Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness


Srimad Bhagavatam, Translation by Srila Prabhupada
September 30, 2007, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Vedic Ecology

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.10.5

nadyah samudrā girayah
savanaspati-vīrudhah
phalanty osadhayah sarvāh
kāmam anvrtu tasya vai

SYNONYMS
nadyah — rivers; samudrāh — oceans; girayah — hills and mountains; savanaspati — vegetables; vīrudhah — creepers; phalanti — active; osadhayah — drugs; sarvāh— all; kāmam — necessities; anvrtu — seasonal; tasya — for the King; vai— certainly.

TRANSLATION
The rivers, oceans, hills, mountains, forests, creepers and active drugs, in every season, paid their tax quota to the King in profusion.

PURPORT
Since Maharaja Yudhisthira was under the protection of the ajita, the infallible Lord, as above mentioned, the properties of the Lord, namely the rivers, oceans, hills, forests, etc., were all pleased, and they used to supply their respective quota of taxes to the King. The secret to success is to take refuge under the protection of the Supreme Lord. Without His sanction, nothing can be possible. To make economic development by our own endeavors on the strength of tools and machinery is not all. The sanction of the Supreme Lord must be there, otherwise despite all instrumental arrangements everything will be unsuccessful. The ultimate cause of success is the daiva, the Supreme. Kings like Mahārāja Yudhisthira knew perfectly well that the king is the agent of the Supreme Lord to look after the welfare of the mass of people. Actually the state belongs to the Supreme Lord. The rivers, oceans, forests, hills, drugs, etc., are not creations of man. They are all creations of the Supreme Lord, and the living being is allowed to make use of the property of the Lord for the service of the Lord. Today’s slogan is that everything is for the people, and therefore the government is for the people and by the people. But to produce a new species of humanity at the present moment on the basis of God consciousness and perfection of human life, the ideology of godly communism, the world has to again follow in the footsteps of kings like Mahārāja Yudhisthira or Parīksit. There is enough of everything by the will of the Lord, and we can make proper use of things to live comfortably without enmity between men, or animal and man or nature. The control of the Lord is everywhere, and if the Lord is pleased, every part of nature will be pleased. The river will flow profusely to fertilize the land; the oceans will supply sufficient quantities of minerals, pearls and jewels; the forest will supply sufficient wood, drugs and vegetables, and the seasonal changes will effectively help produce fruits and flowers in profuse quantity. The artificial way of living depending on factories and tools can render so-called happiness only to a limited number at the cost of millions. Since the energy of the mass of people is engaged in factory production, the natural products are being hampered, and for this the mass is unhappy. Without being educated properly, the mass of people are following in the footsteps of the vested interests by exploiting natural reserves, and therefore there is acute competition between individual and individual and nation and nation. There is no control by the trained agent of the Lord. We must look into the defects of modern civilization by comparison here, and should follow in the footsteps of Mahārāja Yudhisthira to cleanse man and wipe out anachronisms.

Comments Off on Srimad Bhagavatam, Translation by Srila Prabhupada


Excerpts from Vedic Ecology by Ranchor Prime
September 27, 2007, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Environmental Politics, Vedic Ecology

gallery_bg01.jpg

“The human being is the elder brother of all other living beings. He is endowed with intelligence more powerful than animals for realizing the course of nature and the indications of the Almighty Father. Human civilization should depend on the production of mother nature without artificially attempting economic development to turn the world into a chaos of greed and power only for the purpose of artificial luxuries and sense gratification.”

-Srila Prabhupada (excerpt from commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.4)

Comments Off on Excerpts from Vedic Ecology by Ranchor Prime


Environmentalism According to the Vedic View
September 24, 2007, 1:45 am
Filed under: Vedic Ecology

By Stephen Knapp

           The environment means nature, and whose nature is it? It is God’s nature. Did anyone else create it? Did anyone else put it all together so that it operates the way it does? In fact, mankind is still trying to figure out all the intricacies of its functionality.

