“Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.” (Bg. 16.12)
Sometimes when we meet gentlemen of so-called fashionable taste and try to interest them in the work of this Krsna consciousness movement, they very frankly say that they have no interest in such a theistic subject and even condemn our attempt to bring people in general back to the path of Godhead. According to these gentlemen, the deplorable economic conditions of the Indian people are caused by their great faith in God, and the sooner they forget everything about God, the better for them. But we cannot agree with the atheistic conclusions of such gentlemen who are so devoid of all sense of spirituality. India and the other nations of the world were never so completely dependent upon occupational service than they are now. With the advancement of godless materialistic education, the number of unemployed is increasing daily, particularly amongst the educated section of the people. Whenever there is some vacancy in some post—important or unimportant—there are thousands of applications to fill it. In India more than eighty percent of the population is not provided the bare necessities of life, and what to speak of other amenities. Some of the well-posted government servants and some of the fortunate businessmen may feel happy themselves, but ninety percent of their brother citizens do not know how to make ends meet. Therefore, the economic condition is deplorable.
KING RAVANA AND THE STAIRCASE TO HEAVEN
This economic deterioration of the masses of people is not only visible in India, but all over the world. The planning commissions in India have of course made various plans to improve the economic conditions of the people, but we can take lessons from other countries where the planning commissions have finished their duties. We must be frank enough to admit that the economic condition of the general masses of people has not improved. Practically a quarter of a century ago, when President Truman was in London, he admitted very frankly that independence means comfortable life for everyone, at least that is the expectation of all common men—an expectation which is never to be fulfilled. When World War II was going on, one party inquired whether the Japanese were coming to India. The thought behind the inquiry was that if the Japanese came to India, the country would be independent. The party was met again after 1947, and when he was asked how he had improved his comfortable life, he replied with much regret that he had not improved his lot in the least after independence. On the contrary, his family expenditure had increased so much that he was on the brink of financial ruin. On the whole, the story is that in India no one’s life has become more comfortable since independence, as it ought to have according to President Truman. According to him, if a section of a nation lives very comfortably in material terms and senses some false happiness, without caring for its brother have-nots, that nation is not to be considered an independent nation.
What all these mundane wranglers cannot understand is that the economic condition of the people cannot be improved by godless adventuring. There are five elements affecting any particular action in the universe, and the most important cause is called daiva, or the unseen hand of God. However efficient the other causes may be—such as the place, the worker, the attempt and the instrument—without the favorable help of the divine cause, nothing can be effected.
The atheist Ravana did not believe in the Divine cause but firmly believed in his own capacity. He was a declared enemy of Sri Ramacandra, the Personality of Godhead, and on his own strength he planned to construct a staircase leading up to heaven. This staircase was to be used by everyone, and the idea was that by it everyone could reach heaven without undergoing the necessary qualifications.
The present generation of materialists are direct descendants of Ravana because all of them think in terms of building a staircase leading to the kingdom of heaven. They completely ignore the superior strength of the daiva cause. There are many planning commissions around the world attempting to improve conditions that have degenerated due to war, famine, pestilence and similar disasters, but unfortunately the daiva cause is unknown to these commissions. Therefore the commissions meet at a considerable expense to the general populace, and the result is that nothing is ever solved. This is all due to a godless disregard for the unseen hand of the Supreme.
Hope Against Hope
Such do-gooders and planning commissions are surely bound by hundreds and thousands of thoughts produced by insatiable lust. When their lust is not fulfilled to their satisfaction, they become possessed by anger, insanity, violence, loss of intelligence, and finally they threaten to destroy everything with monstrous bombs. These different atheistic groups all have various plans in mind, and these plans are exhibited in different patterns of godlessness. One atheistic nation thinks in a different way from another atheistic nation, and the unseen hand of the daiva causes their circles to overlap and makes them clash. None of these groups function beyond the range of direct perception of the material senses. None of them function according to the guidelines of spiritual knowledge. The mass of people themselves are unable to see things in their true perspective, and under various political arrangements they are made to follow blind leaders who present them with multi-colored ideals which are sure to fail in the long run. In this way the populace is made to hope against hope that some great solution is pending.
There are many hope-against-hope parties, and whenever they fail to gratify the senses of the masses, they are all endangered. When these parties are endangered, they begin to fightone another, and at the end one of the parties is eventually victimized by another for the sake of a false ideology unknown to the common people. Communal flare-ups and revolutions are now ordinary occurrences in this iron age due to the advancement of godless and materialistic learning. The poor followers and innocent masses, however, are the sufferers on such roads to heavenly ideologies. The masses are gradually being driven into a hopeless condition due to lack of information of real spiritual life. They are kept in darkness and in a bewildered state of sense gratification. Consequently they seek happiness in a labyrinth of sense gratification and try to accumulate wealth by unlawful means.
