Ачарья-основатель Его Божественная Милость
А.Ч. Бхактиведанта Свами Прабхупада

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The Ugra-Karma Wasteland  
By Sankirtana Das   |  Окт 27, 2023
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After WWII, a new hopefulness was in the air. The United Nations had been established to help solve the world’s problems. The economy was booming.  Suburbs were being built at a fever-pitch rate. The G.I. Bill allowed returning veterans free college educations, and there were more students in college than ever before. Every family wanted their own home, their own car, and all the modern conveniences.  Television was a new thing on the market.  The space age was beginning, and education and scientific knowledge were supreme.

In the 1950s and ’60s, I remember the leaders promising to bring about an era where we wouldn’t have to work so hard, a “great society” where justice and economic prosperity would be available to everyone.  Soon, they touted, scientific advancements and emerging technology would provide more and more conveniences.  All this would certainly bring on an era of leisure where we would have more time to spend enjoying life rather than working hard to maintain ourselves.

But modern civilization has to move at break-neck speeds just to keep up with the anticipation of more profits and rewards.  In his classic 1936 film “Modern Times,” Charlie Chaplin understood the effects of an unrelenting, modern pace.  Chaplin, working in a factory, couldn’t keep it up and suffered a breakdown. I also appreciated the perspective of Franz Kafka. In his novel “The Trial,” the individual in society is helpless. Society is corrupt from top to bottom, where anyone can be charged with any unnamed crime and found guilty.

We are not living in a civil culture but in a world where women and children are being indiscriminately bombed and killed.  No matter how many “good” excuses some may have, killing women and children is always adharma, against civilized principles.  It seems no one has been taught this. Instead, we are taught that life is for making money and engaging in unlimited sense enjoyment.

For over 100 years, we have come to the stage of ugra-karma – horrible conditions only meant to cause great distress.  In a December 10, 1976 lecture, Srila Prabhupada refers to this as a “soul-killing society,” a crushing of the human spirit.  Forces in society have incrementally created an ever-expanding, complicated, and dangerous system. Now, it’s become a runaway reality.

What is ugra-karma?  It’s much worse than bad karma.  Many of us are too distracted or too complacent to perceive the magnitude of the situation. This destructive, obsessive system is our bloated, all-devouring culture: big factories, big machines, large multi-national corporations, big vessels transporting massive cargos, garbage-filled oceans,  agri-business, slaughterhouses with their horrific treatment of animals, and, of course, weapons of mass destruction.

Technological advancement has crippled our relationship with our environment and with one another. It’s spoiling our lives with idle amusements and has created new systems of cheating others and disseminating lies. Big governments and big corporations are working hand-in-hand for their own mutual benefit, creating a landscape of greed and cheating. Various demoniac elements in all strata and corners of society vie for our attention to gain power and control.  These demoniac personalities cannot do anything without the consent and participation of many members of society.  To function, they need our help.

It’s important to understand the nature of this demoniac mentality. The 16th  chapter of Bhagavad Gita offers us a concise description: the demoniacs feel their schemes will surely increase their wealth and power; they are ruled by lust and pride; they use whatever intelligence they have for horrible works to advance their own ends no matter who they have to exploit or destroy.

In his purport of Bhagavad Gita 16:16,  Srila Prabhupada writes, “They do not sense any arrangement behind all the varieties of people, beauty and education. Anyone who comes into competition with such a demoniac man is his enemy. There are many demoniac people, and each is an enemy of the others. This enmity becomes more and more deep – between persons, then between families, then between societies, and at last between nations. Therefore there is constant strife, war, and enmity all over the world.”

There are many types of demoniac leaders. Some feel confident to create a vast orderly realm in which they can flourish. Very often, they prefer to remain anonymous to the rest of society.  Others flourish under chaos and confusion. They disregard laws and their responsibilities to society and provide an example where others can do likewise. Some relish displaying their power and are very happy to control large kingdoms where they rule as the supreme authority.

These mentalities are quite dominant in the world we live in today. The world of ugra-karma, which they have created, is destroying our environment, our health, our well-being, and our relationships with each other.  Unfortunately, people all over the world have fallen prey to these sinister influences of various camps. There are many others who are fearful and confused by the unfolding machinations and events they’re witnessing. What is especially alarming is to see the unwillingness, or helplessness, of leaders to make any substantial changes. The promises of the past are shattered. Existence has become more complicated and troublesome. It is a tragic situation, but not hopeless.

Now is the time for people of faith and spiritual understanding to work together to reach out in friendship and loving compassion. Society, culture, and the arts are meant to bring people together and create a spiritual atmosphere, to connect us to a vibrant, living world and to the transcendent Lord residing within our hearts. Understanding the principles of dharma and the ancient teachings of Bhagavad Gita are steps toward a new enlightenment.

The 19th-century saint and prophet Bhaktivinoda Thakur had a vision of people all over the world coming together to chant the holy names of God. He expounded the universal principles and mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  Caitanya appeared 500 hundred years ago to establish the chanting of Hare Krishna as the meditation most conducive for this degraded age.  Bhaktivinoda longed to see it happen: “O, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and kartals (musical instruments) and raise kirtan (chanting) through their streets and towns. When will that day come?” And in his short ten years traveling all over the world, Srila Prabhupada manifested his predecessor’s vision.

We don’t need to be overwhelmed by stress and fear. The effects of ugra-karma can certainly be dispelled in our lives and in society. We can empower ourselves, refocus, and change our lifestyles through meditation – by chanting the unlimited holy names of God, which are spread all over the world. This is explained in all scriptures and teachings. Let all people who have an affinity for these principles work together to help alleviate the world’s suffering.  On behalf of Srila Prabhupada, I especially recommend the great prayer of peace: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Об авторе

Sankirtana Das, a disciple of Swami Prabhupada, is a longtime resident of the New Vrindaban Community and an award-winning author and storyteller. His most recent book, Hanuman’s Quest, is acclaimed by scholars and has received a Storytelling World Resource Honors. For more info about his work, visit www.Mahabharata-Project.com

Photos by Frans van Heerden и Lucien Wanda.

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