            In all the inventions or devices we produce, all the ingredients and resources that we use are all given by God. The elements we need to make big buildings, bridges, ships, cars, or the fuel to operate them, are all being given by God, and we need to show the proper respect. To think we are the proprietors of everything is the illusion. It is our pride that makes us think we are so intelligent when actually the very brain with which we think is not created by us but has again been given by God.

            As everything is created from the Supreme Creator, then we should certainly have a high regard for everything as the expansion of God’s energies. This not only includes all of our fellow men, but all creatures, as well as all aspects of the planet. Violence toward the planet in the form of not caring for the environment, misusing and polluting our natural resources, not managing the land and forests properly, are all forms of disrespect toward God and the blessings that have been given us. Why should we expect God to continue giving us the necessities of life, or the means to acquire them, if we are going to ruin them, or do not know how to care for them properly? So we must never pollute our resources or waste the food we have.

            We should also see that even the Earth is a living being, full of life. The globe is a mother to us since she supplies all that we need. All of our food, water, and resources for sustaining our own lives, as well as supplies for shelter and clothing, all come from her. How she reciprocates with us in regard to what she provides depends on how we treat, honor and care for her. The imbalance in nature, such as the green house effect, the changing climate and weather patterns, are reflections of the imbalance in the consciousness of humanity. Once there is balance and harmony in society’s consciousness and the way we regard and treat the ecosystem, this will then be reflected in the balance in nature. Then many of the storms, natural upheavals and disasters will begin to cease. Continue reading



Deep Ecology and Vedic Culture
September 21, 2007, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Dayananda das, Dandavats website

The Deep Ecology movement is rooted in the conclusions of Professors Lynn White and Arne Naess. By the late 1960s, Prof White, a historian and university president who had studied the development of technology from medieval times to the present, published “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”. In that influential article, he identified society’s mentality of anthropocentrism (human-centrism) as the root cause of the ecologic crisis. Shortly after that, Prof Naess, philosopher and environmentalist, coined the term “deep ecology”. Similar to White, deep ecologists are those who see the need for a change in mentality, philosophy, or morality with regard to nature. They actively promote a nature-centric worldview. Shallow ecologists are those who wish to correct environmental problems, but without giving up the anthropocentric relationship with nature that the deep ecologists so adamantly oppose.

Vedic culture, which thrived in India thousands of years ago, came to experience similar tensions regarding society’s relationship with nature. Over time, many who followed the Vedas developed an anthropocentric view of life. Early on, they had been more nature-centric, being part of an agrarian society and worshiping the higher powers in order to synchronize humanity’s interests with those of nature and the Supreme Lord. Nevertheless, they gradually became more concerned with human interests, albeit in a less selfish and more natural manner than today’s exploiters of the environment. In reaction to the degradation of Vedic culture, several reform movements emerged. Some of them extracted overlooked themes in Vedic culture and reprioritized them, while others rejected the Vedic literature and its social applications in favor of a more complete doctrinal and social overhaul. Of particular concern to most of these movements was animal slaughter. According to the Vedic tradition, the priests could sacrifice animals, which would then be elevated in their next births. However, over time, the sacrifices became ineffective; the priests no longer possessed the mystical power to synchronize the needs of humans, animals, and plants, with those of the higher powers, the gods. In other words, the priests and their patrons performed sacrifices for selfish ends. The ritual killing of animals no longer mitigated sin, but heaped sins on humanity.

 

Several movements that were concerned with such violence and exploitation of nature broke with Vedic tradition, and out of those Buddhism and Jainism survived and flourished. Both established a non-violent perception of the world. Such a perception diminished the previous human-centric tendencies, and ceded more rights to nature.

Even prior to these movements, others emerged that did not reject the Vedas or Vedic social structure. However, they put aside the Vedas in favor of their corollaries, the Upanishads. They retired the Vedas, not because of any fault in them, but due to the people. The influence of time had caused them to become greedy, selfish, and unable to apply the Vedas properly. Foremost among these ancient reform movements was that of Krishna, whom his followers consider either an avatar of Vishnu or the original source of Vishnu. He presented His teachings in the Bhagavad-gita, “Song of God”, which has become the basis for most of Hinduism.

