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Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.5.49
yāvad baliḿ te 'ja harāma kāle
yathā vayaḿ cānnam adāma yatra
yathobhayeṣāḿ ta ime hi lokā
baliḿ haranto 'nnam adanty anūhāḥ
yāvat — as it may be; balim — offerings; te — Your; aja — O unborn one; harāma — shall offer; kāle — at the right time; yathā — as much as; vayam — we; ca — also; annam — food grains; adāma — shall partake; yatra — whereupon; yathā — as much as; ubhayeṣām — both for You and for us; te — all; ime — these; hi — certainly; lokāḥ — living entities; balim — offerings; harantaḥ — while offering; annam — grains; adanti — eat; anūhāḥ — without disturbance.
O unborn one, please enlighten us regarding the ways and means by which we can offer You all enjoyable grains and commodities so that both we and all other living entities in this world can maintain ourselves without disturbance and can easily accumulate the necessities of life both for You and for ourselves.
Developed consciousness begins from the human form of life and further increases in the forms of the demigods living in higher planets. The earth is situated almost in the middle of the universe, and the human form of life is the via medium between the life of the demigods and that of the demons. The planetary systems above the earth are especially meant for the higher intellectuals, called demigods. They are called demigods because although their standard of life is far more advanced in culture, enjoyment, luxury, beauty, education and duration of life, they are always fully God conscious. Such demigods are always ready to render service to the Supreme Lord because they are perfectly aware of the fact that every living entity is constitutionally an eternal subordinate servitor of the Lord. They also know that it is the Lord only who can maintain all living entities with all the necessities of life. The Vedic hymns, eko bahūnāḿ yo vidadhāti kāmān, tā enam abruvann āyatanaḿ naḥ prajānīhi yasmin pratiṣṭhitā annam adāme, etc., confirm this truth. In Bhagavad-gītā also, the Lord is mentioned as bhūta-bhṛt, or the maintainer of all living creatures.
The modern theory that starvation is due to an increase in population is not accepted by the demigods or the devotees of the Lord. The devotees or demigods are fully aware that the Lord can maintain any number of living entities, provided they are conscious of how to eat. If they want to eat like ordinary animals, who have no God consciousness, then they must live in starvation, poverty and want, like the jungle animals in the forest. The jungle animals are also maintained by the Lord with their respective foodstuffs, but they are not advanced in God consciousness. Similarly, human beings are provided with food grains, vegetables, fruits and milk by the grace of the Lord, but it is the duty of human beings to acknowledge the mercy of the Lord. As a matter of gratitude, they should feel obliged to the Lord for their supply of foodstuff, and they must first offer Him food in sacrifice and then partake of the remnants.
In Bhagavad-gītā (3.13) it is confirmed that one who takes foodstuff after a performance of sacrifice eats real food for proper maintenance of the body and soul, but one who cooks for himself and does not perform any sacrifice eats only lumps of sin in the shape of foodstuffs. Such sinful eating can never make one happy or free from scarcity. Famine is not due to an increase in population, as less intelligent economists think. When human society is grateful to the Lord for all His gifts for the maintenance of the living entities, then there is certainly no scarcity or want in society. But when men are unaware of the intrinsic value of such gifts from the Lord, surely they are in want. A person who has no God consciousness may live in opulence for the time being due to his past virtuous acts, but if one forgets his relationship with the Lord, certainly he must await the stage of starvation by the law of the powerful material nature. One cannot escape the vigilance of the powerful material nature unless he leads a God conscious or devotional life.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness