Tony Blair is Right: It Is About the Masses
BY: PRAHLADA MAHARAJ DASA
Nov 22, UK (SUN) In an article published recently in the Guardian, the Prime Minister of Britain makes the observation that the country needs many, many university educated students, not a handful as may be had from Oxbridge (the two leading and prestigious universities Oxford and Cambridge). The non-Oxbridge universities may not have as high a caliber of student but if they pass their academic subject, they are, for Tony Blair’s purposes, no less competent in their fields. Mr. Blair is confident that only with a mass educated population can Britain hope to compete with other nations for its continued prosperity.
The same is true of Krsna consciousness. Mass preaching may not produce as high a caliber of devotee as the one who may be had from a one-to-one direct preaching, and training over many years - a temple-asrama type of
environment. Still, if a person reads any one of Srila Prabhupada’s books, is able to understand and apply even one of its tenets in his life, he ensures spiritual prosperity for himself and for those around him. Such persons in their thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions would make certain a very changed and better world than the one we currently live in.
Of course, Tony Blair does not seek to do away with Oxbridge - he was himself trained in Oxford - only that there must not be a preponderance of the nation on them, of the nation’s investment and resources at the expense of the other, many more institutions. He does not think the number of graduates Oxbridge may produce are sufficient to allow Britain to compete on the international stage in which India, among others, manages produce graduates by many more thousands. He asks us to do the math. To which nations will investment and jobs flow? The one with a few elite individuals or the one with a sizeable proportion of its population who are competent to undertake the job assigned to them? By extrapolation, we can understand that if the nation itself were to fail, the elite institutions of Oxbridge will also fail.
It is the same with Krsna consciousness. ISKCON has temples, asramas, management committees, leaders and donors. It can choose to focus its
resources and energies on their continuance or to try to reach out to the masses, the ‘non-devotees’ - in earnest.
One fact remains: a changed spiritual landscape will only come when a sizeable proportion of the population of a nation embraces Krsna consciousness in one shape, form or another. Do the math, will spiritual prosperity adorn a nation with a sizeable Krsna conscious population or that with only a handful? Indeed, will not the few ISKCON assets also not fail in time, for a lack of a more spiritual population?
NB. The above allusion to universities does not validate their use for the acquisition of mundane skills. It is what universities are today: centres
for raising the competencies of its students in all manner of material subjects. Whatever may have been their historical role once as seminaries for spiritual practice and spiritual education is now well and truly in the past. For example, it would be wrong to expect a Bachelor of Science or Art to be a brahmacari - although that is what he once was.