Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"I'm alright jack keep your hands off of my stack"

I've been glancing at some of the headlines over the past few days as the world's various stock markets have taken quite a tumble. The science of all this I do not know, but you can smell the fear. It's quite a fragile house of cards that has been built on some pretty flimsy paper, and the dead presidents (and Gandhi) on the front of the bills can't do much to help.

I was listening to a lecture from the 16th Chapter of the Gita given by Prabhupada way back in the day in 1976 in New Vrindaban. Here's a few excerpts of some good-old fashioned smashing related to the subject of the futility of economic development in this Kali-Yuga.

"Formerly in the currency, when you go to take some exchange, it was the etiquette of the teller to ask you, "What you want, silver money, gold money or paper money?" It was their duty. If you say "I want gold money," they will pay in gold money. Not only it is written in the paper, "I promise to pay," but the promise was kept. If he wants, "Give me payment in gold," they will pay. And now, to keep gold, hoarding gold, is illegal. So you cannot ask. This is going on, legalized cheating. You have to accept this paper money. That's all. Don't ask for gold. And there is no honesty at all. I can take paper money for my convenience sake, but how you can force me to take paper money? That is not honesty. So dishonesty begins from the government. You cannot keep gold. If you have kept gold, there will be searching, and if it is found that you have gold, you'll be punished. In India it is now being done. There is no freedom even at your home, in your private life. Formerly, any common man could keep gold according to his desire. There was no such thing. Sometimes he would hide it even within the ground, because there was no bank. At least in India this was the practice. If you have got some gold, you keep it somewhere confidential within the ground so that it may not be stolen. So everyone should have right to keep his money as he likes. Why government should interfere? Therefore you see the Bhagavatam, rajanya-dasyu-dharmah.(?) The government men will be like rogues and thieves. By law they will take away. It is now going on in India. I think here it is also? You cannot keep gold. Why I cannot keep gold? If I have secured gold, I can keep it. I want gold. You write, "I promise to pay," so there must be gold coins. I must have. So many difficulties will come in the kingdom of maya gradually. It is already come."

"Dhana means money. So if you have got money, then everyone will respect you. Personally you may be less than a dog, but because you have got money, people will respect you. Is it not? (laughs)....Especially in the Western countries this is very prominent. If you have got money, then you have got everything. Therefore they are after money only, that "If some way or other, if I get money, then I get everything. I get respect, I get honor. I get everything. Bring money somehow or other." This is the attempt. Therefore there is so much hard struggle. From early in the morning, four o'clock, they are going to the office to get money. To get more money, more money, that is the Western civilization. Now in India they have also learned. And our philosophy is "Don't try to get money." Tasyaiva hetoh prayeteta. "You should simply engage your life for advancing your Krsna consciousness." So who will hear us? We say, "There is no need of working so hard for money." Nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye [SB 5.5.1]. This kind of working hard is done by the hogs and dogs, so why a human being should work so hard simply to get the necessities of life? [break] ...and dogs, they are getting necessities of life in that way. [break] This association, this meeting, this talking, is meant for the human body; it is not for the cats and dogs. This is human civilization. Naimisaranya meeting going on, all the big, big learned brahmanas, sages, they are talking how to do welfare activities to the human society. What is this civilization? Simply money, money, money, money, money. And as soon as you get money, then you begin all nonsense, illicit sex, meat-eating, drinking, gambling. What you will do with the money? You do not know how to spend it. "

Monday, January 21, 2008

My India Diary-Part 14

Day 33 Mumbai 1/8

We've got to reach up and grab the olive branch of self-realization or we're just a polished animal holding plastic flowers. HG Gauranga Kishore Prabhu said in Bhagavatam class this morning that only the fortunate, the intelligent, the wise know that this human form of life is meant to discover the true identity of our self, of our soul. We must not be like Kailash, ignoring the warnings of Narada Muni, absorbed in our business, family, and attachments, until we become a snake in our backyard about to be smashed to death by very own family members.

Thankfully, Lord Caitanya has given us the most merciful and sublime process. There is no need to trust anything else besides His golden lotus feet in order for us to score the goal of life.

We enjoyed some Mumbai hospitality in the humble home of the esteemed and wise Radha Rao, the mother of one of Caitanya's biomedical colleagues back in Michigan. We told her about our reasons for our committment to Krsna Consciousness, our longings of the soul that we can only find in the cultures of the East. We also tried to encourage her doctor son from afar to do puja on other days of the year besides Janmastami. We rested and feasted nicely and sincerely promised to come back soon.

We made a quick stop at ISKCON Juhu, taking darshan of the most patient and dear Sri-Sri Radha-Rasabihari. While we dined on sweets, Mauricio took a tour of the Bhaktivedanta Insititute, picking up some light reading on such subjects as quantum physics. He is well on his way to becoming the first devotee to win the Nobel Prize, and we will gladly show up at the veggie celebratory feast and do our part.


Now sitting in seat 36D on American Airlines Flight 293, the long journey into the subcontinent now over, at least externally. As we return to the security-state confines of America, the West, Normal-Ville, where drivers are fast but following the lanes, walls and floors are clean, and the people are a motley mix of pious and something that goes even below non-pious, Justin and I are currently meditating on our welcome-back burrito party, featuring sides of chocolate chip cookies and ginger ale. To say we miss being back in America is not exactly true, but we don't mind going back.

At least India did that to me. My desires are now to follow the examples of surrender, committment, and service I saw abounding organically and constantly in all the temples and asramas we visited. Radha-Gopinath Mandir, for myself, was a place of inspiration, once I got over my initial intimidation in the midst of such fixed-up and beautiful devotees. Who am I amongst these simple and sincere souls? I aspire to serve them at every opportunity.

To Mother India and all the devotees, I pray only to return to serve, to be absorbed deeper, and to bring more dust back for those, like myself, who really need it.