Roti Wallah (Bread Seller) - Paintings by Solvyns, c. 1799
"Human society's means of living is clearly mentioned here as visa, or agriculture and the business of distributing agricultural products, which involves transport, banking, etc. Industry is an artificial means of livelihood, and large-scale industry especially is the source of all the problems of society. In Bhagavad-gita also the duties of the vaisyas, who are engaged in visa, are stated as cow protection, agriculture and business. We have already discussed that the human being can safely depend on the cow and agricultural land for his livelihood.
The exchange of produce by banking and transportation is a branch of this type of living. The vaisyas are divided into many subsections: some of them are called ksetri, or landowners, some are called krsana, or land tillers, some of them are called tila-vanik, or grain raisers, some are called gandha-vanik, or merchants in spices, and some are called suvarna-vanik, or merchants in gold and banking. The brahmanas are the teachers and spiritual masters, the ksatriyas protect the citizens from the hands of thieves and miscreants, and the vaisyas are in charge of production and distribution. The sudras, the unintelligent class of men who cannot act independently in any of the above-mentioned activities, are meant for serving the three higher classes for their livelihood."
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:6:32 Purport
"During the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, the clouds showered all the water that people needed, and the earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion. Due to its fatty milk bag and cheerful attitude, the cow used to moisten the grazing ground with milk.
Purport: The basic principle of economic development is centered on land and cows. The necessities of human society are food grains, fruits, milk, minerals, clothing, wood, etc. One requires all these items to fulfill the material needs of the body. Certainly one does not require flesh and fish or iron tools and machinery. During the regime of Maharaja Yudhisthira, all over the world there were regulated rainfalls. Rainfalls are not in the control of the human being. The heavenly King Indradeva is the controller of rains, and he is the servant of the Lord. When the Lord is obeyed by the king and the people under the king's administration, there are regulated rains from the horizon, and these rains are the causes of all varieties of production on the land. Not only do regulated rains help ample production of grains and fruits, but when they combine with astronomical influences there is ample production of valuable stones and pearls. Grains and vegetables can sumptuously feed a man and animals, and a fatty cow delivers enough milk to supply a man sumptuously with vigor and vitality. If there is enough milk, enough grains, enough fruit, enough cotton, enough silk and enough jewels, then why do the people need cinemas, houses of prostitution, slaughterhouses, etc.? What is the need of an artificial luxurious life of cinema, cars, radio, flesh and hotels? Has this civilization produced anything but quarreling individually and nationally? Has this civilization enhanced the cause of equality and fraternity by sending thousands of men into a hellish factory and the war fields at the whims of a particular man?
It is said here that the cows used to moisten the pasturing land with milk because their milk bags were fatty and the animals were joyful. Do they not require, therefore, proper protection for a joyful life by being fed with a sufficient quantity of grass in the field? Why should men kill cows for their selfish purposes? Why should man not be satisfied with grains, fruits and milk, which, combined together, can produce hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes. Why are there slaughterhouses all over the world to kill innocent animals? Maharaja Pariksit, grandson of Maharaja Yudhisthira, while touring his vast kingdom, saw a black man attempting to kill a cow. The King at once arrested the butcher and chastised him sufficiently. Should not a king or executive head protect the lives of the poor animals who are unable to defend themselves? Is this humanity? Are not the animals of a country citizens also? Then why are they allowed to be butchered in organized slaughterhouses? Are these the signs of equality, fraternity and nonviolence?
Therefore, in contrast with the modern, advanced, civilized form of government, an autocracy like Maharaja Yudhisthira's is by far superior to a so-called democracy in which animals are killed and a man less than an animal is allowed to cast votes for another less-than-animal man."
