Letters of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Your seventh question, “How is it that there is so much material “advancement” in the USA even though there is no formal demigod worship? Is a man after economic development automatically worshiping Lord Siva whether he is making Yajna or not?”
Actually there is no material advancement in the USA. Material advancement means there is amply opportunity for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Superficially, it appears that in the USA there is sufficient provision of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, but actually nobody is safe even in his good apartment. I have got practical experience in New York. Several times my typewriter and tape recorders were stolen and the police could not take any action. There are many persons in the Bowery street, they have no shelter to live.
So if a certain fraction of the people are supposed to be very materially happy at the cost of others, that is not material advancement. Had it been so, then why there are so many persons confused and frustrated? So actually there is no material advancement here. Here, I am seeing practically that Gaurasundara, such a nice intelligent and qualified boy, he has to work hard 12 hours simply for his subsistence. I think there are many instances like that, so this is not material advancement. You can call it capitalist advancement, and the reaction for such advancement is communism. Such movement is simply suppressed in your country, but actually the reaction is this. So the Western type of civilization, industrialism and capitalism, is no material advancement. It is material exploitation.
When one gets the bare necessities of life, namely peaceful home, sumptuous eating, necessary sex life, and feeling of security, then it is called material advancement. In the absence of such four preliminary necessities of life, it is not at all material advancement—just try to understand. According to Vedic civilization, a man is supposed to be rich when he has got sufficient grains and cows. Here we have neither sufficient grains or cows, but you have got sufficient quantity of papers only—falsely thinking that it is money. When there is some catastrophe, this bunch of papers will neither supply milk or grain. They will be seen only and the man will starve.
[An excerpt from a letter dated March 14, 1969 to Rupanuga Das]