Should We Be Fighting for Social Justice?

posted in: DB, English

 

 

Question

Hare Krishna, Manonatha Maharaja. Accept the obeisances of your humble servant. All glory is for Srila Prabhupada. I would like to ask you what would be the best approach for current events in Puerto Rico, according to Vaisnava philosophy. How involved should we, as devotees and aspiring devotees, be fighting for social justice? Should we, the Hare Krishnas, be present as a group in the protests? Your devout servant.

 

 

Reply

The introductory question would be: Is Vedic and Vaishnava culture interested in politics, or is this philosophy only for those who want to leave this world and don’t care about what happens in it?

The answer is yes. Vedic and Vaishnava culture gives importance to politics as a science.

Narada Muni calls it Ekayatana. In the Upaveda list, politics is called Artha Veda and is the science of sociology, economics and politics.

 

What is the definition of politics?

Politics is the science of governing and organizing a group of people who have similar interests. Not everyone is a holy soul without interest in this world. While you want to be in this material world, you need a policy or an ideal of how you want your life to be organized and governed.

 

The Bhagavad-gita, which is part of the Maha-bharata, is based on politics, or on two different views on how a society should be managed. Yudhisthira thought that it should be based on spirituality and truth, and Duryodhana thought it should be based on materialism and falsehood. These are two conflicting and incompatible political perspectives.

 

The way we handle our temples, preaching centers, groups and even families, is political.

 

So, why don’t we participate in a political protest as the one that was recently held in Puerto Rico? Because it would be like if we were taking Duryodhana’s side.

 

When you read all the Maha-Bharata, you will see that there are many things in which we would agree with Duryodhana’s philosophy and behavior. He was not a bad king at all, but if you go deeper, you will discover that we would be and should disagree with him and take the Pandavas’ side.

 

Do we want to side with a corrupt and inept political party of people who vote in the elections for someone without knowing who they are choosing?

 

We could do that, but then we would be responsible for accepting the complete package. You cannot say: “I agree only with this little bit.” You could say that, but this is not how it works from all points of view, including’ the karmic perspective.

 

If it were Yudhisthira or Pariksit going down the streets to protest, we should run and participate wholeheartedly, but who are the people who would be by your side in the streets? We do not want to be represented as fellow meat eaters, smokers, alcohol drinkers, sex hunters, or as people who go to the stadium to cheer on 22 men in underwear kicking a ball.

 

We believe that a society of better people would not have much to complain about.

We want and have a duty to point out that a society is corrupt because citizens are corrupt.

A society is only a reflection of its citizen. There is not a “society sir” to whom we can turn and demand improvement. When you go to the streets to protest, you protest against yourself. People choose the their leaders, and they do it without any wisdom, only on the basis that they thought they would give more and better enjoyment of the senses. They do not choose wise men. Therefore, they should know these are common men with common weaknesses.

If they put a hand in the fire and they get burn, the fault is not of the fire, it is theirs.

If we want to change society, we first change citizens.

 

Once we have a fully trained group of Brahmanas, we can begin to build a society based on Vedic wisdom. Otherwise we would be like fans who just want to savor the excitement of shouting in the street and insulting someone who is a reflection of ourselves.

 

 

This is a section of the book “A Sidelong Glance”.

To buy the complete book, click above

 

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