Demigods on Earth?
by Narasimha das
We were reading this morning in Srimad-Bhagavatam class Seventh Canto, Chapter 22, verses 11 through 16. In this section of Bhagavatam the importance of Brahminical culture is especially stressed, but it also mentions the importance of ksyatriyas and cow protection, and true vaisyas to protect the cows and land. Human society is in such a degraded and fearful condition now that even devotees seem to have become affected my fear, maliciousness, bickering, and gross materialism. Most devotees seem reluctant to cooperate on any level for genuine sankirtana or varnashrama projects. Most seem to have no clear idea that Srila Prabhupada is the Jagat Guru for everyone in this age. And the people in general blindly follow blind leaders on the networks of paths leading to hellish conditions in this life and the next. Few people believe in the laws or karma or life after death. Thus, mass destruction on a global scale seems likely soon.
We can only pray for the mercy of Krishna and His great devotees. We should constantly remember and worship Srila Prabhupada, the real Jagat Guru for everyone in this age, and do public sankirtana as far as possible. Discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books among devotees is also sankirtana.[Please see also Srila Prabhupada’s 1935 Bombay Vysas Puja homage.]
The basic principle of brahminical culture is to satisfy Lord Viṣṇu, the personification of sacrificial and ritualistic ceremonies. Lord Viṣṇu is the personified reservoir of all religious principles, and He is the shelter of all the demigods, the great pitās, and the people in general. When the brāhmaṇas are killed, no one will exist to encourage the kṣatriyas to perform yajñas, and thus the demigods, not being appeased by yajña, will automatically die.
Since Viṣṇu is the central point of brahminical culture, Hiraṇyakaśipu’s plan was to kill Viṣṇu, for if Viṣṇu were killed, naturally the brahminical culture would also be lost. With brahminical culture lost, yajña would no longer be performed, and for want of yajña the regular distribution of rainfall would cease (yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ [Bg. 3.14]). Thus, there would be disturbances all over the world, and naturally the demigods would be defeated. From this verse we get a clear indication of how human society is disturbed when the Vedic Āryan civilization is killed and the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies performed by the brāhmaṇas are stopped. Kalau śūdra–sambhavaḥ: because the population of the modern world consists mostly of śūdras, the brahminical culture is now lost and is extremely difficult to reestablish in a proper way. Therefore Lord Caitanya has recommended the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, which will revive brahminical culture very easily.
Because of the increment in demoniac population, people have lost brahminical culture. Nor is there a kṣatriya government. Instead, the government is a democracy in which any śūdra can be voted into taking up the governmental reigns and capture the power to rule. Because of the poisonous effects of Kali–yuga, the śāstra (Bhāg. 12.2.13) says, dasyu–prāyeṣu rājasu: the government will adopt the policies of dasyus, or plunderers. Thus, there will be no instructions from the brāhmaṇas, and even if there are brahminical instructions, there will be no kṣatriya rulers who can follow them. Aside from Satya–yuga, even formerly, in the days when demons were flourishing, Hiraṇyakaśipu planned to destroy the brahminical culture and the kṣatriya government and thus create chaos all over the world. Although in Satya–yuga this plan was very difficult to execute, in Kali–yuga, which is full of śūdras and demons, the brahminical culture is lost and can be revived only by the chanting of the mahā–mantra. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, or the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, has been inaugurated to revive brahminical culture very easily so that people may become happy and peaceful in this life and prepare for elevation in the next.
In this regard, Śrīla Madhvācārya quotes this verse from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: “O King, the demons think that Hari, Lord Viṣṇu, exists because of the brāhmaṇas and yajña, but factually Hari is the cause of everything including the brāhmaṇas and yajña.” Therefore, through the popularizing of hari–kīrtana, or the saṅkīrtana movement, the brahminical culture and kṣatriya government will automatically come back, and people will be extremely happy.
Immediately go wherever there is good protection for the cows and brāhmaṇas and wherever the Vedas are studied in terms of the varṇāśrama principles. Set fire to those places and cut from the roots the trees there, which are the source of life.
The picture of a proper human civilization is indirectly described here. In a perfect human civilization there must be a class of men fully trained as perfect brāhmaṇas. Similarly, there must be kṣatriyas to rule the country very nicely according to the injunctions of the śāstras, and there must be vaiśyas who can protect the cows. The word gāvaḥ indicates that cows should be given protection. Because the Vedic civilization is lost, cows are not protected, but instead indiscriminately killed in slaughterhouses. Such are the acts of demons. Therefore, this is a demoniac civilization. The varṇāśrama–dharma mentioned here is essential for human civilization. Unless there is a brāhmaṇa to guide, a kṣatriya to rule perfectly, and a perfect vaiśya to produce food and protect the cows, how will people live peacefully? It is impossible.
