Every year I make my personal finances public. Attached is an accounting of my finances for 2006.
United States of America
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 109th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION
Washington, Thursday, December 7, 2006 No. 134
House of Representatives
RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY BULLDOZED IN KAZAKHSTAN
HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY
Today I express my deep concern about the destruction of thirteen homes in a Hare Krishna commune outside of Almaty, Kazakhstan. It is a saddening development considering that Kazakhstan is a participating State in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and has been vigorously pursuing a bid to chair the OSCE in 2009. I am greatly troubled by the actions taken against this peaceful religious community, which is reminiscent of the “bad old days.”
Two days ago, the United States Embassy in Kazakhstan issued the statement below:
US Embassy Statement Concerning Demolition of Homes in Hare Krishna Commune
The U.S. Embassy is concerned that Karasai district authorities are continuing their aggressive campaign against the Hare Krishna commune outside of Almaty. On November 21, Karasai district authorities demolished several homes at the commune. Homeowners were left in the cold, and many of their possessions were destroyed. The remaining residents were left without electricity and heat.
The embassy has several concerns regarding the legal basis for the actions against the Hare Krishna community. Regardless of the merits of the underlying case, the forceful eviction of homeowners in freezing temperatures and the destruction of their possessions contradicted principles of due process and fairness. It is particularly disturbing that the authorities took such action before the special commission charged with finding an equitable solution to the situation had issued its recommendations.
Here’s a neat word for you: kakistocracy.
It means “government by the worst persons.” The word, which dates back to the 1820s, derives from the Greek word kakistos (worst). The Oxford English Dictionary offers a quotation from James Russell Lowell: “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”
Long ago, Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.1.40) told of the rogues who would take hold of the governments of the world in Kali-yuga, the present Age of Quarrel:
The State-sponsored bulldozing of the Hare Krishna community in Kazakhstan three days ago has been reported by Forum 18, the Oslo-based human-rights organization.
A video of the attack is available on Google Video.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the human rights of the Hare Krishna devotees in Kazakhstan. Yesterday I received this letter from B.B. Govinda Swami, their spiritual leader.
On November 20, 2006 at 6 AM an unidentified person delivered a stack of orders from the Executors of the Karasai District Court. The orders stated that the owners of cottages must destroy their homes or they will be destroyed by the government at the expense of the owners.
24 hours later 3 busses full of riot police, 2 ambulances, 2 empty lorries, and executors of Karasai district arrived at the Hindus’ farm to destroy their homes and personal temples.
This past week in Vrindaban, one of my godbrothers reminded me of this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.42):
sva-pada-mulam bhajatah priyasya
tyaktanya-bhavasya harih paresah
vikarma yac cotpatitam kathancid
dhunoti sarvam hrdi sannivistah
“One who has given up everything and taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to the Lord. Therefore, if such a surrendered soul accidentally commits some sinful acts, the Lord, who is seated within everyone’s heart, at once takes away the reaction to such sins.”
Now that “our scientist,” Sripada Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaja, has departed from our worldly vision, we have lost a unique and beloved member of the spiritual world in which we grew up and lived, the world of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes on earth, and the world in which the disciples he personally instructed have carried on the special missions he gave them.
From the very beginning of Maharaja’s spiritual life in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada chose to show him special attention and favor. Seeing Maharaja’s dual qualifications as a Vaishnava scientist and a Manipuri Vaishnava, Srila Prabhupada personally trained him in “spiritual science” and gave great importance to his scientific work, and also instructed him to strengthen Krishna consciousness in Manipur.
Waves of Devotion comes close to my ideal of what a commentary should be. It is illuminating yet unpretentious, systematic but not dry—and you can read it.
As Srila Prabhupada’s subtitle indicates, The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study. It gives us the essentials of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, with considerable detail, and in one sense it is complete; one need not go beyond it. Yet one can go deeper into it, and Waves of Devotion helps us do just that.
According to an August 15 news item (news reaches me slow), a spokesman for NASA says the U.S. government has misplaced the original recordings of the first moon landing—and the other five landings as well.
“We’ve been looking for over a year and they haven’t turned up,” the spokesman said.
In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are missing, he said.
(You can see the report from the Reuters news agency at washingtonpost.com.)
The only recordings NASA still has are copies of the television broadcasts. But those are of lower quality than the originals. Because NASA’s equipment was incompatible with TV technology of the day, Reuters reported, the original transmissions had to be displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for broadcast. Now the low-grade re-shot versions are all that’s left.
Hare Krishna devotees are unlikely to be surprised. At the very least, the loss is an instance of what the Vedic literature points to as one of the fourfold human defects: the tendency to make mistakes.
Or perhaps it’s something more. Back in the 1970s, Srila Prabhupada had some controversial things to say about the moon landings. I wrote about that back in 1977 (when shooting for Mars was in the headlines) in an article called Mars Bars: Why Mars? Why Indeed?
Still relevant. Not much has changed since then.
Oh, but one update:
According to rumor, sources close to the State Department say the missing boxes may have been stolen by agents of Osama bin Laden, who may be hiding them on the moon.
That’s not a problem. But what about the weapons of mass destruction that never turned up in Iraq? What if Al-Qaeda has stashed them on the moon too? We’d better get back up there fast!
September 1 marks the day of Radhastami, celebrating the advent of Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna’s eternal consort.
You might be interested in reading an article I wrote for the occasion back in 1974: “Who Is that Girl with Krishna?”
Here’s a story that goes with it.
That article was among several I wrote that year for Back to Godhead magazine.
Some time after the article came out, my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, came to New York City. A greeting party—perhaps sixty or a hundred of us or more—set off to welcome him at the Trans World Airlines terminal at Kennedy Airport. Back in those days—I’m still not sure how we got away with it—we used to receive him tumultuously, chanting, playing drums and cymbals, blowing conches, and strewing rose petals before him as he walked, all right there in the terminal.
September 11 will mark the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Nine days after the attacks, President George W. Bush, speaking to a joint session of Congress, said this about the attackers:
We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century.
By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions—by abandoning every value except the will to power—they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism.
And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.
Yet, speaking of lies, we now know that the “weapons of mass destruction” America invaded Iraq to protect us from—at a sacrifice, so far, of more than 200,000 human lives—never existed. And more than a third of Americans suspect that their own government has lied about what happened on 9/11.
According to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll taken one month ago, “More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.”
A Krishna conscious perspective on these events appears on this website in the article A Distant View of 9/11.
In today’s news, with September 11 a month away, terrorism threatens yet again. So if you haven’t already read that article, now might be a good time.
If you’ve read An accidental falldown is one thing, but…, an exchange of views that might interest you is Sin or Aparadha? Sin might be washed away, writes Pandu Dasa, but are we looking at sins or offenses (aparadhas)? I follow his letter with my comments.
Since the exchange appears on a part of this site where you might not otherwise see it, I bring it to your attention here.
Must there not be some limit on how much we can forgive and excuse?
(A letter and reply)
Dear Jayadvaita Swami,
Throughout our books and their purports the word “accidentally” is often used to describe the event for the “falldown” or “sin” of the devotee.