This article was originally published by the Hindustan Times on October 27, 2005.
A couple from Chennai decided to live simply - by a stream in a one-room hut. The man, Magari, would forego his occupation of hunting while his wife Madhavi would cultivate Tulasi instead of selling baskets. Magari would also give up non-vegetarian food.
Others thought the two would starve. But the couple went ahead and built their small house. Narada Muni had instructed them to give all their wealth to Brahmins and told them that Lord Vishnu would ensure that they would never go hungry. Word spread that the hunter had become a Vaishnava. So after the couple built their new house, at least a dozen people came to see them every day.
The visitors always brought fruits, vegetables, grain and dairy products -- large enough to feed 10 people. Everyday Magari and Madhavi had more food than they required. They gave away the extra bits to many of their guests as they had more than enough by simply depending on God.
One day, Narada Muni visited Magari and Madhavi and was happy that they would not even harm ants. It was admirable that the couple had decided to help themselves by depending on God.
This story underlines the problems of overpopulation and starvation and the need to find remedies for the same. God has the power to feed a large number of people and to restrict supplies if he wishes.
A recent study by the University of California's Division of Agricultural Science shows that by practicing the best agricultural methods, farmers across the globe can raise enough food to provide a meat-centered diet for a population 10 times greater than the present one. But the study also shows that if people were satisfied with an equally nourishing but mostly vegetarian diet, a population 30 times greater than the current one could be fed. Thus, to move on in life, they need to accept and practice new concepts.
By moving into a small hut and by accepting a simple yet happy life, Magari and Madhavi set an example for others. And God saw to it that their larder was always full. Statistics show that the spiritual dimension of supply and demand cannot be ignored. As economist E.F. Schumacher wrote, "Small is beautiful."