Dear Sir Alister Hardy,
I beg to thank you for your coming here yesterday evening, we had very nice talks on religious experience, and I have studied your replies to my questions very carefully.
My first question was "what is the problem of the human life?"
So I have already explained, the problem is that at the present moment there is no proper understanding of God. Human life is especially meant for this purpose, to understand God. That is quite natural, cats and dogs or lower animals or man almost like animal cannot understand God, neither they think such things are necessary, that one should understand God, and his relationship with him.
When we speak of power, it means there must be a source of the powerful, for example we may speak of the electric power, so immediately it suggests that there must be a source of power, the power house, and the power house is being conducted by some engineer. So ultimately there is a living force, a living entity. He is Generating the power by mechanical arrangement, and we can experience his power in so many ways.
You have tried to explain in your book "The findings of such research might spark off a new phase in religious history, people might be induced to try the experiment of approaching this power in their own way, not by prayer or the alteration of physical events or for national safety or material aims, but for spiritual strength and guidance for a better way of life, or perhaps how best to deal with some difficulty." This is indeed very good.
When you say "People might be induced to try this experiment" of approaching this power. Power is energy, so when you speak of approaching the power it means the powerful, power is not independent unless being the power there is a supreme powerful, this is reasonable, to search out the powerful. Without the powerful no power can exist. A politician or a big general exhibits his power as the powerful by his commandment or by his order.
Therefore your understanding of the power is not complete, you must induce people to approach that supreme power. We can understand power in wealth, if a man is very wealthy he is powerful and can exhibit his power by spending money. Similarly if a man is very strong he can exhibit his power in so many ways. Similarly if a man is highly educated he is also powerful, he can influence so man men with his knowledge. Therefore we have to accept that behind the power, there must be the powerful, otherwise our knowledge is imperfect.
When we understand the powerful then immediately we can know his different powers perfectly. The powerful has multi powers. if a A person can understand what is that powerful God, then he can easily understand what are his powers. So this whole world is being conducted by the power of the supreme person, or the powerful.
The only problem that we face is that we are neglecting to understand the supreme powerful. The subsidiary problems as you Have stated, just like over population have been created by man. If we accept that the ultimate truth is the powerful, then the powerful can maintain any number of population, otherwise there is no meaning to Powerful if he is subjected to any limitation.
The supreme powerful is unlimitedly powerful, and practically we can see that the problem of overpopulation amongst the animals is not extant. Just like the elephants, they are not thinking where to get food. Or just like the cats and dogs and hogs, they are producing at a time half a dozen Children or more, so incomparison to them man is producing one child, or two children. Formerly man used to have hundreds of sons, at the present moment a man has got two three at most ten sons. So where is the question of over population?
We understand from the history of Mahabharata that Dhrtarastra had one hundred sons, but there are many other examples also. Maharaja Rsabha dev had one hundred sons, so they were big prominent men in the history the names of the most prominent men are mentioned. It is therefore safe to conclude that if the King can produce one hundred sons the subjects also can produce one hundred sons, if not all of then at least some of them. So at that time there was no question of overpopulation, we do not find it in the history of Mahabharata.
Actually it is not a question of over population but of equal distribution of food. Just like America, they are producing enough food, and there is potency of producing more. But the Government prohibits the farmer to produce more. It is not a problem that the population has increase, but the distribution is mismanaged. Or by industrialization we have reduced the energy for producing food in favor of producing thing other than food. So on the whole it is not a question of overpopulation but of equal distribution of food, or producing food. For want of God consciousness this mistake is there.
If God is all powerful, he may not agree, or at least his agency, the material nature, may not agree to give sufficient food to the demons. Demons means Godless persons. We get this historical event from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that during the time of Maharaja Prthu there was scarcity of food, so the King wanted to punish the earthly deity, because she was not supplying food. He wanted to kill her. But the earthly deity replied, that she has reduced the supply of food because she did not like to supply the demons.
So there is no question of overpopulation, it is a question of demons. The number of demons has increased and therefore by nature that supply is minimized. As we were discussing that verse from Bhagavad-gita that "The production of food depends on sufficient pouring of water from the sky" that is not in our hands. Because we have become Godless, because we have stopped sacrifice or Yajna, which means to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supply of rain may be stopped. God may not be angry, but his agents like the material nature, she does not like to give sufficient food stuffs to the demons. That is the version of the Vedic literature.
At the present moment the people are all demonic, the do not care for sinful life, unrestrictedly they are killing animals which is the most sinful activity, unnecessary. They are indulging in all kinds of intoxicating habits, and unnecessarily they are indulging in prostitution.
The demonic people take advantage of women who do not get husband and take advantage of their body for sense gratification. These things are happening because people have no knowledge of the powerful. So the real problem is want of God consciousness. People should know that power, then other problems will be automatically solved.
Similarly the problem of malnutrition, it comes to the same proposition. Because nature is taking revenge on the demonic population malnutrition is also one of the branches of such revenge.
