Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Population Bomb

Krishna Lila “By performance of yajna we can have enough food, enough milk, etc.-even if there is a so-called increase of population.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.31 Purport)

Many leaders throughout the world are concerned with the issue of overpopulation. As birth rates rise, governments worry that an increase in population will lead to a scarcity of food and other necessary resources. For this reason, politicians are proposing plans aimed at controlling the population sizes of their countries.

“Jonathon Porritt, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society…Porritt said: “Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure. ‘Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.’” (UK Population must fall to 30m, says Porritt, Times Online)

The concern over population increases is not a new one. In the late 1960s, scientist Paul Ehrlich published a book called The Population Bomb, where he predicted mass starvation and worldwide chaos over the next twenty years due to overpopulation. Ironically, the worldwide food supply is higher today than it has ever been, with farmers in the United States paid by the government to limit food production in order that they may remain profitable.

Based on empirical evidence and the injunctions of the Vedas, one can see that fears relating to the effects of overpopulation are unfounded. The ancient scriptures of India declare that Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, created this and millions of other universes through His various energies and expansions.

“O son of Kunti, at the end of the millennium every material manifestation enters into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency I again create.” (Lord Krishna, Bg 9.7)

Krishna speaking to Arjuna The entire cosmic manifestation, with millions of planets floating in the air independently, is maintained by Him alone. Thus it is naturally concluded that the same Krishna can easily maintain an innumerable amount of human beings, plants, animals, and aquatics on earth. Easily overlooked is the fact that nothing in this world is created by our actions. We may think ourselves the doers and the cause behind the fruits of our labor, but in fact God is the source of everything. Though a computer or high tech machine may be capable of exceeding the productivity of humans, still it is the human being that causes the computer or machine to perform its tasks. In the same way, our food and water may come from the earth, but it is God who created material nature in the first place. Since God can create on an infinite scale, He can also maintain that same creation.

When Lord Krishna personally appeared on earth over five thousand years ago, He was simultaneously married to 16,108 different wives. Many people will read such a fact and not believe it. “It must be part of the Hindu mythology” they’ll say. In fact, even the great sage Narada Muni was puzzled by this. Krishna was born in the kshatriya race, which meant His occupation was that of an administrative king. Narada Muni personally came to visit the Lord in one of His palaces. There he saw Krishna engaged in activities with His primary wife, Rukmini Devi. Then Narada visited another palace and saw Krishna there as well with another one of His wives. In this way, Narada visited all the different palaces and saw Krishna in every one of them. He was quite astonished.

“Thus Narada saw one single Krishna living in sixteen thousand palaces by His plenary expansions. Due to His inconceivable energy, He was visible in each and every individual queen's palace. Lord Krishna has unlimited power, and Narada's astonishment was boundless upon observing again and again the demonstration of Lord Krishna's internal energy.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol. 2, Ch. 14)

Narada Muni Knowing that God can sustain all of us, why do these politicians fear overpopulation so much? The answer is that they have forgotten about Krishna, or God, and their relationship with Him. It is a dog eat dog world today, where everyone is generally out for themselves, especially politicians. Everyone is hankering after sense gratification, concerning themselves primarily with the four activities of animal life: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. One who is obsessed with acquiring wealth, once having attained it, naturally fears losing. Thus these people become very defensive, turning into misers. When people become miserly, they become concerned primarily with their own welfare. They regard their own comfort as being more important than the comfort of others. These people genuinely fear that the quality of life they have grown accustomed to will be jeopardized by overpopulation. Thus they propose solutions geared at limiting the activities and resources of the common man, all the while exempting themselves from such regulations. It is pure greed couched as compassion for the environment.

The idea of politicians controlling the overpopulation of a society is quite alarming. Once a government is granted that power, it can then decide who lives and who dies. A good government is one that views all its citizens equally, in the mold of Lord Rama, Krishna’s incarnation who set the standard for how governments should be run. Instead, modern day governments are choosing favorites, deciding who will live, who will be wealthy, and who will have access to necessary resources. These solutions will not solve anything since they don’t tackle the root of the problem.

The greatest burden to the earth comes not from any increases in population, but from man’s overindulgence in sense gratification. Whether one is driving a car or riding a bicycle, living a life simply based on sense gratification will never make one happy. The material senses are never satisfied, as hard as one may try. Man wasn’t happy with the horse and buggy, so he created the car. That wasn’t good enough, so then the airplane was invented. Still not enough, man created spaceships to fly to the moon. The strain on resources is only a result of man’s unsatisfied desires.

Lord Krishna The real solution to all our problems is for us to become God conscious. This is the aim of life. We can indulge in fruitive activity, known as karma, but that will not provide us liberation. Acting in this way, we will be forced to continually accept new bodies after death in the process known as reincarnation. The only way to stop this cycle is for us to reconnect with Krishna, who is the ultimate reservoir of pleasure. One who is devoted to Krishna automatically acquires all good qualities, with humility and respect for all life being two of them. When there is respect for God and for all life, there will be no scarcity of food or resources. Man can live peacefully, working together in service to the Lord. Let us not be so concerned with the loss or gain of our material properties, for they are all temporary. One need only look to God to solve all our problems. By becoming devoted to Him, we spirit souls can return to His kingdom after this life, solving the population problem once and for all.