A prayer at dusk

The palm trees leaned over the lagoon,

Like long-haired sisters, sharing in a lonely secret,

and we their wistful keepers,

in the thickening dark, while empty canoes drifted dockside.

We chanted your name against the dying light, four hands clasped,

as quietness washed over the dimming land,

like floating pearls thrumming on your eternal string,

an action of experienced hands,

directed by thought, then utterance, then memory of you,

before that unspeakable stillness.

By Divya

The Bronze Legacy (To a Brown Boy) – Effie Lee Newsome

Jacob Lawrence, Panel no. 3: From every southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north, 1940–1941.

‘Tis a noble gift to be brown all brown

Like the strongest things

Up this earth,

Like the mountains grave and grand,

Even like the very land,

Even like the trunks of trees –

Even oaks, to be like these!

God builds his strength in bronze.

To be brown like thrush and lark! Like the subtle rain so dark!

May, the king of beasts were Brown:

Eagles are of the same hue.

I think God then, I am brown. Brown has mighty things to do

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 57: The female workers were the last to arrive north
Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 29: The labor agent recruited unsuspecting laborers as strike breakers for northern industries

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 11: Food had doubled in price because of the war

Poem: The Rosenbergs, June 1953 – W.E.B Du Bois

Pablo Picasso, untitled lithograph of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, 1952.

From floods of wrath, avenging God,

Pour down the curse on us the murderers, who crucify the Jews!

Hammer home the nails, thick through our skulls;

Crush down the thorns;

Rain red the bloody sweat,

Thick and heavy, warm and wet.

We are the killers, hurling mud!

We the witch hunters, drinking blood!

To us shrink all the lynched,

the thousands mobbed,

the millions dead in useless war.

But this, this shameless deed we do this day,

the senseless blasphemy of mother and child,

Fills full the cup!

Hail hell and glory to damnation!

Oh bloodstained nation,

Stretch out your hands:

Cover them, judges, with your glory gowns;

Come lawyers in your Sheets of shame,

Proud partners of thugs and thieves

Cautious rabbis, silent priests

Calling all cowards in cap and gown

Calling all cowards, home!

Crawl wedded liars, hide from sight,

In the nasty murk of night

We hold high vigil with the dawn!

Death calls!

Holy mother, son of God!

Tortured a thousand days

To the last pale gasp!

Dying the death magnificent

Scorning to trade with the president

Life for a lie!

Two pale and tight lipped children.

Hymn to Kali

Mother, if our Soul is Timeless, and its glimmering knowledge of Your eternal existence is Time, then You are keeper of both Time and Timelessness, pirouetting along the outer rim of the great bowl of your starred universe—causeless yet causing and primal yet final. The eternal vibration of your dancing feet pattering reach this little world and beats against my eardrums, as a drummer’s fingers strike a mrindagam, yet it is beyond sound as it is beyond thought, even as the pulsating luminescence of your ever-presence and the long night of your ever-absence is beyond sight.

Ever-seeking our weary soul, you are, ever-knowing its decisions and indecisions, ever-moving through its lifetimes, ever-witnessing our suffering, in your carefully-wrought labyrinth of desire, though it is your compassion that bids us to suffer, to break through the shackles of our bondage.

Atomic Mother, uniting all forms animate and inanimate, your universal light probes all that is near and far, How easily I forget that you are the invisible force running through all, the evidence of things unseen. You are the morning mist rising above a lonely lake in the hills , yet you are also the womb of earth holding lakewater itself, and so too you are the tiny waves created by the skip and shimmy of fish and fowl whose little hearts you now palpitate, now silence; in a flash of your mighty sword you taketh what you maketh.

How like a poem struggling to break free of the chains of mind you are, Mother, a prayer formed against trembling lips in the hour of death and trial, a thought on the precipice of perdition before pen meets paper, a villager’s waving lantern across a wooded path on a winter’s eve, a laughing maid’s lotus footfalls disappearing into the night, a solitary whistle echoing through a forsaken canyon, a madman’s silent elegy to the straitjacket of sanity, a teacher’s infinite mercy on his prodigal student, salvation eddying against sin in a whirlpool of samsara.

inscrutable you are, Mother, hidden in the very beads of time, in the sheath of each atom you hold in place, in-dwelling as the soul of all souls, sometimes breaking forth as a smile on the face of a passer-by, other times climbing out of the pages of a book with your thousand faces and arms, still yet, coloring the tint of a memory pressing against the brain, here, a friend who surrenders to me his last morsel amidst a famine, and there, guiding the kindness of my dearest enemy, and in the long meanwhile of it all, pulsing as the very blood coursing through these veins, simmering as the air in my lungs.

When I gaze into a mirror, you appear through it, impressively strange and yet beloved, as though your countenance were plunging out of its pool of light and meeting mine own, before melting back into the speechless effulgence whence you came, leaving me, leaving me in my own darkness, where your indelible impression nevertheless remains, like lingering birdsong in my child’s mind.

Cosmos in Turiya

The Poet of the Râmâyana

Cheriyal scroll painting by D. Vaikuntam

There was a young man that could not in any way support his family. He was strong and vigorous and, finally, became a highway robber; he attacked persons in the street and robbed them, and with that money he supported his father, mother, wife, and children. This went on continually, until one day a great saint called Nârada was passing by, and the robber attacked him. The sage asked the robber, “Why are you going to rob me? It is a great sin to rob human beings and kill them. What do you incur all this sin for?” The robber said, “Why, I want to support my family with this money.” “Now”, said the sage, “do you think that they take a share of your sin also?” “Certainly they do,” replied the robber. “Very good,” said the sage, “make me safe by tying me up here, while you go home and ask your people whether they will share your sin in the same way as they share the money you make.” The man accordingly went to his father, and asked, “Father, do you know how I support you?” He answered, “No, I do not.” “I am a robber, and I kill persons and rob them.” “What! you do that, my son? Get away! You outcast! “He then went to his mother and asked her, “Mother, do you know how I support you?” “No,” she replied. “Through robbery and murder.” “How horrible it is!” cried the mother. “But, do you partake in my sin?” said the son. “Why should I? I never committed a robbery,” answered the mother. Then, he went to his wife and questioned her, “Do you know how I maintain you all?” “No,” she responded. “Why, I am a highwayman,” he rejoined, “and for years have been robbing people; that is how I support and maintain you all. And what I now want to know is, whether you are ready to share in my sin.” “By no means. You are my husband, and it is your duty to support me.” The eyes of the robber were opened. “That is the way of the world — even my nearest relatives, for whom I have been robbing, will not share in my destiny.” He came back to the place where he had bound the sage, unfastened his bonds, fell at his feet, recounted everything and said, “Save me! What can I do?” The sage said, “Give up your present course of life. You see that none of your family really loves you, so give up all these delusions. They will share your prosperity; but the moment you have nothing, they will desert you. There is none who will share in your evil, but they will all share in your good. Therefore worship Him who alone stands by us whether we are doing good or evil. He never leaves us, for love never drags down, knows no barter, no selfishness.”

Then the sage taught him how to worship. And this man left everything and went into a forest. There he went on praying and meditating until he forgot himself so entirely that the ants came and built ant-hills around him and he was quite unconscious of it. After many years had passed, a voice came saying, “Arise, O sage! ” Thus aroused he exclaimed, “Sage? I am a robber!” “No more ‘robber’,” answered the voice, “a purified sage art thou. Thine old name is gone. But now, since thy meditation was so deep and great that thou didst not remark even the ant-hills which surrounded thee, henceforth, thy name shall be Valmiki — ‘he that was born in the ant-hill’.” So, he became a sage. And this is how he became a poet.

-Swami Vivekananda

Nirvanashatakam or Song of Self-Realization

If night and day are but the wink of God’s eye,

A million calyxes have opened and closed in a single wink.

Desire blinds and bewilders memory of love, like the slow torpor of heat escaping a tormented earth

the wrath that follows is a midnight howl,

a bloodless gash in the soul of man,

wrought in the anvils of lust,

ever gluttonous bitterness, ever paralyzing,

now violent now lecherous, a pestilential torrent beating against the castle of the soul,

sullen like a devil who cannot wet it.

Sorrows only end when we become perfect witnesses

and he who no longer seeks umbrage in grief nor joy ,

he who is like the stillness of a quiet summer night,

seated in the garden, moonflowers vining their way into the light,

he has learned the secret of witnessing,

he is the perfect witness, for he has nothing to gain from the object of his witnessing,

nothing to prove,

in whom self has conquered self,

for whom only the bliss of knowing the love of God exists—

to seek such a purity of intent in the works of life, to work as witness,

to love the wicked and good,

hold the sinner and saint in one’s arms with the same devotion, with the same unflinching embrace of truth.

Indeed only these can be judged as true works, works wrought in the fine filigree of sacrifice,

as a reaper’s scythe against the harvest,

pitiless in its shearing of sheaves,

yet seeking not its fruit for his own gain—

stern, simple, salutary,

like a a stack of white linens

freshly dried in the sun.

Knowledge is like this: a play of a play within a play and the world is its stage–

as darkness is the source of light and light the cause of shadow,

the lie also bears the seed of truth,

for the liar too is a truth-teller

ever revealing the very truth

he seeks to suppress, and so enlightening us all

as a murderer gives birth to life

as a mother suppresses it

As a soldier yearns for peace on the battlefield, so a false peace-monger may be the harbinger of pusillanimity

In evil a glimmer of good

and in the good always the glimmer of evil

all that is is also all that isn’t

and all that was is also all that is and will be,

for matter and spirit can neither be created nor destroyed

and response is not merely a function of the living, but also the non living

Death is but the beginning of life

and life but the beginning of death

Pain the precipitate of pleasure

And pleasure an escape of pain –

as the sun rises in one place and sets elsewhere,

as the tide leaps even as it recedes

amidst the relativity of time and space,

love is the only constant

love that slips a sapling out of the earth and nourishes it with rain,

love that draws a flock of geese into a wild dance against the break of day,

Love that syncopates the choral cacophony of human voices into metric harmony,

Love that pulls the heavens tightly around the earth, like some spangled blanket, soft and ethereal, studded with the diamonds of the night.

The Gift of India and the Violence of the West: Some Reflections

Ravi Varma, Bharani Thirunal Rani Parvathi Bayi

Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?
Or the pride that thrills thro’ my heart’s despair
And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer?
And the far sad glorious vision I see
Of the torn red banners of victory?
when the terror and the tumult of hate shall cease
And life be refashioned on anvils of peace,
And your love shall offer memorial thanks
To the comrades who fought on the dauntless ranks,
And you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones,
Remember the blood of my martyred sons!
—Sarojini Naidu, “The Gift of India” 
India is formerly colonized country which has been attacked since its birth in 1947 by commercial superpowers. For the U.S to claim a “trade deficit” with India or any oppressed country is hypocrisy given that it is the Americans who have systematically destroyed the economy and the possibility of peace in the region in order to secure their extravagant and corrupt lifestyle. W.E.B Du Bois was right when he said in The World and Africa that all of the exploitation of the world is apparent in the face of a young, seemingly innocent white socialite whose household is furnished and powered almost entirely by the labor of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and African-America. 
It is the mounting panic about how whites will continue to sustain this lifestyle in the twenty-first century that is driving the present political drama about impeachment. To do so, they realize that they must scramble anew for the resources of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Once more, the white race seeks to use the darker races as means of neocolonial production but this is proving highly unlikely as from Syria to North Korea to China to Palestine, people are clamoring for peace, truth, and freedom from the violence of the West. 
Diplomatic meetings between world leaders (including corrupt native leaders like Narendra Modi who collude with capital) obscure the grim truth of American-led and Europe-backed wars on Asian and African soil. These are wars aimed at destroying the civilization and industries of these continents so as to keep them utterly dependent on Western markets and Western civilization. Then, capital arrives with friendly trade deals, treaties, and humanitarian aid, claiming to offer an antidote to the very evil it personifies and strives to cultivate in the hearts of humankind.  
Americans sought in-roads into India, a socialist republic,  after its hard won Independence from the British in 1947 because they saw themselves to be next in line after the British Empire, to which white American culture continues to aspire. As a deep alliance flourished between Indians, Latinos, Africans and African-Americans as a result of the Pan-African, socialist, non-violent, and non-aligned alliance against Western imperialism, white Americans, backed by the international bourgeoisie of all colors, united against the freedom of the darker races. NATO, an alliance of Western countries, was specifically aimed at countering the Communism of the East and South.  The so-called War on Terror which is the longest war fought by the American Empire is merely the new face of these unresolved tensions. The American people are now suffering because Western capital has exported the jobs to oppressed nations in order to save on labor costs. And yet, Trump blames China and other countries for the trade deficit instead of accepting responsibility for capital’s failure to meet the needs and interests of world humanity.
Amidst all the hoopla about terror overseas, conveniently labeled “radical Islam,” little is said about the the violence wrought by white Christianity, which entirely distorted the love ethic of Jesus. America is nation that continues to terrorize its own black citizens and it was mass opposition to white terror which propelled Dr. King’s movement. In the background of the Negro spiritual “Were You There?”–one of Gandhi’s favorite hymns most memorably sung by the great Marian Anderson–looms the shadow of the Jim Crow South. As Coretta Scott King notes in her autobiography, white Southerners burned down her family’s home and her father’s business when she was growing. When we consider the aftermath of the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and others, we see that murder of black men, women, children in the United States is sanctioned by the state. This sordid racial reality continues to remain obscured by 9/11 jingoism, which located terror in the so-called “Middle East.” In this relentless milieu of false patriotism cut with bouts of liberal guilt, it’s worth remember that such xenophobic sentiments, based on corrupt economic and political motives, led to the persecution of hundreds of courageous people in the U.S during the McCarthyite era, including Paul Robeson and W.E.B Du Bois, descendants of African slaves held captive by this so-called American democracy. 
In the past twenty years, the U.S. has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Korea, Syria and Pakistan—Asian countries which were formerly colonized by European powers. In the 1970s, America seduced Maoist China against India and Vietnam while claiming to be their saviors after the horrific invasions of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Japan, and Korea. Now it seeks to use India to “box in” (per Kissinger and Nixon) the threats posed by India, China and Russia to the Western economy.
An attempt was also made by Americans to invade India under Indira Gandhi’s tenure during the liberation of East Pakistan, an effort heroically supported by Mrs. Gandhi, to the great consternation of President Richard Nixon. It is still unclear as to what role the U.S government  played in the assassinations of Indian leaders like Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi, as well as Black American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Huey Newton, and Malcolm X, though a great deal of evidence has emerged about the state’s machinations in the assassination and overthrow of colored leaders throughout the world. 
The lies and schemes of American politicians have fueled mounting national paranoia about Russian collusion in U.S elections which has led to the Democratic party’s impeachment of Donald Trump, though the corporate Democrats are equally if not more guilty, for they co-opt the language of social justice and freedom fighters in order to further their own corrupt agenda in the bourgeois public sphere. The Democratic Party simply wants to escalate tensions with Russia and as socialistic as some of the candidates seem, none of them contend with the fundamental problems of Western civilization, which is riven by the inescapable dilemma of the color line. This has rightly caused the masses of Americans to reject the Democratic Party’s veneer of liberalism, which is merely a new iteration of the white man’s burden.
The West relished in the destruction of the Soviet Union, which was their ultimate aim during the Cold War seeing it as a victory for Western civilization and capital. India was one of the most important allies of the Soviet Union and American foreign policy sought to sever this bond in the 1990s and 2000s by infiltrating it’s economy, military, and leadership. The economic liberalization of India, which Americans falsely deem a triumph, led to an increase in trade with U.S during the 1990s. However, it rolled back many of the crucial socialist programs designed by Gandhi, Nehru, and other founding fathers and mothers and replaced them with neocolonial NGO and non-profits which used predatory lending techniques and white authority to forcefully secure native cooperation.
 In the renascence of Cold War sentiments we see today through the paradigm of a white “Atlantic”, which is the organizing political principle of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) we once again witness efforts to divide India, China, and Russia, in a similar pattern of previous attempts at Balkanization under Kissinger and Nixon. When the crisis in Ukraine is discussed in the U.S by figures like Joe Biden and Donald Trump, little is said about the fact that Ukraine represents a flashpoint in the international struggle between the capitalist and communist mode of production. NATO waged horrific wars against former Yugoslavia in the 1990s in an effort to reclaim Eastern Europe for Western capital. It has continually aggressed upon Russia—and not the other way around, as the powers that be claim. 
Lastly, consider the Western worry about “intellectual property” amidst the panic over trade deficits with countries like China and India. These ruthless American and European business tactics have nothing to do with the integrity of thought; rather, they are thinly veiled gestures once more aimed at the racial subordination, for they seek to keep oppressed people thinking and feeling as though they are worthless and without history, alienating them from their work and well-being. It is yet another way for the West to claim dominance over knowledge production and claim hegemony over science, art, and civilization. Like the British, Americans will claim to have invented everything, though the West in truth has not created much in the past four hundred years of destruction, having derived the majority of its inventions, products, and innovations from the uncompensated yet highly skilled labor of Africa and Asia. 

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter to Darrell Randall Re: the Importance of Visiting the Soviet Union and India

Dr. King explains to Randall, of the National Council of Churches, the motivations underlying his plan (subsequently abandoned) to visit the Soviet Union.

Dr. Darrell Randall
National Council of Churches
297 Fourth Avenue
New York, New York

Dear Dr. Randall:

Thanks for your very kind letter of recent date concerning my interest in going to Russia incident to my visit to India. First, I must apologize for being somewhat tardy in my reply. Unfortunately, your letter was misplaced during my secretary’s daily trips between the office and my residence where I am convalescing. Althought we have not been able to find the letter yet, I think I am sufficiently familiar with the contents to venture a reply.2

As I remember, you mentioned that Dr. Nelson of the American Baptist Convention had expressed great interest in this trip, and also the possibility of providing some funds to meet the budget. Naturally, I was very happy to know this. My reasons for desiring to go to the Soviet Union may be stated as follows:

  1. Manifold international policies emerge from a limited number of important world centers. Events taking place in the United States, Russia, and India affect the life of every person on this earth. Increasingly, religious leaders, scientists, scholars, and statesmen have come to see that firsthand investigation in these important centers is an integral part of their ability to exercise their leadership responsibilities.

  2. In the coming period when travel to the Soviet Union is more usual, I believe the American people will expect committed leaders to get information by serious personal inquiry rather than to rely upon secondary sources. The people will tend to respect conclusions which are based on observations and direct examination. According to my ability, I wish to be able to interpret to our people the deeper and more obscure currents of thought which dominate other peoples as well as the assumptionson which their social institutions are constructed. To do this it is necessary that personal contact be established so that both the good and the destructive elements and trends can be illustrated, analyzed and understood.

  3. Among some of the more specific lines of inquiry I wish to pursue are those which would illuminate the reasons for the continued existence of religious conviction among millions of Soviet citizens, all of whom have been subjected to varying degrees of oppression and discouragement by powerful agencies of propaganda and anti-religious education. This tenacity to spiritual commitment is worthy of careful study for these precise methods to the control of man’s relationship to God may be unique in human experience.

  4. As a Baptist I am especially interested to be in contact with the large number of practicing Baptists within the Soviet Union.

  5. As a Negro I have special concern with the influence that Soviet theory and practice have had upon the millions of colored peoples who populate the less industrially developed areas of the world. As a believer in non-violence as revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I am anxious to examine the reactions of the people in a society which for so many years has sought to deny the basic spiritual and moral doctrine of Christianity.

  6. As one who attempts to adhere to a non-violent philosophy I am anxious to experience the reaction of Soviet officials and people to those of us who hold to the view that peace and justice are possible to the degree that the world uncompromisingly embraces the Judeo-Christian ideals.3

I have made some contact on the possible budget for a trip to Soviet Russia from India. The cost per day per person for visiting the Soviet Union is thirty-five dollars ($35.00). This includes hotel, train travel within the Soviet Union, plane travel where necessary, board and lodging, interpreter, automobile, and chauffer. In other words, in-tourist, arrangements for all this and the cost is thirty-five dollars ($35.00) per day per person. Mrs. King will be accompanying me on this trip and possibly a personal secretary. On the assumption that three persons were in the Soviet Union for ten days, the cost for this would be three hundred and fifty dollars ($350.00) each, or one thousand fifty dollars ($1,050.00).

In addition to the plane fare America-India return, going back by way of the Soviet Union would be three hundred eleven dollars per person, or nine hundred thirty-three dollars ($933.00) for the three of us. This would mean a total budget of approximately two thousand dollars.

I certainly hope that something can be worked out. I realize that this is asking a great deal, and if it is not possible, I can thoroughly understand. I am deeply grateful to you and the National Council of Churches for your prompt consideration of this matter. I am also grateful to Dr. Nelson of the American Baptist Convention. And I would appreciate your expressing my gratitude to him. I will look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. In a 23 March 1959 letter to Reuben E. Nelson, secretary general of the American Baptist Convention, King explained his reasons for canceling the trip to the Soviet Union, which he initially scheduled as an extended stopover on his return from India. King acknowledged that the time was not right for the visit and expressed the fear that the trip “would have taken on too many political connotations” (see also “King Studies Russia Trip,” Montgomery Advertiser, 6 December 1958). Darrell D. Randall (1916-), born in Union, Nebraska, received a B.A. (1939) from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an M.A. (1942) from the University of Nebraska. Randall received a second M.A. (1946) from Columbia University and a Ph.D. (1956) from the University of Chicago. An expert on economic development in Asia and Africa, Randall served as associate executive director of the Department of International Affairs for the National Council of Churches (1958-1961).

2. Randall’s letter to King has not been located.

3. In a December draft of a letter to A. J. Muste, A. Philip Randolph, Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party, and James Hicks of the New York Amsterdam News, King further elaborated on his reasons for desiring to go to Russia: “The fact that the great need today is that men everywhere should realize that non-violence is the philosophical assumption from which peace and justice can spring, led me to the conclusion that perhaps it was my duty to visit Russia and to express there my basic beliefs.”

Source: 

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

The Heroism of Satyagraha

Our heroes must be spiritual.

–Swami Vivekananda

What does the method and philosophy of Satyagraha reveal? It exposes the heart of human nature, in all of its contradictions. The law of satyagraha compels us to act with soul force, which necessitates activation of our soul memory, our spirit consciousness.

If it follows that we were still born though we do not remember our babyhood, then it is also true that our soul-force stores memories from many lifetimes through which we have traveled. Just because we do not remember our babyhood, for example, does not mean we did not exist. This line of thought was illumined in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda; it also drove the pedagogy of Gandhiji’s satyagraha. the soul is infinite, a persistent energetic impulse perambulating the universe. It merely changes form as it morphs through time. Moksha, when the soul liberates itself from rebirth, is not unlike supernova. The soul achieves unity with space and time and does not need to resolve its contradictions in earthly life; it is free to join with Brahman. The soul-force or the Atman is our direct connection to the force we know as God or Brahman. This is why those souls who attain this unity with Brahman, mahasamadhi, escape the illusion of physical life and experience a perfect bliss. It is the peace of godly love, the peace which transcends understanding as posited in Christian doctrine.

In satyagraha, the soul force must be compelled to take refuge in this truth: that the soul being eternal, the body is merely a vessel, as frail as it is powerful. This realization gives the satyagrahi immense soul confidence, the authority to act with the superhuman courage that brings forth the great men and women of an epoch. The soul is time itself, for it bears a record of its rebirths and so is conscious of its antiquity and its future at the same time. It is a force in the universe comparable to other forces such as gravity.

If it follows that the purpose of human civilization is to evolve a culture of absolute peace, in our progress from our primitive origins, then ahimsa or the way of non-violence that is revealed when one seeks the truth of the soul force is the only pathway forward in a time that desperately demands such soul-awakening. Satyagraha is often portrayed as a weaker cousin of the “real” revolution. However, lest we misconstrue its true intent: satyagraha is entirely active if we take human will and conscience to be acting forces in nature.

Satyagraha thus demands a fierce courage and loyalty to the call of soul-truth, which may necessitate imperilment even of the physical body in the fight, paradoxically, to save one’s soul. The satyagrahi’s consciousness of her capacity to renounce the law of self-preservation and embrace self-immolation creates the courage to sacrifice even the body if necessary in the pursuit of love, freedom, and justice. The soul is not free in conditions where untruth and decadence prevail.

The soul force then is the voice within us that cries out for justice of God, an seething energy capable of defeating the evil lurking in the heart of man. it compels us to be killed rather than be moved to kill ourselves. We have been taught in Western civilization that the drives of human nature cannot be overcome, that we are victims of our natures, that the causes of our problems are due to external rather than internal factors. In this paradigm, desire becomes misconstrued as need and we are forever using this tragic misconception to justify the illusion of reality that keeps us trapped behind loveless masks. We are trapped because we are afraid to let go and because we are afraid to let go, we cannot love. We become stronger when we learn to discern the differences between one and the other, between genuine need and frivolous desire.

Western psychoanalysis holds that we cannot overcome our base instincts due to certain uncontrollable factors or complexes that mandate certain inevitabilities in our social relations to each other. Consequently, the allegories of Oedipus and Electra are invoked to justify certain sexual impulses in man and woman. And yet, what of those who manage to transcend such impulses through the unity of mind and heart?… Pained by the condition of his people, Gandhiji began to ask himself how he could change the capricious heart of man. He did not find answers in Freud (neither did Dr. King, interestingly). Rather, he turned to scripture, producing copious translations and notes of the Gita, the Bible, The Quran, and other gospels. Slowly, he began to see that the only way he could change the world was by changing himself.

We remain victims in the Western conception of reality and human nature because we are forever blaming forces beyond ourselves instead of taking charge of our inner drives, which more often than not lead us astray from the marrow of existence, which is the soul-force or prana. The psychoanalytic seems an impoverished view of the human personality to me; we are human precisely because we take responsibility, on our best days, for our actions. Human beings are also capable of transcending their conditions. A poor man can make something of nothing; genius overcomes struggle by gaining mastery of it; both a rich man and a poor man can be enslaved to their natures.

Taking responsibility requires humility and patience with one’s limitations. It takes immense inner strength and willpower to say no to that which restricts one’s growth and well-being. It takes greater strength to exemplify in your response to this force, whose origin is the fiend who roams the world bloodlustily, that you will not mimic his behavior and dishonor your soul force by retaliating.

In your resistance to evil, however, you must paradoxically not resist and so this is why Jesus said resist not evil. Only the ancient sages and prophets have managed to detach from maya, the illusion that keeps us attached to the physical body. we must overcome these lower urges which today most tragically suffuse the values of a decaying Western empire. Like the Buddha, Mohandas K. Gandhi saw the profound misery accompanying the self-indulgence of worldliness. He sought to educate, clothe, and feed the sons and daughters of India. He strove mightily to cure the blight of caste oppression. He fought to free the soul of India from the unbearable agony of three hundred years of imperialism, which had orchestrated immense suffering in India. Under the English, Bharat Mata was raped and exploited, her wealth looted, her education neglected and her future darkened. Pained by the condition of his people, Gandhiji began to ask himself how he could change the capricious heart of man. Slowly, he began to see that the only way he could change the world was by changing himself. This is why he renounced meat, sex, wealth, luxury, and other distractions which keep us attached to the illusions we tragically mistake for reality.

Like Swami Vivekananda, Gandhiji’s renunciations awakened the West as the Buddha had awakened the East. In the United States, the African-American people who were making triumphs in their long march to freedom began to hear of Gandhiji’s political agitations in South Africa as well as India. Many African-American leaders, like Howard Thurman, Benjamin E. Mays, William Nelson, and James Lawson, would make pilgrimages to study the Indian anti-colonial movement and the power of the soul-force in the progress of our struggle. They shared with Indians the spirituals of their church, many met with Gandhiji, others organized their people using methods they learned during their pilgrimage. Musicians like Duke Ellington, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, and others riffed and improvised on the Eastern theme, awakening the slumbering spirit of the Afro-Asiatic sound. Black universities began teaching courses on satyagraha and Ahimsa as political tactics in the struggle for civil rights. In a manifestation of Gandhi’s prophecy to Howard Thurman that it would be through the American Negro that the the message of non-violence would bear fruit, black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama committed satyagraha by refusing to ride the segregated bus lines. And so, Sermon on the Mount united with the eternal Song of the Gita yielding to satyagraha in America.

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,

remember,

beauty is a dark woman’s eyes

glowing

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

ever

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