Vaishnava Ecology

By Swami B. A. Paramadvaiti



Body, Mind, and Soul in Harmony with Nature

Note: This text is to be used to show how Vaishnavas serve the world with the timeless wisdom of their school of thought in connection with the practical life and the environment.
It can be printed in connection with other articles or as a separate small magazine.



Dedication

This booklet is offered to my spiritual
Great Grandfather Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura who has
kindly given us the knowledge of our soul and the harmony
with infinite reality.



Table of Contents



Preface

Dear friends, brothers and sisters,

Welcome to our happy duty of taking care of ourselves and our environment. Let us see how we can improve our own consciousness and help others as well.
We were all born on this planet Earth (which in itself is a marvelous wonder, considering the size of the visible universe) and we are eager to find out what to do, and what our responsibilities are here.
Amongst the inhabitants of mother Earth, we find many different ideas, philosophies, and attitudes about life and its purpose. In general, the people of this world follow two predominating concepts: Most try to enjoy life as much as possible; expecting existence to cease at the moment of death, while others consider the world scenario so ghastly that they would rather cease to exist here and now. Not wanting to participate in efforts towards viable solutions, these fellow inhabitants thrive instead for the liberation and elimination of their feelings, thoughts, and desires. They cannot see that everything is astoundingly well designed and organized. If they could, they would clearly understand the existence of a thoughtful creator.
Yet, in the mundane world, is there anyone to be trusted? Does any uncorrupted authority really exist?
We have all seen religious, educational, and political organizations being abused for selfish interests. This has created a general distrust in these institutions. Some distrust and some abuse; and Mother Earth is bearing the scars.
The biological well-being of our Mother Earth, along with the character of mankind, are becoming ruined by the materialistic way of life. Still, as the current residents of this planet, we are the ones responsible for establishing solutions for the future.
Due to the mercy of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, I learned about a culture which existed in previous ages on this planet: the Vedic culture. I read the extensive literature which tells us how the Vedic culture lived in harmony with nature and followed the path of goodness. I considered the teachings of the Vedic school; as they were given to me by my spiritual master. I tested them in my own life and soul searched them in confrontation with the visible world; and I found that Srila Prabhupadas teachings give answers to the many doubts and challenges that come from the rational, modernized way of thinking.
The Vedic tradition, as I learned from my spiritual master, is completely open to making the necessary adjustments for the well-being of all peoples. The Vedic scriptures teach us to protect all those who are weak and helpless, and the Bhagavad Gita teaches us to stay with the truth at any cost.
The desperate condition of our Mother Earth calls for the attention of all people - the Vaishnavas in particular. As Vaishnavas, we invite all brothers and sisters, of all schools of thought, who may share all or some of the following points, to join together with us in a common front and embark on our humble service.
Obviously, it will take many people to make a significant change, and it is we who must begin. We have to learn to be happy without making others unhappy.
The following article is a list of the rules and recommendations, as conceived by me, B. A. Paramadvaiti, of how to create a better world according to the Vaishnava Philosophy. Most of the items mentioned here are just initial concepts which require further research about their proper implementation. This is only the beginning and shall not be considered complete. Nevertheless, please read these points carefully and critically. If you accept them, help to spread this information to others. Let us all be a part of the solution.
I do not want to offend anyone, and wish to be your loving brother in our common cause for our loving Father and Mother Nature. Come and associate with Vaishnavas and find out what riches they have to be shared with everyone.
With brotherly love. Until then.
Your servant,
Swami B. A. Paramadvaiti



