Srila Prabhupada stresses the great importance of making one’s own personal lifestyle as simple as possible, and of becoming economically independent from the system called “the rat race” – by its own occupants. And also of the benefits that this lifestyle provides to oneself, the most important of which is more TIME for spiritual life.
Since real life is spiritual life, the best way towards that goal is to minimize one’s daily wants and needs, and a very important step of that is done by growing one’s own food.
Our philosophy is summed up thusly – SIMPLE LIVING AND HIGH THINKING. Either is hard to obtain without the other.
Statements by Srila Prabhupada advocating a simple way of life.
Lecture – Los Angeles, May 27, 1972
… you can say that "If we are engaged in real business, then how the economic question will be solved? We have to work." That's all right, you work. But … there is milk, there is fruit, there is flower. Anywhere, you can live peacefully. Whole economic question is solved.
Conversation – April 3, 1975, Mayapur
Prabhupada: Yes. Why don't you solve? There are so many land. Come here and grow food. Grow fruit. That is the desire of Krishna. Annad bhavanti bhutani. Produce food and … ask, "You have to pay this price." And you have to pay. And if you grow your own food, there is no such question. The simple economic problem, solution, this rascal cannot take…..
Lecture – New Orleans Farm, August 1, 1975
… a nice place. And the grhasthas may come here, have some small cottage, and grow your own food grains, vegetables, and have your cow's milk. Get nice foodstuff, save time. Why should you go … and again hundred miles come back and take unnecessary trouble? Stick to this spot and grow your own food, your own cloth, and live peacefully, save time, chant Hare Krishna. Very nice program. …
Lecture – Mauritius, October 2, 1975
… I see in your this Mauritius land, you have got enough land to produce food grains. You produce food grain. I understand that instead of growing food grains, you are growing sugar cane for exporting. Why? And you are dependent on food grains, on rice, wheat, dahl. Why? Why this attempt? You first of all grow your own eatables. And if there is time and if your population has got sufficient food grains, then you can try to grow other fruits and vegetables for exporting. The first necessity is that you should be self-sufficient. That is God's arrangement. Everywhere there is sufficient land to produce food grains, not only in your country. I have travelled all over the world – Africa, Australia, and other, in America also. There are so much land vacant that if we produce food grains, then we can feed ten times as much population as at the present moment. purnam adah purnat purnam udacyate, purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate. If we don't produce food grain – you require it – and put unnecessarily men into scarcity, that is sinful. …
Lecture – Hawaii, March 23, 1969
We have created a civilization that one must earn thousands of dollars, then he can live like a gentleman. Is that successful life? And for earning that thousands of dollars he has to work so hard, just like animal, beast. No. That is not successful life. Successful life is that, that we should make our bodily necessities of life as far as required, not more than that. I want to eat something. God has given sufficient food. You grow. You live anywhere. You grow foodstuff. You grow grains. You grow fruits. You grow vegetables. Keep cows. Take milk. You can live anywhere. You haven't got to go fifty miles off with a car to attend your office at six o'clock with velocity of hundred miles' speed. Is that successful life, do you think? So where is successful life? We are proposing successful life.
Conversation – July 22, 1973, London
Prabhupada: And yajnad bhavati parjanyah. And when we regularly perform yajna, then there is regular cloud in the sky. And when there is cloud in the sky, there is regular rainfall, and when there is regular rainfall, there is sufficient production of food grains, fruits and other vegetables so that both the animal and the human beings, they eat sufficiently, they grow strength, they become happy and again perform yajna. And the animals supply, the cow supplies milk. In this way, the whole society becomes happy. These are the prescriptions, or directions, given by the Vedic literature. So if people take advantage of this instruction, as you have mentioned in your article "The Great Seers," so if we follow their instruction, the whole history of the human being can be changed. There is no difficulty. But whether the people will accept or not, that is the business of the leaders of the society.
Conversation – October 28, 1975, Nairobi
Prabhupada: If you open farm for financial help, then it will not be successful. You should take to farming for supporting yourself. That's all. Grow your own food. Grow your own cloth. There is no need of financial help from outside. You get your food grains sufficiently, rice, dahl, wheat, vegetables, milk, sugar. Bas You get everything. From these five, six items you should be economically free. That you have to do, not for trade to get money. Then it will be failure.
Conversation – March 14, 1974, Vrindavana
Prabhupada: Business means if you have got extra grains or extra foodstuff, you can sell where there is necessity, there is want. That is business. We are not going to open mills and factories and… No. We are not going to do that. That is sudra business. The real business is that you produce enough food grains, as much as possible, and you eat and distribute. That's all. This is business. He does not require any so high technical education. Anyone can till the ground and grow food. Is it difficult? This is the business. The first thing is that everyone, man and animal, especially the cows, they must be properly fed so become very stout and strong. Cows will supply milk, and man will work hard, without being suffered by dysentery. He must work hard. Any capacity. Work as a teacher or work as a ksatriya, work as a ploughman. Or work as general assistant. He must work. Everyone should be employed. And his employment will be provided from any of these groups, according to his capacity. Either as a brahmana, or as a ksatriya, or as a vaisya, or as a sudra.