Krishna’s Gita retains a perspective on the Vedas, and yet focuses on the yoga tradition as well as Vedanta (essence of the Vedas), whose philosophy was established by the Upanishads and Vedanta Sutras. Based on these doctrines, Krishna extracts at least three themes that directly relate to deep ecology. First is the concept of the individual soul distinct from the body. Second is the universal soul spread throughout creation. Third is yajna (sacrifice), which formed the socio-economic basis of Vedic society. Indirectly related to deep ecology, He discusses knowledge or epistemology, karma (human action), analysis of the psychophysical and metaphysical elements of the world, and humanity’s relation to the Supreme. Putting these aside, however, the first three topics are particularly relevant to ecology. In His discussion of soul, universal soul, and sacrifice, all within the context of yoga, He rejects the anthropocentric view of the world.

He begins His teaching in the Gita by establishing the nature of the soul. In contrast to those who had been misusing the concept of soul to kill animals, He explained that a person should act selflessly in the knowledge that he or she is soul, not the body. In this way, His instructions on the soul encouraged simple living and detachment from the world, not exploitation of it. In addition, He urged performance of actions, based on one’s identity as soul, within a yogic perspective. One of the goals of yoga is to control selfish desires, and in so doing, to see all beings, including animals and plants, as equal souls.

In the sacrifices of the Vedic culture, a yogic theme had existed. However, it had been minimized, and Krishna revived it. He presented yajna (sacrifice) as indispensable and interdependent with yoga and karma (action). He echoed the Vedas by saying that the gods (demigods) supply the necessities of life and one who does not offer a portion in return is a thief. The result of His teaching is that the structure of Vedic society and economy remains, but with a yogic (unselfish, non-exploitative, equal-seeing) perspective. In this way, He redefined Vedic yajna, a pantheistic practice that had degraded into selfish anthropocentrism. His yajna became a devotional, spiritual, intellectual, or altruistic practice that removes human-centrism and replaces it with yogic selflessness, which is consistent with the spirit of the Vedas.

The concept of the universal soul is another important part of the Vedas, and, along with the individual soul, Krishna emphasized this worldview. A recurring theme in the Vedas is that humanity is an integral part of or one with the total environment. For example, parts of the Vedas extol the pervasiveness of fire and the sun. In this context, priests offered some Vedic sacrifices to the universal soul, Vaishvanara, which is also a name for the sun. In addition, they placed their offerings into the fire (Agni), who is not just a localized flame, but also a deity who is a pervasive representative of the gods, and who consumes offerings on their behalf. The concept of the universal soul is one of the great, mystical aspects of Vedic culture. In His Gita, Krishna emphasizes everyone’s relationship with the Supreme Soul, whom He describes as the dear friend in each person’s heart, and the enjoyer of sacrifices. A goal of yoga is to turn one’s attention inward toward the universal soul, away from selfish exploitation of the world.

Many great thinkers have wrestled with humanity’s complex relationship with nature, which includes its inescapable exploitation and destruction. Humans do not exist separate from nature, including its plants, animals, inanimate objects, and the gods, or their processes like the wind, sun energy, rain, seasonal cycles, and so on. Humans often delight in nature’s gifts, but do not like to reciprocate with her; they do not mind being violent toward nature, but do not appreciate her violence toward them. Deep Ecology recognizes these tensions, and encourages a moral response.

Over time, worldviews yield in some degree to the greed of humans. Indeed, as millennia have gone by, some greedy people also infiltrated Krishna’s movement, Vaishnavism. In order to address this problem, five-hundred years ago another great reformer, Sri Caitanya, again tried to purge the impure elements from individuals and society by further simplifying sacrifice, and re-emphasizing the theo-centric or Krishna-centric way of life. In doing so, He embraced trees, taught animals to chant Krishna’s name, worshiped the holy rivers, and generally taught his followers to see Krishna in all things. He reaffirmed the Gita teaching that everything belongs to the Supreme Lord, and those who see otherwise are in illusion. Today, most Vaishnavas make efforts to lead a theo-centric life. They struggle to remember that they are souls who are equal to the plants and animals, and that they are not their bodies, with the associated desires to exploit and kill the Lord’s nature. They try to remember that the universal soul or Supreme Soul is their friend who is in their hearts and who with love beckons them to turn away from violence and exploitation.

