from Back to Godhead, January-February 1991
America and her allies have plunged into war with Iraq. As you read these words, the war may well be over, and the land of the Tigris and Euphrates, the ancient “cradle of civilization,” may by now be a bombed-out graveyard.
In the newspapers, words blow around like sand in a Middle Eastern desert. Saddam Hussein is “a madman,” America “can’t tolerate aggression,” the “international community” demands that “the sovereignty of Kuwait” be restored.
Meanwhile—more sand—Iraq calls for “peace, stability, and security in the region” and vows that its enemies will “swim in their own blood.”
Beneath all the sand, of course, lies oil. The machinery of progress runs on it, billionaires swim in it, and leaders of nations are ready to fight for it, like dogs fighting over territory, bitches, and bones.
For that precious oil of progress, armies growl and bite, at once both aggressive and helpless, locked into their maneuvers by another kind of machinery, subtle, unseen, its wheels and gears turning to the vast and exquisite movements of time.
Whirring and humming, that machinery works everywhere, shuttling living beings from one lifetime to the next, weaving them in and out of history.
Someone becomes a Hussein, someone a Bush, someone a name on a dog tag. And each with a body destined, war or no war, for a slot at the end as a corpse.
And then a new body, a new name. More sand, more history.
This is the history of forgetfulness, a story stretching back to before there was America, before Kuwait and Iraq, before Mesopotamia. Before sand, before oil. It is the history of forgetfulness of Krishna.
It’s the history of tiny sparks of Krishna, servants of Krishna, who forget that they are servants and crave to be masters. And soon we find them in the headlines, struggling for mastery over land and oil.
Yet the land and oil belong to Krishna, so the would-be masters can only be master thieves, bickering over how to divide fairly the lands they have stolen to exploit and enjoy. The true enjoyer is Krishna, and we will enjoy when we serve Krishna, using everything to give pleasure to Him.
For it is Krishna—not the politicians and dictators of this world—who is the true friend, the eternal friend, of all living beings. It is He who can free us from the cycle of birth and death.
The Bhagavad-gita says that when we know Krishna as the supreme owner, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend of all, then we can have peace.
Otherwise, we can gear up our war machines. And the greater machinery of nature, whirring and humming away unseen, will have us blast one another to our next lifetimes with our own tools.