(Click to enlarge painting of Lord Ramachandra killing the demon Ravana)
"Regulated human civilization promotes dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. In human society there must be religion. Without religion, human society is only animal society. Economic development and sense gratification must be based on religious principles. When religion, economic development and sense gratification are adjusted, liberation from this material birth, death, old age and disease is assured. In the present age of Kali, however, there is no question of religion and liberation. People have taken interest only in economic development and sense gratification. Therefore, despite sufficient economic development all over the world, dealings in human society have become almost animalistic. When everything becomes grossly animalistic, dissolution takes place. This dissolution is to be accepted as īśa-vidhvaṁsitāśiṣām. The Lord’s so-called blessings of economic development and sense gratification will be conclusively dissolved by destruction. At the end of this Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as the incarnation of Kalki, and His only business will be to kill all human beings on the surface of the globe. After that killing, another golden age will begin. We should therefore know that our material activities are just like childish play. Children may play on the beach, and the father will sit and watch this childish play, the construction of buildings with sand, the construction of walls and so many things, but finally the father will ask the children to come home. Then everything is destroyed. Persons who are too much addicted to the childish activities of economic development and sense gratification are sometimes especially favored by the Lord when He destroys their construction of these things.
It is said by the Lord: yasyāham anugṛhṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ. The Lord told Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja that His special favor is shown to His devotee when He takes away all the devotee’s material opulences. Generally, therefore, it is experienced that Vaiṣṇavas are not very opulent in the material sense. When a Vaiṣṇava, pure devotee, tries to be materially opulent and at the same time desires to serve the Supreme Lord, his devotional service is checked. The Lord, in order to show him a special favor, destroys his so-called economic development and material opulences. Thus the devotee, being frustrated in his repeated attempts at economic development, ultimately takes solid shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord. This kind of action may also be accepted as īśa-vidhvaṁ-sitāśiṣām, whereby the Lord destroys one’s material opulences but enriches one in spiritual understanding. In the course of our preaching work, we sometimes see that materialistic persons come to us and offer their obeisances to take blessings, which means they want more and more material opulences. If such material opulences are checked, such persons are no longer interested in offering obeisances to the devotees. Such materialistic persons are always concerned about their economic development. They offer obeisances to saintly persons or the Supreme Lord and give something in charity for preaching work with a view that they will be rewarded with further economic development.
However, when one is sincere in his devotional service, the Lord obliges the devotee to give up his material development and completely surrender unto Him. Because the Lord does not give blessings of material opulence to His devotee, people are afraid of worshiping Lord Viṣṇu because they see that the Vaiṣṇavas, who are worshipers of Lord Viṣṇu, are poor in superficial material opulences. Such materialistic persons, however, get immense opportunity for economic development by worshiping Lord Śiva, for Lord Śiva is the husband of the goddess Durgā, the proprietor of this universe. By the grace of Lord Śiva, a devotee gets the opportunity to be blessed by the goddess Durgā. Rāvaṇa, for example, was a great worshiper and devotee of Lord Śiva, and in return he got all the blessings of goddess Durgā, so much so that his whole kingdom was constructed of golden buildings. In Brazil, in this present age, huge quantities of gold have been found, and from historical references in the Purāṇas, we can guess safely that this was Rāvaṇa’s kingdom. This kingdom was, however, destroyed by Lord Rāmacandra.
By studying such incidents, we can understand the full meaning of īśa-vidhvaṁsitāśiṣām. The Lord does not bestow material blessings upon the devotees, for they may be entrapped again in this material world by continuous birth, death, old age and disease. Due to materialistic opulences, persons like Rāvaṇa become puffed up for sense gratification. Rāvaṇa even dared kidnap Sītā, who was both the wife of Lord Rāmacandra and the goddess of fortune, thinking that he would be able to enjoy the pleasure potency of the Lord. But actually, by such action, Rāvaṇa became vidhvaṁsita, or ruined. At the present moment human civilization is too much attached to economic development and sense gratification and is therefore nearing the path of ruination."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.22.36, Purport)