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THE PRESENT CRISIS

All those who fight against this awful doom
Have firm religious sanction on their side;
They will be glorified in both the worlds,
This and the next, their conscience clear and bright,
Their triumph: mastery of lower self,
And freeing mankind from the Devil's hold.
Although resourceless, they will be recalled
With honor, love and tears by grateful crowds,
Their names engraved for e'er on loyal hearts
They rescued from the open jaws of death,
By their heroic acts, done at the risk
Of disappointing their pugnacious friends,
Who burn to kindle soon the fires of war.

The Present Crisis, Page 105

 

This hideous war is now approaching fast,
Beyond the power of man to avert the blow.
Already the monster hovers o'er the site
Which at the appointed hour the Fire will light.
0, ye encrowned elite of every state,
Tone down your fervor and slow down your pace;
Let not your own descendants take your name
With horror and abhorrence for the pain
And agony that will fall to their lot,
By your impatience, lack of wisdom or
Your want of insight to foresee the end.


For Heaven's sake, retrace your steps before
It is too late, reduce your pressure and
Soften your tone, relax the tense state of
Your mind, slow down the preparations for
A war, abandon fast the nuclear race!

The Present Crisis, Page 102 - 103

For Heaven's sake, O, ye much-honored chiefs,
Ye brilliant penmen and ye great elite
Of every clime and country on the earth,
Forbear, and let not your ambitious plans
For more dominion, prestige, markets, wealth,
Resources, domination or revenge,
Pervert your thinking and subvert your will,
And losing sight of what a war would cost,
When fought with nuclear engines, pray restrain
Your ardor and in calmer moments ask
Yourself: How can you gain your cherished ends
If, only after a few hours of fight
With missiles, earth would be a wilderness,
And all that on which you now build your plans
Dissolve into air, like a vanished dream,
And you will find yourself, if still alive,
The monarch of the waste surrounding you!

The Present Crisis, Page 133

 

The Present Crisis -- Chapter X

The Only Sure and Honorable WayOut

How would the law adjudge the acts of one
Who proves a traitor to his motherland,
Deceives the nation, sells her to a foe,
Imposes on her and betrays her trust,
Tells vital secrets to her enemies,
Dishonours her in the eyes of the world,
And by these actions does her grievous harm.

He braves the anger of his country-folk,Draws on himself their insults and abuse,Disgrace and condemnation for his crime;Aware they would despise and hate his name,And, if in their grip, would demand his life,To avenge the serious wrong he did to them.

He knows all this when he commits the sin,Driven to it by burning thirst for gold,Or high position or possession orHis passion for a charmer whom he loves,Who lured him from his nation and his homeAnd made him face the tempest for her sake.

If we conceive Faith as our native land,The soil on which we were brought up and bred,With God as Sovereign Ruler, Heaven as home,And heavenly beings as compatriots,Which is the true position, if we trustThe gospels of our creed, declaring thatWe are the children of a heavenly Sire,With angels, cherubim and devas asOur close companions, dwellers on the landTo which, in solemn truth, we all belong-The land of seraphs and immortal orbsOf life-divine, who drest in clay descendTo earth to play their parts, allotted byThe Sire, in keeping with Celestial Laws,Beyond our ken, as girt by walls of clay,We lose touch with the customs of our landAnd need, to win back our divine estate,Continued effort to unearth the Key.

O, ye Believers in Religion andThe Truths which it upholds for common good,How can we justify our lack of faithWhen we shut from the mind our pure descent,Our high position as Empyrean-born,Our tall imperial stature as a Soul,Above the good and evil of the earth,Above its opulence and poverty,Above its storm and stress, dispute and strife,Above its squalor, dirt, refuse and filth,Above all that disturbs us in the least,Or acts against our native state of blissThat reigns supreme in our celestial home,Above the din and noise, disease and pain,Despair and hope, distress and fleeting joy,Which make up, for a while, our worldly life?