Recent Vaishnava sages, like Prabhupada and his predecessors, envisioned the great contributions that the Vaishnava and genuine Vedic perspectives can make in a world of selfishness. They became Vaishnava activists and requested their followers to practice Krishna-centrism, which includes a non-anthropocentric relationship with His nature. Moreover, they urged their followers to propagate that view. There are more than half a billion Vaishnavas around the world. By Krishna’s grace and that of His divine nature, their struggles to have a deep ecological impact in the world will be successful.

Comments Off on Deep Ecology and Vedic Culture


What’s On Your Dinner Plate and Global Warming- Is There A Connection?
September 19, 2007, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Article from the NY Times

Ever since “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore has been the darling of environmentalists, but that movie hardly endeared him to the animal rights folks. According to them, the most inconvenient truth of all is that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles combined. The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions,
but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving.

In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the
livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

When that report came out, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to
immediately hop on the “Go Veggie!” bandwagon, but that did not happen.
“Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and
S.U.V.’s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,” said Matt A.
Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA.

So the animal rights groups are mobilizing on their own. PETA is
outfitting a Hummer with a driver in a chicken suit and a vinyl banner
proclaiming meat as the top cause of global warming. It will send the
vehicle to the start of the climate forum the White House is sponsoring
in Washington on Sept. 27, “and to headquarters of environmental groups,
if they don’t start shaping up,” Mr. Prescott warned. He said that PETA
had written to more than 700 environmental groups, asking them to
promote vegetarianism, and that it would soon distribute leaflets that
highlight the impact of eating meat on global warming.

“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said Mr. Prescott.
The Humane Society of the United States has taken up the issue as well,
running ads in environmental magazines that show a car key and a fork.
“Which one of these contributes more to global warming?” the ads ask.
They answer the question with “It’s not the one that starts a car,” and
go on to cite the United Nations report as proof.

On its Web page and in its literature, the Humane Society has also been
highlighting other scientific studies — notably, one that recently came
out of the University of Chicago — that, in essence, show that
“switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than
switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry,” said Paul Shapiro, senior director
of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society.

Comments Off on What’s On Your Dinner Plate and Global Warming- Is There A Connection?


Environmentalism According to the Vedic View
September 18, 2007, 1:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Stephen Knapp

The environment
means nature, and whose nature is it? It is God’s nature. Did anyone else create it? Did anyone else put it all together so that it operates the way it does? In fact, mankind is still trying to figure out all the intricacies of its functionality.

In all the inventions or devices we produce, all the ingredients and resources that we use are all given by God. The elements we need to make big buildings, bridges, ships, cars, or the fuel to operate them, are all being given by God, and we need to show the proper respect. To think we are the proprietors of everything is the illusion. It is our pride that makes us think we are so intelligent when actually the very brain with which we think is not created by us but has again been given by God.

As everything is created from the Supreme Creator, then we should certainly have a high regard for everything as the expansion of God’s energies. This not only includes all of our fellow men, but all creatures, as well as all aspects of the planet. Violence toward the planet in the form of not caring for the environment, misusing and polluting our natural resources, not managing the land and forests properly, are all forms of disrespect toward God and the blessings that have been given us. Why should we expect God to continue giving us the necessities of life, or the means to acquire them, if we are going to ruin them, or do not know how to care for them properly? So we must never pollute our resources or waste the food we have.