Conversation – October 19, 1975, Johannesburg
Lazy intelligent means brahmana, and busy intelligent means ksatriya. So the catur-varnyam maya srstam. The society should be divided into four classes. The sudras, they are busy fools. Therefore they are to be guided. They are to be guided. If there are, hundred workers are there, then one leader must be there to give the direction: "Why you are doing this? Why you don't do this?" Otherwise he'll create havoc. Busy fool. So the whole world is full of busy fools. That's all. In the Bhagavad-gita you will find that for brahmana, samo damah satyam saucam titiksa arjavam, jnanam vijnanam astikyam brahma-karma sva… There is no recommendation that "You work hard day and night." The brahminical qualification is controlling the senses, controlling the mind, truthful, clean, knows everything nicely, practical application of the knowledge, full faith in sastra and Bhagavan. Jnanam vijnanam astikyam. These things are recommended, not that a brahmana should become very busy whole day and night for getting food. So sastra says, "There is no use of becoming busy for your food. Food is there already." Food is already there. He'll get his food. That is arrangement by God. But they are busy fool. They do not understand the God's arrangement. Only for food they are busy whole day and night like cats and dogs. Now this land is there. You can… Everyone can grow food if he works for two months. Everyone can grow his whole year's foodstuff. There is so much land. But no, they'll not grow food. They will grow hammer, manufacturing it. You see? Tire tube, then atom bomb, then this and that. They are busy. They are busy fool. Actually they are fools, and they are very busy. Everyone is busy. There are so many parts in the motorcar, three thousand part, and they are busy in manufacturing three thousand parts of motor parts. So everyone is busy in producing things unwanted. But they have created a society in such a way that they have to do that.
Conversation – February 15, 1977, Mayapura
Prabhupada: Yes. Farm project is very nice. Krishna gives. Krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam. This is economic problem solved. And brahmana, brain problem solved, and ksatriya, protection problem solved, and sudra, labor problem solved. Four things combined together, live peacefully, happily. Chant Hare Krishna. Introduce this farm project. In America there is enough scope. So much land is lying vacant.
Conversation – March 22, 1977, Bombay
As Krishna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma. There must be ideal brahmana, ideal ksatriya, ideal vaisya, as Krishna says. That is Krishna consciousness movement. It is all-inclusive. Economic question? Annad bhavanti bhutani. Grow food. Practical. Just like when I was going to the pandals, millions of clerks were coming – "Education. Educated." And who is growing food? And they have to be provided in these pigeon holes and depend on ration. Is that civilization? And throngs of people are coming, just like machine, ants. Ants are coming. I saw like that. And go to the village side – all vacant land. Nobody's interested to produce food. Everyone is interested to live within the city, in these pigeonholes, and go to the cinema and go to the brothel, go to the club and learn how to drink, how to become gentleman. Is that civilization? Human life's aim is lost. You do not know why you are going to the office, why you are eating, why you are… Keeping them all pet animal's mentality, doggish mentality.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.5 – Purport
A wise man, however, learns from the sastras and guru that we living entities are all eternal but are put into troublesome conditions because of associating with different … under the laws of material nature. He therefore concludes that in the human form of life he should not endeavor for unnecessary necessities, but should live a very simple life, just maintaining body and soul together. Certainly one requires some means of livelihood, … is the basic principle of Vedic civilization. One should be satisfied with whatever means of life comes automatically. The modern materialistic civilization is just the opposite of the ideal civilization. … the so-called leaders of modern society invent something contributing to a cumbersome way of life that implicates people more and more in the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease.
Lecture – London, November 25, 1973
So our Krishna consciousness movement is not a sentimental movement. It takes care of all-round social organization. It is not something like religious sentiment. Everything should be take care of. Therefore we say cow protection. Here it is said, kamam vavarsa parjanyah sarva-kama-dugha mahi. Mahi means land, bhumi. Agnir mahi gaganam ambu marud-disah… Mahi. This is mahi. In another, Brahma-samhita, it is said, mahi.
agnir mahi gaganam ambu marud-disas ca
kalas tathatma-manasiti jagat-trayani
yasmad bhavanti vibhavanti visanti yam ca
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
This mahi word is used there is Vedas, Brahma-samhita. What is that mahi? Agnir mahi. You require fire. You require land. You require sky. Agnir mahi gaganam ambu. You require water. Agnir mahi gaganam ambu marut. You require air. You require space. These are requirements. Agnir mahi gaganam ambu marud-disas ca kalas tathatma. Atma, atma means this body, atma means the mind, and atma means the soul. So in the Brahma-samhita you see, agnir mahi gaganam ambu marud-disas ca kalas tathatma-manasiti jagat-trayani yasmad bhavanti. Yasmad bhavanti. All these things, wherefrom they are coming? They do not know. Can the scientist say wherefrom so much water has come, so vast ocean, seas? But it has come from Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita,
bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhinna prakrtir astadha
Bhinna me prakrtih. It is Krishna's energy, Krishna's energy.
