: nadhayo vyadhayah klesa/daiva-bhutatma-hetavah/ajata-satrav abhavan/jantunam rajni karhicit – Due to the King’s having no enemy, the living beings were not at any time disturbed by mental agonies, diseases, or excessive heat or cold. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.6. Srila Prabhupada: So in the previous verse it has been described that nature was favorable. The river, the hills, the mountains, forests, vegetables, creepers, these are our natural surroundings. Animals… Everyone was complete. It is a cooperation. So many living entities, according to karma, we have got different bodies. Some has got the human form of body, some has got the body of an animal, some has got the body of a tree, creeper. Sometimes hills, mountains, also. Everyone. Their business is cooperation. We can study from our own body. There are different parts of the body, but it is a business of cooperation. Hand, legs, eyes, ears, nose, they are all cooperating for the upkeep of the body. Similarly, all living entities — may be in different types of bodies — they are meant for cooperating in the matter of serving the Supreme Lord, central point. So if the government or the chief of the executive power, the king, is just to the point, dharmena, as it was said, “Abiding by the religious principles, ruling over the country,” then everything, even natural elements, they become cooperative. They must become cooperative. What is nature? Nature is also another energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So the nature is also working under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. mayadhyaksena prakrtih/suyate sa-caracaram/hetunanena kaunteya/jagad viparivartate – Bhagavad-gita 9.10. So Maharaja Yudhisthira’s time, the cooperation was so complete that everyone was free from anxiety, disease, calamities, natural disturbance. – Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.6 — Mayapura, June 21, 1973
Needless to say this is hardly the case at the present time. As stated above and as understandable from objective study of the events that have brought about global climate change, “the government men will be dasyu (thieves).” Nevertheless chanting Hare Krishna will even improve the material situation of the billions of people who are suffering these effects:
“Let everyone chant Hare Krsna home to home. Whatever they have got, all right. Just begin chanting. Just see what happens. We are trying to introduce this chanting. But the rascals will not take it. What can be done? There is no loss if they chant Hare Krsna worldwide. Where is the loss? But still, they will not. And everything can be had. Sarva-kama-dugha mahi. Mahi. Krsna, He is… The mother… Krsna, how He has arranged this mahi? Everything is coming. Actually you will find that the rose flower is coming, the mine is coming, the gold is coming, the coal is coming, the petrol is coming. Everything is there in the mahi. And who has arranged it? Just see. Sarva-kama-dugha mahi. And if there is regular waterfall, then you get everything supply. And by performing yajna, you get regular waterfall, rainfall. And in this age all other types of yajna is not possible. Kalau…harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha [Cc. Adi 17.21]So introduce this. What is their loss? If everyone, home to home or work to work, factory to factory… Let them.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.3-4 — Tehran, March 13, 1975
On the whole Srila Prabhupada’s recommendation for the mass of humanity was “simple living and high thinking.” Although he recommended chanting Hare Krishna everywhere, even in factories, he was hardly a fan of industrialization. Virtually all the scientists who study climate change see its cause in the increase in carbon-dioxide emissions that began with the advent of the industrial age about 200 years ago. Early industry predominantly used the fossil fuel coal, but now this has become a junior accomplice to petroleum products. Srila Prabhupada had his own way of describing industrial enterprise.
“But here in this material world they are engaged in very, very hard work. They have invented so many factories, iron factories, melting the iron, these machinery, and it is called ugra karma, asuric karma. After all, you will eat some bread and some fruit or some flower. Why you have invented so big, big factories? That is avidya, nescience, avidya. Suppose hundred years ago there was no factory. So all the people of the world were starving? Eh? Nobody was starving. In, in, in our Vedic literature we don’t find any mention anywhere about the factory. No. There is no mention. And how opulent they were. Even in Vrndavana. In Vrndavana, as soon as Kamsa invited Nanda Maharaja, immediately they took wagons of milk preparation to distribute. And you will find in the literature they are all well dressed, well fed. They have got enough food, enough milk, enough cows. But they are village, village men. Vrndavana is a village. There is no scarcity. No moroseness, always jolly, dancing, chanting and eating. So we have created these problems. Simply you have created.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.35 — Los Angeles, April 27, 1973
Srila Prabhupada already described modern politicians as thieves. However he did not have much better assessments of the other leaders and influential people who cheered on and profited from the development of the modern Western industrial arrangement that is now spreading all over the world, including to India under leaders like Modi.
“These rascals, they do not know what is the aim of life. They are captivated by the external energy of God. Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni-baddhah. They are led by blind leaders. All these materialistic leaders, the politicians, the scientists, the philosophers, the technologists and so on, businessmen, so on, so on, and all these material — they are all blind and they are leading other blind. So what will be? The result will be catastrophe, because both of them are blind. If one man is with eyes, he can lead another thousands of men, blind men: ‘Please come. I shall help you crossing the road.’ But if the leader is also blind and the followers are blind, then what is the result? That is happening. They are thinking that ‘By bodily comfort, by sense gratification, we shall be happy.’ But that is not possible. We do not know. Actually we have no knowledge. Dehantaram-praptih.” Lecture — Laguna Beach, September 30, 1972
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, it’s amazing. People have become so shortsighted. For instance, they open a factory for some kind of economic development but they’re not thinking of the factory’s ill effects. Water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, stress, broken families, delinquency, drugs, crime — so many things. Srila Prabhupada: Therefore Krsna calls them duskrtinas (misdirected), and then He calls them mudhas, asses. – Conversation, New Vrindaban, June 26, 1976
In this last remark Srila Prabhupada’s disciple nicely lists some of the ill effects of industrialization (externalities) that would now include global warming. Srila Prabhupada was very much aware of how the conveniences of the modern age, such as automobiles, were responsible for the modern suburban sprawl lifestyle that has increased the use of fossil fuels and other externalities at exponential rates. These are the things that the blind (andha) leaders described previously have inaugurated and profited from.
“So many cars are being manufactured every year, and for that purpose so many roads have to be excavated, prepared, and… Problems after problems. Therefore it is maya-sukha. We are trying to be happy this way, manufacture some way, but it creates another problem. I am giving this particular example of motorcar because in your country you have got the greatest number of cars. But that does not solve the problem. You have manufactured cars. I have practical experience. When Dayananda wanted to take me to a doctor from Los Angeles, it is thirty miles off. Thirty miles off. So I had to take trouble to go thirty miles and come thirty miles before I could consult the doctor. You see? And if you have created cars, then you must have meet your friends and necessities thirty miles off, forty miles off. You can go from New York to Boston in one hour, but go to the airport you will take three hours. (laughter) Therefore it is called maya-sukhaya. (laughter) Maya means false, illusory. We are trying to create some very comfortable situation, but creating another uncomfortable situation. This is called maya-su… This is the way of… If you do not be satisfied by the natural comforts offered by God, or nature, if you want to create artificial comfort, then you have to create another discomfort for counteracting. They do not know that. They are thinking that ‘We are creating very comfortable situation.’ Fifty miles going to the office. For earning livelihood, fifty miles, from one place to another. I saw in Hawaii. When Gaurasundara was working to maintain our temple, he was working. Unfortunately, he had to go fifty miles off from the temple to work for it. So I was very sorry to see how this boy is going fifty miles. How Krsna will say? But Krsna has given us chance. Now they haven’t got to work. So Prahlada Maharaja says that ‘These vimudhan, these materialistic persons, these rascals…’ He has exactly used this word, vimudhan. Mudha I have already explained several times in connection with Bhagavad-gita. Mudha means rascals. And here Prahlada Maharaja uses another nice word with addition, “vi.” Vimudhan. Vi means visesa, “particularly.” The vimudhan… Maya-sukhaya bharam udvahatah: ‘They have created unnecessary burden on their shoulder simply for temporary happiness.’ Temporary happiness.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.6-8 — New York, July 21, 1971
Perhaps the most materialistic aspect of modern society is consumerism. One of the most profitable and “creative” sectors of the modern economy is advertising. It is now practically impossible to avoid ads once one consults any type of media or leaves their home. The purpose of these ads is to induce people to desire products that they almost invariably don’t need. The production of all these unneeded things nevertheless consumes all sorts of natural resources and produces that many more of the externalities listed previously. Srila Prabhupada did not view this manufacture of material desire very kindly.
“Now, you have created so many horseless carriages, now the problem is where to get petrol. In your country it has become a problem. Brahmananda was speaking to me yesterday. There are so many problems. Simply unnecessarily we have created so many artificial wants. Kama-karmabhih. This is called kama. So everyone, because of that unlimited desire, one after another… This desire, when this desire fulfilled, another desire, another desire, another desire. In this way you are simply creating problems. And when the desires are not fulfilled, then we become frustrated, confused. The frustration is there.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.35 — Los Angeles, April 27, 1973
“What is this human civilization? Jumping like dog, in a motorcar, that’s all. This is not civilization. This is dog civilization, that’s all. And actually what benefit they have derived? They are not satisfied. One man has got this car, and next year another car, another car. And the car manufacturer also giving fashion. ‘This is 1974 edition, this is 1975 edition.’ And they are earning money with hard labor. ‘All right, get a motorcar.’ And again, next year change. What is this civilization? No satisfaction. They do not know where is the point of satisfaction. It is dog civilization.” Morning Walk — May 28, 1974, Rome
The History of Western “Civilization”
Of course the spectacle of modern materialistic society did not arise instantly. Hundreds of years ago all the political, cultural and economic building blocks were conceived and put in place, mostly in Europe and America – Western “civilization.”
Perhaps the first was private property. Previous to 500 years ago even Europe lived under a largely communal arrangement, what was called the feudal or medieval system. This was similar in structure to the Vedic Varnashrama arrangement. Nobles and knights ruled domains worked by serfs or peasants, who grew crops and gave a certain amount of them to the noble for protection. Both groups depended on each other. The land of the domain was not considered anyone’s personal property. This all changed about 400 years ago when certain nobles found that they could amass personal wealth by using the land to produce products like wool for sale. The peasants were then either swindled or literally driven off of their ancestral plots.
Although many claim that private property originated in the Roman empire, the acclaimed 19th century jurist Sir Henry James Sumner Maine wrote in his book, Ancient Law, that the Roman conception was more similar to the villages of the India of his day. This arrangement was described by Srila Prabhupada in a letter:
“As for land ownership, in the Vedic civilization the land was given to the people for cultivation not for ownership, and a tax was collected which was 25% of the person’s income. The land belonged to the state and the man would cultivate it and pay 25% to the state. If he has no income then he doesn’t have to pay. If he doesn’t pay tax he may be disowned of the land. One cannot get land from the government unless he agrees to produce something and if everyone produces food then there is no scarcity. At least he has his own food produced by himself. Now people are educated as sudras. They are going to work to produce what is not urgently needed by society.” Letter to Balavanta — Tirupati 28 April, 1974
The post-medieval European idea of private property was then exported everywhere their subsequent colonialism took it. Most settlers were descendents of former peasants and took the opportunity to also become what could be called a petty type of noble. These were the people that helped drive indigenous American, African and Australian people off of their communal lands. In this way we can understand that virtually all modern land ownership is based on some form of theft. Srila Prabhupada did not have a very high opinion of the institution of private property. As implied from the above letter, it was hardly Vedic.