Pollution of environment is a problem which people in America are viewing with great concern. This problem is also due to Godlessness. People instead of producing food they are producing in huge quantities some artificial necessities of life, for which so much industry is working at top speed. Industrialization means to bring the people more and more away from God consciousness. The laborer, the worker in the factory, all of them are sudras, and the capitalist of the industry they are vaisyas, so the whole population is now composed of vaisyas and Sudras, which means the quality of passion and ignorance is now prominent.
A passionate person or ignorant person cannot understand the Powerful, only those who are in Goodness or mixed Goodness and passion they can understand the powerful. so there is a necessity of changing the ignorant persons into persons with real knowledge. Therefore these people should be turned to become God conscious, that is our programme. Anyone from any group, either sudra, vaisya, or any group lower than the sudra, we are taking them and making them intelligent and giving them a chance to understand the supreme power.
So all around the real problem is to understand the supreme power and all other problems are subsidiary. There is no question of over population of people become God conscious. The all powerful can supply any amount of necessities of the people, and they can eat very nicely and so there is no question of mal nutrition. For want of knowledge of the supreme powerful all these problems have come into being.
Then as you mentioned the problems of clashes between racial and national interests which often lead to war. This problem is also due to lack of God Consciousness because God consciousness means to understand that we are all sons of the same family. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that the supreme lord must be the supreme father. I have got my father, he has got his fat father and he has got his father on and on he has got his father, in this way there must be one ultimate father, nobody can deny it. So that ultimate father he is God.
Therefore in every scripture the supreme powerful is addressed as father, and in the Bhagavad-gita also the supreme powerful is mentioned as the suprem seed Giving father. Because we are forgetting the father, because we are forgetting that we are all the servants of one supreme father we are missing our real relationship between one living entity and another.
If we actually understand that we are born of the same father and everything that is there on the surface of the globe, in the sky in the water everything is the property of the supreme Father, then we must understand that everyone has got the right to use the property of the supreme father.
Just like in a big family the father is there, the mother is there and the sons are there. The father gives food to the sons as much as they require. One son may be a very voracious eater so he may eat more than the other son, but the father supplies him, he does not stop him, the father is competent to supply all the sons as much as they require. But if one son is hoarding food stuffs, that is sinful. You cannot take more than what you need.
We see practically if we throw one bag of grain in the street many birds will come, they may eat two three four or ten grains, but they do not stock away for the future. But if we put a bag of rice into the street and allow people to take there will be regular fight, because every human being will want to take more than his immediate need. So this is also due to lack of God consciousness. If one can understand that the father is there, and he is supplying daily bread then why shall I stock more than I need. the present scarcity of food stuffs is due to hoarding by the capitalist.
There is enough food stuff in the world, but at the same time there is a scarcity. If you pay more money on the black market then you will get enough. So from God's side there is enough food, but from our side we are mismanaging everything simply to make more money. Unless there is God Consciousness, understanding that everything is the property of the supreme father, there are so many children so he will supply, why should I hoard food, the problems will not be solved.
Now so far as ideology of religion is concerned: Religion means to abide by the orders of God, that's all. God is great, we are his sons, he is supplying all our necessities these are the right understandings. Why should there be any difference in religious practices. If you come to God consciousness then we can understand the birds the beasts the plants everyone is son of God, we have no right to kill. But the so called man made religious systems say the animals are our food and another religion says, "No, no, there should be no animal killing," this difference in practice of religious systems is due to want of God consciousness.
If we actually come to the point of God consciousness then all these differences will be perfectly resolved, but unless there is actual God consciousness you will not be able to change the Ideologies. I have asked many Christian Gentle men "Why are you killing when in the Bible it is clearly said, Thou shalt not kill?" they cannot give me any satisfactory reply. In a round about way they try to avoid this question. So all these are due to a lack of God consciousness.
So all these problems are due only to a lack of God consciousness. Therefore is you can actually help people to know about the supreme powerful that will be a great help. But I see that your method is not very satisfactory. You are making research by accepting the statements of common peoples expression of religious sentiment. There is no need of research, the result of research in this matter is already there perfectly presented in Bhagavad-gita, all we have to do is accept it and the whole problem of research is solved.
You want to establish your conclusion of religious experience by taking the opinions of laymen. A laymans sentimental expression about religious problems is not a practical understanding of religious problems. Religion as we have explained means the orders of God, therefore it must be scientifically studied, what are his orders, how to abide by them. Simply by taking statistics of the sentiments of common men we cannot come to the right conclusion.
Therefore for right understanding we are advocating that people take advantage of this institution, International society for Krishna consciousness by hearing about God from authorized books like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam which were directly spoken by God himself, therefore making the whole thing most scientific and practical.
I hope that we can again meet and discuss this important matter further. I hope this letter meets you in good health.
your ever well wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Srila Prabhupada to Sir Alastair Hardy, 28th July, 1973