"The Vedic civilization, the brahmanas, they used to live in the forest, and the king would offer them some cows. So they will draw some milk. And in the forest there are fruits, so they will eat fruits and milk. And if the disciples go to the village, beg some food grain, then sometimes they cook some food grains. Otherwise the brahmanas used to live in the forest, drink milk and take fruit. That is sufficient. There was no need of jumping here and there. Anywhere you keep cows. And what cows to maintain? No expenditure. The fruits? The skin thrown away, and the cow will eat. And in exchange it will give you nice foodstuff, milk. Or it will eat in the grazing ground, some grass. So there is no expenditure of keeping cows, but you get the best food in the world. The proof is that the child born simply can live on milk. That is the proof. So anyone can live only on milk. If you have got the opportunity to drink one pound milk maximum, not very much--half-pound is sufficient; suppose one pound--then you don't require any other foodstuff. Only this cow's milk will help you. It is so nice. And it gives very nice brain, not pig's brain. So it is so important thing. Other..., why Krsna says go-raksya? He did not say that "pig-raksya." No. "Dog-raksya." No. Now they are interested in dog-raksya instead of cow-raksya. This is the civilization. They'll spend millions of dollars for dog, not for cow."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 05-21-76, Honolulu
"The most important word in these verses is maha-gunam, indicating that the brahmanas were offered very palatable food of exalted quality. Such palatable dishes were generally prepared with two things, namely food grains and milk products. Bhagavad-gita (18.44) therefore enjoins that human society must give protection to the cows and encourage agriculture (krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhavajam). Simply by expert cooking, hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes can be prepared from agricultural produce and milk products. This is indicated here by the words annam maha-gunam. Still today in India, from these two things, namely food grains and milk, hundreds and thousands of varieties of food are prepared, and then they are offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Catur-vidha-sri-bhagavat-prasada. patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati.) Then the prasada is distributed. Even today in Jagannatha-ksetra and other big temples, very palatable dishes are offered to the Deity, and prasada is distributed profusely. Cooked by first-class brahmanas with expert knowledge and then distributed to the public, this prasada is also a blessing from the brahmanas or Vaisnavas. There are four kinds of prasada (catur-vidha). Salty, sweet, sour and pungent tastes are made with different types of spices, and the food is prepared in four divisions, called carvya, cusya, lehya and pehya--prasada that is chewed, prasada that is licked, prasada tasted with the tongue, and prasada that is drunk. Thus there are many varieties of prasada, prepared very nicely with grains and ghee, offered to the Deity and distributed to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas and then to the general public. This is the way of human society. Killing the cows and spoiling the land will not solve the problem of food. This is not civilization. Uncivilized men living in the jungle and being unqualified to produce food by agriculture and cow protection may eat animals, but a perfect human society advanced in knowledge must learn how to produce first-class food simply by agriculture and protection of cows."
"The flowing rivers supplied all kinds of tastes--sweet, pungent, sour, etc.--and very big trees supplied fruit and honey in abundance. The cows, having eaten sufficient green grass, supplied profuse quantities of milk, curd, clarified butter and similar other necessities.
Purport: If rivers are not polluted and are allowed to flow in their own way, or sometimes allowed to flood the land, the land will become very fertile and able to produce all kinds of vegetables, trees and plants. The word rasa means "taste." Actually all rasas are tastes within the earth, and as soon as seeds are sown in the ground, various trees sprout up to satisfy our different tastes. For instance, sugarcane provides its juices to satisfy our taste for sweetness, and oranges provide their juices to satisfy our taste for a mixture of the sour and the sweet. Similarly, there are pineapples and other fruits. At the same time, there are chilies to satisfy our taste for pungency. Although the earth's ground is the same, different tastes arise due to different kinds of seeds. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.10), bijam mam sarva-bhutanam: "I am the original seed of all existences." Therefore all arrangements are there. And as stated in Isopanisad:purnam idam. Complete arrangements for the production of all the necessities of life are made by the Supreme personality of Godhead. People should therefore learn how to satisfy the yajna-purusa, Lord Visnu. Indeed, the living entity's prime business is to satisfy the Lord because the living entity is part and parcel of the Lord. Thus the whole system is so arranged that the living entity must do his duty as he is constitutionally made. Without doing so, all living entities must suffer. That is the law of nature.
The words taravo bhuri-varsmanah indicate very luxuriantly grown, big-bodied trees. The purpose of these trees was to produce honey and varieties of fruit. In other words, the forest also has its purpose in supplying honey, fruits and flowers. Unfortunately in Kali-yuga, due to an absence of yajna, there are many big trees in the forests, but they do not supply sufficient fruits and honey. Thus everything is dependent on the performance of yajna. The best way to perform yajna in this age is to spread the sankirtana movement all over the world."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.