“Actually nothing is private property. That is our philosophy. Isavasyam idam sarvam: ‘Everything belongs to God.’ That’s a fact. Under the influence of maya we are thinking that ‘This is my property.’ Just like suppose this cushion. Wherefrom the wood has come? Has anybody produced wood? Who has produced? It is God’s property. Rather, we have stolen God’s property and claiming, ‘My property.’ Then Australia. The Englishmen came here, but is that the property of the Englishmen? It was there. America, it was there. And when everything will be finished, it will be there. In the middle we come and claim, ‘It is my property,’ and fight.” Room Conversation with Two Lawyers and Guest — May 22, 1975, Melbourne
isavasyam idam sarvam/yat kinca jagatyam jagat/tena tyaktena bhunjitha/ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam – Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong. — Sri Isopanishad mantra 1
Political scientists devoted to Western culture are proud to point out that private property is essential to the modern concepts of freedom and democracy. Land owners are more protected legally from government and other abuses.
Monarchy, however, another aspect of Vedic culture, was the political system of medieval Europe and practically the rest of that era’s more organized world. Oppressed by the kings and nobles who drove them off their ancestral lands, the people of France and the American colonies overthrew their corrupt tormentors, and so began the period of modern democracy. In this way we can understand that the modern way of life is based on departure from at least two fundamental aspects of the Vedic way of life that Srila Prabhupada taught – monarchy and God’s ownership of all land. Previously, as in Vedic culture, the European Kings and nobles were trained in codes of chivalry and other moral codes so that they would rule ethically. The poorer examples have already been mentioned. However democratically elected heads of state have failed to provide any higher standard.
“We actually see from modern history that monarchies have been abolished by various revolutions, but unfortunately the monarchies have been abolished to establish the supremacy of third-class and fourth-class men. Although monarchies overpowered by the modes of passion and ignorance have been abolished in the world, the inhabitants of the world are still unhappy, for although the qualities of the former monarchs were degraded by taints of ignorance, these monarchs have been replaced by men of the mercantile and worker classes whose qualities are even more degraded. When the government is actually guided by brahmanas, or God conscious men, then there can be real happiness for the people.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 9.15.15
The concept of individual freedom is also foundational to modern society. In modern civics classes the medieval lives of peasants subjugated by kings and feudal tradition are contrasted with democracy’s individual choice and opportunity. Of course virtually all that choice and opportunity only ends up being used to select between competing brands of consumer products. These “choices” then are little more than the fulfillment of the get-rich schemes of the misdirected leaders described earlier. The lasting result of this consumer feeding frenzy created by the laws of material nature has only been more externalities like climate change and other environmental depletion and destruction. This is what happens when sudra-like unintelligent people ruled only by sense gratification are allowed to have wealth and “freedom.” In the final analysis the earth’s life sustaining abilities were far better protected under the relatively Vedic medieval system wherein these people were under greater limitation. Srila Prabhupada commented regularly on how individual freedom was an illusion, and how the laws of material nature are always controlling everyone and everything. The following quote mentions India and food shortage, but the principle described can be applied to any country dealing with environmental problems.
“It is a false notion that you are independent. You are not independent. It is a false notion. Nobody is independent. We may be puffed up that ‘We belong to an independent nation. Now we have got…’ Just like Indian. We were under British rule. Now we have got independence. This is all false notion. What is that independence? The nature’s law is forcing starvation. What is this independence? They are now begging grains from other countries. In British time there was no begging at least. Now their independence means they are begging. So these are all false notions. Nobody is independent. He is dependent in some way or other under the laws of nature. The laws of nature at once can force the stringent laws, and he becomes subservient. So subservient, to become subservient, is your nature. You cannot alter it. The best thing is that instead of becoming subservient to this false, you should become subservient to the Absolute Truth. Satyam param dhimahi.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 10.4 — New York, January 3, 1967
“The mass of people in general are tools in the hands of the modern politicians and leaders of the people.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.11
Srila Prabhupada regularly commented on how unintelligent sense enjoying people will inevitably vote for leaders like themselves. This is a big reason why democracy has not provided any real solution to the world’s looming climate change crisis.
“Nowadays it is the days of vote. Any rascal, if he gets vote somehow or other, then he acquires the exalted post. That is also written in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that in the Kali-yuga there will be no consideration who is fit to occupy the exalted post of presidentship or royal throne. Simply somehow or other, by hook and crook, he’ll occupy the seat. Therefore people are suffering. It is not… Nowadays, in democratic days, the government by the people, government for the people. So if the government is by the people, yes, you select your representative. If you are a fool, then you will select another fool. So Bhagavata says, sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh. Anyone who is not a devotee, Krsna conscious devotee of God, then he may be in a exalted post, but he is praised by some people who are exactly like sva. Sva means dog, and vid-varaha means pigs who eat stool. Sva-vid-varaha. Vid-varaha. And ustra, ustra means camel. And ustra-kharaih. Khara means ass. Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih. If a person who is not a devotee, he is praised or he is exalted, then the praisers, the persons who is praising him, he must be among these animals: dog, camel, pig and ass. So the whole population is like that, like dog, like camel, like ass and like vid-varaha, pig, the stool-eater, the whole population, at the present moment. So he must elect another big animal who is also in this category. Because he has no knowledge. If you takes votes from the camels, to whom he will vote? Another big camel, that’s all. If you take votes from the dog, then whom he will elect? Another big dog. Therefore, anyone who is not a devotee of God, Krsna, he is either of these animals. And if he is praised, it is to be understood that he is being praised by the similar type of animals. So if we remain sva-vid-varahostra-khara, then we must elect another big sva-vid-varahostra-khara. So how there can be good situation of the state? It is not possible. Therefore the public must be educated so that they may not elect another big dog or big camel or big ass to the exalted post. It is the public’s fault. Nowadays it is democratic days. So why should you complain against such-and-such person or president? You have elected him, and now you find fault with him. So it was your fault that you selected such a rascal, sva-vid-varahostra. It is very right conclusion.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.37 — Los Angeles, December 15, 1973
Free enterprise is the driving force behind most modern activity. It is not that Vedic culture prohibited business or commerce – it was that said capitalism was pretty much limited to the production of food. Modern society has expanded this natural human activity to include all sorts of unnecessary and wasteful consumer activity. Srila Prabhupada always differentiated between economic activity that facilitated simple living and self-realization and that which distracted from it. Now instead of growing food for local people, much land is used to grow unnecessary crops like coffee that will be exported to wealthy countries. Also much grain is grown only to fatten feedlot cattle for slaughter, where anywhere from two to twenty pounds of grain result in only one pound of meat.
“Human civilizations should depend on the production of material nature without artificially attempting economic development to turn the world into a chaos of artificial greed and power only for the purpose of artificial luxuries and sense gratification. This is but the life of dogs and hogs.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.4
“But instead of producing food grains, we are producing Goodyear tires. So how we can eat? Now when there is scarcity of foodstuff you cannot eat the Goodyear tires. But people’s attention has been diverted in the industrial activities. They are given allurement, ‘Come here. I shall give you twenty rupees per day. You give up your agricultural activities. You come in the factory. Produce tire tube, iron stool,’ and so on so on. So we are violating the orders of Krsna. Krsna says that produce food grain. But we are producing unnecessary things. And therefore you are suffering. Krsna is giving very good advice: annad bhavanti bhutani. You produce sufficient food grain, all over, not only here. Another anartha is this nationalism. Nationalism: ‘This is America,’ ‘This is India,’ ‘This is Africa,’ ‘This is Australia.’ Why? Isavasyam idam sarvam. Simple thing. Everything belongs to God. Isavasya. There will be no scarcity. I have studied very thoroughly that there are sufficient land still without any cultivation. In Africa I have seen sufficient land. But they are utilizing it for producing coffee and tea. No food grains. So these are the anarthas. Anartha. Unnecessary. People will not die without coffee and tea. But they have made the whole world self-dependent on coffee and tea, mercantile policy. There is anartha.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.6 — Vrndavana, September 5, 1976
The modern free market capitalist economy is constantly innovating and growing. Perfectly usable things and buildings are constantly being thrown out or demolished simply because people have been induced to want something newer. The modern economy is considered healthy only if there is constant growth. This is hardly sustainable on a planet that remains the same size. This means that sooner or later the world will run out of some key natural resources or cease to be able to dilute or purify all waste products. This is exactly what is happening with the runaway production of the greenhouse gases carbon-dioxide and methane that are causing global warming. Srila Prabhupada condemned materialistic activity that resulted in the unnecessary waste of resources, particularly trees.
“Just like a child is seeking after some enjoyment, he’s breaking something, enjoyment. But he does not, that… He is breaking, but he’s simply enjoying that breaking. Similarly, we do not know what is enjoyment in this material concept of life. We are breaking and building. In your country I have seen in several places. Nice building is dismantled, and again, in that very place, another building is raised. You see? Breaking and building. Breaking and… ‘Oh, this building is old. Break it.’ The same childish play. You see? Simply wasting engagement, valuable time of this human form. Breaking and building, breaking and building. ‘This motorcar is useless. Another ’69 model.’ And thousands of people are engaged in that ’69 model. You see? What is that? In essence, the breaking and building, breaking and building. Just like the child. You see? So unless one has got better engagement, Krsna consciousness, surely they will be engaged in this breaking and building, breaking and building. Childish engagement.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.62-72 — Los Angeles, December 19, 1968
“Another point is that trees also should be given protection. During its lifetime, a tree should not be cut for industrial enterprises. In Kali-yuga, trees are indiscriminately and unnecessarily cut for industry, in particular for paper mills that manufacture a profuse quantity of paper for the publication of demoniac propaganda, nonsensical literature, huge quantities of newspapers and many other paper products. This is a sign of a demoniac civilization. The cutting of trees is prohibited unless necessary for the service of Lord Visnu. Yajnarthat karmano’nyatra loko’yam karma-bandhanah: [Bg. 3.9]) ‘work done as a sacrifice for Lord Visnu must be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world.’ But if the paper mills stop producing paper, one may argue, how can our ISKCON literature be published? The answer is that the paper mills should manufacture paper only for the publication of ISKCON literature because ISKCON literature is published for the service of Lord Visnu. This literature clarifies our relationship with Lord Visnu, and therefore the publication of ISKCON literature is the performance of yajna. Yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah [Bg. 3.9]). Yajna must be performed, as indicated by the superior authorities. The cutting of trees simply to manufacture paper for the publication of unwanted literature is the greatest sinful act.” Purport Srimad Bhagavatam 7.2.1
Perhaps the worst quality of the modern capitalist-democratic system is corruption. Wealthy corporations and CEOs give huge campaign contributions to political candidates and buy not only influence, but sometimes literally write the laws that these people pass. Although this is called campaign finance, more objective people see it for what it really is – bribery. This has enabled large energy companies to block any meaningful effort to limit fossil fuel use to solve the climate change problem. Srila Prabhupada regularly remarked about such politicians’ qualifications.
