Thursday, December 27, 2007

Politics of Assassination

In my previous blog entry of 25th December, i wrote about the distance between rhetoric and reality when it comes to peace in our world. How songwriters, politicians and popes talk of peace, yet it remains always beyond our reach. And how Srila Prabhupada cited a famous verse in Lord Sri Krishna's Bhagavad-gita (Ch. 5.29) as the "Peace Formula." Without following this formula, he told us, peace shall remain a dream.

Today's breaking news is from Pakistan. Opposition political leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a rally. A suicide terrorist fatally shot her and then blew himself up along with 20 innocent persons. The details and analysis of the assassination you can find on any news site. What is striking to me is how easy it is in this kali yuga to destroy hope. It takes just a few madmen to destroy the hopes of millions.

I'm old enough to remember how hope was crushed when JFK was assassinated. Then a few years later, it was Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy whose hope giving presence was darkened by assassins' bullets. Then John Lennon, the world's most influential songwriter, was violently killed. Anwar Sadat of Egypt and later, Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, were struck down by their own countrymen. Both leaders courageously tried to move their country away from conflict towards peace, and both paid the price with their lives. Today it was Benazir Bhutto's turn. She had twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan and was a voice against the barbaric Taleban and for the rule of reason.

It seems that the personality of Kali yuga is not disposed towards peace. He appears to sacrifice leaders who represent hope and peace. I guess when sacrifice to God (Sankirtan, the Sacrifice of the Holy Names) is not performed in society, one way that Kali makes the population suffer is by letting madmen and killers sacrifice the public's most hopeful leaders. Mediocre and repressive leaders remain while the politics of assassination kills off the best and the brightest. Kali yuga is tough.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Give Peace A Chance

From Associated Press, this wire story today:

ROME, December 25- As the faithful marked Christmas Day, political and religious leaders called for peace and reconciliation, and hope flickered in places long plagued by conflict.

In Iraq, Christians made their way past checkpoints on Tuesday to fill Baghdad churches in numbers unthinkable a year ago. And in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where tradition says Jesus was born, Christians celebrated in an atmosphere of hope raised by the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

For them, and for all those in the "tortured regions" of the world, Pope Benedict XVI prayed that political leaders would find "the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions."

Peace is one of those words that defines Kali yuga by its absence. Conspicuous by its absence. In this age of conflict and cruelty, every day hundreds of human beings are murdered by the urges of passion or hatred. Hundreds of thousands of children die of malnutrition while billions of animals are needlessly slaughtered for the pleasure of human palates. Even the ice glaciers are melting at alarming rates due to uncontrolled greed.

We would all like to see a world that is just and peaceful. But no one knows the formula for peace. Peace is a song by John Lennon. Peace is a slogan by politicians and popes. But the formula for real relief is still a secret.

"The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well wisher of all living beings, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries." Bhagavad-gita As It Is Chapter 5.29

Paramatma is the final controller of all. He is the super subjective person behind all endeavors and the unprejudiced friend of all beings. Realizing Him with knowledge and satisfying Him with loving service, a person becomes a perfect yogi. When a critical mass of yogis who practice God consciousness arrives, this earth will experience a just and lasting peace. Anything less is no more than a well-meaning song or a religious slogan. True "shanti" is much more than a sticky melody.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yuletide Greetings

Yuletide now refers to Christmas, but the word originally comes from Old English or Old Norse. It refers to a pagan festival that lasted for twelve days. Paganism is a polytheistic and hedonistic value system practiced in Northern Europe before Christianity.

It seems everything that goes around, comes around. So the Christians borrowed a pagan holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ (whose actual birthday is unknown). And after one or two millenia of lies, hypocrisy, misuse of power, episodes of intolerance, violence and gross exploitation (e.g. the inquisition, crusades, conquistidors and colonialism, to name just a few) the prevailing mood of this now Christian holiday has again become pagan--in the form of commercial hedonism. Christmas has become the iconic symbol of consumption capitalism. The glorification of "I, me, mine"-- spirit covered by matter, universal love co-opted by global greed. Merry Christmas!