Radhanath Swami tells what the scientists say.
The world is presently very saddened and shocked by the great disaster which has taken place in the New Orleans and Southern Mississippi area of United States of America. The Hurricane Katrina is just a very insignificant sample of the power of material nature. The United States of America is the most progressive nation of the world. Through technological instruments they could see Hurricane Katrina before hand. But with all of its military powers, with all its arsenals of mass bombs of destruction, with all of its sophisticated security, and with all its immigration laws, the only thing it could do to protect the citizens of New Orleans was to plead before them, “get out, evacuate …there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent this disaster.” Hundreds and thousands of people evacuated the city of New Orleans, which is one of the most prominent historical cities of United States of America and one of the greatest places of international tourism. When the hurricane hit, it was devastation. It put 80% of the entire city 20 feet under water. Over a thousand people died, and hundreds and thousands of people were refugees in other lands, desperately looking for shelter. What was left of the city there was looting, robbery, shootings, rapes, and mass uncontrollable crime. The United States military came and tried to stop this crime.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused 30 billion dollars of insured damage, and wiped out thousands of homes and businesses. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd was heading towards the JFK Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the home of NASA. When they saw this hurricane what could NASA do? Tell all there employees to evacuate. 16 thousand employees evacuated. They kept 120 back to somehow deal with the situation. This is the power of material nature. The ecologists and scientists tell us that what we are experiencing now is just a small sample of the result of consuming recklessly mass quantities of fossil fuels and creating the syndrome of global warming.
Radhanath Swami provides the cause from Vedic Perspective
According to the Vedas, the time period we are in now is called Kaliyuga. In Kaliyuga, the Vedas have predicted, things that simply do not make sense will happen, causing miseries. There are three fold miseries: adhyātmika (miseries caused by one’s own body and mind), adhibhautika (miseries caused by other living beings) and adhidaivika (miseries caused by natural disturbances). Can’t we see how all three of these are escalating to such degrees in Kali Yuga?!!
First adhyātmika. Many medical researchers claim that in the near future one third of the population will die of cancer. And cancer is a very suffering form of death. And that does not even include AIDS, Hepatitis C, heart disease and other such practically epidemic diseases. But the World Health Organization claims that putting all this aside, the diseases that are going to cause the most suffering are the diseases of the mind.
Second adhibhautika miseries. So much terrorism and so much mistrust in the world today! I was raised in a village where nobody locked their doors. But now in the same village there are all kinds of security devices in each house. What’s happening? Are we really progressing? And if you are of Indian origin and you go to the United States of America, do you know what you have to go through at the immigration tables? They are so suspicious. Why? Human beings are supposed to be above the scale of survival of the fittest. Human beings are supposed to be creatures who have compassion, discrimination and moral, ethical laws to follow. What’s happening?
Third miseries adhidaivika. How the miseries caused by material nature is increasing, we have already discussed.
Why is kaliyuga like this? Because in kaliyuga, people engage in so many unethical, egoistic, and selfish activities. There are laws of nature called karma. “As you sow, so shall you reap”. For every action there is an equal corresponding reaction. We cannot escape. Therefore, until people recognize the impurities in their own hearts and try to clean it, there can be no real solutions for the problems the world is facing today.
Radhanath Swami focuses on the hurricane within, the original cause of all hurricanes
Bhagavad-Gita explains the original hurricane that is the cause of all other hurricanes. Arjuna said to Krishna, “You are telling me to control the mind but as far as I can see, the mind is more difficult to control than the raging wind.” Yes! Just as Katrina did to New Orleans, the internal hurricane of our passionate desires strikes our consciousness, causing damage to the property of our lives. What is the most sacred property of human life? The power of discrimination that differentiates man from the lower species. The lower species simply act according to their instincts. They have no power to reflect, contemplate or question what is actually the best thing for them to do and why? In human life we are blessed with intelligence. Intelligence has the power to discriminate between what is right and what is wrong. That is the wealth of human civilization. But this hurricane of the mind, filled with the winds of passionate desires, filled with the storms of so many ambitions, filled with the storms of envy, greed, anger, illusion and lust devastates this most sacred property we have—our power of discrimination and our moral ethical integrity. And not just the property, that devastates our very life. What is our real life? Our relationship with God, our devotion to the Supreme, and our compassion to other living beings. Our very life is thus covered by mass deluge of this sewage of materialistic consciousness.
Yes, there is a Hurricane Katrina taking place practically in everybody’s lives, practically every day and what takes place internally is naturally manifested externally—through the karmic situations that we collectively and individually create.
Tips for controlling the Hurricane within by Radhanath Swami
yatato hy api kaunteya
haranti prasabhaà manaù
The senses are so strong and impetuous that they can forcibly carry away the intelligence of even a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them. And the king of all the senses is the Mind. Srila Prabhupada writes in this connection that just as an acute infection surpasses the efficacy of a good medicine, the mind overcomes the power of the intelligence like a raging wind, like Hurricane Katrina.
At another place in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says,
indriyäëäà hi caratäà
yan mano ‘nuvidhéyate
tad asya harati prajïäà
väyur nävam ivämbhasi
As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence. And what happens when a man’s intelligence is lost? He falls down deeply into the pool of materialistic sinful life.
All the scriptures throughout the world have warned us. But how to deal with it?
täni sarväëi saàyamya
yukta äséta mat-paraù
vaçe hi yasyendriyäëi
tasya prajïä pratiñöhitä
The process of yoga is about restraining our mind and senses (with our intelligence) from unfavorable activities and words, and to fix our consciousness on a higher nature.
Radhanath Swami Provides the Example of a River
With good intelligence we must discriminate at every moment, and then we must engage our mind and senses in positive activities. Or else, they are bound to be captured by lower activities. To understand this, we can use the example of a river. If you are not struggling to go upstream, you are going to be imperceptibly and simultaneously driven downstream. You can’t stay in one place. Similarly, it’s difficult to do the right thing in this world. You have to go against so many odds, you have to go against so much social pressure, and you have to go against your own mind and senses. On the other hand, it’s fashionable to do the wrong thing in the age of Kali. To add to that, it is very difficult to curb the dictation of the mind and senses. To surrender to them is easy.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended that the easiest way to keep the mind fixed on divinity is to chant the Holy Names of the Lord with all humility. Bhagavad Gita gives the same solution. Arjuna explains that this mind is like a hurricane, a raging turbulent wind. And Krishna tells him to learn to control this mind through constant practice and detachment. The easiest way is to fix the mind on God’s Holy Name, because all the opulences, all the powers and all the sweetness of God are manifested within his holy names.