January 29, 2014 in Nityananda Dasa by KHD


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January 20, 2014.  Adventures in New Jaipur, Prabhupadanuga Farm in Fiji
A lot of the challenge involved in becoming basically self-sufficient within our own locality has to do with becoming free of dependency on machines. Machines have become deeply entrenched in modern civilization. Ordinary tasks such as cutting nose hairs, doing an enema, house painting, cooking lunch, drying wet laundry, growing food, polishing shoes, or just about anything- all have a machine to make it better and easier. Supposedly. This kind of culture (advanced civilization?) has come about only in the last century, and the trend is accelerating towards total automation and mechanization. Next will be household robots… I took an inventory of what we have here in New Jaipur, and it is a long list:
Kobelco excavator (7 ton), two track dumpers (2 ton), 46 hp farm tractor, 60 hp Yamaha 4 stroke outboard boat motor, Toyota pickup, 18 kva diesel generator, 5 kva diesel generator, solar power system with invertors/lights/photovoltaic panels/ batteries; bench planer, bench saw, variety of hand tools like circular saws and drills, washing machine, computers, gas stove, electric fans, DVD player and monitor, refrigerators (2), spice grinder, blender, juicer, cellphones, concrete mixer, pressure washer, air compressor, welder, five chainsaws, CD and DVD players, vacuum cleaner, three “zipper” grasscutters, etc. Fuesl required: diesel, gasoline, oil, natural gas, or electricity.
Hmmmm. We are definitely “machined-in.” No need for any machinations or debate on that. Let’s see what Srila Prabhupada said about machines on his visit to the New Talavan farm in Mississippi, USA:
Satsvarupa: Is it alright to use modern machines on our farms?
Prabhupada: As far as possible, don’t use machine. Let people be engaged (…) Animals yes. (…) Let people be engaged. Machine means one man or two men working, the others are idle. That will create unemployment. Machine is harmful. Machine means unemployment. The principle should be that everyone is employed. Either as brahmana, as ksatriya, as vaishya or as sudra, no one should become idle, and gossiping and sleeping. They should be engaged. This should be the principle. Everyone should be engaged in Krishna consciousness, then life is successful. And self-sufficient. (July 31, 1975).
From Bhagwatam class, New Talavan, August 1, 1975:
Be satisfied. A devotee’s life should be simple. We require material necessities as much as it is required. No artificial life. That is spiritual. Simply increasing artificial life, even for saving time a big machine is required. What is this? Simply wasting time. Devil’s workshop. Make life very simple. And simple living, high thinking. And always conscious to go back home, back to Krishna. That is life. Not this life, that simply machine, machine, machine, machine. So if you show practical example that how you are living a simple life and how you are advanced in Krishna consciousness, then people will learn from you. You American people, if you show example, people will try to follow you, and they will be happy. So I am glad to see this farm. Develop it nicely, live peacefully and chant Hare Krishna. Thank you very much.
After Prabhupada’s tour of the farm on an afternoon walk and inspecting our array of modern farm machinery in New Talavan, Prabhupada sent Brahmananda Swami to call me to his quarters for discussion on the machinery issue. Brahmananda, who was like Narada Muni in enjoying the provocation of controversy, had already brought up the question of machines with Prabhupada, and now I was being called to defend our farm machine policy. Petrified at the prospect of personally discussing anything with Prabhupada and knowing that my mind and tongue would simply freeze in stagefright before the pure devotee and ambassador of the Supreme Godhead, I begged Brahmananda to please relay my thoughts to Prabhupada because I was too afraid to meet His Divine Grace. Brahmananda listened carefully as I explained that our devotees simply could not do by hand the work done by machines. The modern generation of people, in comparison to their forefathers, were weaklings and incapable of routine hard work. I postured that the devotees always had more than enough engagement with work that they could endure, even in spite of using machines, and that there was no other way to operate a farm without machines.
Brahmananda returned in an hour, having discussed my replies with Prabhupada, and with a big grin, said that Prabhupada clarified we are not against machines, that we could use them, but that we must be careful not to cause unemployment, which was the key concern. Prabhupada had not imposed a “no-machines” rule- but he had emphasized the unemployment principle. Although unmentioned at the time, there is another principle, that of simple living, which also supports the avoidance of unnecessary machines.