Introduction

The Vaishnava philosophy comes from a glorious past called the Vedic Culture. Vedic scriptures and the general Indian lifestyle gave all recognition and protection to Mother Nature. In the scriptures, Mother nature is represented as a cow named Bhumi. She is the nurturing well-wisher of all her residents. It is described that when one person inflicts unnecessary sufferings on other living beings, Bhumi also suffers. Therefore, our duty is to achieve a level of realization which will convince ourselves and humanity to act in such a way that no other living entities are unnecessarily harmed.
Unfortunately, modern India ignores much of their ancient wisdom and adopts a lot of the irresponsible Western lifestyle. In fact, developments of the modern industrial world have transformed the planet in ways that nobody, the Vaishnavas included, were prepared to face. Chemical products, pollution, and corruption are everywhere; and communication through satellite and Internet have reached unexpected dimensions.
When Srila Prabhupada came to the West in 1965, he came to preach a genuine spiritual path. In only twelve years he changed the way the world would look towards Krishna and Vedic culture. This I can only compare to the call of Jesus to his followers; to leave everything material behind and follow his teachings making way for more and more people to be enlightened.
Srila Prabhupada gave us so much that we hardly could grasp it, what to speak of realizing and putting it all into action. New Age developments in particular, such as nutritional discoveries regarding farming and food processing, were not so carefully watched in the young Krishna communities. Singing Krishna's name and studying the scriptures of the past were, and still are our priorities for the realization of the essence of a life of dedication. Nevertheless, the famous slogan of Srila Prabhupada "Simple Living, High Thinking" must be reviewed in the light of our modern world.
According to the authority of the great Srila Rupa Goswami (1493-1564), Vaishnava philosophy shall use everything for Krishna. He describes that false renunciation is to consider material discoveries useless; to think that they shall be destroyed and thus ignore them does not serve the purpose of the creator. Instead, new inventions should be used to glorify the creator and to teach the world what they must know - urgently.
A most recent example of this is the Internet. Srila Prabhupada never mentioned the Internet. No surprise; it was not known in his time. Yet, while it was created by the defense ministry for mundane purposes, today it takes the darshana of Deities and holy scriptures in all languages to all corners of the world. Thus, the Internet now serves as a great instrument to teach Vedic wisdom to the modern world.
The end does not always justify the means, but for a Vaishnava the sweet will of the all blessing Lord is of such a priority that, after carefully balancing the pros and cons, the Vaishnavas do accept such unwanted conditions such as living in filthy cities to conduct missionary activities, using modern transportation to distribute their literature, and various other rather difficult tasks for a yogi and a lover of Gods creation.
To update the recommendations Vaishnavas would like to contribute to the world, I decided to make a list of things we must do and things we wish to accomplish. This list is for all those who want to help with practical solutions for our world.



Urgent Rules and Recommendations to Create a Better World


Basic Principles for the Human Form of Life

* Lead a vegetarian life. Do not eat meat, fish, or eggs. In this way we cultivate mercy and compassion within the heart.
* No drugs which put our physical, mental and spiritual well-being into jeopardy. Use preventive medicine.
* Do not smoke cigarettes. They make some people rich and millions suffer.
* Keep your virginity for your marriage partner. Let us stop Aids that simply. Celibacy or serious marriage. Extramarital relationships are a total lack of respect for the dignity of the partner and the possible children. Have sexual relationships preferably only to invite a child into your life with your loving spouse.
* Do not gamble. It creates vices, is addictive, and promotes our cheating mentality. There is nothing worse then wasting our human form of life.
* Stop abortion or reap the results. It is terrible that modern man is arguing for the right to kill his own children in the womb; not to mention the slaughter of embryos to inject sick Alzheimer patients with fresh, unused brain tissues. It is murder and that will never change.



Health for the Body, Mind, and Soul

How can we be healthy if our world is being contaminated around us? Acid rain falls on our heads and the land; ozone levels are depleting where they are necessary and increasing where they are harmful; chemical fertilizers and poisonous insecticides are all over our food; violence and pornography are all over the news casts, television, and publications filling our brains with the worst filth; and people are so ignorant they think that the drugstore will sell a solution for everything. Mind altering drugs such as prozac are intoxicating millions of people. Gene technology and radiation of foods are all bringing changes into our world which will damage our natural biological well-being.
If we want to be healthy, we have to change many things. To be healthy it is necessary to clean up everything as much as possible. Cleaning our mind and becoming satisfied with the simple gifts of God will give us the strength to do the needful.



