from Back to Godhead, May-June 1991
“We’ve got a real kshatriya for a president!” an American Krishna devotee said to me, his face beaming. The Allies were trouncing whatever was left of the Iraqi armies, and George Bush was making it clear the Allies would keep striking till the Iraqis utterly surrendered.
My devotee friend knew, of course, that George Bush could hardly match the valor and nobility of true kshatriyas like King Yudhisthira and King Pariksit. Still, Bush and his allies had waged a splendid war.
Power, skill, drive, heroism—these are attributes of the kshatriya, the noble warrior who leads his forces to victory. A kshatriya at the helm is inspiring. And Mr. Bush has emerged a powerful, inspiring figure.
But the man eats cow flesh.
So what my friend was saying, in effect, was this: “He waged such an excellent war, he could almost be a kshatriya.”
Almost. Because kshatriyas are not only heroic and tough; they’re also spiritually cultured and enlightened. And that’s not the kind of man who feasts on the flesh of his mother.
The true kshatriya respects the cow as his mother and the bull as his father because by Krishna’s arrangement the cow, like a mother, gives us milk, and the bull, like a father, feeds us by his work.
So if a true kshatriya were around, George Bush would be on the defensive. A true kshatriya wouldn’t tolerate a president eating cow flesh any more than Mr. Bush put up with Saddam Hussein trying to devour Kuwait.
And more than just morality is in question here. For a kshatriya sees in the cow what Mr. Bush and his allies see in the oil fields of the Middle East—survival.
What survival ultimately calls for, the kshatriya knows, is not petroleum but food. And food for human beings comes most abundantly, by God’s mercy, from tilled land and the udder of the cow.
Mr. Bush has spoken of “a new world order,” though he hasn’t made clear what it might be. We suggest it should have these features:
- It should draw its prosperity from cultivating the earth and protecting the cow and the bull, not from ravaging the earth’s resources and slaughtering its creatures.
- Its presidents, prime ministers, and kings should be men trained and strong in spiritual understanding and culture.
- The advisors those leaders rely on should be self-realized souls who see that a world in proper order is a world making progress back to Godhead—and who see how to help that progress come about.
The victory in the Persian Gulf hasn’t solved the problem of dependency on oil for an artificial way of life. And it certainly hasn’t solved the still more basic problem of forgetfulness of Krishna.
The best model for a new world order has already been given to us by Lord Krishna. We’d be inspired to see a real kshatriya—a stronger, gentler kshatriya—lead the world in putting that order into place.