Love Songs for the Prince Of Peace

I. Prelude: the Search

Your smile is warming and knowing;

It traps me like magnolias writhing

against a garden gate. You lure me,

in your promise of love lingering,

the greatness of love.

For you, the marshland sings with frogs,

Turning a sharp green at the last wane of dusk,

all quietly beckoning the truth of the lucid night;

when death’s boatmen roam and deal in their deathly trades,


beauty is a dark woman’s eyes


against the moon of the waning night.

II. Encomium: May I never stray far from your lotus feet, my Lord!

Dare I share my wrongest deeds with your privy ear, so that love once more beckons near: men fear seed sprouting, shaking itself into blossoming life,

these truths are chastened like my trespassing lips against the chastity of thine.

I loved you like petals struggling to stay open amidst late summer grasses,

if I have seen you in a blade of grass, I have also seen you in a lump of clay, And if I have seen you thus tightly coiled in nature, I have seen myself,

for I am one and the same, when found in the splendor of you.

now the time of letter-writing has passed and we are left with that haunting,

that pausing, heaving, that fever in the matter, that prayerful jaunting,

that chitter chatter and pitter patter,

of the voice that says thou shall not get caught,

the warm embrace of the law that says thou shall not be bought,

By the graves of the lost and in the arms of the longing, I sing this song:

Oh man, you are meant for greater things than war,

And so May I never stray far from thy Lotus Feet, my Lord.

III. Coda:

love is like the slow roll of a tabla gliding across a taal; in the monsoon,

it shakes itself free like a wet branch, sagging with the weight of rain,

in the winter it burrows underground,

like a rich vegetable vein

the pain of losing it escapes me,

a whispering wind in midnight forest, when sweet rapture cuts

like violin bow against supine string,

in perfect subjection shall I sing hymns of joy in the city of gods.

Like the seed sprouting in this Bitter Earth is your Love


spring, purple like the cabbage in a secret garden,

ancient and new, it awakens long slumbering souls, shaking them to life with the passion of its bodiless consummation, its timeless consciousness.

Losing it is like

losing a needle in the haystack;

We are forever in search to stitch ourselves back together again.

Pattachitra art form, artist unknown

Nelson, Wiliam Stuart, “The Tradition of Non-Violence and its Underlying Forces” (1959). Faculty Reprints. Paper 159.

: Between 2000 and 1000 B.C., when the Greeks were still nomads, the oldest religious writings in history appeared in India. They were the Vedas in which we find what has been described as “the first outpourings of the human mind, the glow of poetry, the rapture of nature’ s loveliness and mystery.” Following the Vedas came the ritualistic Brahmanas, the Laws of Manu, and the philosophical Upanishads… From the beginning, amidst prayers, philosophical speculation, command­ments, poetry, and epics, the idea of nonviolence was present. In the Upanishads, ahimsa or nonviolence is one of the five moral virtues. In the Bhagavad Gita, ahimsa is a superior ethical virtue:

I forsee no good will come

From killing my own kindred in war

Even though they slay me, I wish not to strike them.

How can we be happy, having slain our own kindred

Though they, with hearts deadened with avarice,

See not the evil that will come.

“The Sermon on the Mount, said Gandhi, ‘went straight to my heart and he records his delight in the verses which begin: “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also.” Gandhi was not concerned with the exegesis of what he read, with amassing supporting scriptural passages, or with the defense of his interpre­tation against a contrary one. When what he read went straight to his heart, that was sufficient. The reason for this is clear. What he read had confirmed his own deepest insights. The believer in nonviolence, however, will find numerous defenses of the interpretation of Jesus as a Prophet of the nonviolent life. If the episode of Jesus casting the money changers out of the temple with a “scourge of

cords” has troubled him he will learn that the verb used for “driving out” or “casting out” is the same as that employed to describe sending away a cured leper and sending forth workers to the harvest. He will find support in one scholar who writes that the essence of what Jesus taught is distilled in the

“Golden Rule,” and crystallized in the two great commandments of “complete

love of God, and unfailing love of neighbour. His blessing is for the peace­makers.“

Nelson, Wiliam Stuart, “The Tradition of Non-Violence and its Underlying Forces” (1959). Faculty Reprints. Paper 159.

This Article is brought to you for free and open access by Digital Howard @ Howard University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Faculty Reprints

Strange Is The Path When You Offer Love

Do not mention the name of love, 
O my simple-minded companion. 
Strange is the path 
When you offer your love. 
Your body is crushed at the first step. 

If you want to offer love 
Be prepared to cut off your head 
And sit on it. 
Be like the moth, 
Which circles the lamp and offers its body. 
Be like the deer, which, on hearing the horn, 
Offers its head to the hunter. 
Be like the partridge, 
Which swallows burning coals 
In love of the moon. 
Be like the fish 
Which yields up its life 
When separated from the sea. 
Be like the bee, 
Entrapped in the closing petals of the lotus. 

Mira’s lord is the courtly Giridhara. 
She says: Offer your mind 
To those lotus feet. 

Farewell Address to M.K. Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi on the eve of their departure from South Africa by the Cantonese Club, 14 April 1914

We, the undersigned, on behalf of the members of the Cantonese Club, desire to express to you our sorrow at your approaching departure from South Africa. The Chinese Community of the Transvaal have, for many years past now had the advantage, not only of your wise counsel, but also of the remarkable example of your character and conduct.

In you they have always recognised a great leader and a great Asiatic, and during the tremendous and uplifting struggle of Passive Resistance that you inaugurated in 1906 on behalf of all Asiatics in South Africa, and at which throughout you have been the Shining Exemplar. You have raised the prestige of the Asiatic name not only throughout the Union of South Africa, but in the whole civilised world.

We feel that, with your departure, the Chinese Community are losing a dear friend, a valued adviser, & a source of inspiration for nobler things. We trust that our common Father may have you, Mrs. Gandhi, & all those near & dear to you in His keeping, & that you may be spared for many years to continue the work of humanity that you prize so much and that you are so well fitted to perform.

Unending Love by Ravindranath Tagore

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

Call – A Brother In the Spirit Of Gandhi: William Stuart Nelson and Non-violence in the Civil Rights Movement

Please join us for a special lecture and discussion this coming Thursday, October 24th at Lincoln University in honor of ongoing celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in the U.S.A. Dr. Dennis Dickerson, who is a Lincoln University alumnus, Class of 1971, will be giving a talk on the late Howard University Vice President and Dean of Divinity, Dr. William Stuart Nelson and his relationship with Mohandas K. Gandhi. Dr. Nelson studied India for nearly two decades and met with Mahatma Gandhi in 1946; he marched with Gandhi in support of communal harmony and religious unity in British-ruled Bengal. Here, he studied non-violent philosophy and methods in order to assert his solidarity with the Indian people and develop a morally just way of fighting segregation in the United States. When he returned to the United States from his Fulbright, he began teaching courses on nonviolence at Howard. He also established the Gandhi Memorial Lecture at Howard and Dr. King delivered the lecture several times. Indeed, in the process, Dr. Nelson became an important mentor to Dr. King, who would himself travel to India in 1959, an experience upon which he elaborates beautifully in his essay “My Trip To the Land of Gandhi” and his sermon, “Palm Sunday Sermon on Mohandas K. Gandhi.” Like Dr. King, Howard Thurman, Sue Bailey Thurman, Blanche Wright, Mordecai Johnson, Benjamin E. Mays, and many other African-American intellectuals, William Stuart Nelson was inspired by Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian anti-colonial struggle and his insistence on truth and the moral imperative.

Dr. Dickerson’s scholarship is revitalizing this crucial history; he is the James Lawson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and is completing his new book on Gandhi and William Nelson. His talk is entitled “A Brother in the Spirit of Gandhi: William Stuart Nelson and Nonviolence in the Civil Rights Movement.” The lecture will take place at 12:30 pm in the Mary Dod Brown Chapel next Thursday, October 24th, 2019 to be followed by a panel discussion and possibly a luncheThe talk is timely not only because Dr. Dickerson’s book will be published soon but also because 2019 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus, the event will surely be of importance to members of the Philadelphia community interested in the history of the civil rights movement and its connection to Indian independence as well as the question of violence and non-violence in national and world affairs today.

Gandhiji on Satyagraha in Palestine

Gandhiji calling his associate Bibi Amtus Salam in Bombay from the office hut at Satyagraha Ashram, Sevagram, 1940.

The Jews [September 1938]

Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab–Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.

But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.

The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.

But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to… [text missing in original]

Can the Jews resist this organized […] and prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province.

But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?

Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness [and] shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though, as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the godfearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.

It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription. And they have in the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white Christians were the chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no equality between the whites and coloured races including Asiatics. There too the Indians were consigned to ghettos described as locations. The other disabilities were almost of the same type as those of the Jews in Germany. The Indians, a mere handful, resorted to satyagraha without any backing from the world outside or the Indian Government. Indeed the British officials tried to dissuade the satyagrahis from their contemplated step. World opinion and the Indian Government came to their aid after eight years of fighting. And that too was by way of diplomatic pressure not of a threat of war.

But the Jews of Germany can offer satyagraha under infinitely better auspices than the Indians of South Africa. The Jews are a compact, homogeneous community in Germany. They are far more gifted than the Indians of South Africa. And they have organized world opinion behind them. I am convinced that if someone with courage and vision can arise among them to lead them in non-violent action, the winter of their despair can in the twinkling of an eye be turned into the summer of hope. And what has today become a degrading man-hunt can be turned into a calm and determined stand offered by unarmed men and women possessing the strength of suffering given to them by Jehovah. It will be then a truly religious resistance offered against the godless fury of dehumanized man. The German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German gentiles in the sense that they will have converted the latter to an appreciation of human dignity. They will have rendered service to fellow-Germans and proved their title to be the real Germans as against those who are today dragging, however unknowingly, the German name into the mire.