When one is in impure consciousness, ignorant of the Supreme Lord, he accumulates everything unlawfully because he does not acknowledge that everything in the universe belongs to the Supreme Lord. Everyone is thinking, “I am the proprietor of everything,” and the whole material world is being conducted under the impression that “I am the monarch of all I survey.” This is called illusion. According to Sri Isopanisad:
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 must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” (Sri Isopanisad, 1)
Our Real Life’s Mission
We have spoken and heard of illusion so many times, but what is this illusion? This illusion is the thought that “I am the proprietor and everything is mine,” when, in fact, nothing is mine. We are not proprietors at all. This is the real situation; everything belongs to Krsna or God, and this is the proper conception of spiritual communism.
In the Isopanisad verse quoted above, we find that whatever property there is—whatever material resources there are, not only on this earth but on other planets and in outer space as well—whatever exists within the creation is to be considered the possession of the Supreme Lord. Who can deny it? Can we create anything or manufacture anything without utilizing the energy supplied by prakrti or nature? This nature belongs to God, for the original elements were created by Him. In this modern age we have made so many advancements in chemistry, but without the basic elements of sulphur, mercury, etc., there is no question of the art of chemistry. Raw materials must be taken from the earth; man can only transform them from one form to another. We must come to understand that these things cannot be manufactured artificially. God is their source and supplier. If a carpenter is supplied wood, tools and also wages and builds a table, whose table is it? Does it belong to the carpenter? No, it belongs to the person who supplied the wood, tools and wages. Similarly, whatever we can show as a result of our labor, whatever products result from our energy, is the property of the Supreme Lord. When we come to this understanding we can establish ourselves in our pure consciousness, Krsna consciousness.
The material conception of life, which arises from ignorance, is due to our attachment to material enjoyment. The strongest material allurement is sex enjoyment, which illusions us into thinking, “This is mine. I am the proprietor. Everything is mine, etc.” Thinking in this way, we spend our time trying to make an economic solution, trying to enhance our financial standing. How does all this begin? The Bhagavad-gita indicates that lust is the beginning; the more we become attracted by sex life, the more illusioned we become. It is not that we are to abandon sex life, but change our conceptions of it. Sex is a necessary part of life and a demand of the body, but it should be regulated, not increased unrestrictedly. It is necessary that we eat in order to maintain our health, and it is necessary to sleep in order to refresh the body. Similarly, sex is also required; that is not denied. What we have to understand is that eating, sleeping and mating are not our real missions in life; they are required for maintaining the body only. Our real life’s mission is to understand what and who Krsna is and what our relationship with Him is—in other words, to establish ourselves in Krsna consciousness.
Because we have no information of Krsna consciousness, we try our best to gratify this material body. Now we have to understand that somehow or other we came in contact with this material body, and now our problem is how to make the best use of a bad bargain. Therefore we have to understand how to use this body for getting out of this material entanglement. We have to treat the body in such a way that it will not cause us disturbance. If the body is not properly maintained, we will be disturbed. If we want to go from California to New York in an automobile, that vehicle must be in proper order, otherwise we won’t be able to complete the trip. The mission of life should not be that we become too much involved and absorbed in bodily needs, but we should keep the body fit in order to execute our real mission of Krsna consciousness. Consequently if we at all want to be spiritually advanced, our eating, sleeping, defending and mating must be regulated. We should not be absorbed in them, thinking that they are our only goal. Nature’s laws will not allow us to abandon ourselves to them without suffering unpleasant reactions. For instance, it we eat more than necessary, we will have indigestion. If we overindulge in sex life, we will become weak and ultimately impotent. If we oversleep, we will become dull and stupid. These are nature’s laws. We cannot overindulge in these things and at the same time have spiritual life; therefore the best course is to minimize these bodily demands. That is the point of brahmacari education, and that is the basic principle of ancient Vedic civilization.
In the ancient Vedic civilization we find that only kings or royal families had very nice houses to live in. Common men used to live in huts. They did not require more, and they did not spend their energy unnecessarily. In this regard there is the example of the sage who used to meditate on the banks of the Ganges. He was to live until all the hairs on his body fell off. He was a very hairy sage, and he only lost one hair every time Brahma died. Brahma lives for one hundred years, as calculated on the Brahmaloka planet, where each year is equal to 4,300,000 x 2 x 30 x 12 earth years. At the end of this fantastic period of time, one of the hairs of the sage falls off, so it would be difficult to imagine the duration required for all his hairs to fall off. At any rate, when this sage was standing on the banks of the Ganges and meditating, a person came to him and said, “Why are you just standing here on the beach meditating? You are out in all sorts of weather. Why don’t you build a nice cottage?”
