Problems of human society
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 7 - 12
A devotee situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness knows that only devotional service to Kṛṣṇa can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord who risked their lives for the spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but he sacrificed his life for spreading God consciousness. Of course, it would be superficial to understand that he was killed. Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Ṭhākura Haridāsa and Prahlāda Mahārāja. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and it is difficult. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person knows that if a man is suffering it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one's neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord. Now, we can imagine how merciful Kṛṣṇa is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for Him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body.
SB Canto 2
The materialists want to prolong life as much as possible because they have no information of the next life. They want to get the maximum comforts in this present life because they think conclusively that there is no life after death. This ignorance about the eternity of the living being and the change of covering in the material world has played havoc in the structure of modern human society. Consequently there are many problems, multiplied by various plans of modernized man. The plans for solving the problems of society have only aggravated the troubles. Even if it is possible to prolong life more than one hundred years, advancement of human civilization does not necessarily follow.
SB Canto 3
As He grew to six and seven years old, the Lord was given charge of looking after the cows and bulls in the grazing grounds. He was the son of a well-to-do landholder who owned hundreds and thousands of cows, and according to Vedic economics, one is considered to be a rich man by the strength of his store of grains and cows. With only these two things, cows and grain, humanity can solve its eating problem. Human society needs only sufficient grain and sufficient cows to solve its economic problems. All other things but these two are artificial necessities created by man to kill his valuable life at the human level and waste his time in things which are not needed. Lord Kṛṣṇa, as the teacher of human society, personally showed by His acts that the mercantile community, or the vaiśyas, should herd cows and bulls and thus give protection to the valuable animals. According to smṛti regulation, the cow is the mother and the bull the father of the human being. The cow is the mother because just as one sucks the breast of one's mother, human society takes cow's milk. Similarly, the bull is the father of human society because the father earns for the children just as the bull tills the ground to produce food grains. Human society will kill its spirit of life by killing the father and the mother.
Because people are very much interested in hearing social and historical presentations, Śrīla Vyāsadeva has compiled many books such as the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata. These books are reading matter for the mass of people, and they were compiled with a view to reviving their God consciousness, now forgotten in the conditional life of material existence. The real purpose of such literatures is not so much to present topics of historical references, but to revive the people's sense of God consciousness. For example, Mahābhārata is the history of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, and common people read it because it is full of topics regarding the social, political and economic problems of human society. But factually the most important part of Mahābhārata is Bhagavad-gītā, which is automatically taught to readers along with the historical narrations of the Battle of Kurukṣetra.
The Lord has the power to protect. Of the three deities Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, the first has the power to create, the second has the power to protect, and the third has the power to destroy. The word puruṣa is significant in this verse because the kṣatriyas are expected to represent the puruṣa Lord in giving protection to the prajās, or all those who are born in the land and water. Protection is therefore meant for both man and the animals. in modern society the prajās are not protected from the hands of thieves and miscreants. The modern democratic state, which has no kṣatriyas, is a government of the vaiśyas and śūdras, and not of brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas as formerly. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and his grandson, Mahārāja Parīkṣit, were typical kṣatriya kings, for they gave protection to all men and animals. When the personification of Kali attempted to kill a cow, Mahārāja Parīkṣit at once prepared himself to kill the miscreant, and the personification of Kali was banished from his kingdom. That is the sign of puruṣa, or the representative of Lord Viṣṇu. According to Vedic civilization, a qualified kṣatriya monarch is given the respect of the Lord because he represents the Lord by giving protection to the prajās. Modern elected presidents cannot even give protection from theft cases, and therefore one has to take protection from an insurance company. The problems of modern human society are due to the lack of qualified brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas and the overinfluence of the vaiśyas and śūdras by so-called general franchise.
The sage Maitreya proposed to speak on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam because it was especially compiled, and traditionally comes down in the disciplic succession, for the solution of all the problems of human society. Only one who is fortunate can have the opportunity to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees of the Lord. Under the spell of material energy, the living entities are entrapped in the bondage of many difficulties simply for the sake of a little bit of material happiness. They engage in fruitive activities, not knowing the implications. Under the false impression that the body is the self, the living entities foolishly relate to so many false attachments. They think that they can engage with materialistic paraphernalia forever. This gross misconception of life is so strong that a person suffers continually, life after life, under the external energy of the Lord. If one comes in contact with the book Bhāgavatam as well as with the devotee bhāgavata, who knows what the Bhāgavatam is, then such a fortunate man gets out of the material entanglement. Therefore Śrī Maitreya Muni, out of compassion for the suffering men in the world, proposes to speak on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam first and last.
SB Canto 4
If people follow the injunctions given by the great sages, śrutis and smṛtis, they can actually be happy in both this life and the next. Unfortunately rascals are manufacturing so many ways and means to be happy. Everyone is inventing so many methods. Consequently human society has lost the standard ways of life, both materially and spiritually, and as a result people are bewildered, and there is no peace or happiness in the world. Although they are trying to solve the problems of human society in the United Nations, they are still baffled. Because they do not follow the liberated instructions of the Vedas, they are unhappy.
Actually the supreme controller is the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and everyone is His servant. Yavana-rāja, the King of the Yavanas, was also a servant of Kṛṣṇa. Consequently, he wanted to execute the purpose of Kṛṣṇa through the agency of Kālakanyā. Although Kālakanyā means invalidity or old age, Yavana-rāja wanted to serve Kṛṣṇa by introducing Kālakanyā everywhere. Thus a sane person, by attaining old age, will become fearful of death. Foolish people engage in material activities as if they will live forever and enjoy material advancement, but actually there is no material advancement. Under illusion people think that material opulence will save them, but although there has been much advancement in material science, the problems of human society—birth, death, old age and disease—are still unsolved. Nonetheless foolish scientists are thinking that they have advanced materially. When Kālakanyā, the invalidity of old age, attacks them, they become fearful of death, if they are sane. Those who are insane simply do not care for death, nor do they know what is going to happen after death. They are under the wrong impression that after death there is no life, and consequently they act very irresponsibly in this life and enjoy unrestricted sense gratification. For an intelligent person, the appearance of old age is an impetus to spiritual life. People naturally fear impending death. The King of the Yavanas tried to utilize Kālakanyā for this purpose.