We are all touched by the pastime of Mother Earth approaching Lord Vishnu for protection from “conceited demons dressed like kings” (SB 10.1.17) at the end of the last Dvapara-yuga. At that time, Mother Earth, known in the Vedas as Bhumi, was overburdened by “unnecessary military arrangements”, which threatened the peace, sanctity and religiosity of all the devas.
Needless to say, this threat to the Earth has only increased as Kali-yuga has progressed. In the 12th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhumi describes how kings, politicians and materialistic persons will attempt to conquer her, due to their excessive desires for political power and sense enjoyment. All we need to do today is watch our daily news to behold this phenomenon taking place. But what does this all mean, in terms of our own personal spiritual lives? What are the implications for our own Krishna consciousness?
In the second verse of Nectar of Instruction, Srila Rupa Goswami confronts us with the matter of greed. In this verse, being “greedy for mundane achievements”, “eating more than necessary and collecting more funds than required” and “over endeavouring for mundane things that are difficult to obtain” are all described as potentially “spoiling” one’s devotional life. It is this same greed that burdens Mother Bhumi, who, it is said, has enough resources for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. Greed, underpinned by materialism, inflicts an insatiable desire in human beings, which is not actually so easy to discard, even for the spiritual practitioner. Learning to be satisfied with less and to be peaceful with our own simple circumstances will improve our relationship with Mother Bhumi, who is herself a devotee of Krishna. As such, we have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by adopting an uncomplicated lifestyle that is devoid of mundane greed.
Let us consider the footprint of Mother Cow, who has a large and heavy body, but who nevertheless places a relatively small footprint on the surface of the Earth. Cows are the embodiment of goodness, and this shows in their minimal impact on the Earth, when they are allowed to live as religious principles decree. Asking only a small quantity of grass, some fresh water and peaceful surroundings, Mother Cow lives in perfect harmony with Mother Bhumi, without causing distress to other living beings. She neither exploits the Earth, nor wastes the Earth’s resources, instead giving from her own body milk, dung and urine, all which aid human beings in their health and prosperity. We need to humble ourselves to accept this very special being, the cow, as our actual lifestyle guru.
The world today promotes a plethora of lifestyle gurus who broadcast the need for an individual to earn more, spend more, want more, eat more, be more …. without concern for the distress caused to Mother Earth. Let us not forget this lesson: happiness on Earth comes from respecting Mother Bhumi, remaining sensitive to her, and understanding her according to the teachings of the sastras!