We should also see that even the Earth is a living being, full of life. The globe is a mother to us since she supplies all that we need. All of our food, water, and resources for sustaining our own lives, as well as supplies for shelter and clothing, all come from her. How she reciprocates with us in regard to what she provides depends on how we treat, honor and care for her. The imbalance in nature, such as the green house effect, the changing climate and weather patterns, are reflections of the imbalance in the consciousness of humanity. Once there is balance and harmony in society’s consciousness and the way we regard and treat the ecosystem, this will then be reflected in the balance in nature. Then many of the storms, natural upheavals and disasters will begin to cease.

The environment and the material creation are supplied with all the potencies to produce all the necessities that we require, not only for humans but also for all species. Human society should not consider itself as the only enjoyer of all of God’s creation, and that no other creatures have a claim to it. Humanity is actually a minority species when we consider the many types of creatures that are sustained by the environment. If we manage the ecosystem properly, it will continue to produce everything we need. However, if people who have no genuine spiritual understanding start exploiting the Earth to take whatever they want in any way they want, then the supply of resources starts decreasing and the Earth, being a living organism, stops producing or responding to the needs of society as abundantly as it used to do. Then there will be shortages, droughts, and forest fires; subsequently the prices on commodities will increase. Gradually more people will become poor, and poverty and starvation will spread in parts of the world. Then we see fierce competition for whatever resources can be attained. When many people die while fighting over land and commodities, or temporary and ever-changing political stances, then all the bloodshed from the dead, dying or wounded is like offering Mother Earth blood sacrifices to drink. She is pained by this, as are so many other higher beings that watch the activities of humanity. Rather than respecting the Earth and cooperating to share her resources, when we fight over them it is most heartrending for Mother Earth. Thus, when the Earth and the Lord’s environment are not properly appreciated and maintained, or are exploited by ungodly people, then scarcities and excess pollution is the result. However, nature itself can go on nicely except for the interference of ungodly men.

As a society controlled by godless men gathers all the resources from the land as fast as possible for power and quick profits, it may appear to be a mighty economic gain at first, but in time it is never enough. As demand grows, scarcity raises its angry head. When the environment is not respected and cared for properly, there are also changes in the various species that have existed for thousands of years, even extinctions. These are all signs of further unknown changes in the future that will be revealing themselves to us when it will be too late.

There may be times when the Earth needs to cleanse herself of unwanted activities or from the pain she suffers from society’s wrong aims of life. She may move in various ways to adjust things so that humanity is not so out of balance and will be forced to reconfigure the value systems that are displayed by humanity and make them geared more toward the real goal of life. When Earth reacts in particular ways to relieve her from the weight of unwanted activities or segments of society, we should not miss the message. A society that is too spoiled often easily forgets the real reason why it is here.

The proper vision is that everything is the property of the Supreme Being. If we have any possessions or wealth, we should see that we are only borrowing them for a short time. We certainly cannot take them with us when we leave this body, thus someone else will take it all when we are gone. The ultimate owner of everything is the Supreme Creator. Thus, the proper way to use anything is in the service or consciousness of God. The same goes for taking care of the environment. Everything belongs to God so, ultimately, we should take care of it as if we were being watched by God and only taking care of His property while, by God’s good graces, it produces the resources we need to live. After all, as the Lord in our heart and as the Supersoul of every living being, He is observing everything we do.

All of one’s land, home, wealth, and possessions belong to the Supreme Being though we wrongly think, AI am this body and all that belongs to it is mine@. Thus, a person of wisdom should not see anything as separate from the Supreme Lord. In spiritual consciousness, such a person will see everything, whether it be fire, air, water, the earth, the sun and stars, all living beings, the trees and plants, the rivers and oceans, and in fact everything that exists as an expansion of the energies of the Supreme Lord. Even while actively engaged with so many objects and undertakings in this creation, a person who sees the whole world as the energy of the Supreme Being is indeed a great sage of wisdom.

Therefore, we should care for the environment as if it is not ours but God’s property, and in this way assure ourselves that it will continue to provide all of our necessities for many years to come, and into many future generations. This is the Vedic view.

