By Bhakta Corey
So you are Americans, and they are responding. You are responding means Americans responding. So do very carefully, and if one fourth of America becomes Vaisnava, the whole world will change. They are the leading nation. Krsna has given them all facility–good land, good intelligence, good education, good facilities, good prestige. Is it not? They are fortunate. Janmaisvarya-sruta-sri. Everything is there. Take this opportunity. This is our ambition. I went to America with this ambition, that “If the American people will take this Krsna consciousness…” That is coming to be fulfilled… AMERICA IS MY FATHERLAND.
- Srila Prabhupada, Vrndavan May 27, 1977 Room Conversation
Too often we hear various people speaking anti-American views, as if anti-Americanism has become the latest fashion. So as Vaisnavas, what should be our attitude towards America? We should first analyze how Srila Prabhupada felt towards America, especially in his last days. Of course he strongly condemned the materialistic western societies, and their ideologies as well. But did Srila Prabhupada hate America? No, he did not. The reality is that he felt himself so indebted to America for “giving him her children, money, and resources”, to quote his own words, that he wanted to come back to America one last time even though he was only months away from death and could not even walk. He desired very strongly to come to America, to visit the Gita Nagari farm. He stopped in Britian on the way, and after a few days he told Tamal Krishna Goswami that he felt too sick to make the trip, and so they went back to Vrindavan, instead of coming to the Gita-Nagari farm as was planned. That is how indebted Srila Prabhupada felt himself to the Americans, that he was willing to come one last time to America, even in such a physically weakened condition. Think about this for a moment, before continuing.
Based on the above information, it might be slightly offensive to Srila Prabhupada to speak anti-American views and slurs, when he was on his deathbed and still he could not forget how obliged he felt himself to America.
Realistically, all governments are run by materialistic politicians, but we cannot deny that America is a free country, that we have the freedom to preach openly in America, and that is what Srila Prabhupada appreciated. America certainly has more freedom than Iran, for example.
Here is a quote from Srila Prabhupada during the last months in Vrindavana, from Tamal Krishna Goswami’s “Final Pastimes of Srila Prabhupada”,
Prabhupada: (humbly) I am only a child. (Crying) But I have tried to please my Guru Maharaja. I have not written. It is Krsna. Krsna and my Guru Maharaja. They have sent all of you to help me. Otherwise, what could I do, all alone, an old man with no friends in America? America is so good to me, to give me money, men, everything- I see no difference between one country and another, but because the Americans have given me so much facility to serve Krsna, I cannot forget my obligations to them. I want to make them happy, and through them the whole world.
[End of Quote]
There is quite a big difference between preaching against the materialism of the western world, and simply spewing fanatic hate speech against America. Anti-Americanism should be given up, because it will simply alienate us from the people we are trying to preach to, nor can it be very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada.
I recently came across some conspiracy theories on the internet that were amusing to read, because of some of the wild claims that were made on these sites. For example, one website made the bold statement “George Bush blew up the 9-11 World Trade Towers”. I found myself laughing by the end the article. What the article didn’t mention though, was that Popular Mechanics, a famous magazine that is a respected authority in the engineering and technological world, has published a book discrediting and disproving all of the different 9-11 conspiracy theories step by step. They did a very professional job of showing how none of the theories could possibly be correct, and they showed evidence from an engineering, technical, and structural point of view. But I guess Popular Mechanics must be part of the conspiracy too? In fact, anyone who happens to disagree with the paranoid conspiracy theories must also be part of the conspiracy, right? More information scientifically disproving the 9-11 conspiracy theories can be found here.
These absurd conspiracy theories also fall into the same category as irrational rhetoric like: All the problems of the world can be blamed on the big governments and big corporations. One characteristic of an irrational person is to criticize the leaders, but to offer no positive solution to the problem themselves. It is much easier just to blame the leaders (government and corporations) for all the problems of the world, but the reality is that this material world is a hellish place because of our exploitive mentality. Is anyone honestly going to claim that their exploitive mentality is somehow any less than the exploitive mentality of the leader of a government or corporation?
The following is a quote from Srila Prabhupada where he plainly says that we shouldn’t blame the government for our problems, since we are the ones who put them into power. He is saying that it is our own fault, not someone else’s.
“Prabhupada: What is the use of this rascal government? The rascal government must be there because we are rascals. You cannot complain against the government. Because we select. It is the days of democracy. We elect our representative. So why you should, I mean to say, blame the government? You have created the government. You have sent your representative, a rascal, another big rascal. You are rascal, and another big rascal, you have voted; so how you can expect good government? You send only big rascals. That’s all.”
Mayapura lecture, 1973
Irrational people are willing to blame everyone else for their problems, and they take no personal responsibility for their own life, blaming all of their problems on someone else (big government, big business, my next door neighbor, etc). A Vaisnava, on the other hand, is someone who instead of blaming someone else for their problems, takes personal responsibility for their own life and understands that the world is not perfect. Which perspective do you think fits in more with our Vaisnava philosophy?
So the question may be raised here- Didn‚Äôt Srila Prabhupada also speak about conspiracy theories (the moon landing hoax)? No. What Srila Prabhupada said was a scientific Vedic statement according to the authority of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. According to the structure of the universe given in Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is literally impossible to have gone to the moon. It was simply a hoax. Srila Prabhupada exposed this hoax with scientific knowledge from the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Now, there is quite a world of difference between a scientific statement based on Vedic cosmology, and irrational and paranoid conspiracy theories that have been proven wrong by scientific analysis (9-11 conspiracy theories).
Before we end the article, let‚Äôs take a quick look at the thought process of the conspiracy theorists. One symptom they exhibit is paranoia, thinking that the whole world is a big conspiracy theory with America at the lead, trying to enslave the human race. Need I say more?
Second symptom- delusions of grandeur. Conspiracy theorists think that by ‚Äúexposing‚ÄĚ the conspiracy, they can save the human race.
Third symptom- delusions of persecution. Conspiracy theorists think that the government is spying on them, listening to their phone calls, trying to oppress them, etc.
There could be many more symptoms described, but let‚Äôs leave it at that for now. Now, I never took the time to study psychology (thankfully), but from reading different books, I did learn enough to know that the above mentioned characteristics are symptoms of a mental illness called Paranoid Schizophrenia.
So I will end the article with a question- Are conspiracy theories and mental illness related?