Friday, April 6, 2007

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation: 1:10:3

It is now time for our weekly meditation on a verse from the ripened fruit of all the Vedic literatures, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humble ask you to please first read the Bhaktivedanta translation and purport from the First Canto, Tenth Chapter, Third Verse.

niśamya bhīsmoktam athācyutoktam
śaśāsa gām indra ivājitāśrayah
paridhyupāntām anujānuvartitah

Mahārāja Yudhisthira, after being enlightened by what was spoken by Bhīsmadeva and Lord Śrī Krsna, the infallible, engaged himself in matters of perfect knowledge because all his misgivings were eradicated. Thus he ruled over the earth and seas and was followed by his younger brothers.

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It takes only a few passing glances at a newspaper, blog, or television set to see that the practice of democracy in our current age is being exposed as a web of deceit. For those who choose to dig deeper, or have been a victim of the widespread voter fraud of the last two American presidential elections, the reality of what is going on is frightening to think about.

What can we, the so-called powerless people, do against a machine that only presents us with the illusion of freedom and choice, while at the same time bringing us further under a mass-control mechanism of irrational fear, technological addiction, and an epidemic of depression?

Prabhupada says here "It is the person who rules, and not the impersonal government. If the person is perfect, the government is perfect. If the person is a fool, the government is a fool's paradise. That is the law of nature." On the surface, this is obvious to anyone with any intelligence and interest in the common good, in relating to our current political and social climates.

But in a more complete sense, Prabhupada is calling for us to turn away from democracy (or "demon-crazy" as he calls it) as the ideal form of government. In the ideal Vedic conception, the world should be guided by one state, one rule, one leader. This leader must be a perfect, spiritual individual, who by dint of his piety and compassion, will please God so much that all necessities and desires of the citizenry will fall into line.

If this sounds like an impossible utopia, it is, at least on the material platform. To any modern, Western-educated individual, it may also seem like a regression to the days of dictators and despots. However, billions of people around the globe already are attempting to follow one perfect individual. His name is God, or Krsna, or Allah, or Jesus, etc.

Because we are imperfect beings in a materially conditioned state, we cannot take up the responsibility of attempting to lord over the resources and ideologies of any form of society that can be established on this earthly planet. The history books are full of the folly of this startling misconception. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the perfect spiritual leader does not exist in a human body. Therefore, we must fill this void by trusting in the word, law, and love of God.

But this trust is lost, the law is warped, and this love is perverted into so many diluted forms. This isn't because of any defect in God's nature, contrary to so much popular belief. It is because of our own conditioned state, our own choices, and our own helplessness in what is being imposed upon us by the demoniac forces covering up the goodwill of this globe.

The only revolution that will truly create any tangible, positive change is a spiritual revolution, with the word of God at the center. This revolution will only take place when the different faiths of this world learn to see beyond the superficial differences that exist at the expense of the common cure, the common foundation.

However difficult it may be, and whatever comforts we are attached to, we must give it up and work together, because us spiritually-minded people are this planet's only hope.

"But a king like Mahārāja Yudhisthira had no ideology of his own. He had but to follow the instructions of the infallible Lord and the Lord's representative and the authorized agent, Bhīsmadeva. It is instructed in the śāstras that one should follow the great authority and the infallible Lord without any personal motive and manufactured ideology." We must give-up all temporary, materially-based ideologies and become channels for the revolution of the Lord, who supplies all answers and all sense.

Democracy can ideally work on a local scale, but we must realize that man cannot rule man alone. Until then we will suffer and stumble and perhaps wipe ourselves clear away. This is the most serious, pressing matter we face, and I beg of you to heed it with thought and action.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tea Time

One of my main duties here at New Vrindaban is to assist with the college outreach programs we run out of our ashram. Each week we travel to a number of different universities, and engage the brightest and best in vegetarian cooking classes, spiritual discussions, and rollicking musical jams featuring the holy names of the Lord.

At Ohio University we host the Vegan Cooking Workshop, which has been running for four years and attracts a funky family of 75-100 kids a week. At Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh our favorite model of ecstasy Yugal Kishore Prabhu preaches to a very intelligent group of students going for their masters degrees in all kinds of technological applications and prowess. The next Bill Gates might very well be Krsna conscious.

Caitanya and I have been heading off towards the Steel City as well. In recent weeks, we have quietly invaded the Oakland Tea Room, a gathering of very open-minded kids hosting a tea-discussion-movie showing affair that occurs every Friday evening in the Student Union of the University of Pittsburgh.

Don't worry!...I chose the decaffeinated Original India Spice

We bring some great spiritualized food, wearing our traditional devotional gear, the dhoti, and our what-the-hell-is-that haircut, the sikha. We certainly look and talk unique, and while we freak out a few people, more often than not, we touch the hearts of some very sincere spiritual seekers.

One example of this is the young chap you see above hugging the bejesus out of Caitanya. His name is Richard and he is a sophomore at U-Pitt, hoping to become a medical student in the near-future. Like many at the Oakland Tea Room, Richard is a Christian who doesn't define himself to any rigid denomination.

I had the great fortune to tell him as much as I could about the practice of Krsna consciousness, and it was a very powerful experience on both ends. Richard was visibly blown-away and even moved by hearing about the Vedic model of existence, the eternal nature of the spirit soul, the adventures of Srila Prabhupada, and being more tolerant than a tree, more humble than a blade of grass...

Seeing how Richard was affected also moved me in a very deep way. For once, I actually got a glimpse of what it means to be an instrument for Krsna's will and Prabhupada's mission. To help Krsna bloom in the heart of someone who is very deeply seeking to strengthen his or her spiritual foundation is real magic, real mysticism, real charity, and real love.

So Richard, my man, if you are reading this, as I said, I just scratched the surface, and I have a beautiful hardcover Bhagavad Gita As It Is for you next time I see you.

We'd like to send a big-up and most humble gratitude to everyone at the Oakland Tea Room for tolerating and listening to us most unusual Hare Krsna kids. In this time of quarrel and hypocrisy, spiritual seekers of all stripes must band together to put this earthly planet on the right track. Friday nights at the Oakland Tea Room are a living example of this unity.