The Body - We are what we eat

* Again, lead a vegetarian life. Vedic culture strongly promotes vegetarianism. The vegetarian diet has been followed since antiquity by those who have chosen the path of yoga, goodness, and purification. Today, there are also hundreds of reasons a person can help solve the conditions of the world by being a vegetarian.
* Use medical drugs only after ALL natural cures failed. Natures healing methods are found in many traditions. The healing powers of medicinal Herbs, clay, pure water, air, and affectionate care are the best of all available cures. The Ayur Veda is a scriptural reference of Vedic medicine; and to some great degree a system of preventive medicine. We should know the basics of such natural treatments as are described in these traditions and texts, and should avoid chemical treatments. It may often be difficult to find experts today in these sciences, but disease prevention, at least, is easily learned.
* No more junk food. Only buy pure organic ingredients and prepare nice food with love to offer to God and be purified by eating sanctified food, free of Karmic reactions.
* No more use of artificial colors, chemical flavoring, preservatives, and the thousands of other illness producing horrors that the drug and food control agency has not yet prohibited due to their ignorance.
* Do not use white sugar or white wheat flour. White sugar is actually poisonous, addictive, and is contaminated by animal bones in the whitening process. The first stage of sugar production where the sweet juice is turned into thick molasses is the purest sweetener. Due to lack of availability of such pure molasses, sometimes we use raw brown sugar or Gour (various names are used in different countries). Even white sugar has been used in some cases, but this can be avoided as raw sweeteners are now more easily accessible.
* Always offer to Krishna the most nutrients to keep you and others healthy.
* Follow good nutritional advise. Don't eat fruits and vegetable at the same time.
* Balance your diet.
* Avoid excessive and polluted foods.
* Cleanliness is close to godliness. If we are careful to keep ourselves internally and externally clean, our bodys self defenses will be very strong.



The Mind - Understanding Simple Living

Humanity has tried everything in the last few thousand years. Every economic and political system, as well as the industrialized, technological information age have failed to improve the human character and create a just environment. Nor have any of them given us a healthy planet or a functioning system to continue living as we are used to. Even if sophisticated and high-tech living was the goal of life (which it is not the case) there are not enough natural resources in the world to supply every human being with a European or American way of life. Change is unavoidable. We always want to be progressive and successful. Now is our last chance to do the right thing. In theory it is easy.
* Accept a spiritual way of life which does not allow those who follow this path to do any harm to others.
* Learn from the best available examples about how to build inexpensive and healthy houses. While constructing you should try to use the most natural building ingredients. New technology using natural materials such as mud, bamboo, straw, and pumice are being developed and are becoming more popular.
* Try to live without electricity whenever possible. Use alternative energy such as the sun and the wind.
* Eat in a way which preserves the maximum energy for others.
* Do not dress with artificial fibers. Synthetic materials do not allow your body to breath.
* Support cottage industries and handicrafts. Natural vibrations come from natural things. Cotton, jute, wool and hemp are very good natural fibers for clothing and many other items. You will feel the difference as soon as you get rid of all of the unnatural materials that surround you.
* Do not paint with poisonous colors. Many colors and materials evaporate poisons continuously. They may kill slowly, but they still kill.
* Do not destroy your hearing capacity through deafening sounds. Senseless disharmony at excessive volume hurts our meditative and intellectual capacity. Many modern music groups also create unwanted effects by disturbing our health and balanced mood.
* Stop supporting companies which do harm to nature and your fellow beings.
* Boycott all products which form a part of the corruption and pollution of our world.
* No more television - which does damage to the growing ups and the grown ups in so many ways. To name a few, it creates sex mania, increases violence, causes vocabulary loss, and diminishes family communication.
* No more unnecessary furniture which kills trees for vanity. Let us use the least we can live with, and dedicate more time to our spiritual lives and our children. Buying useless inventions is a show of our ignorance and an attempt to compete with other lonely matter worshippers.
* Do not pay attention to advertisements. Plan your money for something useful for God, the world, and you. No more separate interest from the universal interest.
* No more supporting exploitation in the guise of science and medicine. The artificial idea that we must keep the body alive by all means is a complete disturbance to spiritual peace.



