“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)
अपरेयम् इतस् त्व् अन्यां
प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम्
ययेदं धार्यते जगत्
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
Friend1: In the face of a national crisis, one of the more deplorable activities you’ll witness is hoarding.
Friend2: What kind of crisis?
Friend1: It doesn’t matter the exact one. Just something that causes a panic. People are afraid. That is why they head to the supermarkets and shopping clubs to stock up.
Friend2: On what? Bottled water?
Friend1: Toilet paper seems to be the hot commodity this time around. In all fairness, people have a reason to be concerned. This still should not be justification for walking out of the store with more than you need.
Friend2: Sadly, that’s what happens. I may think that I am fine with my supply, but if I see others taking everything I might be inclined to follow suit. Who knows if the supply will be there in a few weeks, when I will be in need?
Friend1: I think back to one of the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada during a time like this.
Friend2: Which teaching is that?
Friend1: Where he explains how the birds will not follow the same behavior. If a bag of rice should accidentally split open on the road, the birds will come by, for sure. The key distinction is that they will only take as much as they need.
Friend2: No stocking up for the future.
Friend1: You could argue that they are not intelligent enough to do so.
Friend2: Or devious and cunning.
Friend1: It is still a thought-provoking comparison. To me, it accompanies the teaching about allowing animals to live.
Friend2: Instead of killing them?
Friend1: Unnecessarily. Let them do what they want. I do not require a slaughterhouse.
Friend2: Where we use our intelligence to attack the animals on a large scale.
Friend1: It is similar to the hoarding, if you think about it. Anyway, the idea is that animals are just acting on their nature. They may kill other animals, but that does not mean we have to follow the same.
Friend2: Yes, that is silly logic. If an animal behaves a certain way, why should we, who are supposedly more intelligent, imitate?
Friend1: The thing is, couldn’t someone say that we are part of nature, as well? The human beings maintaining slaughterhouses, interfering with the lives of inferior animals, is part of nature’s way.
Friend2: Well, we are certainly part of nature, there is no doubt.
Friend1: Then why is that killing sinful? Why am I harmed in the future, whereas the animals are not?
Friend2: The living entities are part of the superior energy. We don’t know it. We think that maya is our controller, that the dull and lifeless material nature has dominion over us, but God did not make it that way.
Friend1: Okay, superior or inferior, the human beings are part of nature. We are acting on our instincts to kill innocent life. Shrimad Bhagavatam confirms the concept of a food chain:
फल्गूनि तत्र महतां
जीवो जीवस्य जीवनम्
phalgūni tatra mahatāṁ
jīvo jīvasya jīvanam
“Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.47)
Friend2: The idea is that we are different from the animals, in terms of the species we inhabit during this lifetime. Punya and papa apply to us. There is no such thing as karma for the inferior species. They are making their way through the evolution of the species. We, on the other hand, have reached the pinnacle.
Friend1: The human birth.
Friend2: That birth carries a great responsibility. We can apply discrimination. We can utilize intelligence to a higher degree. That is why we can rationally understand the need for letting other living entities live. We can see why it is better to not interfere with the rights of others.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: We are part of nature in the sense that we are the stewards. We are meant to act in a responsible way. This is our chance for understanding the Almighty, and inherent in that understanding is His relationship to all living things.
Friend1: In other words, if we are God-realized, we will see the need for non-violence in most cases.
Friend2: Yes, absolutely. Respect all forms of life, act in accordance with dharma and prescribed karma, and always be conscious of the Supreme Lord, who is all-attractive and thus known as Krishna.
All-attractive as Krishna is known,
Compassion to all beings shown.
Since as Supersoul living inside,
Close in every birth to reside.
So as humans responsibility more,
Stewards with higher purpose for.
With animal community not to interfere,
And with dharma and karma to adhere.