Gradually, over the years, I have come to understand how gentle Srila Prabhupada was with me- he deferred to my judgment on the issue to encourage me as a project leader, although I was clearly missing the essential point of simple living. In New Talavan our farming was a pursuit of modern mechanized agricultural methods where large machinery manufacturers came out ahead and the farmers spent more time and money in maintaining unnecessary equipment. Instead of putting up hay with a horse wagon and pitchforks, we were struggling to make money to buy many machines that continually were breaking down, needing parts and servicing, just to do things the “big” impressive American way… We even began to fertilize our fields with chemicals and sell our hay to pay for the whole program.
Within a short time after Prabhupada’s visit, we sold our prized Harvestore silos and much of the related machinery. The last straw was when we were unable to extract the feed from the silo due to a broken augur and it fermented into a stinking gluey mass, forcing us to pasture the cows, leaving the twin seventy foot ceramic silos and supporting machinery useless. Krishna had taught us a lesson in simple living and we remembered Prabhupada’s words: “as far as possible, avoid machines.” Our climate allowed year-round pastures, so why fill silos with fermented feed and later take it out again when the cows could eat it directly from the pasture?
So, back to our situation here in New Jaipur, it certainly could be simplified by reducing our machinery. Initially we were faced with a totally undeveloped property, with no roads, cleared land, or buildings- just jungle and bush. It might have taken ten or twenty years to do by hand what we have done in 2 or 3 years with excavator, dumpers, and chain saws. Much of the work done by machines can be done very slowly by manual laborers, but to get a basic farm development accomplished within a few years, we used machines and workers. When our basic infrastructure is in place, and it should be this year, then we will reduce the machines and workers too. About 5 or 6 workers should suffice. Also now that we are actually in residence “on the farm,” we are learning and finding ways to reduce our machine dependencies. Prabhupada once joked that modern society needs a machine for everything, even shaving. Some machines are easier for us conditioned westerners to do without than others. For example, the vacuum cleaner is only used a few times a year to give the carpets an extra measure of cleaning, otherwise we use broom and mop.
Our excavator and track dumpers have made roads, extracted gravel from the river, leveled the temple site, drained the swamp, cleared the beach and fields- these tasks would have been monumental with only shovels and machetes. But with this now behind us, these machines can be sold soon. Although handy for many farm jobs, when they break down for a month and require thousands of dollars in overseas parts and arduous mechanical repairs, we realize the burden they really are to our simple way of life. How many times I cursed that excavator! Once a farm worker thought he would test drive the track dumper when no one was watching and he immediately tore the rubber track in half going over a nasty stump. The dumper sat there on a steep slope like a bombed-out wartime wreck for a year until we could import a new track from the US. That worker was sent home…
The small generator, which served well during construction of the Krishna Lodge, now is used very rarely. We have switched to a simpler clothes washer without complex electronic controls where we do the rinsing by hand. If we could find a manual clothes wringer, that would be exciting, but they are as rare as pink moons. Wring by hand? That’s an interesting idea too… We are weaning ourselves off the use of electric fans and getting used to the humidity and summer heat, which lasts from Jan-April. Fortunately our ocean islands are 17 degrees from the Equator and not nearly as hot as Panama, nor as oppressive as Florida summers. We grind our spices by hand, and the grinder sits there; we feel better that if we “need” it, it’s there. One foot in the boat, one foot on the wharf…
It is a daunting proposal to reduce our dependency on the machines that we have grown up with. Cars, blender, washer… Fortunately, here in Fiji the local people still are capable of and accustomed to plain hard work, riding horses, using bullocks and machetes, whereas, back in the USA, I remember seeing obese people using leaf blowers and riding mowers while sipping their iced coffee from insulated cups. Those of us who grew up in the western countries probably are unable to do much hard physical labor, although I do a little bit here and there. Sweating is good, healthy. But to keep up with this huge farm, where vegetation can grow a foot a day (one vine variety is named “Mile-a-minute”), we have hired local workers. At present we have a dozen laborers, not counting contractors and crews who come for specific jobs.
