India and America: the Lame and the Blind and the Ties That Bind
This year we have witnessed a strengthening of diplomatic ties between India and America. And as the leaders of both nations have pointed out, this closeness reflects even deeper spiritual ties.
Said President Carter during his recent tour, “At the heart of the friendship between India and the U. S. is our determination that the moral values of our people must guide the actions of our states…. Neither the rich nor the poor will feel satisfied without being fed in body and spirit…. There is a sense in the world that moral leadership derives from the Indian people in a direct and continuing fashion.”
And at a recent meeting with leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Prime Minister Morarji Desai asserted that spiritual India and technological America can help each other and the world. (See “Every Town and Village,” page 23.)
President Carter also said during his tour that he felt particularly impressed with Bhagavad-gita, India’s source book on self-realization and realization of God. After one of his many early-morning reading sessions he noted, “One passage from that great book stood out in my mind. I can’t quite quote it exactly and I can’t interpret it well, but it said when a country is flooded, the reservoirs become superfluous. Krsna went on to explain what He meant in this passage: that when one’s heart is filled completely with an awareness or love of God, the other considerations in life seem incidental and one need not worry about the outcome of an action, but one should worry on a momentary basis about the purposes and the attitudes in one’s relation to the eternal. . . .”
This, in a nutshell, is India’s spiritual vision: we can have peace and prosperity only when we see God as the real owner of all lands and wealth, and when we see “the other considerations in life” as secondary to self-realization and realization of God. Actually, Bhagavad-gita is meant for the Carters and Desais of the world, because as Krsna explains, whatever the leaders do the rest of the people will follow. So if Mr. Carter and Mr. Desai work together to balance the “other considerations” and the eternal—the technological and the spiritual—the whole world will follow and the whole world will benefit.
It’s only common sense, really, that when India the spiritual leader and America the technological leader share their assets, everybody will come out ahead. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada used to say, India is like a lame man and America is like a blind man—so they should help each other. India is blessed with spiritual vision but cursed with technological lameness. America, on the other hand, is blessed with technological vigor but cursed with spiritual blindness. (After barely two centuries, “In God We Trust” and the Golden Rule have given way to abortion, slaughterhouses, pornography, and other vision-robbing disorders.) How can the lame man and the blind man live full, happy lives? By working together. The blind man should take the lame man on his shoulders. That way the lame man can do the seeing and keep the pair on a safe path, and the blind man can do the walking and get them where they have to go.
So there are ties that bind the lame and the blind, India and America. The problem is that neither Prime Minister Desai nor President Carter seems ready to do much about it, at least for now. And this is where the International Society for Krishna Consciousness comes in. ISKCON is following directly in disciplic succession from India’s most far-sighted saint, who five hundred years ago introduced an ingenious way for India to share her spiritual vision with the West. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed from Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures that the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous and self-realized and God-realized through sankirtana—mass public chanting of God’s names. This simple process of chanting God’s names and hearing about the science of God from Bhagavad-gita is what Srila Prabhupada gave America when he founded ISKCON a dozen years ago.
And the next dozen years can be even brighter, if our leaders will just take the lead. Mr. P. N. Luthra, formerly of UNESCO and now a minister of India’s central government, makes this assessment of the situation: “The very fact that you have established ISKCON in the U.S.A. within the last decade is in itself indicative of America’s open mind to receive new ideas. America is realizing that it does not hold the ultimate key to all problems. Insofar as spiritual matters are concerned, I think that America also appreciates that something can be gained from others. ISKCON itself is a living, convincing example that spiritual values prevail and that these alone can give ultimate happiness. We must consider the question of why we’ve taken birth here on this earth. I think that your organization is a very powerful force, and that it will play an important role in the years to come in transmitting the spiritual message of India.”
For our part, we in ISKCON are not taking these words of India’s and America’s leaders lightly. We hope these people will come forward to work with us—because both they and we know that American vigor and Indian vision can uplift and enlighten the whole world.