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart. They can offer satyagraha in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them. They will find the world opinion in their favour in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them.

I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home including Palestine not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world’s literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcaste of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the world by being man, the chosen creation of God, instead of being man who is fast sinking to the brute and forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.

Jews and Palestine [May 1946]

Hitherto I have refrained practically from saying anything in public regarding the Jew–Arab controversy. I have done so for good reasons. That does not mean any want of interest in the question, but it does mean that I do not consider myself sufficiently equipped with knowledge for the purpose. For the same reason I have tried to evade many world events. Without airing my views on them, I have enough irons in the fire. But four lines of a newspaper column have done the trick and evoked a letter from a friend who has sent me a cutting which I would have missed but for the friend drawing my attention to it. It is true that I did say some such thing in the course of a long conversation with Mr. Louis Fischer on the subject.[1] I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world. “Ghetto” is, so far as I am aware, the name given to Jewish locations in many parts of Europe. But for their heartless persecution, probably no question of return to Palestine would ever have arisen. The world should have been their home, if only for the sake of their distinguished contribution to it.

But, in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism. Their citizenship of the world should have and would have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that they have been singled out, owing to a wrong reading of the New Testament, for prejudice against them.”If an individual Jew does a wrong, the whole Jewish world is to blame for it.” If an individual Jew like Einstein makes a great discovery or another composes unsurpassable music, the merit goes to the authors and not to the community to which they belong.

No wonder that my sympathy goes out to the Jews in their unenviably sad plight. But one would have thought adversity would teach them lessons of peace. Why should they depend upon American money or British arms for forcing themselves on an unwelcome land? Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine? If they were to adopt the matchless weapon of non-violence whose use their best Prophets have taught and which Jesus the Jew who gladly wore the crown of thorns bequeathed to a groaning world, their case would be the world’s, and I have no doubt that among the many things that the Jews have given to the world, this would be the best and the brightest. It is twice blessed. It will make them happy and rich in the true sense of the word and it will be a soothing balm to the aching world.

From Nnamdi Azikiweto Martin Luther King Jr. October 26, 1960 Lagos, Nigeria

Nnamdi Azikiwe, the newly appointed governor-general of Nigeria, writes in the hope that King will attend his inauguration.1 King traveled to Lagos in November to attend the festivites, which included several luncheons and a dance performance in honor of the African independence leader and his wife.2

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jnr,
c/o Dr. Marguerite Cartwright,
57 Fifth Avenue,
New York 3, N.Y.

My dear Reverend King:

This is to inform you that I have included your name in the list of invitees to attend my inauguration on November 16,1960, when I will be sworn in as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Federation of Nigeria.

The occasion will be of historic interest because it will be the first time in our national history when a person of African descent will be assuming the high office of Head of State in Nigeria, as representative of Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.

I hope that when the official invitation reaches you, you will be disposed to accept same.3 I am looking forward to an early reunion with you.

With kind wishes.

Sincerely yours,

1. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996), born in Zungeru, Nigeria, attended missionary schools in Lagos before receiving a B.A. (1930) and an M.A. (1932) from Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He also received an M.S. (1933) from the University of Pennsylvania. Azikiwe edited the Gold Coast’s Africa Morning Post in the mid-1930s and was convicted of sedition by the colonial government for an article appearing therein; the conviction was later overturned on appeal. Returning to Nigeria in 1937, he founded the West African Pilot and four other periodicals, which he used to agitate for independence from Britain. In 1944 he helped found the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons and in 1947 was elected to the Nigerian Legislative Council. Azikiwe was appointed to the honorary post of governor-general of Nigeria by Queen Elizabeth II in 1960. In 1963 Nigeria became a republic with Azikiwe as its first president; he served until deposed by a military coup in 1966.

2. Azikiwe, Invitation to the state luncheon, 18 November 1960; Azikiwe, Invitation to a display of national traditional dances, 18 November 1960; and K. O. Mbadiwe, Invitation to Martin Luther King, Jr., 19 November 1960.

3. A formal invitation to King was sent in care of Pittsburgh Courier columnist Marguerite Cartwright by the office of independent Nigeria’s first prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Secretary to the Prime Minister of Nigeria to King, 23 October 1960). In her 23 October letter Cartwright forwarded the invitation and urged King to accept. In her 10 December 1960 article, Cartwright reported on the planning of the inauguration festivities: “Lucky candidates for the coveted invitations were personally selected by the then Governor General Designate. A number of the cables and invitations were directed to my home for forwarding” (“World Backdrop,” Pittsburgh Courier; 10 December 1960).


MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.