Fear that the earth is inching toward overpopulation has prompted the Nigerian government to promulgate a new national population policy emphasizing birth control. The policy was bound to generate some furor.

Out Of Control

Most African societies believe that children are God's own bestowed wealth. In many Nigerian societies a man's worth is still measured by the number of wives he has and the number of male children. The new government policy aims at curtailing the number of children to four per mother. Women have interpreted the policy as a great disadvantage to them psychologically. "From the look of things," said one prominent woman leader, "men are already clapping their hands in triumph because the policy seems that while women can have only four children, men are free to marry as many women as possible."

The advocates and the opponents of the policy agree on two points, however the introduction of sex education in primary schools, and the use of contraception and other methods to escape pregnancy. As we would expect neither side proposes decreasing the level of sexual activity. Each just has its own idea how to overcome the problems that sex causes.

The Vedas describe that a society based on promoting sense gratification, of which sex is the pivot, is a civilization of fools, which ultimately ends in wars and scarcity. In such a society, the human energy is spoiled in a vain search after illusory happiness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.8) says. "The attraction between male and female is the basic principle of material existence." The whole world is moving under the spell of sexual attraction. Although the Bhagavatam compares the pleasure of sex to the insignificant pleasure obtained by rubbing one's hands together to relieve an itch, persons bereft of proper insight and spiritual knowledge consider this scratching the greatest happiness.

Generally, as soon as a man and a woman unite, they become attached to one another, to their home, their money, and so on, thus perpetuating their material existence. They are described as krpana, or misers, because they want to enjoy sense gratification with all their strength, without recognizing that their bodies will deteriorate like old garments. They waste their lives sleeping and mating at night and making money during the day. Thus their whole life is spent without spiritual profit.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.1). Lord Rsabhadeva tells His sons:

My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and for hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.

If a person wants to progress on the path of self-realization, he must try to control the forces of the material senses.

But, one may ask. if sex is that bad, why did God create it?

In the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna says: "I am sex that is not contrary to religious principles." The Vedic injunction is that sex is exclusively meant for begetting children, and parents are responsible for giving their children a spiritual education. As the Bhagavatam says. "You should not attempt to become a father or mother unless you can liberate your children from the grip of material nature." The parents should be Krsna conscious and should be determined that the innocent children entrusted under their care will not have to undergo the painful cycle of birth and death again.

The Vedic literature never sanctions indiscriminate sex, because it creates unwanted pregnancies, which lead either to unwanted children or to abortions. The Bhagavad-gita describes children born from illicit connection and those born from ungodly families as varna-sankara, unwanted progeny. This unwanted progeny makes the world uninhabitable.

The Vedas therefore recommend that instead of wasting our valuable human life seeking temporary material satisfaction. we should use it in the service of Krsna. This is possible only when we take to devotional service by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord and by associating with His devotees. This is the path toward the perfection of life, and the decision to follow this path is the ideal policy for the people of Nigeria—and the rest of the world.