I woke up this morning, remembering it was the golden appearance day of one of our great predecessor acaryas, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. Yes, and i found a biography of his glorious life that i shall read before the day is over. There was also a brief sketch of his life posted in today's Sun that i read. But the chief article in that vaisnava online newspaper that caught my attention was a posting by Rocana of the scandal in Scotland with Balabhadra dasa and the GBC men who covered for him and later (due to his not obeying their conditions) exposed him. It was a depressing article on a subject that has no spiritual value. It only exposes the extreme lack of qualification amongst the current leaders of Iskcon, and frankly, the lack of vision on anyone else's part to create a viable alternative.
From there i went to the mainstream news, where today's big story is about the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spoke at Columbia University. He is berated as a mini-Hitler and incarnation of evil by some of the media and especially by the Jewish organizations in the US. But he is also an academic and a smart politician. He spoke about God, science and religion to the students and faculty, complaining that he was insulted (he was) by the University president who introduced him. He explained that in Iranian culture (which is coming from Aryan culture originally, as Prabhupada confirmed when he visited us in Tehran in 1976), one never insults one's guest, even if he is considered an enemy. He made some good points, but as a politician whose record on human rights is terrible, one can be sure that his words do not match his deeds.
So in today's news we had vaisnavas who intimidate others and engage in degraded activities, other vaisnavas who protect their own vested interests as leaders and cover up for the abusers, "if they remain quiet." Then we have a world leader berated for being a dictator, who tells Americans what they don't want to hear: that they aren't the "good guys" and they should stop trying to control the world.
I guess it was not so much different 120 years ago, when Bhaktivinode Thakur was writing and preaching. There were fallen vaisnavas and sahajiyas then too, and colonial imperialists at that time were more brutal than today's leaders. People seemed much more simple then, and in many ways, less sinful, but also much less aware and open to change. And there was no internet to challenge the prevailing lies and half-truths of the established media. Now we have this amazing technology, where i can sit here in New York, typing on my keyboard, and within seconds, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can read my words. Or see video images of any event happening in the world. That could be a powerful force for truth.
The only thing missing are the real devotees, the great acaryas, like Bhaktivinode Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur and Srila Prabhupada. Where are those rare souls who have the compassion, the knowledge and the sakti to cut thru this jungle of ignorance and give the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu with an open heart? Until Krishna inspires such souls to return, or until He empowers new mahatmas or sadhikas, the world will not get any better. And unless it improves, it will decline even further.
We cannot expect miracles. We don't know the plan of the Lord. All we can do, is try to remember those great souls, pray to them, cry in separation from them, and with humility, understanding our limitations, do whatever little we can to follow them. Then at least we will not create any more bad news. And in times like this, no news is good news.