This year both U.S. presidential candidates offer the same chicken-in-every-pot promises that have always been the mainstay of democracy. If elected, each says, economic health will reign. Even if I did eat chicken, the promises wouldn't move me, since economies appear to have minds of their own. They don't care for presidential vows.

Granting, for argument's sake, that a candidate might improve his country's, or the world's, fortunes, I've still never heard anyone promise an abundance of the most important economic commodity: rain. Those chickens can't eat dust, fellows. How can you pledge affluence when you can't guarantee that rowboats won't start running aground of the Mississippi?

Election Scandal

Prosperity, the Bhagavad-gita reminds us, consists primarily in having an abundance of edible crops, and that depends on rainfall, which is not an asset controlled by politicans.

All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of sacrifice, and sacrifice is born of prescribed duties. – Bhagavad-gita 3.14

There is a universal government, headed by the Supreme Lord, who asserts that the material body works under His supervision, mayadhyaksena prakrtih. But like any powerful person, God has assistants. In that sense, the Vedic mantras explain, He has nothing to do: na tasya karyam karanam cavidyate. Just as the owner of an office tower doesn't mop the floors, fix leaky pipes, or even collect rent, God doesn't directly manage the universe. The heating, lighting, plumbing, irrigation, ventilation, and government of His establishment are in the hands of His empowered representatives, who are known as demigods.

Every one of us is endowed with certain individual talents, which are God's gifts, and the demigods are no exception. The difference is that their talents dwarf ours and that they, without exception, know God and remember their duty to serve and satisfy Him.

None of the demigods is running for election this fall, which is unfortunate, because rainmaking is one of their many skills. They are, however, as agents of a greater government, responsive to the needs of human beings who themselves serve and satisfy the Supreme, such service being the essence of sacrifice. "In charge of the various necessities of life," Lord Krsna informs us, "the demigods, being pleased by the performance of sacrifice, will supply all your necessities."

Pay your rent, in other words, and His agents will take care of you.

As rain brings prosperity, and as sacrifice brings rain, so sacrifice derives, the Gita concludes, from the performance of duties prescribed by the Lord in revealed scriptures. Our principal duty for this age, Vedic literature states, is to regularly chant the names of the Supreme Lord. This will please Him, satisfy His agents, and bring lasting peace and prosperity.

The only newsworthy feature of this fall's U.S. election is that neither Bush nor Dukakis understands his responsibility, as a citizen of a universal state, to perform sacrifice. Though both of them are experienced politicians, they have a stunted, primitive conception of leadership. And one of them will win the presidency!

This is frightening. I'm all for the separation of church and state, but I'd prefer to live in a state that wasn't also separated from rain.