Friday, August 22, 2008

Chasing After You

A small offering at the lotus feet of om visnupada paramhamsa 108 Sri Srimad A.C. Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada, on his holy Vyasa Puja (Birth Anniversary)

Part 1
Sometimes history is cruel, Srila Prabhupada.
It turns rulers into fools.

It takes ambitious devotees and corrupts them into thieves.
I'm sorry, i'm referring to your crooked GBCs.

Sometimes i wonder who i am, Srila Prabhupada.
Am i really your man, ready to risk and even die?
Or am i just a caterpillar, a wannabe butterfly?

Easily i can see the faults in all others,
but how come i'm not a more solid brother?

You conquered my heart with your spotless sincerity,
but wherefrom do i feel all these heavy impurities?

Part 2
Srila Prabhupada, once i sat with you in your room in Tehran, and i felt your presence surround me.
After 30+ years the bond is not broken, but the inspiration's gone in the darkness around me.

Yes, you were the light of the moon and the sun for your spiritual daughters and enthusiastic sons.
You always lit up the hearts of your gentle, faithful ones.

For those who decided to usurp your spiritual powers,
you vanished like a yogi and became a plastic model.

They waved your flag like crusaders, just to game their way,
but like Karna at Kuruksetra, their strength will fail them
when it's time to pay.

It's you who steals the hearts of those whose souls are dear,
If someone tries to steal you, you simply disappear.

Part 3
Now my prayer becomes more real,
as i need to tell you frankly what my weak heart reveals.

O Prabhupada, when i look into my heart and see my own conceit,
i know my tears are insufficient, my surrender incomplete.

Surrender is not a show, a dress, success or popularity poll.
It's the battle to give up all things unfavorable, the desire to control.

Srila Prabhupada, of your golden legacy, i'm just a petty thief.
Calling myself 'disciple,' but resisting your lotus feet.

What am i doing in this world? What opulence do i have?
Credit cards and shopping bags, senses like 2nd class rags.

Part 4
When will i discard my anarthas and naked run behind you?
Like a humble, hungry dog who wants only to find you?

O master, they can curse me, tease me or beat me blue,
as long as i can keep on running and chasing after you....

Srila Prabhupada, i'm still fallen, a jiva gone astray.
Guide me to your shelter, by hook or crook someway.

You're my president, my true friend, my deepest love, my lord,
in every word, every step and every type of chord.

In my in breath and out breath, each and every birth and death,
may you always be my goal, my heaven, my moksa, my test.

Part 5
Srila Prabhupada, steal my mind and be my inner heart's thief.
Uproot my illusions. Cut this broken-hearted grief.

By your mercy, and by the power of your love for me,
open my eyes to All-Attractive Krishna Conscious Reality.

Nitya nityanam centanas cetananam.....

Your life was the perfect purport of this Katha Upanisad verse.
You purify my existence when i hear you chant these words.

Srila Prabhupada, let your presence within me be my single-minded truth.
Transform me into what you named me:
a liberated servant of the Ever-Fresh Youth.

your melancholy and impoverished sisya,

nava jauvana das

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Double Dealing

After a 60 year history marked by more than its share of coups, assassinations, military takeovers, executions of leaders and economic misery, Pakistan is not exactly an example of a successful nation.

So it is interesting to see the latest chapter unfold. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani Army general who engineered a bloodless coup to take over from the corrupt Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999, and then crowned himself President, has just resigned under pressure. This ended nine years of more-or-less dictatorship. This is normal in Pakistan's history, but what is exceptional is how Musharraf played both ends of the table. On one side, he ended Pakistan's support of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan after the Twin Towers attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He pledged to help the United States, becoming one of Washington's chief allies in its campaign against Al Qaeda, at least on the surface.

What many people do not know is that Pakistan's powerful military-controlled intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), was the creator and main backer of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the brains and resources behind the insurrection against India in Kashmir. Musharraf, as the head of the military, was intimately associated with the ISI. They created havoc and bloodshed both in Afghanistan and in Kashmir for over a decade. They were also probably behind an attack on the Indian parliament in December, 2001, that almost led to a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I was in India at the time (early 2002) and personally saw huge missles being transported on flatbed railroad cars to the front lines.

While Musharraf was assuring George W. Bush of his determination to fight Al Qaeda, he was simultaneously winking at his ISI buddies who never servered ties with the Taliban. Pakistan is enormously envious of India, and they used the Taliban as their surrogates in Afghanistan and within India's own borders, in Kashmir. The strategy was to freeze India out of Afghanistan and eventually to wrest control of disputed Kashmir away from India. But geopolitical events such as 9/11 disrupted Pakistan's plans. That did not stop Musharraf from playing both sides.

The U.S. gave Pakistan more than $10 billion since 9/11 in so-called "anti-terrorism funds." No one knows where that money went. The Taliban are resurgent and threatening not just targets in Afghanistan but inside Pakistan as well. Today a suicide bomber killed 25 people in a hospital emergency room in northwest Pakistan, a Taliban operation. And the CIA recently presented evidence to Pakistan's new prime minister that the ISI, Pakistani's intelligence service, organized the July 7 terror attack against the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, a national hero for creating their atomic bomb, has been under house arrest since 2004. He confessed to directing a clandestine network for sharing nuclear weapons technology with Libya, Iran and North Korea. He recently explained in an interview with ABC News that the Pakistani government and President Pervez Musharraf forced him to sign the confession to be a "scapegoat for the national interest." In other words, according to him, it was Musharraf and the Pakistani army that was engaging Khan in selling nuclear weapons secrets on the market.

It's a remarkable story of double dealing by General Musharraf, placating the gullible Americans and collecting their billions, while quietly continuing to do business as usual with the Taliban and selling nuclear secrets to countries that are sworn enemies of the US. Some would say, successful diplomacy. Others would call it: duplicity at its worst.

What's the lesson here?

Look around at the institutions and the leaders in your life. The ideals of a nation or an institution are compromised by duplicity. Duplicity distorts even the greatest good by turning it into a lie. Even those who claim to represent the unalloyed Absolute Truth can be tainted by duplicity. Duplicity corrupts. It turns truth and trust into suspicion and cynicism.

So look around at what you are embracing. And if you see duplicity there, speak out. Don't be cowed into submission by false teachers who use their power or the power of scripture to silence you out of fear of making offense. Silence itself can be an offense if you see abuse and do not react.

A vaisnava should tolerate everything except duplicity. Honest dealings between devotees is the currency of spiritual association. And according to the Bhagavatam, truth is the only good quality left in this age. (The four legs of the dharma bull are Mercy, Cleanliness, Austerity and Truthfulness. Only the leg of Truth remains standing in Kali yuga.)

Don't deal with double dealers or you'll be dealt a losing hand. And lose the only leg you have left to stand on.