Last night I caught up with the BBC documentary series - Darwin's Dangerous Idea
- presented by BBC journalist Andrew Marr. It was the second part, and Marr was explaining how Darwin's ideas of natural selection had been co-opted into someone else's phrase
of 'survival of the fittest', leading to the 'new' science of eugenics, bettering the world population through selective breeding.
In retrospect we can see that eugenics was a horrible and racist perversion of Darwin's idea, based on subjective notions of 'perfection' and the type of genes that would be desirable to inherit and allow to proliferate. And of course this came to a head with Hitler's vile Final Solution. It is important to note that as well as having a pathological hatred of Jews (anti-Semitism was de rigeur
at the time), not much is known about earlier American research by Charles Davenport. Eugenics, at the time,
was de rigeur
and seen as a noble thing to do. Elder statesmen such as Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt supported scientific endeavours to forcibly sterilise those that they considered unfit for breeding, and famed authors such as HG Wells used eugenics as the subtext to his book The Time Machine
. Economists calculated that "weaklings" and "feeble minded" etc were a burden on national finances. The case of Carrie Buck is particularly notorious in this regard, the Supreme Court Justice who heard her case dclared:
It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough. - Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11.
Between 1907 and 1970, over 60,000 Americans were forcibly sterilised. And Hitler of course, gassed six million Jews. He also systematically killed Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled, some religious sects (Jehovah's Witnesses) and political dissidents, making the total somewhere between 10 and 14 million. These were clear moves to eliminate the "degenerate". In the end, Darwin's idea was rescued and properly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as per the UN.
As I was watching all of this, it seemed to me that the Srimad Bhagavatam also seems to propound these racist ideas, accepting the dwindling standards of degenerate humanity as inevitable and beyond help. Even the doctrine of avatarana
, God's (or Chaitanya's) taking an incarnation to redeem mankind, redeem them from what
exactly? I thought that it was lamentable that these sections of the Bhagavatam are considered "prophecies", what kind of prophecies are they? That mankind degenerates into crap? How nice. See the BBT SB translations:
SB 12.2.1: Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali.
As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power. Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests. Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined. The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety. The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years. By the time the age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varṇāśrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of śūdras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf śamī trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.
I have a huge collection of spiritual books and I'm sure I can dig out some more of these Vedic end-time "prophecies" if anyone wants, including "local" scriptures, they are often much more graphic and detailed about the degeneration of the human race and their descent into oblivion. Fair enough, the Bhagavatam is talking about the situation as a whole, but it is clear that the conception of humans is very low indeed. Which is why Kalki will advent according to Srila Prabhupada:
"Kalki's nature, that is described in Bhāgavata. He will come just like a prince, royal dress with sword, and on horseback, simply killing, no preaching. All rascals killed. No more preaching. (laughing) That is the last. There will be no brain to understand what is God." - Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg -- May 13, 1969, Columbus, Ohio
"There will be no candidate for learning. You have to kill everyone. That will be at the end, Kalki-avatāra, simply killing, bas, finish. They'll have no capacity to understand." - Room Conversation with Ratan Singh Rajda M.P. -- April 15, 1977, Bombay
But of course we know that it isn't completely
"When Lord Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears in their hearts in His transcendental form of goodness, the remaining citizens will abundantly repopulate the earth." (SB 12.2.22)
What remaining citizens? Clearly those who are "fit" for "survival", presumably devotees according to the viewpoint of the shastra, but fit nevertheless. So it seems to me that even the Bhagavata isn't immune to these racist notions that were behind eugenics; get rid of the degenerates and repopulate the earth with the fit to bring about the Satya-yuga. At the very least it preaches a worldview that teaches it's followers to expect what to happen, which I think is the root cause behind all the anti-materialism and "fallen" rhetoric that plagues so much of their preaching. The fatalism is scriptural law.