atmavasyam idam visvam
yat kiñcij jagatyam jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjitha
ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Within this universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His Supersoul feature is present everywhere, wherever there are animate or inanimate beings. Therefore, one should accept only that which is allotted to him; one should not desire to infringe upon the property of others.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Having described the situation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as transcendental, Svayambhuva Manu, for the instruction of the sons and grandsons in his dynasty, is now describing all the property of the universe as belonging to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Manu’s instructions are not only for his own sons and grandsons, but for all of human society. The word “man” — or, in Sanskrit, manusya — has been derived from the name Manu, for all the members of human society are descendants of the original Manu. Manu is also mentioned in Bhagavad-gita (4.1), where the Lord says:
imam vivasvate yogam
proktavan aham avyayam
vivasvan manave praha
manur iksvakave ’bravit
“I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.” Svayambhuva Manu and Vaivasvata Manu have similar duties. Vaivasvata Manu was born of the sun-god, Vivasvan, and his son was Iksvaku, the King of the earth. Since Manu is understood to be the original father of humanity, human society should follow his instructions.
Svayambhuva Manu instructs that whatever exists, not only in the spiritual world but even within this material world, is the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present everywhere as the Superconsciousness. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (13.3), ksetra-jñam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata: in every field — in other words, in every body — the Supreme Lord is existing as the Supersoul. The individual soul is given a body in which to live and act according to the instructions of the Supreme Person, and therefore the Supreme Person also exists within every body. We should not think that we are independent; rather, we should understand that we are allotted a certain portion of the total property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This understanding will lead to perfect communism. Communists think in terms of their own nations, but the spiritual communism instructed here is not only nationwide but universal. Nothing belongs to any nation or any individual person; everything belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the meaning of this verse. Atmavasyam idam visvam: whatever exists within this universe is the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The modern communistic theory, and also the idea of the United Nations, can be reformed — indeed, rectified — by the understanding that everything belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is not a creation of our intelligence; rather, He has created us. Atmavasyam idam visvam. Isavasyam idam sarvam. This universal communism can solve all the problems of the world.
One should learn from the Vedic literature that one’s body is also not the property of the individual soul, but is given to the individual soul according to his karma. Karmana daiva-netrena jantur dehopapattaye. The 8,400,000 different bodily forms are machines given to the individual soul. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (18.61):
hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” The Lord, as the Supersoul, sits in everyone’s heart and observes the various desires of the individual soul. The Lord is so merciful that He gives the living entity the opportunity to enjoy varieties of desires in suitable bodies, which are nothing but machines (yantrarudhani mayaya). These machines are manufactured by the material ingredients of the external energy, and thus the living entity enjoys or suffers according to his desires. This opportunity is given by the Supersoul.
Everything belongs to the Supreme, and therefore one should not usurp another’s property. We have a tendency to manufacture many things. Especially nowadays, we are building skyscrapers and developing other material facilities. We should know, however, that the ingredients of the skyscrapers and machines cannot be manufactured by anyone but the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The whole world is nothing but a combination of the five material elements (tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayah). A skyscraper is a transformation of earth, water and fire. Earth and water are combined and burnt into bricks by fire, and a skyscraper is essentially a tall construction of bricks. Although the bricks may be manufactured by man, the ingredients of the bricks are not. Of course, man, as a manufacturer, may accept a salary from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is stated here: tena tyaktena bhuñjithah. One may construct a big skyscraper, but neither the constructor, the merchant nor the worker can claim proprietorship. Proprietorship belongs to the person who has spent for the building. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has manufactured water, earth, air, fire and the sky, and one can use these and take a salary (tena tyaktena bhuñjithah). However, one cannot claim proprietorship. This is perfect communism. Our tendency to construct great buildings should be used only for constructing large and valuable temples in which to install the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then our desire for construction will be fulfilled.
Since all property belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everything should be offered to the Lord, and we should take only prasada (tena tyaktena bhuñjithah). We should not fight among ourselves to take more than we need. As Narada said to Maharaja Yudhisthira:
yavad bhriyeta jatharam
tavat svatvam hi dehinam
adhikam yo ’bhimanyeta
sa steno dandam arhati
“One may claim proprietorship to as much wealth as required to maintain body and soul together, but one who desires proprietorship over more than that must be considered a thief, and he deserves to be punished by the laws of nature.” (Bhag. 7.14.8) Of course, we need to be maintained in eating, sleeping, mating and defending (ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithuna), but since the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, has provided these necessities of life for the birds and bees, why not for mankind? There is no need for economic development; everything is provided. Therefore one should understand that everything belongs to Krsna, and with this idea, one may take prasada. However, if one interferes with the allotments of others, he is a thief. We should not accept more than what we actually need. Therefore, if by chance we get an abundance of money, we should always consider that it belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Krsna consciousness we are getting sufficient money, but we should never think that the money belongs to us; it belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should be equally distributed to the workers, the devotees. No devotee should claim that any money or property belongs to him. If one thinks that any portion of property of this huge universe belongs to anyone, he is to be considered a thief and is punishable by the laws of nature. Daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya: no one can surpass the vigilance of material nature or hide his intentions from material nature. If human society unlawfully claims that the property of the universe, either partially or wholly, belongs to mankind, all of human society will be cursed as a society of thieves and will be punished by the laws of nature.