Does the Vedic Scriptures have an answer to the question why God allow people to suffer because of hunger? The believers of God are always perplexed with this question. In fact, many people become agnostic seeing people dying because of scarcity of food. But does God really want us to starve? Or is God not capable to provide food to all? Let us try to understand that does God allow people to suffer because of hunger and what Vedic Scriptures say about it.
Man Sharing Milk with Dogs
During Coronava lockdown, there was a heart wrenching video in which a man can be seen sharing milk with street dogs in Agra. It seems a milk container overturned, and milk fell on the road.
While the man is trying to fill his little container with the milk, the street dogs are also hurriedly licking the milk.
The dogs are looking at the man with disdain.
“This is our area. How come you are stealing our food?”
An old starving lady is beaten
In India thousands or may be lakhs of people still live in hunger and die of hunger. But such stories never make headlines in the country. Because none of us want those hungry and unclean people to enter our bedrooms and living rooms.
So, the news channels which are run by highly educated marketing professionals cum journalists make sure that such stories are never discussed during their primetime debates. And the leading dailies of India never publish such stories on their front pages lest the people have gut wrenching feeling early in the morning.
I remember a video clipping which I saw almost 8 – 9 years back in which an elderly woman was being beaten by security guards. Her crime was that she was collecting some grains lying near the door of a godown in Danapur, Bihar. And the same clipping showed that there were dozens of mice inside the godown feasting on the grains.
The godowm was stuffed with sacks of grains. The elderly woman was not collecting any premium quality rice or wheat, but she was collecting rotten grains which were half eaten by the mice. She was beaten and warned not to do this again.
Are there insufficient foodgrains?
Now the question is, are people suffering because of lack of availability of food grains in India? As per the government data – Definitely Not. The government has ample buffer stock. In fact government has foodgrain stock which is more than the buffer norm. According to Financial Express in 2019 the government accumulated food grains 2.7 times the buffer norm.
So what happens to these foodgrains? Where does it go? Sunday Guardian in his report in 2017 writes, “Around 62,000 tonnes of food grains, mainly rice and wheat, have been damaged in the last six years in the storage facilities of Food Corporation of India (FCI).”
The unused foodgrains rot in the godowns, insects and mice feed on it but it rarely reaches to the hungry people. The government says that they do not have proper mechanism to distribute the foodgrains to the poor people.
The government has the mechanism to send rockets in space, develop nuclear missiles but do not have the mechanism to feed the hungry people!!!
It has never been the fault of nature that people have to live in hunger. She provides all necessities which are required to live in this world comfortably. But it is because of the exploitative mentality of people and especially people who are in power and position that people struggle for daily food.
In Bengal famine of 1943 around 2 – 3 million people died of starvation. All historians concur that the famine was man-made.
So, before independence people in India was dying of hunger and even after 73 years of independence people are suffering because of hunger.
Nothing much has changed especially for the poor people. And no one even cares about them.
Vedic Scriptures explain that God provides all the necessities
So, it is not that God is keeping people hungry. Hunger is because people in responsible position are misusing the resources given by God for their selfish purpose.
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, “In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Viṣṇu, and blessed them by saying, “Be thou happy by this yajña [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.” Bhagavad Gita 3.10.
In this world, everything required for our sustenance have been provided by God. But these resources should be utilized properly for everyone’s benefit. This becomes possible and easy when men in power and positions are devotees of God.
As per Vedas a king or the ruler (President or Prime Minister) is the father of all the citizens of the country. And like a father he has to make sure that all his citizens are properly taken care – No one is exploited and no one goes hungry.
One should ensure that no one is hungry
It is not only the responsibility of the rulers to make sure that all the necessities are distributed equally to all but even the ctizens should proactively take responsibility of ensuring that no one around them suffers especially because of lack of food.
In fact, the scriptures go one step ahead and say that all the well-to-do householders should make sure that none of his dependents and no one living near his house should remain hungry.
Before honouring the meal, the householder should go out of his house and shout, “Is there any one hungry?” multiple times and if anyone responds to his call then he should immediately feed that person. Although today this approach will be difficult to implement but one should try to help the needy people as much as possible.
A genuine devotee of the Lord can never tolerate others’ suffering. He will do his best to alleviate the suffering of the people and will make sure that no one around him/her is hungry.
When Srila Prabhupada had tears in his eyes?
Once in Mayapur, devotees celebrated Govardhan Puja. They cooked huge quantity of rice and distributed the prasada (sanctified vegetarian food) to many people. People ate the prasada on a leaf plate and threw the plates near a building where Srila Prabhupada was staying. Prabhupada after some time started hearing dogs barking and children yelling.
He looked over and saw a big pile of leaf plates. The dogs and the children were fighting for the food left on the plate. The children carrying the stick was trying to drive away the dogs, but the hungry dogs were not relenting. Prabhupada’s eyes got filled with tears.
He immediately called the devotees and said, “Make sure that nobody goes hungry within the 10-mile radius of the temple. Temple is the place of god. And all are God’s children. And in the presence of the supreme Lord, the Supreme Father his children should not remain hungry.”
This is the guiding principles of all the devotees of Iskcon. And so we see that Iskcon has always tried to serve free prasad to thousands of people all over the world.
Iskcon’s contribution in alleviating hunger
During this coronavirus pandemic ISKCON and its affiliate foundations have served more than 1.22 crore (12 million) plates of meals across India till now. And they are still distributing food to people not just in India but in different parts of the world.
So, the solution to all the problems of the world is lack of God consciousness.
Gifts of God should be shared by all
If the entire people of the world become devotee of the Lord, then they will start seeing each and every other living being in relationship with the Lord. They will start seeing everyone as their own brothers and sisters.
And then no one will exploit others but all will happily share the available resources with others with an understanding that these are the gifts of God and it should be shared by all.
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 1
The people who are in governance will consider it as their divine duty to honestly and selflessly serve the people.
In such a God conscious society no one will die of hunger and no one will have to lick the milk fallen on the road with the street dogs.
Vedic scriptures clearly say that God does not allow and does not want people to suffer from hunger. Hunger is due to lack of God consciousness.