It’s certainly sad to see anyone starving. If the social culture were more spiritual and less materialistic, the state officials as well as the wealthy would have a spirit of compassion and a system of charity to care for the needy. And they would also have gorgeous worship of God in temples.
Certainly, the needy should be cared for, but are caring for them and opulently worshiping God mutually exclusive? Is the worship of God really causing starvation among the poor?
If we are truly concerned about starving people, then why do we target expensive religious rituals alone? Why not target the billionaires and trillionaires who spend millions on their wardrobes and perfumes? Outside their mansions also beggars are starving. Why not target theatres, casinos, race courses, malls, sports tournaments and the like where huge amounts of money are spent on entertainment? If even a fraction of that money was used for feeding the needy, starvation could be wiped out from the entire planet. Singling out religious rituals amounts to emotionally manipulating public opinion against religion.
And actually, the gorgeous worship of God far from causing starvation decreases starvation in several ways. Such worship is an essential part of a comprehensive spiritual culture that fosters self-mastery among people. If people started living according to this spiritual culture, they would become vegetarians. They would never kill other children of God – the animals – just for satisfying their own tongues. And this shift to vegetarianism would decrease starvation globally. How? Large quantities of fodder need to be fed to the slaughterhouse animals to get just a small quantity of flesh. If people became vegetarian, all the land used to grow fodder would become available for growing grains to feed human beings. Many surveys have shown that the land required to feed one non-vegetarian person can feed three or more vegetarian people8. If everyone in the world became vegetarian, the world’s starvation problem would be substantially reduced, if not entirely solved.
Similarly, if people participated in an authentic spiritual culture, they would give up drinking alcohol. To produce alcohol, so much land that could be used to grow grains is used instead to grow sugarcane. If people stopped drinking alcohol, all that land would become available for feeding starving people.
8 “A typical diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet.” (Zollitsch, W., Winckler, C., Waiblinger, S., and Haslberger, A. 2007. Sustainable Food Production and Ethics.Wageningen Academic Publishers). “A farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the year with vegetables, fruits, cereals and vegetable fats on one hectare of land. If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk and/or meat the number of people fed varies from 5-10.” (Pachauri, R.K., Chairman IPCC 08.09.08. “Global Warning!The Impact of meat production and consumption on climate change”.)
maas khate samay aur sharab pite samay hume bhikaariyo ki yaad kyo nahi ati hai9? Many times that’s because the desire to enjoy eating meat and drinking liquor is too strong and irresistible.
Spiritual culture enables us to relish a higher happiness. This happiness empowers us to break free from the desires for lower materialistic pleasures like meat-eating and drinking, thereby freeing resources for food production. That’s how even from a practical perspective the various rituals contribute to decreasing starvation.