“Dishonest miscreants flourish because of cowardly and impotent executive heads of state. But when the executive heads are strong enough to curb all sorts of dishonest miscreants, in any part of the state, certainly they cannot flourish. When the miscreants are punished in an exemplary manner, automatically all good fortune follows.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.14
“But at times, due to the influence of the ignorance mode of material nature, the lowest of the material modes, kings and administrators come into power without knowledge and responsibility, and such foolish administrators live like animals for the sake of their own personal interest. The result is that the whole atmosphere becomes surcharged with anarchy and vicious elements. Nepotism, bribery, cheating, aggression and, therefore, famine, epidemic, war and similar other disturbing features become prominent in human society.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.25
Of course at the current time hardly anyone seriously pursues self-realization. The misdirected business people described earlier see no other purpose in life except to amass greater and greater wealth, along with its accompanying influence and power. This then feeds the whole vicious cycle of unnecessary consumer good production depleting natural resources and producing greenhouse gases, something that is heating the atmosphere and leading to the extreme weather that is turning the planet more and more rapidly into a wasteland. This could be stopped if people simply realized that the purpose of life was to realize God and cease or minimize material activities. Srila Prabhupada did not have very good things to say about such business people.
“If a rascal is busy, that means he’s simply spoiling the energy. . . . So the busy fool is dangerous. There are four classes of men: lazy intelligent, busy intelligent, lazy fool and busy fool. (laughter) So first-class man is lazy intelligent. Just like you’ll see the high-court judges. They’re very lazy and most intelligent. That is first-class man. They are doing everything very soberly. And the next class: busy intelligent. Intelligence should be used very soberly. And the third class: lazy fool-lazy, at the same time, fool. And the fourth class: busy fool. Busy fool is very dangerous. So all these people, they’re busy. Even in this country, everywhere, all over the world, not this country or that country. They have discovered this horseless carriage — very busy. ‘Ons, ons,’ (imitates cars’ noise) this way this way, this way. But actually, they are not intelligent. Busy fool. Therefore they are creating problems after problems. That’s a fact. They are so busy, but because they are fools, therefore they are creating problems.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.23, Hawaii, January 19, 1974
“Too much of an external view of the world gives rise to an overly large-scale and difficult type of industry and trade, known as ugra-karma. The word ugra means ‘hard” or ‘difficult,’ and karma means ‘task.’ The development of hard and difficult industrial undertakings always hinders the progressive cultivation of the human spirit. Asuric leaders of society never retire from such lustful undertakings unless killed by the laws of nature. For them there is no question of retirement or of cultivating the human spirit. But men in the mode of goodness have an introspective mind, and after a regulative struggle for existence they retire at a ripe old age and engage their time in cultivating the human spirit.” Light of The Bhagavat, verse 37
If the planet continues warming at predicted rate there will be more drought and desertification. Other places will experience excessive rainfall and flooding. Crops that currently thrive in one place will have to be grown elsewhere. All sorts of new insect pests will become immune to pesticides and unexpectedly thrive in these changing climatic zones. This is the type of chaos predicted for Kali yuga in Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada regularly described how seriously pursuing self-realization could help humanity avoid all this.
“But these rascals, they are being put into severe penalties. Duhkhalayam asasvatam. More and mo… The more they are forgetting God, they are put in, they are put into more and more miserable condition. Practically we see, with the advancement Kali-yuga, people are forgetting his relationship with Krsna, and the price of commodity and the food grains, the price is increasing. They cannot eat sufficiently. So many people are dying of starvation. If they cannot eat, how they will live?
Therefore Krsna gives His instruction. He’s the supreme ruler. He gives this order: annad bhavanti bhutani: ‘You require food grains.’ This is practical. Who will disagree with Krsna, that ‘We don’t require food grains; we require bolts and nuts in the factory?’ Who will say? This is practical. So they do not… Just like we see here that, that they do not grow food grains. They are growing jute because they will get some money, more money. But the rascal does not know that ‘I will get more money, and it will be taken away next by the food grain seller.’ So similarly, we are interested in industry, in plan-making, this, that, so many things. But Krsna does not say that ‘You open slaughterhouse and industries and brothels and cinema.’ No. Krsna does not say. Krsna says, ‘Grow more food, rascal! You’ll eat and become strong.’ And nobody is obeying Krsna. Is it not? Practically try to understand Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavata. Not by sentiment. And preach this philosophy all over the world. What Krsna says, that is practical. Annad bhavanti bhutani parjanyad anna-sambhavah. ‘How we shall get anna? There is no rain.’ You see nowadays, there is no rain. Why? Because you are, we are all rascals. We do not know how to get rain. Krsna says, parjanyad anna-sambhavah: ‘There will be food grains when there is sufficient rain.” And how rain there will be? Yajnad bhavati parjanyah: [Bg. 3.14] ‘And if you perform yajna, then there will be sufficient rain.” So nowadays you, people may say, ‘How to perform yajna? It requires so much money, so much ghee, so much food grains to offer as oblations.’ But Krsna has made it very easy. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayaih. I know, the sastras know that in the Kali-yuga it will be very difficult to perform the ritualistic yajna ceremony because people will be poor, poverty-stricken. Where they will get ghee, and where they will get grains? No. This is yajna: kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam [Cc. Adi 17.21]. This is yajna.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.18 — Mayapura, September 28, 1974
In this way Srila Prabhupada taught that all of the world’s problems could be solved simply by performing the sankirtana yajna of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and following the “simple living and high thinking” recommendations of Vedic culture. Even by material calculation this will result in an extensive decrease of greenhouse gas production and the depletion of natural resources. Humanity will prosper only when it is led by learned wise men, brahmanas, instead of the current group of self-interested materialists. Lord Krishna Himself describes the result of allowing such materially motivated people to lead human society:
etam drstim avastabhya/nastatmano ‘lpa-buddhayah/prabhavanty ugra-karmanah/ksayaya jagato ‘hitah – Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. Bhagavad-gita 16.9
In conclusion, although Srila Prabhupada’s recorded and written remarks do not make anything available specifically about climate change, he was starkly clear in regard to its causes. As far as solving the problem, he taught that real Krishna consciousness fixes everything. All the material aspects of life are included if one simply acts to serve and please God. Therefore there is no need to change or alter pure Krishna consciousness because of climate change.
What the world’s climate change dilemma does provide for devotees is a fantastic preaching opportunity and new frontier. Our next article will describe how perceptive people are now giving up faith in the institutions of Western society wholesale, much like they did in the 60’s when the world’s leaders brought us to the verge of nuclear war. Much like that era’s idealistic young hippies becoming attracted to Srila Prabhupada, many such people are looking for the lifestyle solutions provided by Krishna consciousness.
Devotees can quickly become familiar with this issue and join the discussion at the Bhaktivedanta Climate Change Collaboration Group website. Our introductory article, Krishna Consciousness and Climate Change provides more in-depth information on all of the above.
“So this point is that if the population of the world becomes sinful, demonic, then nature will not supply you sufficient food. She will diminish. We have got experience. In India we have seen, some years there is overproduction of mango. People… Very cheap. Everyone can purchase. And sometimes there is no supply, some year. Similarly, foodgrains also. Some year there is oversupply of foodgrain and sometimes there is scanty supply. Now, this supply of foodgrains, fruits, and everything, even milk… In our New Vrindaban, because the cows feel very safe, they give us sufficient milk. That is our experience. So you keep things in order according to the Vedic injunction, you get sufficient food. There is no question of scarcity. But if you become sinful, demons, then the nature’s food supply will be ultimately stopped. You can produce your food in the factory… You cannot do that. You can produce motorcars to consume all the petroleum within the earth, and then you become no petrol. Then throw all these motorcars. Unless you find out some other energy That you can do. You can make things topsy-turvied. But by your so-called scientific advancement, you cannot increase or, I mean to say, stop nonproduction. That you cannot. So there was such a time because Prthu Maharaja’s father was a demon. He stopped all religious activities. Therefore people became demonic, and there was restriction of food supply. Then Prthu Maharaja made arrangement, and there was sufficient foodstuff. Dugdhemam osadhir vipras tenayam sa usattamah. Since Prthu Maharaja arranged the whole society to be religious, to be God conscious, everything become beautiful. This can be done even now. If people become Krsna conscious, the whole world will become beautiful, Vaikuntha, without any anxiety. That is possible. Because that is nature’s law. Just like if you become criminal, the state police force will always harass you. You cannot get out of it. He’ll harass you. But that is expensive job for the government. Because it requires extra police, extra management, extra everything. But if the people become honest, God conscious, so many expenditure will be reduced. And money will be saved for spreading Krsna consciousness or for Krsna’s service. Then the whole world will become exactly as it was in the Prthu Maharaja’s day.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.14 — Los Angeles, September 19, 1972
“Material advancement of civilization means advancement of the reactions of the threefold miseries due to celestial influence, earthly reactions and bodily or mental pains. By the celestial influence of the stars there are many calamities like excessive heat, cold, rains or no rains, and the aftereffects are famine, disease and epidemic. The aggregate result is agony of the body and the mind. Man-made material science cannot do anything to counteract these threefold miseries. They are all punishments from the superior energy of maya under the direction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore our constant touch with the Lord by devotional service can give us relief without our being disturbed in the discharge of our human duties.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.14.10
