Founder of ISKCON. His Divine
Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada
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The Extraordinary Wealth of India   10.09.2010

Diary of a spiritual journey 26

March 27th, 2010

In my youth I started a journey in search for the deeper meaning of life. This journey took me to India, which greatly inspired me and again and again I was drawn to return to the land of Bharata. So much good in my life began in India, I remain greatly indebted.  I gradually absorbed more and more of the culture and tradition based on the Vedas, my stay in that sacred land has transformed my life. I began to embrace principles of dharma and morality, of ahimsa, non violence and kindness to all living beings, I began to yearn for God. Then I had the good fortune to come across the bhakti movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which, with it’s roots in India, has been introduced worldwide in modern times by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I became his follower. Now thirty-two years later I travel around the world as a sannyasi and spiritual teacher. I express my gratitude to the people from India for preserving qualities of dharma  outlined in the Vedas Culture , high moral values of honesty, compassion, control of lust and senses, and honest means  of earning a livelihood form the basis of that culture.

In 1886 Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, a great Vaisnava Acarya in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and a prolific writer, wrote a book called “Sri Caitanya Siksamrta”, where he addresses topics that are very relevant to this article.

He addresses the rise and fall the Greek and Roman Empires. The Thakura says; “The previous Roman and Greek civilizations weer much more powerful than the modern European nations. But where are they now? Those races have become devoid of their previous qualities and taken up the qualities and lifestyle of modern-day nations. They have become so transformed that they have no pride in their previous glory. Although the Aryan civilization is much more ancient than that of the Greeks and the Romans, even now the people of India take pride in their ancient heroes. Why is that? The Varnasrama system remained strong and thus the culture of the society was preserved and not lost.” pg.83/84

The varnasrama society, which is primarily dedicated to the spiritual upliftment of all  divides humanity in to four classes;

  • brahmanas- (the head of society) spiritual teachers, learned in scripture and detached from material pursuit. They work under the direction of the scriptures.
  • ksatriyas- (The arms of scoiety) kings, rulers and militairy man and administrators, who were learned in- and dedicated to scripture and religious principles. They worked under the direction of the brahmanas.
  • Vaisyas- (The waist of society) The mercantile class and farmers who provide the economic basis of society. They recive religious eductaion and follow scriptural principles. They pay 25% of their income in taxes and are charitably inclined. They work under the direction of the brahmanas and the ksatriyas.
  • The sudras (the legs of society) The labour class. They live a simple lifestyle, where basic necessities are met, . They are not given too much opulence so that they won’t become corrupted. They work as assistents to- and are under the protection of the other three classes. They were give both material and spiritual engagement. Trained in skills they weer valued members of society. In this way the sudras were dedicated servants and satisfied with whatever reward they received.

Through Varnasrama, India’s society was primarily centered around a spiritual objective, which was then followed with material prosperity in the form of economic gains, arts, architecture, minerals, jewels, healing herbs and morality and peace.

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura mentions, how eventually though degradation set in;

“Those with no brahminical qualities, thus brahmanas in name only, began to write scriptures with their own selfish interest at heart, thus cheating the other classes. Ksatriyas, without ksatriya qualities were defeated in battle. Without their kingdoms, they began to support Buddhism. Vaisyas without the vaisya nature began to preach Jainism. By this act, the great mercantile community became weakened. Labourers without sudra nature, without the qualification for works of a specific nature, became thieves and dacoits. running withoput any scriptural reference the country came under the control of the Muslims. Shipping companies entered. The concept of service vanished. Gradually the influence of Kali deepened. the present pitiful condition of India, once the controller and teacher of the whole world is not because of old age, but because of the corruption of the varnasrama system.” pg.86/87

Since 1886, hundred-twenty-four years have passed and still there are so many remnants of Vedic culture to be found, but modern facts and figures are pointing to the West.

“Food for Thought”.

