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The causes of war

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Lecture London Aug 23 1973


The Causes of War-jealousy and competition for more


Therefore as sons of God, everyone has got the right to use father's property. But he should not take more than he needs. That is our philosophy. If one takes more than what he needs, then he becomes a criminal.

...Devotee: He says that food is only one need of the living being, but there are many other needs in today's society.

Prabhupāda: No. You have got only four needs. You want food, you want shelter, you want sense gratification, and you want defense. That's all. Āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithun. These needs are there even in the animals. They also eat, they also sleep, they have also sex life, and they also defend in their own way. So you need these four things. So you can arrange for these four things, but not extraordinarily. People are increasing their needs artificially; therefore they are in trouble. And as soon as there is accumulation of more things... If you accumulate more than your need, I also imitate to accumulate more than my need, there is competition. That competition is going on. And that is the cause of war.Those who are aware of the history, the two big wars in your Europe was started by German people because they are very much envious of the English people. The Germans, they could not do business throughout the whole British Empire. We know, Indians. So they are very much envious of these British people, and therefore they started two big wars, world war. So if we collect more... Now the British Empire is finished.

So if we collect more, if you want to acquire more, then other becomes jealous. And in this way, our jealousies increase, and that is the cause of war, that is the cause of fight. But if you are satisfied with your minimum or maximum needs, nobody will be jealous. Just like an elephant is eating forty kilos of foodstuff at a time. We cannot eat even one-fourth kilo, but we are not envious of the elephant because we know he needs to eat so much. Neither the elephant is envious to us. So whatever you need you can collect, you can eat—but don't take more. Then according to the God's law, you become criminal, you are punishable. That is God's law. [break] It is a common sense. You eat; I eat. It is a common philosophy. So I must eat what I need and you must eat what you need. That's not a very big philosophical problem. Everyone knows what you eat. But don't eat more. Suppose I can eat so much. And if I eat more, then I get indigestion. That is the punishment of the laws of nature. I get dysentery. Then I'll have to starve for three days because I've eaten more. So yuktāhāra-vihārasya yoga bhavati siddhitaḥ.

In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said if you want to be a yogi or spiritualist, you should not take more than what you can digest, what can you eat. Yuktāhāra. You can satisfy your hunger, but according to yogic principle. Or from health point of view, even if you can eat so much, you can understand that "I can eat so much," you should not eat the whole thing. You should eat half. And one fourth you shall fill up with water, and one fourth you should leave vacant so that there may be ventilation, your digestion will be easily done. This is Āyurvedic law. Even if you think that you can eat so much, you should not voluntarily eat so much. You should eat half, and one-fourth you should fill up with water, and one-fourth you keep vacant for air ventilation. Then there will be no disease. It is hygienic principle. And as soon as you eat more than what you can digest, you become diseased. That means you are punished. Similarly, in every action you can have your portion as you need, but don't take more. Then it is helpful to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Yuktāhāra vihārasya yogo bhavati siddhi.


Some Conclusions---This is a nice lecture where Srila Prabhupada explains the reasons for war and not just war but the causes for our very own troubles with others and our own body and minds. As soon as we want or desire more than we need or deserve, there is going to be trouble coming to us. On a bodily scale he gives the example of an elephant eating forty kilos of food at one time. We cant do that nor do we envy the elephant for his greater need of eating. But if somebody else, say at a party, takes way more than he needs to eat, everybody else feels slighted because that means they wont get as much for themselves. This is called jealousy or envy and causes wars on a global scale. Prabhupada in particular brings the point home to us, by giving the example of our own selves eating more than our body is capable of eating or digesting without indigestion resulting. The result is disease, and according to the laws of Ayurveda, we become punishable by nature. And just for this case of a one time over eating episode, if we want to be healthy, we must fast for three days. That is the ayurvedic law of nature of how these bodies work.

Similarly for every aspect of our lives, if we don't live according to our means, if we try to amass a fortune for illusory mental or psychological needs ,running up the credit card debt so we can buy more “things” we really don't need, or also today peoples garages are so packed full of stuff, and they have three garages for their homes, and not just one, in addition, have closets full of clothes one cant possibly every wear,etc etc. The list could go on and on.

If we do anything other than just basically maintaining body and soul together, then we are liable to be punished by the laws of nature for taking more than we actually need. This is the jist of Prabhupada's class above.

On the other hand , for the solution, Srila Prabhupada does advocate simple living and high thinking-which does not include amassing so many unneeded things and which simultaneously does not violate natural law and produces a feeling of peacefulness in ones consciousness.

Damaghosa dasa

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