“So, atmanam sarvato rakset tato dharmam tato dhanam.(?) First of all you try to protect yourself, then take to real religion, natural function of the atma. Then try to… Because we are in this material condition, we require economic development also. So that is very easy also. Krsna has given you enough land — you just little work. The animals are there. The cows will give you milk. If you till a little land, you get some grains. That is sufficient. Economic development. You don’t require big factories, big workshop, and whole day and night with motorcar going this way and that way. No. There is no necessity for economic development. This is maya. Simply at the end he will eat some grains or some this or that, little. And by whole day… Therefore they are called mudha. According to Bhagavad-gita, they are rascals, mudha, ass. Just like ass, the beast of burden. He takes washerman’s load, three tons, four tons. Whole day working, but eating a morsel of grass, that’s all. He has no knowledge that “I take a morsel of grass only, I live. And why whole day I bear these so much tons of clothing of the washerman?” You have no experience of the ass, ass’s business. In India the washerman loads the ass three tons and he goes to the waterside and the washerman washes all these clothings in some bank of river or reservoir of water. Again evening, the ass brings back the clothing. So the karmis, they have been described in the Bhagavad-gita: mudha, ass, simply unnecessarily working day and night, whole day and night. You see. Without taking care of the atma, without taking care of the religion. Economic development. What is this nonsense? You are losing yourself.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.9-11 — New Vrindaban, June 6, 1969
“So by Krsna’s grace if we actually become dharmic, follow Krsna, the milk supply will be so profuse that everyone, even the animals can take the butter and yogurt. That is wanted. That is civilization. Produce sufficient quantity of grains, let the milk, cows, supply sufficient quantity of milk. All economic question solved. There is no use of industry. No use of man’s going fifty miles to work. No, there is no need. Simply land and cows. Here is the statement. Kamam parjanyah, vavarsa parjanyah sarva-kama-dugha. Everything you’ll get from the land. Even luxury articles. What can be more luxurious article than the jewels? The jewels are also produced. The medicine is produced, the minerals are produced, gold is produced, diamond is produced from the earth. Sarva-kama-dugha. You get everything. Make your civilization very perfect, very luxurious simply by satisfying Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness movement.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.4 — Mayapura, June 19, 1973
Mahamsa: And this is a very nice thing he said, Prabhupada. He said that “We want to improve things in the countryside to an extent that people from the cities start running to the villages.” Prabhupada: Yes. That I want. I… Everywhere I go and say, how these rascals…? So much land is lying, and these rascals are not developing. And they are making… What is that? Coal stone. Coal. They are interested with these bricks and stones, not green vegetables. Such a rascal government. Give them facility. We know how to do it. Annad bhavanti bhutani parjanyad anna-sambhavah, yajnad bhavati parjanyah [Bg. 3.14]. Let them engage in kirtana. There will be more water for gardening, and it will be moist, and then produce fodder for the animals and food for you. And animal gives you milk. That is Vrndavana life. And they are absorbed in this so-called opulence. Krsna has taken birth. They are bringing so many nice, pleasant foodstuff, very well-dressed and ornamented. These are description. In the morning we were reading. How they were happy, the inhabitants of Vrndavana with Krsna and living and cows. That I want to introduce. At any cost do it and… Don’t bother about big, big buildings. It is not required. Useless waste of time. Produce. Make the whole field green. See that. Then whole economic question solved. Then you eat sumptuous. Eat sumptuously. The animal is happy. The animal even does not give milk; let them eat and pass stool and urine. That is welcome. After all, eating, they will pass stool. So that is beneficial, not that simple milk is beneficial. Even the stool is beneficial. Therefore I am asking so much here and…, “Farm, farm, farm, farm…” That is not my program-Krsna’s program. Annad bhavanti bhutani [Bg. 3.14]. Produce greenness everywhere, everywhere. Vrndavana. It is not this motorcar civilization. If it has taken in his brain, then it is to be understood that he can do this plan. He’ll be able. – Conversation Pieces — May 27, 1977, Vrndavana
“Locally you produce your own food. You get your own cloth. Have sufficient milk, vegetables. Then what you want more? And chant Hare Krsna. This is Vedic civilization: plain living, high thinking. And poor thinking, poor in thought, poor in behavior, and living with motorcar and this, that, nonsense. It is all nonsense civilization.” Room Conversation — October 5, 1975, Mauritius
Industrial Society, Technology
“So this is called regulative principle. In the previous verse, it was recommended that karmanubaddho drdha aslatheta. This attachment, karmanubaddha, for this material world, everyone is busy — we have discussed many times — from morning till late at night, and night also, they are busy. Big, big factories, they are working day and night, one shift, other shift. That has become the criterion of civilization. Formerly it was less, because this ugra-karma… These factories means ugra-karma, unnecessarily severe, hard work. Unnecessarily. We have seen in Detroit, they are manufacturing one Ford, manufacturing Ford, simply wheels of the motorcar. Huge stock wheels. And somebody is manufacturing tire, huge stock of tire, and they are giving estimate: “Up till now, so many millions of tire we have manufactured.” Well, you know all this. It is in your country. And then there are so many motor parts, there are three thousand small parts. So big, big factories, they are working to manufacture the parts of the motorcar, different parts of the motorcar, day and night working. And ultimately, they are preparing one car, and people are using huge quantity of cars. This is called karmanubaddha, unnecessary, ugra-karma. Transportation is required, but we see from Krsna books that the inhabitants of Gokula… There was a meeting headed by Nanda Maharaja’s young brother, Upananda, and all the villagers, they assembled together. They discussed that “Our Krsna is being repeatedly attacked by the asuras, and it has become very troublesome. So let us leave this place.” They are villagers. They thought it wise that “Because we are in this village, some of the demons, they are coming and disturbing.” So they are villagers… Immediately Nanda Maharaja agreed, “All right, let us leave this place.” So immediately, they transferred the whole village with their possessions, cloth or something, everything, within one hour. And they transported by the bullock cart to Nandagrama. That means, the idea is the whole village was transferred from one village to another within very short time. So the transport is required, the transport by bullock carts. The bulls are there. They can be used for transport. Or the asses, they can be used for transport. But… And the camels can be used for transport. There are so many animals. So advancement, and big, big kings, royal families, they have got their transport service by keeping elephants and horses. They can get on the back of the horses and get yourself there. So nature’s arrangement, God’s arrangement is there. Transport is required in the human society, but you can utilize so many animals for your purpose. But at the present moment, ugra-karma. The transport is there, but they have manufactured big, big buses for transport, big, big cars, and the animals, they are now killed and eat. That’s all. This is civilization. This is civilization. Not to reduce the labor, but increase the labor. Therefore they are called ugra-karma, jagatah hita, and that will create disastrous condition of the human society. This is discussed in Bhagavad-gita.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.10-13 — Vrndavana, November 1, 1976
“At the present moment, however, everyone is engaged in technological advancement, which is described in Bhagavad-gita as ugra-karma — extremely severe endeavor. This ugra-karma is the cause of agitation within the human mind. Men are engaging in many sinful activities and becoming degraded by opening slaughterhouses, breweries and cigarette factories, as well as nightclubs and other establishments for sense enjoyment. In this way they are spoiling their lives.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.10
“Instead of producing food, we are producing motorcars. And motor tires, motor parts. And so many other things. And therefore people are starving. The manual labor is being misused. We are disobeying the orders of God. Therefore we are unhappy. I have seen all over the world. There are enough space for producing food grains. And if we actually produce food grain, we can maintain ten times of the present population of the whole world. There is no question of scarcity because God has created everything complete. Purnam idam purnam adaya purnat purnam udacyate [Isopanisad, Invocation]. There cannot be any defect in the creation of God. We have created these defects on account of our disobeying the orders of God. God never said that “motorcar-ad bhavanti bhutani.” He never says. But instead of producing food grains, we are producing so many unwanted things. People’s energy is engaged for… Just like in America or in every country, so much energy and resources are engaged for preparing war materials. And that means there must be war. And you must be killed; I must be killed. You will kill me; I will kill you. That’s all.” Room Conversation with three Trappist Monks, Psychologists from the University of Georgia, and Atlanta Lawyer, Michael Green — March 1, 1975, Atlanta
“The productive energy of the laborer is misused when he is occupied by industrial enterprises. Industry of various types cannot produce the essential needs of man, namely rice, wheat, grains, milk, fruits and vegetables. The production of machines and machine tools increases the artificial living fashion of a class of vested interests and keeps thousands of men in starvation and unrest. This should not be the standard of civilization.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.26
“Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises. The gigantic industrial enterprises are products of a godless civilization, and they cause the destruction of the noble aims of human life. The more we go on increasing such troublesome industries to squeeze out the vital energy of the human being, the more there will be unrest and dissatisfaction of the people in general, although a few only can live lavishly by exploitation. The natural gifts such as grains and vegetables, fruits, rivers, the hills of jewels and minerals, and the seas full of pearls are supplied by the order of the Supreme, and as He desires, material nature produces them in abundance or restricts them at times. The natural law is that the human being may take advantage of these godly gifts by nature and satisfactorily flourish on them without being captivated by the exploitative motive of lording it over material nature. The more we attempt to exploit material nature according to our whims of enjoyment, the more we shall become entrapped by the reaction of such exploitative attempts. If we have sufficient grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, then what is the necessity of running a slaughterhouse and killing poor animals? A man need not kill an animal if he has sufficient grains and vegetables to eat. The flow of river waters fertilizes the fields, and there is more than what we need. Minerals are produced in the hills, and the jewels in the ocean. If the human civilization has sufficient grains, minerals, jewels, water, milk, etc., then why should we hanker after terrible industrial enterprises at the cost of the labor of some unfortunate men? But all these natural gifts are dependent on the mercy of the Lord. What we need, therefore, is to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and achieve the perfection of human life by devotional service.” Teachings of Queen Kunti 23: Natural Prosperity
“The demoniac are engaged in activities that will lead the world to destruction. The Lord states here that they are less intelligent. The materialists, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. But, according to Bhagavad-gita, they are unintelligent and devoid of all sense. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification. Such materialistic inventions are considered to be advancement of human civilization, but the result is that people grow more and more violent and more and more cruel, cruel to animals and cruel to other human beings. They have no idea how to behave toward one another. Animal killing is very prominent amongst demoniac people. Such people are considered the enemies of the world because ultimately they will invent or create something which will bring destruction to all.” Purport, Bhagavad-gita 16.9
