Hare Krishna Food For All at G8 Summit
By Sakshi Gopal das
It’s summer 2013 and high time for another G8 meeting. Just inside the main gate of this exclusive 300 acre golf course in Hertfordshire a small corner of the estate has been set aside as a press office for the media, courtesy of the highly secretive Bilderberg Group. Whether this is simply a public relations gesture intended to convey a sense of openness and transparency by the hidden powers that be, remains to be seen. It will need more than that to quell the conspiracy theories that abound here among the growing crowd of press and protestors. And it’s a peaceful assembly gathering here today under blue skies and warm sunshine – no placards, seething mobs or incitement to riot. Still, the likes of us are kept a good half mile away from the cosseted elite – the world leaders of high finance and international politics, a select group of whom are meeting across the green fairways for top level discussions behind closed doors. Neither pressman nor outsider is allowed anywhere near. No TV or radio interviewer can get within earshot of their top secret talks. It’s all totally off limits – hence the high security. Because directly or indirectly, the effects of the statutes and policies seeded at these unaccountable meetings will touch most of us for decades, perhaps even generations to come. You can see why they don’t want to be disturbed. And this year’s major three day G8 summit is being hosted here in the UK at a top, five star hotel known as The Grove. The single Regency building sits on its own in the middle of an exclusive golf course on the outskirts of Watford, the whole proceedings taking place within a few miles of Bhaktivedanta Manor.
From past experience, we know this is just the opportunity Hare Krishna Food For All needs to spring into action. Despite the team’s involvement in two Rathayatra festivals this very weekend – sumptuous plates of delicious prasadam for 15,000 at the London festival alone – Parasurama still finds time to cook and personally deliver several big Thermatubs of hot rice and delicious vegetable-rich kitchari every day. There’s an enormous tub of fresh strawberry nectar too – along with fruit, papadams and various breads. The food preparation and transportation to the site is one thing, but the prospect of getting it all past the main gate is something else. Despite the FFA’s eagerness to cook and distribute Krishna prasadam, the intense security here is daunting. The entire Grove estate is surrounded by a police cordon while there’s evidence of armed Swat teams at the entrance and some of the nearby road junctions. Overhead, a no-fly zone is being enforced while a black security helicoper hovers in the distance surveying the countryside for miles around. Approaching the gate it seems more like an airport as we wait in queue and our bags are thoroughly searched. Then a full body scan with metal detectors while two video cameras are kept rolling to record each and every visitor, footage no doubt destined for some digital security archive and face recognition programme. Nevertheless, the police are friendly and very helpful. Two or three uniformed officers help us manhandle the heavy tubs of prasadam the thirty yards down into the field. As they leave to resume their duties at the gate, they add that they’ll be back later to sample some of the curry on offer at our table.
Almost as soon as we’re set up, the queue for prasadam begins. To many here, devotees are already a familiar face. They’ve seen us over the decades doing harinam in the West End of London and surrounding towns and many have tasted Krishna prasadam at innumerable festivals in UK – Virgin Festival, Glastonbury and the Stonehenge solstice celebrations to name but a few. People are expressing their gratitude for the “free hot food” and many drop something in the donation tin in appreciation, saying how delicious it is. A few ask us if there’ll be kirtan, but we explain that will have to be later as there’s just two of us here and we are working flat out to keep the ever growing queue moving. After about three hours and hundreds of plates later there’s nothing left to serve out and the latecomers can only express their disappointment. The books on display have attracted some attention and several fortunate souls have walked away with Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is or a copy of Chant And Be Happy. We hold a simple kirtan for a while by our table at the edge of the field, purifying the already peaceful atmosphere by loudly chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare to the accompaniment of karatels, a single pair of sweet sounding brass hand cymbals. And then the guest speakers step up and begin to address the crowd over the PA system from the tiny stage. They speak from many platforms, identifying various symptoms of the problem – some with heartfelt sincerity, some with humour and some with anger and disdain. Someone even mentions the need to raise ourselves to a higher consciousness. So, there’s something here for everyone. And if truth be told, here in the material world we’re all of us conspirators to one degree or another – until we re-awaken our dormant love for God. Then we hear the next speaker is to be a Member of Parliament, one famous for his outspoken comments and insights into the US 9/11 and UK 7/7 atrocities that led to a massive expansion of armed foreign policy. It’s Michael Meacher MP who, shortly after the 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Centre, publicly challenged the official explanation of events by laying the blame for the twin towers atrocity on the US military-industrial complex. If his assertions are true, then it would appear the whole thing was carefully planned. There are many who claim there’s enough evidence to support his claims and many who consider him a brave man to speak so openly. I would agree. Here is a man who has read between the lines of political rhetoric and sees the shadows behind the mask of world events, a man who’s bold enough to speak out from the inside in a bid to be heard. The address he gives is insightful and delivered with dignity and poise. Nothing overtly sensationalistic, but forceful nonetheless – and to anyone unaware as to the extent of the international shenanigans in high places, the corrupt goings on that dictate the foreign policies and fiscal conduct of our governments – well – his words might come as something of a shock. Here is a man who may well be receptive to reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, I have long thought to myself. And perhaps here today an opportunity will present itself.
