Part II: The God Solution


Nov 18, UK (SUN) — Recalling what little I can of yesteryears, of my childhood, there are some interesting parallels to the debates today: what should be done and what should not be done. (This same issue serves as the differentiating criteria between the three modes of nature as discussed in the Bhagavad-gita). Unlike those with crystal clear memories, mine are few and indistinct. Most are all but forgotten. Yet there is an abiding memory of the ‘atmosphere’ of those days - with some select incidents that reinforce this impression.

Early childhood years in a village in India may not be wholly different from those in most other places in the world. There would be little difference in essence if you chased a spent bicycle rim down a dusty gully in a Punjabi village or an asphalt road in a suburb of London during the sixties. My abiding memory is of the aftermath of having suffered an accident or a mishap. All elders would have this unbearable urge to show how much they loved the child so involved: by beating the daylights out of him; or otherwise scolding him. ‘Elders’ here does not mean family, it does not even mean adults; it just means whoever in the entire village was 1 month or more older than you. (It is therefore that everyone is an aunt, uncle or cousin in the village).

More painful than any physical roughing up was what you had to hear. It was strong words, it was incessant and unrelenting. ‘Yes, of course’ – without any prior schooling – ‘it was my fault’, the child thinks. The scolding will not end until he does. Always, it was a more the bruised ego than the bruised body. Physical bruises were almost an ornament.

There is another abiding memory, closely knit and tied to the first. Villages had not only village elders but also village idiots and even village rascals. Villages also had village visitors. Whichever of these he may be, if he was presented to you as an authority, you paid obeisance, showed respect and served them. It could be a policeman, a politician, a brahmana, a landowner, or a man from the town or city – or a grandstanding deceptive badmash, a rascal. However, in consequence of this policy, some praiseworthy sadhus observing the vows of madhukari would also get served.

To the village mayhem, to the culture of over-arching respect, would also be interwoven celebrations of religious festivals, with great gusto and sweets; regular Bhagavatam and Ramayana katha readings and kirtanas at home; Mahabharata dramas in the village along with circuses; and the daily observance of certain elders who diligently and daily performed their sadhana of meditation, reading, chanting, vows, etc.

Without so much as a whisper of holier-than-thou, we have the makings of persons who would not raise their voice before their superiors. Of course, this behaviour is the object of caricature, a pathetic portrayal of a Hindu humiliating himself rather than being humble. Stereotyped or not, the world may one day ask if even a suppliant picture of citizens would not have been preferable to the arrogant and offensive attitude that is now to be found everywhere.

Secular ideals have this problem. They cannot inspire humility and tolerance. To do so is to admit weakness in the dog-eat-dog world.

Yet society does not function well without such cultural and spiritual values. And, in the God solution, they are a consequence of God consciousness. For want of a complete and comprehensive understanding of spiritual life, the world is divided between the violent and the pacifists. Between such extremes, it is little wonder that one section is paralysed and confused every time a criminal commits an atrocity, while the other ‘takes out’ every dissenting voice. God consciousness is not as optional as secular governance makes it sound; it is an absolute social necessity.

Secular solutions rule supreme in India as elsewhere. News is nothing but a catalogue of the numerous failings of a secular system of governance. News broadcasting success is predicated on horrific events, more atrocious than the last. Global disavowal of the spiritual has led each and everyone to seek bodily advantage at the expense of others. Secularism enshrines nothing to taboo such aberrant desires and ambitions. It presupposes the laws, already instituted, will suffice to give justice. They do not. Newer ones are sought and installed. And so it goes on ad infinitum. But it cannot go on; all available resources are not infinite. The secular machinery is expensive. It is a leviathan; it cannot easily respond to surprises. Yet it continues to be surprised – by nature, by fighting, by monetary collapse, by germs, by deprivation of resources. The religious naysayers have it, as they have had it for decades and centuries. There has not been an end to even one lawless plague – anywhere, in any country. They only continue to increase. What price is too much before the cult of secularism is questioned and dismantled?

The God naysayers are the harbingers of destruction to the global village, as Duryodhana once was. They denounce what little recognition of God that yet remains in society. Deprived of any direct perception of God and godly life themselves, they deride all that is sacred and sublime. They seek to legislate all spiritual aspirations and experiences as superstition. In places it is an implicit, if not explicit, understanding that to confess to any faith in God is to be disqualified for a responsible post.

A word to the naysayer: if it is distance from religion that you want, prepare to embrace mayhem, madness and destruction.

To have some genuine perception of the control of God in all events of the universe helps to resolve some of the confusion around what is right and what is wrong, what should be done and what should not be done. And the challenge for them is how such an experience can be made available to others.

A presentation of the precepts of Krishna consciousness may not itself grant a God-centred experience. And, without such an experience, even the nicest, most obliging naysayer will remain doubtful, uncertain and as far removed from the ‘God’ solution as he ever was.

Precedent may help. There have been many leaders, accepted by secularists, who have demonstrated some perception of God in their work or their life – Socrates, Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Niels Bohr, Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci, and others. They may or may not have professed any affiliation to a religious denomination but they each have never conceded to a God-less universe. Some such perception as theirs is also the need today.

Today, the devotees of God (as Srila Prabhupada put it) need to confront the protagonists of secularism. Some secularists may well be pacifists but they are not non-activists. They seek with much effort to destroy any credibility to religious experience by way of educational institutions, the media and legislations. To the extent that they succeed, it does not bode well for the society at large.

The wonder is that of all the gifts the western ‘sages’ listed above passed down, none were able to pass or inspire God consciousness in others. More the wonder therefore that Srila Prabhupada was able to do this: alone and unaided, in a short space of time, and for many individuals. He invoked not only a basic awareness of Krishna, His majesty and His greatness, but made it possible to cultivate an intimate and personal relationship with Him.

Whether the contribution of His Divine Grace is seen as little or large on the world stage, it has yet to be introduced to the secular world. Srila Prabhupada’s effort must be taken out of the shackles of a ‘religion’ and made to confront secularism in schools, government, media, entertainment and the work place. We each have to look to our own epiphany with Lord Krishna we may had to inspire us to play what part we may for the benefit of the global village, because right now the global village has more village idiots and village rascals than village elders.

PS: A footnote to the previous article (Moral of the French Riots): ‘liberal / secular society’ refers to an ideology, NOT to the Democratic Party of the USA or any the liberal party of any other nation; neither does fighting secular ideals mean support of religious hypocrisy and patronising.


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