“So as the Communist Party is always disturbing element to the government, similarly, the demons, the atheist class of men, they’re always disturbing to God. How they can gain the benediction from God? They simply disturb Him. And there are different kinds of demons, different classes of demons. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Duskrtinah. Duskrtina means… Krti means very intelligent, and… What is that word, if a man does something wonderful? Genius? Genius? Yes. So the genius, duskrtina, ‘wrong genius.’ That means the materialistic persons, scientists, they’re genius. They have discovered very wonderful machine, wonderful things. They are genius, but duskrtina, not for the welfare of the human society but for condemning the human society. Just like the same example, as I have given several times, that a, the person who has discovered this nuclear weapon, atomic bomb, he’s certainly genius. He has got nice brain, that simply egglike bomb, if you throw, immediately the whole island of Hawaii will be finished. . . . So this invention of atomic bomb, certainly it requires good brain. But Bhagavad-gita says that this genius, or this brain, intelligence, has been used……has been wrongly used. So the materialistic class of men are undoubtedly very, very intelligent, but their intelligence is being used wrongly. Duskrtinah. Duskrtinah mudhah. Mudhah. Mudha means rascal, ass. So by their discoveries, by their materialistic activities, atheistic activities, they’re simply disturbing, simply disturbing.” Class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.11-13 — Hawaii, March 24, 1969
Prabhupada: Progress, yes. The progress is that they have got motorcar, and they have progressed how to die quickly. This is the progress. At any moment he can die. As soon as he on the car, 70 miles speed, that means taking the risk of dying at any moment. This is the progress. Formerly people were going in bullock cart or horse carriage from one village to another. “That was primitive. Now we can go hundred miles away from home for earning money and taking risk to die at any moment. That is progress.” Is it not? Brahmananda: Oh, yes. Prabhupada: Formerly they were satisfied by tilling the ground, getting food grains. Now they have started factories. At the cost of thousands of men’s labor, some director is getting money and enjoying life. That is progress.- Room Conversation Mauritius, October 5, 1975
“They do not know that destination of life is to attain Krsna consciousness. No. They do not know. They think, ‘By increasing motorcars, we shall be happy.’ This is called maya. That will not help. This motorcar civilization will be finished within another hundred years. It has begun, say, for the last hundred years, and after a hundred years, when… The scientists say the petroleum will be finished within fifty years or like that, so, say hundred years, this motorcar will be finished. So anything we manufacture, the so-called empire, so-called material civilization; it is finished, it will be finished. That is another knot only, that we become captivated. So ‘What is this Krsna consciousness movement? We must have three dozen motorcar and three dozen wine bottles and this…’ This is their civilization.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.15 — Los Angeles, August 18, 1972
“Here, in this world, everything has got six changes. Birth, then stay, and then develop, then by-products, then dwindle, then finish. Everything. So the motorcar civilization, it was born. And now the time has come it is dwindling, and it will be finished. Just like railway; railway no more interested, anybody. But when it was invented, it was very important. Now it is useless. That is the nature of everything here in this material world. It cannot be permanent benefit. That they do not know. They become very enthusiastic when some new thing is born. Child is born, I am very happy. The same child, when he’s dead, I am unhappy. But one must know: what is born, it will die. So everything material has got a period of development, then it dwindles, and then finishes. So from this nature’s law, we can see this motorcar attraction, utility, it will finish. It will not stay.” Garden Conversation — June 14, 1976, Detroit
“So at least he’s free from the lusty desires and greediness. The whole world is working, especially in Western countries, you see… They are working so hard. They have got their nice motorcar, nice roads, and very, very nice ways also, fly over, one road is flying over another road, another road. Very good facility for driving motorcar, and they have got enough motorcar also. Every third man has got a car. But what are these civilization? Kama and lobha, lustiness and greediness. That’s all. The basic principle is lust and greediness. That’s all. This is their qualification. So anyone who has become free from this lusty and greedy status of life, he’s advanced. He’s advanced. Kama-lobhadayas ca ye. Because these lusty desires and greediness will not help him at any time to realize his self or to realize God. That will not be helpful.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.19 — Vrndavana, October 30, 1972
“The scientists, they are very much busy. Just this morning our scientist, Svarupa Damodara, was speaking about an article: the scientists are very much busy that the source of supply is being decreased. Just like petroleum. Petroleum, gas, that is diminishing. Now, whole modern materialistic civilization is depending on the motorcars and aeroplanes, transportation. So if the petroleum supply is stopped, then what will be the condition of the society? Formerly there was no need of going to see a friend thirty miles away, because every friend was within the village. Now, because we have got motorcar, we create friendship with a man who lives fifty miles away. We accept a job fifty miles away. In Hawaii our Gaurasundara was going to attend office fifty miles off. By fifty miles off… In big, big cities like New York, Calcutta, we have seen people are coming to attend their office from hundred miles off. I have seen also in aeroplane there are many people… I have seen in England. Many workers or gentlemen, they are coming from Glasgow to London for working, by aeroplane. So we have created a civilization that… We have created a facility for transport by motorcar or by aeroplane, but side by side, we have created another difficulty, that a man has to go to his work three hundred miles away. Side by side. Formerly, a man used to work on his field, a few steps from his house. Now we have created facility of transport; therefore we have to go to work three hundred miles away from home. This is the position. But they have no brain. They’re thinking they’re advancing. (chuckles) Advancing in this way, that “For my livelihood I have to go three hundred miles, three hours at least, not less than three hours. Or six hours I have to spoil. Then I can go to my office. Then I work there whole day, and again come, again six hours. Then I come at night to sleep along with my family for three hours.” Yes. This is our facility. Yes. . . . .So we are advancing in science, but at the same time, the so-called science, at the same time we are creating many disadvantages. Many disadvantages. From practical experience I say that when I came to your country… In India it is very difficult to get a telephone. You have to wait in the waiting list at least for two years or you have to bribe the authorities, say, five thousand, two thousand, like that. So when I got this facility of telephone… Because as soon as I deposited forty dollars… Forty dollars? The next day the telephone was in my room. So I was very glad. But after getting my telephone, I was disturbed always. (laughter) Some of my students asking, phoning me, (telephone sound) cling, cling, and “Swamiji, how you are feeling?” At twelve o’clock at night. (laughter). Yes. So I asked him, it is the time to inquire? I am very sorry. Not only one, I become so much disturbed. Then I asked them, get out this telephone. Yes. So try to understand. The so-called facility of the modern science means creating so many difficulties also.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.10 — Los Angeles, September 16, 1972
Automobiles – Petroleum
Prabhupada: Otherwise the idea which I am giving, you can start anywhere, anywhere, any part of the world. It doesn’t matter. Locally you produce your own food. You get your own cloth. Have sufficient milk, vegetables. Then what you want more? And chant Hare Krsna. This is Vedic civilization: plain living, high thinking. And poor thinking, poor in thought, poor in behavior, and living with motorcar and this, that, nonsense. It is all nonsense civilization…Guest (Indian man): Car is a necessity, Swamiji, don’t you think so? Car is a necessity. Prabhupada: Not necessary. What is the use of car? If you locate yourself to get everything, your necessity, then where is the use of car? If you require car, you have a bullock cart. That’s all. Why should you hanker after petrol, mobile (Mobil?) oil, machine, this, that, so many things. Why? Guest: Yes, but don’t you think that it would be impossible for you to come mostly? Prabhupada: No, no. So long it is not available, we must take the best advantage. That is another thing. But gradually we shall develop a society that all these unnecessary rubbish things should be rejected. That is the idea. Or those who are interested, let them manufacture car; we take advantage. We don’t bother ourself how to manufacture car. – Morning Walk, Johannesburg, October 16, 1975
Prabhupada:Their engagement is nidraya. At night they sleep or enjoy sex, nidraya hriyate naktam vyavayena, and in daytime they hanker after money, runs the motorcar head-break speed, neck-break speed. Hayagriva: Breakneck. Prabhupada: Breakneck. And then what is the business? Searching out some means of food, exactly like the hog, he is loitering here and there, “Where is stool? Where is stool? Where is stool?” And this is going on in the polished way as civilization. There is so much risk, as running these cars so many people are dying. There is record, it is very dangerous. At least I feel as soon as I go to the street, it is dangerous. The motorcar are running so speedy, and what is the business? The business is where to find out food. So therefore it is condemned that this kind of civilization is hoggish civilization. This hog is running after, “Where is stool? Where is stool? Where is stool?” And you are running in a car. The same. Purpose is the same: “Where is stool?” Purpose is the same. Therefore this is not advancement of civilization. -Conversation on Socrates
Jaya-gopala: What is meant by madness? Prabhupada: Just as don’t you see all these people of the world, they are mad? What they are doing? They whole day the cars going on this side, that side. What is the aim of life? They’re mad. Simply wasting petroleum, that’s all. What they’re doing? Huh? Suppose a cat and dog goes this side and that side, yow, yow, yow, and he goes some motorcars. What is the difference? There is no difference because the aim of the life is the same. Therefore they are mad. That is explained. Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti. Nunam pramattah, pramattah means mad. Prakrsta rupena mata, sufficiently mad. And why? Kurute vikarma. They’re acting which they should not act. They’re acting in a way in which they should not have done. So what is the aim of their acting? Indriya-pritaya, simply for sense gratification. That’s all……So Rsabhadeva says, na sadhu manye, ‘This is not good.’ Na sadhu manye yato atmano ‘yam asann api klesada asa dehah. These madmen do not know that this is the cause of getting this miserable material body. The sufferings of humanity is due to this material body and the cause of vikarma, acting for sense gratification. So this life is meant for acting for liberation, but they are acting for sense gratification. Therefore they are mad. They do not know the aim of life. Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.27-38, Los Angeles, December 11, 1968 (our emphases)
“I was talking of these cars. The dog is running on legs, and they are running on cars. So, (laughs) actually what is the difference? This is advancement of civilization, that the dog is running for nothing, here and there on legs, and human being is running on nice car. Does it mean there is advance in civilization? If we keep the human being like cats and dogs, without any advancement of knowledge, the cats and dogs, they cannot accept any advanced knowledge. That is not possible. Similarly, if human society is kept in darkness without any advanced knowledge, without any knowledge of the aim of life and without any knowledge what is the meaning of human life, they’ll remain as cats and dogs. So as cats and dogs, if they are practiced to run here and there, either on legs or on cars, is that advancement of civilization?” Interview with Professors O’Connell, Motilal and Shivaram — June 18, 1976, Toronto
