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Developing the African Spirit

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1973-01-51-27The success of the Krsna consciousness movement in gaining acceptance by the people of the newly emerging African nations is significant from many viewpoints. First, it offers positive evidence of the true universality of Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krsna, states in Bhagavad-gita (14.4) that He is the seed-giving father of all living entities. It is not that Krsna is only the Hindu God. Krsna cannot be limited by geographical or sectarian boundaries. Krsna consciousness is dormant within the hearts of all living entities, and when one hears the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra this consciousness is revived Therefore whether one is African, Indian or European, Christian, Hindu or Jewish, white, black or yellow—regardless of any and all temporary bodily designations—anyone can take advantage of the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and make positive progress toward spiritual perfection.

The activities of ISKCON Nairobi have also demonstrated the effective part that Indian people can play in facilitating the worldwide spread of scientific knowledge of God. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared that anyone who is so fortunate as to take birth in India, the land of religion in which both Lord Krsna and Lord Ramacandra previously appeared, is dutybound to spread knowledge of Krsna for the benefit of others. Unfortunately, Indian people have neglected this important responsibility, and therefore the entire world is suffering from violence and tension due to lack of proper spiritual understanding. In Nairobi, however, cooperation of the Indian community with members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has made it possible for the science of Krsna consciousness to win widespread acceptance in Nairobi and other parts of Africa within only a short period of time.

It is also important to note that the Krsna consciousness movement can help Africa develop in an atmosphere of peaceful cooperation and harmony, beyond racial or territorial conflicts caused by lack of true spiritual understanding. Only if Krsna is recognized as the father of all living entities can there exist a society of peace and brotherhood. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, panditah sama-darsinah: A Krsna conscious person sees all living entities as equals by virtue of his spiritual education. He can understand that the body is but a temporary external covering for the spirit soul. Therefore a spiritually enlightened person is transcendental to enmity and conflict based on temporary racial, national, tribal or other bodily designations. One who cannot see beyond the body must necessarily think in bodily terms and be influenced by bodily prejudices. However, one who is trained to recognize Krsna as the father of all living entities automatically acknowledges the true spiritual brotherhood of everyone. Without such Krsna consciousness, all talk of brotherhood is simply conditional and theoretical, or, in other words, utopian. But simply by acknowledging Krsna as the supreme Father, brotherhood is automatically achieved. It is this simple and natural method of universal brotherhood which is being offered to the African people by the Krsna consciousness movement. This is expressed very aptly by Harikrpa dasa brahmacari in the African edition of Back to Godhead:

“I am Negro by birth. My forefathers came from this Africa continent. They were taken away as slaves, abused, degraded and forced to work like animals. As their descendant, I am returning to this African continent with a message that can bring unity and prosperity to all people. We have come to offer a true, bona fide way to experience perfection in life both spiritually and materially, and there is no charge to learn this. We simply want to offer a way to become free from all fear, anxiety and strife which exists between the people of the world. We want to show a way to become free from hate, anger and greed. A Krsna conscious society surpasses all societies because it is a God-centered society.”

Krsna consciousness is offering the newly developing African nations an alternative to the bleak industrial civilization which has arisen in the technologically more advanced American and European countries. As stated by Brahmananda Swami, President of ISKCON Nairobi, who is now traveling extensively to preach Krsna consciousness throughout Kenya, Tanzania, and other African countries, “The Africans have not yet been fatally poisoned by the materialism of modern civilization. Their culture is based on agricultural village life and retains the values of simple living. But the mad desire for material advancement is rapidly infecting African cities with factories, workshops, office buildings, traffic jams, nightclubs and brothels. The African countries are still in the developing stage, but in what direction will they develop? If they imitate the materialism of America and Europe, their young people will also turn out as confused and frustrated hippies.” Progress based on technological advancement alone is superficial. Such technological progress must be accompanied by a deeper knowledge of the principles of spiritual culture. By spreading the Hare Krsna mantra and the knowledge of the Vedic literature in Africa, the Krsna consciousness movement is offering Africa an opportunity to create a society based on simultaneous economic, technological and spiritual advancement. Only on the basis of such a balanced program of material and spiritual progress can the African people—and the people of all the world—develop a successful society for life in peace and prosperity.

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