In August 2006 a survey was done in India which involved 14,680 respondents, spread across 883 villages and Urban areas in 19 States. The findings were that;

Non-vegetarian…………………… 60%

Vegetarian………………………… 31%

Vegetarians who take eggs…… 9%

Among vegetarians;

Still 55% of those borne in Brahmin family are vegetarian

Women 34%,

Men   28%

www.hinduonnet.com

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In Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that Maharaja Pariksit was the ruler of the earth, when one day, a sudra type of man, who was dressed like a king, had broken the legs of a bull with a stick. The bull represented “Dharma”, his four legs representing the principles of religion; cleanliness, compassion, austerity and truthfulness. The perpetrator was Kali, the materialistic ruler of the age of quarrel. In India today is Dharma on the decline?

One thing that always intrigued me as a child was, “Why are cows considered sacred in India? Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Himself protects the cows. The protection of cow and bull is the basis of peaceful society.  Milk is perfect foodstuff which helps to develop finer brain tissue favorable for spiritual understanding and the bull works the field, providing for a perfect ecological solution.

I was glad to hear that only recently in 2010,the Karnataka government passed legislation to ban the slaughter of cows.  I am concerned though by the statements of the opposition, which are so unbefitting to the rich tradition of India.  I hope the wealth of India will remain preserved and distributed all over the world.

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Cow slaughter ban bill passed in Karnataka Assembly

Amid uproarious scenes, Karnataka Assembly today passed the controversial cow slaughter ban Bill, which provides for stringent punishment for violaters and makes the offence cognisable and non-bailable.

After more than a four-hour debate, the Bill was passed by voice-vote as the entire opposition — Congress and JDS — trooped into the well of the House and shouted anti-government slogans, branding the BJP government “communal”.

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, who termed the legislation “draconian”, “anti-secular” and “unconstitutional” tore a copy of the the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010 — and threw it in the air.

Earlier, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa defended the Bill, saying it was aimed at protecting cows and preserve cattle in Karnataka. A number of states, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir, already had similar legislation, he added.

Cow slaughter ban is in force in Cuba and Iran, Yeddyurappa said, and highlighted the medicinal benefits of cow urine which have been proved by research.The bill prohibits slaughter of cattle, sale, usage and possession of beef, puts restriction on transport of cattle and also prohibits sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter.

The offence is punishable with imprisonment not less than one year which may extend up to seven years or fined between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 or both; second and subsequent offence would attract a fine of not less than Rs 50,000 up to Rs one lakh along with imprisonment penalty.

The bill was intended to replace the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves of she-buffaloes, bull, buffalo male or female.It is also aimed at preservation and improvement of the breeds of cattle and to endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution.

The bill provides for stringent punishment for violation of the act, and also provides for powers to search and seizure of any premises including vessel or vehicle. Home Minister V S Acharya said the bill was “in tune with the sentiments of the majority community”, as per the election manifesto of the BJP, and the judgements of Supreme Court and High Court.

Siddaramaiah said such a bill can be enacted only in “Hitler’s regime” and not in democracy. “Is yours a Hitler’s regime ?” he asked.

The BJP Government, he charged, was thrusting “vegetarian culture” on the people, adding, if the bill was passed, the price of mutton per kg would shoot up to Rs 1,000 from the present Rs 260 or so.

By this act, those dependent on the products such as shoes, leather, belts, nail polish, films, buttons and other beef products would lose their jobs. “You are making their life miserable”, he said.As several opposition members flayed the bill in the debate that saw sparks fly, Siddaramaiah cautioned it would create “disturbance” in society and have an adverse impact on harmony.

Defending the bill, C T Ravi (BJP) said there would be severe shortage of milk in Karnataka in future if the current rate of cow slaughter continued in the State.

JDS leader H D Revanna said the BJP brought the bill keeping in view its “vote bank”. Roshan Baig (Congress) expressed shock over the provision for a seven-year imprisonment in the act. “Don’t try to implement hidden agenda”, he told the BJP government, adding, the 1964 act was good enough.

Qamarul Islam (Congress) said the bill would create “hatred” among different communities, leading to “law and order problems”. Several opposition members argued it poor eat beef as this meat is affordable and inexpensive at around Rs 60 per kg, compared to chicken and mutton. The choice should be left to the people, they said.

source: www.deccanherald.com

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