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Updated on August 13, 2017

Janastami Celebrated August 14th

With Trump in office, it is necessary, even a duty to be a social activist. A social activist is someone who is dedicated to the greater good of society. This individual is not motivated by money or material gain. This is exactly what Gandhi was: a social activist who made the world a better place by his actions. Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Vishnu, the preserving/sustaining aspect of the Hindu Trinity and the Divine Presence/Essence of the Universe, was also a social activist.

In the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, verse 47, Krishna described the qualities of the social activist: "Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action; avoid attraction to the fruits and attachment to inaction. Perform actions firm in discipline, relinquishing attachment; be impartial to failure and success--this equanimity is called discipline." This was the very quote that Gandhi lived in his quest for Indian Independence.

When something is unjust, we must speak up and also perform right actions without worrying what the fruits of our actions may be. Some people will love us for doing what is right. Some people will actually hate us, but inaction only makes the situation worse. The tyrant will be more powerful through our lack of action. Evil flourishes when people do not perform right action or speak up for what is right. The injustice will never be dealt with through inaction.

Krishna never sat on his rear end when it came to unjust situations or emergencies. When Krishna was with Balarama, his brother, he noticed a forest fire going out of control. His brother encouraged him to take action against the blazing wild fire. In Krsna the Supreme Personality of Godhead, written by Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, Krishna literally devoured the fire and saved the villages, which depended upon the forests and pastures to provide a living for all the inhabitants. These people were cowherds who milked the cows every day for life substance and for the wealth for the villages. Krishna did not hesitate to act on the behalf of these humble individuals. He became a social activist and solved the emergency happening in their villages.

Krishna first appeared in Mathura, India in a jail cell of his parents, Vasudeva and Devaki. On Monday we celebrate this great celebration in the lives of all humanity. Not only Hindus reverence Krishna. He is known by many worldwide who are not Hindus who respect what he did for others. Krishna came into the world among the common people because of his appearance in a jail cell. Rama, the 7th incarnation of Vishnu, was born in a palace with all its finery. Rama was the ideal ruler and man. Krishna was the full incarnation and showed us the true, full identity of Divinity. Krishna chose to be with common humanity and ended up in Gokula, where the cowherds made their living. His foster father and mother, Nanda and Jashoda, were local leaders in this region of India.

Gandhi became a lawyer and helped those in South Africa who were oppressed by the system which treated Hindu laborers unfairly. He moved back to India and continued his social activism in support of Indians of all traditions who were oppressed by the British Empire. Today his actions are studied by social work schools as a model for social action when change is needed locally or internationally. This model was used in the Civil Rights, Women's ,Chipko and Ecological movements.

Krishna acted time and time again as a social activist on the behalf of the common people. He defeated the poisonous serpent, Kaliya, in the Yamuna River. This serpent had poisoned people, plants and animals, but Krishna acted and restored the river and all who were poisoned by the serpent. Not only did he do this one action, but he also praised the greatness of trees in the Bhagavat Purana. He called them great beings for the good they do for the whole planet. His discourse sounded like a modern ecological textbook. He did not deny the ecology of the planet at all. Quite the opposite, he loved it so much. He even married an incarnation of Mother Earth, Satyabhama. He acted as a social activist in support of taking care of trees, who brought life and substance to the inhabitants of Gokula. Krishna was not conservative when it came to speaking up for the environment. He took action when people were being poisoned by the actions of the polluting serpent. We have many polluting serpents today who want to destroy our beautiful planet. We must speak up for Mother Earth. Those ancient stories have so much universal truth that centuries later we all can learn from the actions of the people in these stories.

In the Mahabharata, Dhiritarashtra, the spiritually and physically blind king, had an evil, tyrannical son by the name of Duryodhana. Everything he did was either to his own benefit or for his family's benefit. He reminds me a whole lot of the actions of Trump and his officials. So these stories can teach us that tyranny is very ancient, but we do not have to accept the actions of tyrants. We should be social activists, like Krishna and Gandhi, and do what is right in the situation. We may not always be popular for doing the right thing, but in the end right action is what is needed to change the situation.

On this great and auspicious day, Janastami, the Appearance Day of Lord Krishna, let us remember that Krishna was a social activist for good and the best way to honor Krishna is to be a social activist in these trying times we live in today.




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