The Soul - High Thinking

High thinking involves a good personal character. Justness, kindness, truthfulness, pure conduct, friendly behavior, frankness and loving cordiality are natural to a sincere person. Without sincerity all our attempts are doomed.
* Start your day chanting Gods glories. The Vaishnavas do that by singing and meditating on the following formula given in the Vedas for our complete benefit:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Here is a simple translation of this invocation: Please let me understand the wish of the infinite Lord and serve him with my life and soul.
This sound vibration, and any other genuine names of God will purify you and help you to reach the perfection of human life. The process of chanting His holy names is known in the Vedic scriptures as the sacrifice for human beings in the current age.
* Meditate. It gives us strength and success.
* Associate with those who are like-minded, and with others only to teach them ways in which they may also advance spiritually.
* Never mistreat anyone.
* Always try to become an expert, then you can do better service for others.
* Love thy brother like thyself by giving them the best you have. And what is really the only valuable thing we have? Our sincerity and love.
* The best thing the Vaishnavas have received in life is the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the mission of loving service and meditation. Therefore, we would like to give this gift to all of you.
* Study the Bhagavad Gita which is a kind of manual for the human form of life.
* Worship and maintain the holy Tulasi tree who is very dear to Krishna, and who will bless you very much and soften your heart.
* Be strict with yourself, but merciful with others. Treat others with kindness and understanding.
* Always teach by example.
* Only compete for humility and service to others.
* Meet others to discuss topics of God and enlightenment.
* Make drama and music for God in the company of family and friends.
* Know that the most important principle of all is to never forget Krishna. Krishna is a name of God. He is the all-attractive cowherd boy of Vrindavan. Love the Lord with all your heart, above every other consideration. Just try your very best and Krishna will be pleased with you.



Harmony with Nature

Always realize that every action will bring about a corresponding reaction. The wrong you do today will haunt you tomorrow. Similarly, we live in the mess we have made.
The atrocities of humanity against the Indians, the unborn babies, the minorities, etc. are so unspeakable that we have to recognize that human being are potentially very dangerous. Our prejudice mentality, our superiority or inferiority complexes, our sympathies and antipathies, are all leading us to be unjust, fanatic, cruel, and egotistical. If we are not very careful, we may be guilty of being a part of destructive forces at work.
We have to surrender to real goodness from the core of our heart in order to escape our own conditioning. Universal brother and sisterhood is the only consciousness which can make us responsible in our dealings with each other. Even if we call Him by different names, recognizing our common Father will lead us to change.
We should understanding the science of reincarnation and realize that as we turn over the earth to our children they will turn it back over to us in our future lives. In this way we will become more responsible.
Those who have no religion can worship God in the form of Mother Nature, truth, goodness, compassion and the like. They, also, will have no disagreement with our common interests.



Animal Protection

* A person who loves God, nature, and his fellow creatures shall abstain from any product connected with cruelty to animals.
* As Vaishnavas, we are against all medical and scientific experimental research of animals, including the experimentation of eating them.
* The Vaishnavas are also against the harsh treatment of cows in modern milk factories. However, our concept is different than that of the vegan philosophy which eliminates animal products all together. Because God is the rightful enjoyer of everything, He blesses those living entities who contribute to His pleasure or to the service of His devotees. Vedic culture gives us the blessing of offering God the cow's milk and her sub products, along with other animal products such as honey and wool. This idea extents to include the printing of holy books on paper made of trees; where as if only rubbish is printed on this paper, it is considered sinful. Knowing that the treatment of these animals is wrong, Vaishnavas offer milk to God to give the cows a chance to serve Krishna with some of their energy. Krishna Himself manifests the pastimes of a cowherd boy and, of course, Vaishnavas would much prefer to protect cows personally on their own farms without any mistreatment. But it is a fact that cow protection can only be organized on a high level, requiring thousands of acres of land of different qualities and much help from the government. Small farms will go bankrupt by increasing herds of cows. This is the sad truth which has often been ignored by rather inexperienced Vaishnava farmers.
* Use leather or other products of animal origin only if the animal died a natural death. Under no circumstance can we give any support to the slaughterhouse industry.