As Michael Meacher closes his talk I make my way towards the cluster of people now gathering to receive him behind the stage. With Bhagavad-gita As It Is in hand I step forward and manage to catch his attention as I thank him for coming out and saying what he did about 9/11. He looks me in the eye, saying “And do you know, to this day I’m still the only one in the whole of Westminster to speak out about it?” I don’t detect any arrogance in his demeanour. He’s making a simple statement of fact. I say he is a brave man as I hand him the book, adding “Sir, this book may interest you. It’s a spiritual treatise spoken over 5,000 years ago that addresses the individual and collective problems we all face today. One chapter very well describes the mindset and selfish intent of those people over there.” And I wave my finger in the direction of The Grove in the distance, a red silhouette on the green skyline, adding “Please accept it as a personal gift.” He thanks me. I’d like to say more, but he’s in a hurry. I turn and head back to our little spot in the field, now hemmed in by the ever growing crowds, numbering well over a thousand. And in the midst of it all I’m praying that somehow Mr. Michael Meacher MP will find time to read Srila Prabhupada’s translation and timeless purports to Lord Krishna’s immortal words. As some verses from Bhagavad-gita come to mind, I open it up at the sixteenth chapter and reflect on the mindset that oppresses the individual, creates havoc in human society and paves the way for hell on earth.
“Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.
“They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust.
“Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
“Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.
“They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.
“The demoniac person thinks: “So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.” In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.
“Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into hell.” Bhagavad-gita As It Is 16.7-16
Finally, reading Srila Prabhupada’s purport to verse 15, I focused on a paragraph that well describes what we have already glimpsed in the mindset of many of the world’s ruling financial elite.
“The demoniac man knows no limit to his desire to acquire money. That is unlimited. He thinks only of how much assessment he has just now and schemes to engage that stock of wealth further and further. For that reason, he does not hesitate to act in any sinful way and so deals in the black market for illegal gratification. He is enamored by the possessions he has already, such as land, family, house and bank balance, and he is always planning to improve them. He believes in his own strength, and he does not know that whatever he is gaining is due to his past good deeds. He is given an opportunity to accumulate such things, but he has no conception of past causes. He simply thinks that all his mass of wealth is due to his own endeavor. A demoniac person believes in the strength of his personal work, not in the law of karma. According to the law of karma, a man takes his birth in a high family, or becomes rich, or very well educated, or very beautiful because of good work in the past. The demoniac think that all these things are accidental and due to the strength of one’s personal ability. They do not sense any arrangement behind all the varieties of people, beauty and education. Anyone who comes into competition with such a demoniac man is his enemy. There are many demoniac people, and each is enemy to the others. This enmity becomes more and more deep-between persons, then between families, then between societies, and at last between nations. Therefore there is constant strife, war and enmity all over the world.”
* * * * *
I was planning to end here, but today, glancing through a copy of the June-July 2013 issue of Nexus magazine, something caught my eye that is very much in line with the target of the protests glimpsed in this article. It’s a report on a new law designed to criminalize all seeds and plants not registered with government. Only a huge outcry and intense lobbying from some member-state governments and various affected parties has softened its full impact. At least for now. However, it wouldn’t take much for this draconian law to be implemented in its original form and make it very difficult for anyone here in the EU wishing to grow their own food. In the US, if I am not mistaken, a similar and even more far reaching legislation is already in place and perhaps it’s only a matter of an opportune time before it is actually enforced. Read about the EU version for yourself at www.realseeds.co.uk / New EU Seed Law.
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