Comments Off on Environmentalism According to the Vedic View


Action NOT Debate
September 17, 2007, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Got Milk?

by Gopananda dasa Adhikari

It is so nice to read so many concerned devotees debating the issues related
to cow protection. Here on the outskirts of Buenos Aires I am training two
jersey oxen as well as two horses to work the farm. But my main occupation is a
one-hectare bio-intensive organic garden. All that I have gleamed from this
conference comes down to the fact that to have cow protection one needs to work
oxen as the priority with milk as a by-product.Thus action not debate.

How many ISKCON farms are productively using their oxen, either if producing
goods or in services, like tourism for example?
How many ISKCON farms have organic agricultural businesses?
How many ISKCON farms are actually earning a living from selling orgainic
vegetables directly to the market?
How many ISKCON farms are adding value to this vegetable production to make
things like organic baby purees?

We can debate ad infinitum, but as any artist knows – when is the art piece
finished? Never. When is the debate finished? Never. Debate is in part useless
if it does not yield action. As Bhisma says in the Mahabarata, “the better part
of destiny is action.”

Syamasundara´s comments on milk costs and demand/supply considerations of
producing protected cow milk, and all other comments on the lacto-veg and vegan
arguments are all sound to an extent. But if we know that the viability of the
whole cow protection model rests in working the oxen and if that entails
organic vegetable and grain production, and if we are not doing it, then our
debate is just going around and around in circles, as an artist never finishing
his painting.

The end of oil could well be a red herring – new technologies are available
to replace oil and keep energy abundant.
Consumer demand, especially from devotees, is highly sensitive to price
considerations, and will not easily pay 6 times the going rate.
Cow protection as a pure novelty for “krsna´s” is nice but non-replicable in
the larger stage.
That others will come and take the baby is dubious as we are way ahead of the
curve.

We are the cusp of the curve on this issue. But we need to litteraly take the
bull by the horns and more on to the next painting, the next stage.
At the moment, I am not using neither horses or oxen on the farm, though I
have every intention of doing so. First I am creating a profitable organic
vegetable business, then I will introduce animals into it where necesary and
when I and the animals are trained to do it.

As in business reengineering, so popular in the 90s, instead of devising the
business from “zero budget” and implementing it in staged, feasible parts, it
tended to concentrate on things like the implementation of new technologies.
This meant that rather than reengineer the business from scratch it just added
new layers of plasters to deep underlying problems.

We are in the same boat. The sacred cow is two fold, milk production and ox
work. But to have milk sales the costs need to come down, and to have ox work
we need to have economic activity using them – both goods and services.
First we need to form organic vegetable farms, with direct sales of freshly
picked, very healthy vegies straight to the consumer – often our congregation.
Then we can see how to put oxen to work as a complement to the farming system.
What I mean to say is that we need to concentrate on the business not the
technology (oxen). Then, when the business yields we can see in what way the
technology can be implemented in more efficient ways.

We are idealists too often and not pragmatists. Business just means the
quality of being busy. If we are busy doing an activity, but that activity is
loss yielding, then it is only a hobby, by which we finance it by other
activities.
We can not afford to keep cow protection and ox work as a hobby. If so then
you have a lot of money, for it is a very expensive hobby.
The profit motive is not bad; it is essential.
Greed is bad, profit is required.

Check out bio-intensive means of production. I have poured tons of manure
onto my double dug beds of 1.3 meters by 6 meters. It is a clay soil so I have
added a lot of sand. The veg that is grown is incredible. All that I need to do
now is stop the investment, as it is now complete, and concentrate on
efficiencies and making a profit.
The technology – oxen, will be found a place – ploughing, transport, and
tourism (eg. cart rides).

Knowing the Manor and other ICKON farms, you have everything there to do it –
Land, pleanty of it, Labour – employ it, Capital – lots of it. To the latter
one you may smirk, but then you live in highly developed countries, in the UK
the hindus are rich and money is peanuts. Here in the third world, money is
hard to get: There is no comparison.
What is lacking?
The entrepeneur – the person who gets up one day with the right idea and
organises land, labour and capital to accomplish hir vision.

Why won´t we do it?

That is what I am asking.

Comments Off on Action NOT Debate