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. [break] People are being kept in such an ignorant way that they do not care about sinful activities. They can do anything for sense gratification. Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma. Actually, there is no advancement of civilization. They are thinking, they are running on four-wheel motorcar, and the dog is running on four legs. What is the quality change? This is going on in the name of civilization, and people are kept in ignorance. Where is the advancement? Running by motorcar is advancement? They have no knowledge that there is next life, and “Today I am running on Ford car, tomorrow I may have to run like dog on four legs.” Kirtanananda: They do not think like that. Prabhupada: So this is ignorance, this is ignorance. And they are kept, the whole world — the state, the father, the guardian, everyone, the priest. Everyone is ignorant. Dull-headed ignorant. And they are passing on as philosopher, scientist, religious leader. [break] …hard to bring them to Krsna consciousness. Taking these few years, fifty years or sixty years living here, and dance like dog and finish. There is no life. You die peacefully or (indistinct). And not dying peacefully, they cry. Hare Krsna. – Conversation in Airport and Car — June 21, 1976, Toronto
“When one gets tired of keeping a burden on his head, he will place it on his shoulder. This does not mean that he has become freed from the strains of carrying the burden. Similarly, human society in the name of civilization is creating one kind of trouble to avoid another kind of trouble. In contemporary civilization we see that there are many automobiles manufactured to carry us swiftly from one place to another, but at the same time we have created other problems. We have to construct so many roads, and yet these roads are insufficient to cope with automobile congestion and traffic jams. There are also the problems of air pollution and fuel shortage. The conclusion is that the processes we manufacture to counteract or minimize our distresses do not actually put an end to our pains. It is all simply illusion. We simply place the burden from the head to the shoulder. The only real way we can minimize our problems is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and give ourselves up to His protection.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.33
“We may apply our intelligence to manufacture an automobile, radio or television for sense gratification, but we have to understand that this is not knowledge. Rather, this is plundered intelligence. Intelligence was given to man to understand the problems of life, but it is being misused. People are thinking that they have acquired knowledge because they know how to manufacture and drive cars, but before the car was here people were still going from one place to another. It is just that the facility has been increased, but along with this facility come additional problems — air pollution and over-crowded highways. This is maya; we are creating facilities, but these facilities in their turn are creating so many problems. Instead of wasting our energy to supply ourselves with so many facilities and modern amenities, we should apply intelligence to understand who and what we are.” On The Way To Krishna 4: The Roads of the Foolish and the Wise
Consumerism, Unlimited Desires
“Any civilization not based on brahminical culture or guided by brahmanas is certainly a condemned civilization. Presently human civilization is based on sense gratification, and consequently more and more people are becoming addicted to different types of things. No one respects brahminical culture. Demoniac civilization is attached to ugra-karma, horrible activities, and big industries are created to satisfy unfathomable lusty desires. Consequently the people are greatly harassed by governmental taxation.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.23
Prabhupada: Business is the punah punas carvita-carvananam, the same sex, same eating, the same sleeping, same defending, but in an improved way. Even in the heavenly planet, wherever you go, the same thing, simply… Just like this country and Europe, the standard of living different, but the business is the same. And the… When they improve or so-call improve the standard of living, they think, “Now we are advanced.” And what about your death? (aside:) Stop. The chicken is also dying; you are also dying. What is your improvement? That they cannot say. Real problem they cannot solve. Simply a little high standard of living, and they think this is advancement. And the Western civilization is influencing all other parts of the world in that way — “Improve the standard of living.” There is no improvement, but it is maya; they are thinking, “This is improvement.” Pusta Krsna: Progress. Prabhupada: Progress, yes. The progress is that they have got motorcar, and they have progressed how to die quickly. This is the progress. At any moment he can die. As soon as he on the car, 70 miles speed, that means taking the risk of dying at any moment. This is the progress. – Morning Walk — October 3, 1975, Mauritius
“you simply present the card anywhere — you get things. You don’t require to pay. Then your bills will be paid by the bank. This is the system….Bank of American card, in any American, bank of America, I can get one hundred to five hundred dollars immediately. I have got that card….the respectable customers… Yes….money, then you can squander it, and that is the idea. And you more spend money; then they manufacture consumer goods. That is the policy….sad says, tena tyaktena bhunjitha: ‘Don’t use anything more than what is allotted to you.’ That’s all. But they are creating artificial demand, and the demand is being paid for by artificial paper. The government is issuing: ‘This is five hundred pounds or five hundred rupees,’ but it is paper only.” Morning Walk — April 17, 1974, Bombay
“Just like I give some carpenter some wood, some implement, and salary. And he makes a very nice, beautiful closet. To whom this closet will belong. To the carpenter, or the man who has supplied the ingredients? To whom it will belong? The carpenter cannot say that: ‘Because I have transformed this wood into such nice closet, it is mine.’ No. It is not yours. Similarly, who is supplying the ingredients, rascal? That is Krsna’s. Krsna says: bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva… prakrtir me astadha [Bg. 7.4]. ‘This is My property.’ You have not created this sea, the land, the sky, the fire, the air. It is not your creation. You can transform these material things, tejo-vari-mrdam vinimayah, by mixing and transforming. You take earth from the land, you take water from the sea and mix it and put it in the fire. It becomes a brick. And then you pile up all this brick and make a skyscraper building. But wherefrom you got this ingredient, rascal, that you are claiming this skyscraper yours? This is intelligent question. You have stolen the property of God, and you are claiming that it is your property. This is knowledge. This is knowledge. . . . .So those who are intoxicated, they cannot understand. They think: ‘It is my property. I have stolen, I have stolen this land of America from the Red Indians. Now it is my property.’ But he does not know that he’s a thief. He’s a thief. Stena eva sa ucyate [Bg. 3.12]. In the Bhagavad-gita. One who takes the property of God, and claims his own, he’s a thief.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.26 — Los Angeles, April 18, 1973
“We are generally illusioned. We are claiming ownership of the land. But before my birth the land was here, and after my death it will still be here. How long will I go on claiming, in body after body, ‘This is my land! This is my land!’? Is it not nonsense? One has to be out of illusion. We should know that whatever we are doing in the material concept of life is illusion.” Topmost Yoga System 7: How Bhakti-yoga Works
“There is another story. A group of thieves stolen some things, and when they were dividing, one of them: ‘Kindly, morally divide. Morally divide. Honestly divide.’ The thing is taken dishonestly, and they are dividing honestly. This is going on, whole world. Everything is taken dishonestly, and when there is question of division, the United Nations honestly divides it. The association of the honest men, United Nations. All plunderers, rogues, thieves, and they have made an association, United Nations. You see. Basically they’re all rogues and thieves. As soon as there is opportunity, they’ll commit all criminal activities. And they’re doing. So this is not philosophy. So here happiness by material possession is the happiness of the rogues and the thieves.” Lecture on The Nectar of Devotion, Calcutta, January 29, 1973
“This false identification with material nature is the cause of false ownership of things which are offered by the arrangement of superior control. All material resources are offered to the living entity for his peaceful living and for the discharge of the duties of self-realization in conditioned life. But due to false identification, the conditioned soul becomes entrapped by the sense of false ownership of the property of the Supreme Lord.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.12.2
“Here Krsna proclaims that He is the enjoyer of all activities and the proprietor of all planets (sarva-loka-mahesvaram). An individual may possess a large tract of land, and he may be proud of his ownership, but Krsna claims to possess all planetary systems. Krsna also claims to be the friend of all living entities (suhrdam sarva-bhutanam). When a person understands that God is the proprietor of everything, the friend of everyone and the enjoyer of all, he becomes very peaceful. This is the actual peace formula. No one can have peace as long as he thinks, ‘I am the proprietor.’ Who is capable of claiming proprietorship? Only a few hundred years ago the red Indians were considered to be the proprietors of America. Today we in our turn are claiming that proprietorship, but in four hundred or a thousand years perhaps someone else will come to claim the same. The land is here, and we come here and falsely claim ourselves to be proprietors of it. This philosophy of false proprietorship is not in line with Vedic injunctions. Sri Isopanisad states that ‘everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.’ The truth of this statement is factual, but under illusion we are thinking that we are the proprietors. In actuality God owns everything, and therefore He is called the richest.” Raja-Vidya: The King of Knowledge
“A huge arrangement exists for the production of large-scale industrial and agricultural products, but all these products are meant for sense gratification. Therefore despite such productive capacities there is scarcity because the world’s population is full of thieves. The word cori-bhute indicates that the population has turned to thievery. According to Vedic understanding, men are transformed into thieves when they plan economic development for sense gratification. It is also explained in Bhagavad-gita that if one eats food grains without offering them to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Yajna, he is a thief and liable to be punished. According to spiritual communism, all properties on the surface of the globe belong to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The population has a right to use goods only after offering them to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the process of accepting prasada. Unless one eats prasada, he is certainly a thief. It is the duty of governors and kings to punish such thieves and maintain the world nicely. If this is not done, grains will no longer be produced, and people will simply starve.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.18.7
Freedom of the Individual
Hari-sauri: (sings) “We are independent, we are independent.” Svarupa Damodara: (laughs) That is the spirit of patriotism. Prabhupada: Whatever it may be, you can say any name, any style or any trademark. Where is the independence? That is the question. Svarupa Damodara: But Srila Prabhupada blessed yesterday around the Capitol. There were so many people, and they seemed like they liked…Prabhupada: So many people, there are so many earthworms also. Ants also, gathered together. Does it mean they are independent? Hare Krsna. You know the earthworms? They heap up earth and disappear. So you are, if you take it in that way, that big, big buildings, just like earthworms gathering up earth and then disappears. Actually that is the… Like the worms, we gather together and become a nation and apply all our energy, heaps of buildings, then finished. We go somewhere, you go somewhere. And who knows what he’s going to be next life? Everything is going like that, family, community, national. Like the same earthworm, they gather so much huge dipi…, what is called dipi (?)in English? Svarupa Damodara: Some sort of manure. – Morning Walk — July 5, 1976, Washington, D.C.
