“As if in fear of Hiranyakashipu, the planet earth, which consists of seven islands, delivered food grains without being plowed. Thus it resembled cows like the surabhi of the spiritual world or the kama-dugha of heaven. The earth yielded sufficient food grains, the cows supplied abundant milk, and outer space was beautifully decorated with wonderful phenomena.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.16)
तथा काम-दुघा गावो
tathā kāma-dughā gāvo
Friend1: I think this issue comes up every now and then, and I’d like to dig into it a little deeper. This idea of requiring sacrifice, yajna, in order to receive food grains.
Friend2: Well, you receive the rain first. The clouds extract water from the ocean and then distribute rain in a timely manner. In some places of the world the rain only appears during two months of the year, primarily. Goswami Tulsidas takes advantage of this phenomenon of nature to make a comparison to the transformation that takes place in the person who chants the holy name of Rama.
बरषा रितु रघुपति भगति तुलसी सालि सुदास |
रामनाम बर बरन जुग सावन भादव मास ||
baraṣā ritu raghupati bhagati tulasī sāli sudāsa |
rāmanāma bara barana juga sāvana bhādava māsa ||
“Devotion to Shri Rama is like the rainy season, the wonderful devotees the paddy fields, and the two syllables in Rama’s name the months of Sawan and Bhadon [rainy season], says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 25)
Friend1: Okay, but the general idea is that some religious effort is required. You have to do something in order to get rain, which leads to the important grain.
अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि
यज्ञाद् भवति पर्जन्यो
annād bhavanti bhūtāni
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)
Friend2: Yes, the verse from the Bhagavad-gita explains it perfectly. Rain seems like a random occurrence, just another aspect of nature, but there is always intelligence in the background. That is why you sometimes see droughts. Some areas get too much rain. The more man tries to study science while neglecting the influence of a higher authority, the more they are baffled. One day they warn of a coming ice age. The next day they say the planet is getting too hot. When that stops happening, they point to any severe weather event as proof of a so-called configurable changing climate.
Friend1: It’s like every time they proclaim something, they have to revise it later on.
Friend2: Because no one knows. Nature is infinitely complex. You can develop a computer model to predict the future based on the input of past data, but that is still such a small sample size. The universe is billions of years old, and no one has the complete picture.
Friend1: And even if they did, there is no guarantee that the future will follow the same pattern. Anyway, a couple of issues to bring up. The first relates to the obvious lack of religious behavior in animals.
Friend2: They cannot engage in yajna. They have no concept of it.
Friend1: They still receive rain, though. Cows feed off the grass, which is due to the rain. Even carnivorous species can eventually link their diet back to rain.
Friend2: And you want to know how these people survive since they don’t engage in yajna.
Friend1: Exactly. There is also something I read in Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: When the wicked Hiranyakashipu took control over the world, the earth would produce grain without being plowed. It was so in fear of what that evil king would do that it didn’t rely on external factors.
Friend2: Yes, because Hiranyakashipu usurped the post of the demigods. He took over Indra’s kingdom. The demigods would worship him out of fear. When receiving oblations from sacrifice, Hiranyakashipu would not share with anyone else.
Friend1: Again, the question of grain production. There was no yajna that I know of. The earth produced regardless. Cows produced milk. Doesn’t this mean yajna is not the cause?
Friend2: Now you are getting somewhere.
Friend1: If you agree with me, aren’t you contradicting the Bhagavad-gita and Shri Krishna Himself?
Friend2: There is always a higher purpose to fulfill. Yajna is synonymous with Vishnu, who is the person Hiranyakashipu despised. The ultimate objective of any yajna is to please Vishnu. The rain and the grain that subsequently arrive aren’t that important.
Friend1: But they are to the people in need of food.
Friend2: Yes, that is the psychology of which Krishna takes advantage. He helps people come closer to Him. There is no other purpose to religion. Otherwise, stay the same as the animals, who don’t engage in yajna. They eat without a problem. They have no elaborate food storage systems, like pantries, refrigerators or freezers. They rely entirely on nature, and that is sufficient to live the average duration of life.
Friend1: Why should the human being engage in yajna, then?
Friend2: Follow the sacrifice recommended for the age. Pleasing the demigods is fine, but bypassing them you can still receive resources from nature. That is one of the lessons from the first Govardhana Puja. The people worshiped the nearby hill instead of Indra. This was at Krishna’s insistence. They weren’t penalized as a result. They still had plenty of food to eat, afterwards. Hiranyakashipu and others can attempt to rise as high as the demigods in a material existence, but there is always Krishna’s sanction in the background. He can give, and He can also take away. The earth was in fear of that father of Prahlada, but soon that reign of terror would end.
If rain supply to reduce,
How earth grain to produce?
And milk receiving how,
Since nothing to eat for cow?
Hiranyakashipu over heaven control taking,
But still earth and cows production making.
Meaning that yajna of higher purpose then,
Realized through Prahlada appearance when.