The sage replied, “Oh, why should I bother? I am just here temporarily.”
The sage was aware that any position in this material world is temporary, whereas he is eternal. We should understand that whatever position we have is temporary, because the body is temporary. Whatever we possess in relation to the body is also temporary. If we move into an apartment and are going to stay there for only three days, do we take pains to decorate the apartment very nicely? No, why should we spoil our energy in decorating that room? We should always remember that this body is temporary and that its needs are temporary, but as spirit souls we are eternal. Our real concern should be to fulfill our eternal mission and to make arrangements in this human form of life to live eternally after leaving this body.
We Belong to Krsna
Spiritual life is not void; it is actual life. The conception of voidness arises from frustration with material existence. Krsna’s creation is full of life; there is no question of void anywhere. There is actual life in which we live eternally and enjoy eternally, in which we become peaceful and full of knowledge. That life is our spiritual life, and we have to attain to it. Our mission should be to attain that highest perfectional stage and become detached from this temporary existence. To become attached to temporary things and to give no time to the eternal soul is illusion. The Vedanta-sutra gives information that this life is meant for self-realization, for questioning into the nature of Brahman, spirit. What is Brahman? We are all Brahman, but because we have become entangled in these material elements, we do not realize it. The Vedanta-sutra, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and all other Vedic literatures are intended to awaken us to our real identity. They tell us to awake, to get up and not sleep. Sleeping means remaining in ignorance, in darkness. The purpose of the Vedic literatures is to enlighten us, to get us to shake off our sleepiness.
In this regard there is the story of the poor man who consulted an astrologer saying, “Sir, I am very poor, Do you think that by my palm you can tell whether I’ll ever get money in the future?” The astrologer looked at the man’s palm carefully and finally said, “Prospects are very good. Your father left you a hidden treasure before he died. You just have to find it out.” The man went away to look for the treasure, and when he could not find it he returned to the astrologer, who gave him further instructions. “If you look for the treasure on the southern side, you will have many difficulties. If you dig for it on the northern or western sides, there will be similar difficulties. Just look on the eastern side and you will find it.” So the man looked and indeed found his treasure. Similarly, we all have a great hidden treasure, and if we consult the oracle of Vedic literature we will find it. God is full of six opulences—all wealth, all knowledge, all beauty, all strength, all fame and all renunciation. We are His sons, and as such we have immense property to enjoy. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says that all living entities are His sons. If He is our father, and is such a rich father, then why don’t we reestablish our relationship with Him? Krsna sends His most intimate and confidential sons like Lord Jesus Christ to inform us of this heritage we have forgotten, to call us back home, back to Godhead. Unfortunately we are too busy consulting some mundane astrologers trying to find out what will happen to this body, trying to heal the body or make it last a few years longer, completely forgetting that this body is temporary and doomed to perish. Our real goal should be to finish this bodily business in this life and to realize ourselves spiritually and know that we are not this matter but Brahman, sons of Krsna. We have to understand that we don’t belong to our so-called parents or this so-called country. We belong to Krsna and the spiritual worlds of the Vaikunthas. For us this whole earth, indeed this whole universe, is a foreign country. All living entities in the material universe are in a foreign country. They are simply visiting for a certain duration of years, that’s all. When we are illusioned, we think that things in this country belong to us, but in actuality nothing belongs to us at all.
Everything belongs to Krsna. We also belong to Krsna, for we are His sons. When we come to understand that everything belongs to Him, our material attachments gradually slacken, and as we become detached from material life we proportionately increase our spiritual life and advance in knowledge. In the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krsna gives us the example of the banyan tree with its roots upward and its branches down. This tree of material existence must be severed by the weapon of detachment. These knots which bind us very tightly to the material world must be cut by someone who is free. Therefore one who is sufficiently intelligent will associate with saintly persons who are free from the entanglement of material nature and who can sever the knots which bind. There is no benefit in associating with those who are simply engaged in sense gratification. If we want liberation, if we really want to get out of this illusory existence, we must associate with mahatmas, great souls. All we have to do is simply hear, sravanam, and by simply hearing from great souls our knot of nescience will be cut. Just hearing Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare will save us.