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 Viṣṇu. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo’nyatra loko’yaṁ karma–bandhanaḥ: [Bg. 3.9]) “work done as a sacrifice for Lord Viṣṇu 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 Viṣṇu. This literature clarifies our relationship with Lord Viṣṇu, and therefore the publication of ISKCON literature is the performance of yajña. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma–bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9]). Yajña 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.
Thus, the demons, being fond of disastrous activities, took Hiraṇyakaśipu’s instructions on their heads with great respect and offered him obeisances. According to his directions, they engaged in envious activities directed against all living beings.
The followers of demoniac principles, as described here, are thoroughly envious of the general populace. In the present day, scientific advancement exemplifies such envy. The discovery of nuclear energy has been disastrous to people in general because demons all over the world are manufacturing nuclear weapons. The word kadana–priyāḥ is very significant in this regard. The demoniac persons who want to kill the Vedic culture are extremely envious of the feeble citizens, and they act in such a way that ultimately their discoveries will be inauspicious for everyone (jagato ’hitāḥ). The Sixteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā fully explains how the demons engage in sinful activities for the destruction of the populace.
The demons set fire to the cities, villages, pasturing grounds, cowpens, gardens, agricultural fields and natural forests. They burned the hermitages of the saintly persons, the important mines that produced valuable metals, the residential quarters of the agriculturalists, the mountain villages, and the villages of the cow protectors, the cowherd men. They also burned the government capitals.
The word udyāna refers to places where trees are especially grown to produce fruits and flowers, which are most important for human civilization. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.26): “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Fruits and flowers are very much pleasing to the Lord. If one wants to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he can simply offer fruits and flowers, and the Lord will be pleased to accept them. Our only duty is to please the Supreme Godhead (saṁsiddhir hari–toṣaṇam [SB 1.2.13]). Whatever we do and whatever our occupation, our main purpose should be to please the Supreme Lord. All the paraphernalia mentioned in this verse is especially meant for the satisfaction of the Lord, not the satisfaction of one’s senses. The government—indeed, the entire society—should be structured in such a way that everyone can be trained to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But unfortunately, especially in this age, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum: [SB 7.5.31] people do not know that the highest goal of human life is to please Lord Viṣṇu. On the contrary, like demons, they simply plan to kill Viṣṇu and be happy by sense gratification.
Some of the demons took digging instruments and broke down the bridges, the protective walls and the gates [gopuras] of the cities. Some took axes and began cutting the important trees that produced mango, jackfruit and other sources of food. Some of the demons took firebrands and set fire to the residential quarters of the citizens.
The cutting of trees is generally prohibited. In particular, trees that produce nice fruit for the maintenance of human society should not be cut. In different countries there are different types of fruit trees. In India the mango and jackfruit trees are prominent, and in other places there are mango trees, jackfruit trees, coconut trees and berry trees. Any tree that produces nice fruit for the maintenance of the people should not be cut at all. This is a śāstric injunction.
Thus, disturbed again and again by the unnatural occurrences caused by the followers of Hiraṇyakaśipu, all the people had to cease the activities of Vedic culture. Not receiving the results of yajña, the demigods also became disturbed. They left their residential quarters in the heavenly planets and, unobserved by the demons, began wandering on the planet earth to see the disasters.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the performance of yajña brings reciprocal good fortune for both the human beings and the demigods. When the performances of yajña were stopped by the disturbances of the demons, the demigods were naturally bereft of the results of yajña and hampered in executing their respective duties. Therefore, they came down to the planet earth to see how people had become disturbed and to consider what to do.[Note: These troubling times we live in today are similar to the times mentioned here. Demoniac persons control the world, and the mass of people and been beaten down by atheistic principles and forced lifestyles that “kill the vitality of human life”. Thus, Srila Prabhupada called the modern civilization a “soul killing civilization.” Lord Chaitanya, however, came to save sincere souls from the blazing fire of material existence by propagating the chanting of Krishna’s Holy Names. Those who assist the mission of Lord Chaitanya will avoid the greatest fear mentioned in Bhagavad-gita (mahato bhayat), which is not death, but rebirth–particularly rebirth in lower species of life. Rebirth in this Age of Kali, even in a family of brahmins or devotees, is also fearful. Devotees should not fear death but should fear rebirth in material existence.]