When we lived on Isla Paridas in Panama, our pastures and compounds were cleaned and trimmed by swinging long machetes, but here in Fiji the practice is to use two cycle engine grasscutters. We have two men on grasscutters almost constantly, as they clean the farm fields crops too. Grasscutters are pretty simple and economical machines, unlike computers which are always acting up and requiring expert servicing and foreign sourced components. Can we do without internet and computers? It appears that Lord Chaitanya might have arranged the internet to facilitate the spreading of Krishna consciousness. This unique communication network seems to have fostered a resurgence of the truth in all areas of life, even in spiritual matters. The deterioration and corruption in ISKCON has been readily exposed by the internet. It doesn’t seem appropriate to eliminate the use of the internet and computers, but it certainly can be minimized to essential chores rather than be used for entertainment and fascination with technological tangents. Can someone make a simple computer as reliable as the Toyota??!! We have had recurrent problems that make us want to dump them in the river…
Gradually we must learn to live more like people did before the modern industrialized era. Otherwise we are slaves to the giant corporations and to the need for the money to obtain so many machines, parts, servicing, and replacements due to planned obsolescence. Bullocks should be used for plowing and local transport. Hand tools should be used whenever practical. We must learn to live without a machine for every task. Our need for electricity must be minimized to a practical level- are refrigerators really an essential part of life? Must we have so many lights on in every room, and use electric clocks too?
People lived simply throughout history- and we could too; it is only a matter of changing our culture and habits. The minimization of machines in our lives is a priority objective, something akin to a drug addict learning to live without drugs… If there is a will- based on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions- there is a way. Please share your thoughts, experiences, and Prabhupada quotes- we seek encouragement and help from other devotees in our service to Prabhupada.
Bhagwatam class, New Talavan, August 1, 1975:
And the grhastas 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 in the city, hundred miles in car 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. This is actual life…
The river bridge is over half completed, see photo. The excavator is uncovering more fertile farmland, see photo. The fruit trees in the orchard are flourishing, see photos. Our fuel and generator shed with nursery section is coming along, see photo. The heavy summer rains have not come yet, and we missed the first cyclone of the season. Our first pineapple harvest is proving delightful- we sell some and offer the rest, planting the tops as we go! The temple site is finished (see photo)- but we have no temple plans as yet. We welcome any suggestions on materials, design, etc regarding a temple for Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Also our website is under construction, thanks to John, a local bhakta. Our war on a particularly fast-spreading weed (nick-named “pinkweed”) is going well, and a huge rain tree that had been ring-barked by squatters years ago has been felled and being made into roofing timbers for the cottages.
In our previous VVR, we wrote:
For example, the silence and quiet on the farm is too intense for some people at first, silly as it sounds, as they soon get the itch for the confusion and noises of the city. Later the peace of a natural setting is greatly helpful in one’s spiritual progress.
Response from Seattle area: “…it took me about three years after moving here from the city to get “adjusted” to the quiet and slower pace of city life. I could feel the passionate energy inside my body and mind at that time “forcing me to “do something”. Now, I feel like what’s the problem? There is nothing really to do but a few things here and there and this makes it so much easier to think of Krsna. You can also see in the behavior of visiting devotees who always seem to be talking very fast, or moving bodily parts constantly, that they just can’t sit still for even a few minutes. This is the subtle effect which most city dwellers are totally not aware of. As you probably know by now, unless you actually live in the country, it is only theoretical knowledge.”  Damaghosa das
Regarding whether Kaliya Nag really went to Fiji or not, from Yasodanandan Prabhu in California:
“In August of 1977 Srila Prabhupada called me to His room in Vrindavana and requested me to go to Fiji to perform the opening ceremonies of the Krsna kaliya temple in Lautoka.  Srila Prabhupada then related that after Krsna chastised the Kaliya snake out of Vrindavana, it went to Fiji….”
SB 7.14.5 Purport: A wise man, however, learns from the sastras and guru… 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, and according … 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.
Prabhupada: “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?”
“We should utilize our time for elevating ourselves in Krishna Consciousness than for the so called economic development. If we are satisfied with plain living, with minimun time and the balance time is engaged for elevating our Krishna Consciousness program, then every man can be transferred to Goloka Vrndavana, just in this very life.” letter to Hamsadutta Jan 11, 1968
Prabhupada: “Whatever you can till, you take so much land. God has enough land. Why do you possess more? One acre of land is sufficient for producing your food. Why do you take more?”
Yours in Prabhupada’s service,
Nityananda das                      
New Jaipur, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
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