Syamasundara: He sees this happiness in a communal aspect. It must be for the greatest number. So he advocates a democracy where everyone is given unlimited individual freedom. Prabhupada: That is also another nonsense. In democracy nobody is happy. The so-called democracy does not give anyone any happiness. Otherwise in America, the greatest democratic country, why there are so many unhappy people? That also another nonsense. It is not possible. – Conversation on Jeremy Bentham
prakrteh kriyamanani/gunaih karmani sarvasah/ahankara-vimudhatma/kartaham iti manyate – Bhagavad-gita 3.27 – “This crazy fellow is fully under the control of material nature, and he’s still thinking that he is independent. That is craziness. Everyone is thinking like that, so everyone is a patient of psychiatrist. How we can declare independence? There is no independence. We are completely dependent on the laws of material nature. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah. Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam [Bg. 13.9]. This is knowledge. Nobody wants to die, but nature says, “You must die.” Where is your independence? Nobody wants to take birth, enter into the mother’s womb. But you must enter. Nobody wants to become old man. Nature says, “You must become old man.” Nobody wants disease. The nature says, “You must have disease.” So where is your independence? But the crazy fellow says, “I am independent. I think like this.” What is the value of your thinking? You may think in your favor but the nature will not allow you. So everyone is crazy who is declaring independence. He’s a crazy. Then? Any question? Yes, this question is very nice. Anyone who does not believe in God, does not surrender to God, he’s a crazy fellow, that’s all.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 9.4 — Melbourne, April 23, 1976
“Since the complete whole or the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, nothing can be independent of the body of the Absolute Truth.” Whatever happens to the body quickly becomes known to the embodied. Similarly, the creation is the body of the absolute whole. Therefore, the Absolute knows everything directly and indirectly that happens in the creation.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1
“The material disease is due to thinking of becoming independent of everything. But the cruel material nature does not allow us to become independent. The false attempt to become independent of the stringent laws of nature is known as material advancement of experimental knowledge. The whole material world is moving on this false attempt of becoming independent of the laws of nature. Beginning from Ravana, who wanted to prepare a direct staircase to the planets of heaven, down to the present age, they are trying to overcome the laws of nature. They are trying now to approach distant planetary systems by electronic mechanical power.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.37
“You know your President Kennedy. He was going in a procession, and the time came, and he had to leave everything at once, at once, without any hesitation. You cannot hesitate. So we are in the grip of the material nature. However we may declare ourself that we are independent, we are not independent. We are dependent, completely dependent. We may foolishly mislead ourself by the sense of independence. No. You are not independent. You are completely under the control of the material nature. Daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya. The material nature is so strong that it is very difficult to get out of the entanglement.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.9-11, New York, July 25, 1966
“By nature we are destined to follow a leadership. Nobody is independent. Even in the animal society, the animals, they have also got a group, and there is leader of the group. Perhaps you know it. So in every group… And we are trying to make some group according to the similarly of thought and propensities. There are association, you know, various association, mercantile association, bankers’ association, lawyers’ association, and there is a leader. That is the nature’s way. Now, the supreme leader is Sri Krsna. That we do not know. Supreme leader, the leadership is accepted, but we do not know that the supreme leader is the Supreme Lord, or Krsna.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.11-12 — New York, July 28, 1966
“Just like if I tie you with very strong rope, it is very difficult to open it, and you are put into difficulty. Similarly, we are in this material world uru-damni baddhah, tied very tight with the laws of material nature. And we are declaring still, “I am free. I am independent, I can do whatever I like.” This is called imperfection. So long we are in the bodily concept of life and think ourself that we are free to do anything, whatever we like, we are in ignorance, darkness, tama. Tama means darkness.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 7.3 — Nairobi, October 29, 1975
Failure of Democracy, Corruption
“That is the desire of Krsna, or God, that the state executive head should be as pious as Maharaja Yudhisthira. That is the scheme. Unfortunately, people do not want that. They have now discovered this democracy. Democracy… ‘Demon-cracy.’ Shortcut of ‘demon-cracy’ is ‘democracy.’ All the demons and rogues, they gather together, somehow or other votes, and occupy the seat, and the business is plundering. The business is plundering. If we talk very much upon this, it will not be very favorable, but according to sastra… We, we talk according to sastra, that the democracy means assembly of rogues and plunderers. That is the statement in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Dasyu-dharmabhih. The government men will be all dasyu. Dasyu means plunderer. Not pickpocket. Pickpocket, somehow or other, if you do not understand, takes something from your pocket, and the plunderer, or the dasyu, he catches you and by force, ‘If you don’t spare your money, I shall kill you.’ They are called dasyu. So the, in the present age of Kali, the government men will be dasyu. This is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Dasyu-dharmabhih. You can, we can see practically. You cannot keep your money. You earn with hard labor, but you cannot keep gold, you cannot keep jewelry, you cannot keep money. And… They will take it away by laws. So they make law that… Yudhisthira Maharaja was just quite opposite. He wanted to see that every citizen is so happy that they are not troubled even by excessive heat and excessive cold. Ati-vyadhi. They are not suffering from any disease, they are not suffering from excessive climatic influence, eating very nicely, and feeling security of person and property. That was Yudhisthira Maharaja. Not only Yudhisthira Maharaja. Almost all the kings, they were like that.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.18 — Mayapura, September 28, 1974
“If the leaders are perfect, then the citizens will be perfect. If the leaders are rascals… Just like in your country, now your president is caught up. Just see. Such an exalted post is occupied by a person who is subjected to so many criticisms. Why? “The Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” There is a… The king or the president, why he should be under suspicion? And if he is under suspicion, then immediately he should resign, “Oh, people are now suspecting.” But this these rascals will not resign. You see? Just see how much our leaders are polluted. He has been charged with so many things. Why he? Everyone is. He is weak; therefore he has been caught up. That’s all. He is not so perfect diplomat. Otherwise he would have not been caught up. So the leaders must be perfect. Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, at least three persons in the society… The first: the priest or the spiritual master, who are engaged in teaching people about religiosity, he must be perfect, above suspicion. Similarly, public leader, he must be also above suspicion. A brahmana… Brahmana means priest also. He must be above suspicion. And the king must be above suspicion. Then things will go on. But there is no such restriction. Nowadays it is the days of vote. Any rascal, if he gets vote somehow or other, then he acquires the exalted post. That is also written in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that in the Kali-yuga there will be no consideration who is fit to occupy the exalted post of presidentship or royal throne. Simply somehow or other, by hook and crook, he’ll occupy the seat. Therefore people are suffering. It is not… Nowadays, in democratic days, the government by the people, government for the people. So if the government is by the people, yes, you select your representative. If you are a fool, then you will select another fool. So Bhagavata says, sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh. Anyone who is not a devotee, Krsna conscious devotee of God, then he may be in a exalted post, but he is praised by some people who are exactly like sva. Sva means dog, and vid-varaha means pigs who eat stool. Sva-vid-varaha. Vid-varaha. And ustra, ustra means camel. And ustra-kharaih. Khara means ass. Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih. If a person who is not a devotee, he is praised or he is exalted, then the praisers, the persons who is praising him, he must be among these animals: dog, camel, pig and ass. So the whole population is like that, like dog, like camel, like ass and like vid-varaha, pig, the stool-eater, the whole population, at the present moment. So he must elect another big animal who is also in this category. Because he has no knowledge. If you takes votes from the camels, to whom he will vote? Another big camel, that’s all. If you take votes from the dog, then whom he will elect? Another big dog. Therefore, anyone who is not a devotee of God, Krsna, he is either of these animals. And if he is praised, it is to be understood that he is being praised by the similar type of animals. So if we remain sva-vid-varahostra-khara, then we must elect another big sva-vid-varahostra-khara. So how there can be good situation of the state? It is not possible. Therefore the public must be educated so that they may not elect another big dog or big camel or big ass to the exalted post. It is the public’s fault. Nowadays it is democratic days. So why should you complain against such-and-such person or president? You have elected him, and now you find fault with him. So it was your fault that you selected such a rascal, sva-vid-varahostra. It is very right conclusion.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.37 — Los Angeles, December 15, 1973
“This is the civilization, cheating, bluffing. That’s all. They don’t care for the citizens. And as soon as there is some agitation, they declare war, so that they can be engaged, attention is diverted. This is going on.” Morning Walk, Rome, May 27, 1974
“This is the position of Kali-yuga, horrible position. The king or the so-called president is simply showbottle.” — Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.11 — Tokyo, April 27, 1972
“If you become leader, so-called leader, rascal leader, and you are addicted to illicit sex and intoxication and meat-eating, you must be si… If you are sinful, how you can lead persons? Andha yathandhair upaniyamanah [SB 7.5.31]. Blind man is leading other blind men. Therefore there is no solution. Why the world is in chaos? Because the leaders are all sinful.” — Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.3 — Bombay, March 23, 1974
“Therefore in the sastra it is said, kalau sudra-sambhavah. In the Kali-yuga almost every person is a sudra. Therefore there is so much chaos. The government is managed by the sudras or less than sudras, mleccha. Mleccha-rajendra-rupinah. Mlecchas have taken the post of government.” — Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6 — Calcutta, February 26, 1974
“So the legislative assembly should be composition of intellectual brahmanas. Then the other administrators, the President or the minister, they should be ksatriyas. In this way, if social organization is made, then there will be perfect peace. If sudras are allowed to rule over, what they know? Their only aim is that so long he is in the office, ‘Let me collect some money,’ that’s all. And that will be the latest atmosphere, dasyu-dharmabhih. Rajanyair dasyu-dharmabhih. All the government men will become thieves and rogues. Dasyu, dasyu means thieves and rogues. So as the thieves and rogues capture you on the street and ask ‘Whatever you have got, give, otherwise I shall kill you,’ so this will be the position in the Kali-yuga. It is happening now. You cannot have any private property; everything you have to declare. Otherwise, it will be taken by force. So people will be very much embarrassed by two things: one thing is taxation, and another thing will be scarcity of food. In this way, all the people all over the world will be embarrassed, so much so that they will leave their home, hearth and home, acchinna-dara-dravina yasyanti giri-kananam. [From Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.8: “Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests.”] Being separated from family and property, they will take shelter in the hilly ranges or in the forest to get relief. This will be the position. Harassment, so much harassment, by nature, by government.” Evening Darsana, Washington, D.C., July 8, 1976
“The so-called political leaders are busy making plans to advance the material prosperity of their nation, but factually these political leaders only want an exalted position for themselves. Due to their greed for material position, they falsely present themselves as leaders before the people and collect their votes, although they are completely under the grip of the laws of material nature. These are some of the faults of modern civilization. Without taking to God consciousness and accepting the authority of the Lord, the living entities become ultimately confused and frustrated in their planmaking attempts. Due to their unauthorized plans for economic development, the price of commodities is rising daily all over the world, so much so that is has become difficult for the poorer classes, and they are suffering the consequences. And due to lack of Krsna consciousness, people are being fooled by so-called leaders and planmakers. Consequently, the sufferings of the people are increasing.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.66
“Actually, the modern government, democracy… We are experiencing, especially the great democratic country, America. So the democracy, the president elected by popular vote, is now being condemned. So what is the value of this democracy? You elect somebody by your vote, again condemn. That means the electors, the voters, have also no experience, and neither the man who is voted, he is also very good man. Otherwise, why you should change your opinion once you have elected a person to act as your head executive? So the democracy has proved a farce. It has no meaning, because people are not educated. People are mostly sudras. There must be four classes of men. So brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, first class, second class, third class, fourth class. So at the present moment there is no first-class men, neither second-class men. All third class, fourth class. All of them. So on the votes of third-class and fourth-class men, how you can expect good government? That is not possible.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6 — Rome, May 24, 1974
