Part II: The God Solution
BY: PRAHLAD MAHARAJA DASA
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
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
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
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
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.