The Environment

* Regularly plant trees and look after them. Trees are so merciful and important to us. They create oxygen for us to breathe and give us such a variety of things: delicious fruits, shade, shelter, flowers, leaves, medicines, etc. Trees also create and maintain topsoil which is crucial for erosion prevention. Cutting trees irresponsibly and neglecting to replant them destroys the natural balance and is also sinful. Trees should be planted by mixing different tree species. Fruit trees should be planted everywhere; for instance, along public roads and parks for hungry travelers to be nourished.
Caring for rivers and forests are an integral part of the Vaishnava way of life and worship. Sacred rivers, like the Yamuna and the Ganges, and holy trees, such as the Banyan tree, Tamal tree, Pipal tree, Kadamba tree, are highly respected in the Vedas. Krishna is so kind to give us His grace in so many forms of pure berries, nuts and fruits, but man, out of greed, has turned many places of Mother Earth into deserts, cutting the trees selling everything in the markets.
* Always separate the garbage strictly, recycling everything possible.
* No more useless trips in cars. Let us use the bicycle whenever possible. Walk more. Do not spoil the air for no good reason.
* No more plastics until there is NO other way out. Use wood toys for your children. Let them feel and love nature. Teach them about Mother Nature and Father Krishna.
* Be engaged in civic service such as planting trees on public land, supplying drinking water to travelers, cleaning up dirty areas in nature, using garbage for recycling projects, protecting animals from abuse, etc. We should see Gods energy everywhere and take maximum care of everything. Even a dripping water outlet should be closed when you come across it. Energy has to be saved.



Agriculture

* Don't support using Mother Earths land for cultivation of useless crops that poison people. Crops which make people sick and addicted, such as tobacco, coffee, tee and other drugs take away agriculture land for growing food for the undernourished majority of humanity.
* No more factory farms. No more mono-crop plantations. Commercial agriculture weakens natural defenses through artificial cultivation and use of single crops. Mix forests and produce so that they may re-create a natural balance.
* Compost your organic waste. It is gold to a farmer. Learn how to do it so well that it will give you pleasure and then you will enjoy teaching it to others.
* Turn human waste into fertilizer. Support the dry toilet system wherever possible; like in the country and on the estate. * Wherever possible, cultivate a family or community vegetable garden following the science of organic farming.
* Learn the art of making natural juices, pickles, and marmalades for the wintertime in your home.



Now it is your turn to help

* Get going, get active. Do not sleep in the day. Early to bed and early to rise.
* Tell others continuously about your ecological commitment and its benefits. Get them into it.
* Make songs and drama for our Mother Earth.
* Organize and create civic action.
* Use natural products like leaf-plates, natural fiber shopping bags, and organic grown produce whenever available.
* Do not be a passive onlooker of the destruction of humans, animals, the environment, and the world at large.
* Understand the root of the solution is piety and spiritual awareness.



Dying with Dignity

Death has to be faced in a praying meditative mood. First people destroy themselves by their lifestyles, and then they go crazy to stay fit and remain more time here by organ transplants and all kinds of machines. They do not know that they are not these material bodies and that this life is just one of many. As long as we harbor material desires, and until we learn the lesson to serve God with love and stop causing others trouble, we will remain on this material plane life after life.

Regardless of our faith or beliefs we should all join together and do the needful to save the planet.
"Unity in Diversity" - It gives us all strength.


The author Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti is the founder of many ashram communities in South America, Europe, and India. He is the founder of VRINDA and ISEV. He is working with alternative energy sources and teaching ecological and vegetarian awareness in many international projects.
You can contact him by E-mail at pswami@ipof.fla.net



VRINDA

VRINDAVAN INSTITUTE FOR VAISNAVA CULTURE AND STUDIES