“My dear father, O great sage, I know that your feet are very soft, like a lotus flower, and that My chest is as hard as a thunderbolt. I am therefore afraid that you may have felt some pain by touching My chest with your feet. Let Me therefore touch your feet to relieve the pain you have suffered.” (Lord Vishnu, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 34)
It is only natural for a person to view others differently. Growing up in a single area, knowing everyone in the community, following a certain culture, when introduced to a different part of the world the way of living will seem new.
There may even be feelings of superiority, such as the “my religion is better than yours” attitude. When viewing followers of the Vedic culture in a less industrially developed part of the world, it is not surprising to hear the following attitude expressed:
“Just see what these people get. Following a false religion with their made up gods. What has Vishnu done for them? They are stuck in poverty, forced to be treated like animals by the government. This is the lower end of the gene pool. Nature will take care of everything.”
The derision is due primarily to the supposed difference in development. One society is advanced, while the other is lagging behind, but we see that even in the superior economic climate there are many signs of significant suffering.
1. Widespread use of anti-depressants
“If you have so much money, why do people need pills for everything? You are proud of the ability to travel first-class on an airplane, but many of the passengers are so afraid that they require anti-anxiety medication in order to tolerate the turbulence. Otherwise, they suffer from panic attacks.
“Then there are the people regularly taking such medication in order to feel better. Shouldn’t your ability to sit comfortably in the air-conditioned home and stream endless hours of television programming solve the problem? You are not in the third-world, so why are there any issues, at all?”
2. Widespread intoxication
“Driving while drunk is so common in your community that they are installing these devices into the automobile to help with the problem. The idea is that a drunk person will first have to pass the test with the breath in order to start the vehicle.
“One of the most popular ballot initiatives in the different states is to legalize the consumption of marijuana. As if smoking and drinking weren’t enough, you need to find another outlet for intoxication. Why is sobriety not cutting it for you? Aren’t you in the higher end of the gene pool? Yet you act like fourth class human beings and lower.”
3. Widespread animal killing
“A peaceful person doesn’t need to interfere with the lives of others. They are happy with what they have, satisfied in the ability to maintain life without strenuous effort. Yet in your area they round up the animals and kill them by the millions. This is civilized life? This is a sign of advancement?
“If you were advanced you would at least notice the similarities in the different classes of living beings. You would not be concerned with what others are doing. You would know how to properly prepare food that satisfies the taste buds and stomach and doesn’t stand on the foundation of cruelty.”
4. Widespread disagreement
“You are supposed to be advanced, in a higher status of living, but no one is happy. People argue all the time. Over how to deal with the spread of a supposedly deadly virus. Over how much in taxes a person should pay. Over what a celebrity commented about another celebrity. Over how much the internet provider charges for monthly service.
“An advanced state of living should carry less disagreement. People living in harmony. Supporting one another. Empathy for the various struggles. Volunteerism to offer assistance. Instead, it seems everyone in your community is out for themselves. Earn as much as they can right now, not concerned with the afterlife.”
5. Widespread debt
“The government just borrows money to pay for things. Even when that limit is reached, they just print additional currency. The purpose is always to give to those in need. If everything were running smoothly, then there would be honesty in dealings.
“Then there is the issue of personal debt. This is a kind of dishonesty. Borrowing money and then refusing to pay it back. Petitioning the government to forgive the debt, to essentially cancel out the negative reaction to the initial intentional action.”
From this review we see that economic advancement is not the sole indicator of who is suffering and who is not. From Vedic literature we learn that the devotees of Vishnu, who is the personal God, tend to be poor.
This is attributed to an incident involving Vishnu and the brahmana named Bhrigu. There was a test conducted to see how Vishnu would react to an offense against His transcendental body. Bhrigu offered a swift kick to the chest of an unsuspecting Supreme Lord.
The target did not mind. He was concerned if Bhrigu had injured his foot or not. But Lakshmi Devi, as a devoted wife to Vishnu, did not take too kindly to the incident. In an emotional response, she cursed the brahmana class to remain poor.
That is the underlying cause for the widespread poverty, but there is the additional reason rooted in behavior and attitude. Devotees of Vishnu do not require much. They tend to live simply, and they tolerate the different life conditions. Asceticism rooted in their devotion is their wealth. This is more valuable than any floating balance based in an easily manipulated currency printed by modern governments already under a large mountain of debt.
The human condition involves suffering. No one is truly free. Liberation is the only option, and those who know God as a person and subsequently devote everything to Him become free even prior to quitting the body. They have the powerful ability to withstand any economic condition, windfall or hardship. They always see the beautiful smile of the source of men, whose eternal consort is the goddess of fortune.
Seeing smile on the source of men,
Everything is alright then.
Because Lakshmi by His side,
Vishnu in Vaikuntha to reside.
A place also where I can return,
When favor through devotion earned.
No that by temporary wealth distracted,
And its tasteless enjoyment extracted.
Categories: the five