“In a monarchy, one man sufficiently trained was competent enough to conduct alone the business of the state. But in a democracy no one is trained like a prince; instead, politicians are voted to responsible posts of administration by diplomatic arrangements. In place of one king or supreme executive officer, in a democracy there are so many quasi-kings: the president, the ministers, the deputy ministers, the secretaries, the assistant secretaries, the private secretaries, and the undersecretaries. There are a number of parties — political, social, and communal — and there are party whips, party whims, and so on. But no one is well enough trained to look after the factual interests of the governed. In a so-called democratic government, corruption is even more rampant than in an autocracy or monarchy.” Light of the Bhagavat verse 44
“Such corruption of the judicial system is very prominent in Kali-yuga. The judicial system is meant to provide for execution of justice, yet false witnesses and bribery make it difficult. With money, almost anyone can get a favorable judgment in court. If the justice system is corrupt, life becomes extremely troublesome. The government is supposed to offer the citizens protection, as parents do for their children. A small child is completely dependent on his father and mother, thinking with full faith, ‘My father is here, my mother is here — I am safe.’ But if the father and mother are corrupt, where is the protection for the child? Similarly, if the whole government is corrupt, where is the protection for the citizens? Whatever the heads of society do, people generally follow. The government or king is like a father to the citizens. A father will never tolerate the killing or injuring of his children. He will give up his own life trying to attack the person threatening his children. Yet today crime is rampant. The government spends billions of dollars, but the citizens have no security in their lives. The government is answerable to the citizens because it must protect and provide for them. If the government is incapable or corrupt, then what is the position of the citizens?” A Second Chance 14: Betrayed by Leaders
“’Religious principles and justice will be determined by a show of strength.’ [Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2.2] If you have some influence, then everything will be decided in your favor. You may be the most irreligious person, but if you can bribe a priest he will certify that you are religious. So character will be decided by money, not by actual qualification. Journey of Self Discovery 6.4: Ancient Prophecies Fulfilled
“And the third-class men, vaisyas, mercantile, simply ‘Where to get money?’ And they are, according to Vedic civilization, third-class men. But at the present moment those who are acquiring money somehow or other, they are first-class men. It doesn’t matter what is his qualification. If he has acquired some money some way or other, then he is a first-class man. This is Kali-yuga. In the Kali-yuga there is no honor for qualification. There is honor for money only. That’s all. So it is stated that without money, you cannot get justice even. In the court of justice, everyone is expected to get proper behavior, but in the Kali-yuga it is stated (that) even in the court of justice, you cannot get justice without money. That’s a fact. If you have no money, then you cannot appoint a good lawyer. And sometimes you have to bribe the judge also. This is the position now. Now in your country so many big, big men have been arrested or something like that for their dishonesty. So Kali-yuga is so polluted that the minister is dishonest, the judge is dishonest, and what to speak of ordinary men. So only thing is that you get money some way or other. Then you can pass on as a nice gentleman, polished. You keep yourself always polished, and within you may be full with all dirty things, but if you have got your pockets filled up with coins and notes, then you are nice. Formerly it was not like that. One must be qualified. Varnasrama-vibhagasah.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.3 — Los Angeles, May 17, 1973
“So aristocracy and respectability, these things were according to culture, according to education. But nowadays, what is that? Vittam eva kalau nrnam. If you get money somehow or other, then everything is there. You may be a third-class, fourth-class, tenth-class man, but if you get money some way or other, then you are very respectable. There is no question of your culture or aristocracy or education or knowledge. There is no, nothing. This is Kali-yuga. And then, dharma-nyaya-vyavasthayam karanam balam eva hi. And if you have got some influence, strength, then in your favor everything will be decided.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.46 — Los Angeles, December 24, 1973
Capitalism Gone Mad
“There is full co-operation between man to God and man to nature and this conscious co-operation between man to God and man to nature as exemplified by the King Yudhisthir, can bring about happiness, peace and prosperity in the world and not by the attitude of exploiting one another as it has become the custom of the day.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.6
“As against this, the dungeons of mines, factories and workshops develop demoniac propensities in the working class. The vested interests flourish at the cost of the working class, and consequently there are severe clashes between them in so many ways.” Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.11.12
Prabhupada: But they are busy fool. They do not understand the God’s arrangement. Only for food they are busy whole day and night like cats and dogs. Now this land is there. You can… Everyone can grow food if he works for two months. Everyone can grow his whole year’s foodstuff. There is so much land. But no, they’ll not grow food. They will grow hammer, manufacturing it. You see? Tire tube, then atom bomb, then this and that. They are busy. They are busy fool. Actually they are fools, and they are very busy. Everyone is busy. There are so many parts in the motorcar, three thousand part, and they are busy in manufacturing three thousand parts of motor parts. So everyone is busy in producing things unwanted. But they have created a society in such a way that they have to do that. Indian man (1): Otherwise they think that they not economically progressing. Prabhupada: Huh? What is that economical progressing? So that means busy fool. Fool, they do not know how to satisfy the economic problem. That is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, annad bhavanti bhutani: You grow food grains. Then all economic question… But why you are not producing food grains? Why you are producing iron stools and instruments and motor and tire and collecting petrol far away from Arabia? That is… Krsna never says that “You do all this nonsense.” He said, “Grow food grains.” Why don’t you do that? That means fools. After all, you have to eat. So you are not busy in growing your food, but you are busy in producing tire tubes, motor cars, stools and instruments. Then how you will get your food? Where is your economic? First economic is, first necessity, you must eat. – Morning Walk — October 19, 1975, Johannesburg
“The wealth of the world actually belongs to Krsna, and every living entity, man and animal, has the birthright to use God’s property for his maintenance. When one takes more than his maintenance requires — be he a capitalist or a communist — he is a thief, and as such he is liable to be punished by the laws of nature. The wealth of the world should be used for the welfare of all living entities, for that is the plan of Mother Nature. Everyone has the right to live by utilizing the wealth of the Lord. When people learn the art of scientifically utilizing the Lord’s property, they will no longer encroach upon one another’s rights. Then an ideal society can be formed.” Purport, Nectar of Instruction verse 2
“Busy intelligent means at least whatever he is doing, there is some meaning, busy intelligent. And lazy intelligent means he is doing higher things. Lazy intelligent means brahmana, and busy intelligent means ksatriya. So the catur-varnyam maya srstam. The society should be divided into four classes. The sudras, they are busy fools. Therefore they are to be guided.” Morning Walk, Johannesburg, October 19, 1975
“Modern civilization and economic development are creating a new situation of poverty and scarcity with the result of blackmailing the consumer’s commodities.” — Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.24
Unnecessary Waste of Resources for Temporary Goals – Planned Obsolescence
“’You live with the minimum necessities. Don’t increase your necessities unnecessarily.’ This is Vedic civilization. And the modern civilization is even increase your necessities — a machine for shaving your cheek. You see? Another machine, another attention diversion. More machine means more diversion of attention. I have to take care, more technician, more technologies. Simply if one razor can shave, can make my cheek very clean, where is the necessity? Formerly, at least we Indian know that go to a blacksmith and he prepares a razor, very nice razor. You pay him four annas, and it will last for your life and shave your cheek very nicely, daily or occasionally. But the modern civilization means that in everything there must be machine. That is the advancement of material… But the sastra says, ‘What is the use of taking so much labor?’ Kastan kaman. Kastan means with so much labor. If you create some convenience by the so-called machine use, you create so many other inconveniences. Just like we have got now motorcar. Of course, it is convenience. But there are many inconveniences. Formerly people used to find everyone within the village. Now, because we have got big, big motorcars, we have to go thirty miles to find out a doctor. So the other inconveniences are also increased. Now we have to find out petrol and flatter the Arabians, ‘Give me petrol.’ In this way… And if I stop manufacturing, then there is unemployment.
In this way we are becoming implicated. By the so-called advancement of civilization, we are becoming implicated to these material activities and we are forgetting our real business, self-realization, what I am. Athato brahma jijnasa. The real business is to enquire about Brahman, about atma, Paramatma, but we are forgetting that.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 7.3 — London, March 11, 1975
“Just like people are struggling. Wherever you go, material world, either you go to London or go to Paris or to Calcutta or Bombay, anywhere you go, what is the business? Everyone is struggling: (makes sounds) whoon, shoon, shoon, shoon, shoon, shoon, shoon. Day and night the motorcar going this way and that way, this way and that way. Last night I was speaking with Srutakirti. Wherever, we see this nonsense thing, whoo, shoo, shoon, shoon, shoon, shoon, shoo, shoo, shoo. Any city you go, the same road, same motorcar, same ‘whoo, shoosh,’ same petrol, that’s all. (laughter) What is the difference? But we say — this is called illusion – ‘I have come to Paris. I have come to Calcutta.’ But where is the difference between Calcutta and Paris and Bombay? The same thing. Punah punah carvita-carvananam. Again and again, chewing the chewed. That’s all.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 13.5 — Paris, August 13, 1973
Prabhupada: The anartha… In the name of civilization, we have increased so many unwanted things, unnecessarily. This is called anartha. Artha means which is substance. So just like we can give so many examples. When there was no so-called advancement of civilization, people used to eat on utensils made of silver, gold, at least metal. Now they’re using plastic. And still, they are proud of advancement of civilization. Actually it is anartha, anartha, unwanted things. At least, in, two hundred years ago in India, there was no industry. I think I am correct. Yes. But people were so happy. They did not have to go two hundred miles or five hundred miles away from home and for earning livelihood. In Europe and America, I see people are going for earning their livelihood by aeroplane, daily passengers. I’ve seen. From Vancouver, they were coming to Montreal and other places. Five hundred miles. At least fifty miles, one must go. In New York, many people are coming from distant place, Long Islands, crossing the sea, and then again bus, again… Anartha, simply unnecessary. People…Canakya Pandita says that “Who is happy?” He says, “The man who does not go out of home, and who is not a debtor he is happy.” Very simple thing. Who does not go out of home, and he’s not a debtor, he’s happy. So now we see everyone is out of home, and everyone is a great debtor. So how you can be happy? In America the bank canvasses that “You take money, you purchase motorcar, you purchase your house, and, as soon as you get your salary, you give me.” That’s all. Finished. You take the card… American… What is it called? Am-card? Yes. Syamasundara: Bankamericard. Prabhupada: “Bank-card” or something. “Bank-rupt.” (laughter) You see? So you take the card and you purchase whatever you like. And deposit your money in the bank. Then again, you are without any money. Simply that card. That’s all.So actually we are creating anarthas. Anarthas means unwanted things. So just like practical example: anarthopasamam saksad bhakti-yogam adhoksaje [SB 1.7.6]. If one is engaged in bhakti-yoga practice, devotional service, immediately the anarthas will be diminished. – Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.18 — Vrndavana, October 29, 1972
Drought, Climatic Disturbance
“In the Vedic literature we find, eko bahunam vidadhati kaman. That Supreme Lord is supplying everyone food. Why do you think of human society? What is the human society? Out of 8,400,000 forms of life there are only 400,000 forms of human life. And 8,000,000 forms they are lower animals, birds, beasts, aquatics. Who is supplying their foodstuff? Everyone is sumptuously fed by the grace of God. Why not you? You are suffering because you are disobeying, therefore you are suffering. That you should know, only the suffering population theory, this theory, that theory, only in the human society because they are regularly defying the existence of God — science, science, science. Now there are so many suffering people. Why your science cannot provide them food? So this is wrong theory. You have to satisfy the supreme supplier. Then you’ll get sufficient production and you’ll be happy.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 3.11-19 — Los Angeles, December 27, 1968
“So much land lying vacant. Yajnad bhavanti parjanyah. There is no yajna. Therefore there is no rain. [break] …and it will increase. Because the people will increase their godlessness, so the rainfall will stop. Now lick up your motorcar. This is going on. Anavrstya durbhiksa dara-piditah. One side, anavrsti, there is no food grain, and government taxation. People will be so harassed, they will leave their hearth and home and go to the forest. Cannot manage.” Conversation on Train to Allahabad — January 11, 1977, India