Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama-a-Rama!...or Obama or Rama?

I sit here in the Ohio University's opulent computer lab eagerly awaiting the Great American Political Yajna...Election Day!

It's a day of somewhat heightened consciousness, where people of all colors, shapes, and sizes can lift themselves up out of their mundane lives, and feel that they are part of something bigger and higher.

Now you may say or think...Chris, you're in maya! I won't belabor that point, but whether or not I have an interest in a very historical, multi-racial, multi-gender crossroads of cultural conflict that is this year's election won't shatter my devotional sentiments, nor will it shatter yours.

I'll be the first to admit that I still have a great curiosity in the human condition on this Planet Earth. I'm certainly not a pure devotee, and even the pure devotee doesn't shut himself off from the practical realities of the world.

Prabhupada would often show interest in the various machinations of world politics from the futility of world war to the complexities of Indira Gandhi's "emergency rule" but he would always enlighten the situation to prove his eternal point that Vedic culture is the superior way of life.

Actually, if I voted (and I'm not going to vote...I haven't voted since the last presidential election in 2004, and I'm not even sure where I'm registered), I would, in all honesty, write in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the honor.

Even more so, the realization I'm having is that Barack Obama, if elected, will not be the first black president. Krsna is the first black president! He is the Original Black President and source of all black presidents to follow.

Now, I've gone through many different political phases, from liberal/socialist/green all the way into the deep, dark recesses of "conspiracy theory."

I'm just now coming up from those recesses and excesses now (which I'll write about in further detail soon), but since, once again, I'm not a pure devotee, or even a very fixed-up devotee, this whole shebang of electoral eccentricity still tickles my funny bone. Color me detached but unable to look away!

Still, let's make no bones about it. Neither McCain or even Obama come even close to fitting the bill of the pure Vedic leader, and we shouldn't be so naive to expect that coming from the political spheres of the modern world.

Prabhupada clearly states this is his purport to S.B 1.16.22: The word kṣatra-bandhu refers to the so-called administrators or persons promoted to the post of the administrator without proper training by culture and tradition. Nowadays they are promoted to such exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves fallen in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable.

In Obama's defense, it struck me watching one of the debates that he described sexuality as being "sacred." I got the feeling that it wasn't just something he said, but something he meant. I dare say it was even impressive to hear and experience.

It's natural that we wanted to be protected by those who lead us, and indeed it's the natural propensity and duty of the leader to protect us. Prabhupada again points this out in his purport to S.B 1.9.27: The kings were trained systematically to become munificent and not merely be tax collectors. They were trained to perform different sacrifices only for the prosperity of the subjects. To lead the prajās to the attainment of salvation was a great duty of the king. The father, the spiritual master and the king are not to become irresponsible in the matter of leading their subjects to the path of ultimate liberation from birth, death, diseases and old age. When these primary duties are properly discharged, there is no need of government of the people, by the people.

The essence of Obama's support, which historically crosses so many different boundaries of race, class, and age, is that people feel he will be able to protect them, care for them, and nurture their various social needs.

Of course, whether he'll actually be able to provide this protection in the idealistic way his supporters expect is another question entirely, and is unlikely considering the current economic and social chaos around the globe.

But whatever his faults, political and personal, I do admire his moral character, but somebody get this guy one of Prabhupada's books stat!

In the meantime, I'll watch the results with interest, knowing that in a very practical way to the lives we lead as devotees, involved with and trying to enlighten the people of America and beyond, the results do matter.

We can remain personally abstract from the whole process, but I think we should at least understand who and what is going on (without too many conspiracy overtones!) so that, like Prabhupada, we can show the limits of the whole electoral, political game, and show how Krsna Consciousness goes well beyond those limits, into the realm of the heart, the realm of the eternal.

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