So the mahi, the land, the land is there. Just like in America or in Australia there are so much land. In Africa, so much land lying vacant. But they do not know that this land can produce all the needs of life. Sarva-kama-dugha mahi. Sarva-kama, whatever you want. Actually we are getting… Just like this Western civilization has created so may slaughterhouse for eating purposes. But wherefrom they are getting? From mahi, from the land. If there is no pasturing ground, grazing ground, wherefrom they will get the cows and the bulls? That is also… Because there is grass on the land and the cows and bulls eat them, therefore they grow. Then you cut their throat, civilized man, and eat, you rascal civilized man. But you are getting from the mahi, from the land. Without land, you cannot. Similarly, instead of cutting the throat of the cows, you can grow your food. Why you are cutting the throat of the cows? After all, you have to get from the mahi, from the land. So as they are, the animal which you are eating, they are getting their eatables from the land. Why don't you get your eatables from the land? Therefore it is said, sarva-kama-dugha mahi. You can get all the necessities of your life from land. So dugha means produce. You can produce your food. Some land should be producing the foodstuff for the animals, and some land should be used for the production of your foodstuffs, grains, fruits, flowers, and take milk. Why should you kill these innocent animals? You take. You keep them muda, happy, and you get so much milk that it will moist, it will make wet the ground. This is civilization. This is civilization.
That was being maintained during the time of Maharaja Yudhisthira. That is being described. Maharaja Yudhisthira maintained this standard of civilization. Just see how the economic problems will be solved simply by one movement, this Krishna consciousness movement. Try to understand. Mahi. Because mahi will produce everything. Just like here in this Letchmore Heath there are so many, so much land lying vacant. You produce you own food. Why you are going to London, to the factories? There is no need. This is wrong civilization. Here is land. You produce your food. If you produce your food, there is no need of going hundred miles, fifty miles on your motorcycle or motor to earn your livelihood. Why? There is no need. Then you require petrol. And petrol there is scarcity. Then you require so many parts, so many. That means you are making the whole thing complicated unnecessarily. Unnecessarily. There is no need. Simply you keep to the land and produce your food, and the cows are there. They will supply you milk. Then where is your economic problems? If you have sufficient grains, sufficient vegetables, sufficient milk from the land where you are living, where your economic problem? Why you should go to other place? That is Vedic civilization. Everyone should remain in the spot and produce everything as he requires, and God will help you.
Conversation – May 8, 1977, Hrishikesh
Prabhupada: Duty, profit, so on, so on. And all these big, big millionaires, they are exacting money from the poor like that, and when they have got money, they spend little for daridra-narayana. "Oh, very big man." And our program? Why you making daridra? Daridra? Our policy is this, that "Why should you make him daridra?" First of all make him daridra, and then take credit – "daridra-narayana"? Just see how cheating is going on. But we are projecting this path for them: let them remain in their home, produce their own food only and cloth and chant Hare Krishna. This is our policy. Our policy means Krishna's policy. Let them have sufficiently to eat, and they'll be all satisfied. If the mind is Krishna conscious, then they don't want anything, either liquor or meat or anything. No. This is the advantage. And this is not social… What is that? That first of all drag him from the innocent life of village and engage him in the factory in the hope of getting more money, and then he's habituated to liquor. When he cannot pay, they purchase this poison and die.
Letter to: Mahamsa Swami, Detroit, 3 August, 1975
"The village organization is that the local people produce their necessities like grain, vegetables, milk, and cloth; and for recreation they have the chanting of Hare Krishna. They should live there comfortably and have spiritual recreation. They should not come to the cities. I wish to introduce this ideal now. Then if we are successful this cheating civilization will stop. They have made these cities as hell. If people do not cooperate with them, then how will the factories run on? And, if the people are satisfied by this arrangement, then what will the communists do?"
Conversation – January 11, 1977
Ramesvara: Many people already have their jobs and their families.
Prabhupada: All right, let them not come, but those who are unemployed, let them come.
Ramesvara: But what…? For those people who already have their jobs, instead of…
Prabhupada: That job… They will be very soon jobless. Don't worry. (laughs) They will come. They will be obliged to come. Now they have got job, but as the days are advancing in Kali-yuga, they'll be jobless.