Why have we given up this gold to wasteThe Time allowed to us by waiting death,In heaping litter and in hoarding trash,Which, when beyond our need, are valuelessAnd only satisfy a morbid itchFor show and grandeur, boundless power or wealth,Or mad desire for all-devouring love,Which all end in frustration or remorseOr vain regrets, when with decaying healthAnd bent with age, we ponder o'er the past?

There can be no two views about the factThat we cannot be loyal to our faith,If we discredit its accepted truths,Or fail to act upon the injunctions laidTo discipline our lives in keeping withIts tenets and beliefs held all along.We must behave, if loyal to our creed,Which tells us that we have a deathless soul,In ways which do not savour of pretenceOf guile or false belief to save our face,And must work diligently all our lifeTo gain the Kingdom of Heaven, NirvanaOr Paradise or Brahman, as the PeakFor which we have to strive, with all our strength,And how: This too is clearly underlinedIn Sermon on the Mount, Commandments Ten,The Gita, Dhammapada or QuranAnd scriptures of the other holy faiths.

How can we class a mortal who is loudIn his avowal of a holy faith,But does the opposite of what she says,Calls God his Father or Creator orBy what-so-e'er relationship he likes;But by his acts belies the love professed;Accepts that his soul is immortal andThat Gospels hold inspired commands of God,Or of his incarnation, or of OneAmong the highest of enlightened Souls,Or of a Prophet with a Message fromThe Lord to show the right way to the fold;But far from acting on the precepts taughtDoes the reverse, obeys the cannons laidBy breaking each and every one of them,Invokes the Grace of God for help in need,And then repays it with ingratitude;Except in lip-deep worship, prayer, rites,Ignores the Gospels as if of no worth;A fibster, outwardly who owns a creedWith lips, but soon disowns it with his deeds;A crime worse than unmasked apostasy.How far do we obey the tenets ofOur faith, how far act on the word of God,Can be assessed by our aversion toA simple, humble life of peace and truth,Compassion, love for neighbour, charity,Subdued ambition, passion, lust, desire,Downgraded anger, hate and violence:A life attuned to God and His image pureOf what is good and noble in the world.But what will we find, if we try to probeHow far our life is modelled on our Faith;How far we reach the ideals carved by her,How far we carry out the Will of God?If we are lax, what do we merit forOur gross intransigence 'gainst the laws,Against what is ambrosia for the soul,Whom we drag in the mud of our desire;Against what can attest our love of GodAgainst all that we must uphold as rightIf we admit we have a soul to save,To prove we are above unthinking beasts,And have a Crown of wit upon our head?

But if we fail in this emergent taskAnd act contrarily, then are we notAs good as traitors to our native soil,Seduced from duty by the very sameAlluring chattels which entice one whoBetrays his country for some tempting bait?Is it surprising then that Man is facedWith a threat to his whole community?

The menace, too, does not descend from heavenBut is our own creation, for it isBorn of our own intelligence and wit,Which are the prompters, too, of our revolt.And so our treason 'gainst our native landIn dire calamity might soon recoil.'Tis our superb intelligence that wonFor us the richest empire on the earth,But now an outlaw for her grave defianceIs waiting for the Rod to set her right.

Do you think in the preparations madeFor war the Powers-that-be can have no hand,And that the nuclear weapons, forged by us,Have not their concurrence and active help?Have you e'er pondered o'er the issue thatThe Omnipresent and Omniscient GodCan ne'er be ignorant of what we do,Nor can we act against His edicts norCan aught materialize against His Will?

So, if a true believer, one cannotRefuse to own that we are face to faceWith that phenomenon which ancients calledThe "Wrath of Heaven," descending on the earth,To put insurgent Man back on the Path.And so the weapons, piled up fast, provideThe scourge, devised by human wit, to whipHerself to sanity, with awful pain,Out of her drunken state of arrogance.

The plea that progress in technologyConfers on those who can prepare the stuffThe right to use atomic armamentsIs as untenable as the logic thatOne who invents a new machinegun canEmploy it lawfully in a roadside frayTo win more honour from his neighbours, orA larger portion from the market stock,Or a predominant position inThe neighbourhood with greater right to grabWhate'er he chooses for the reason thatHe is more powerful, richer, more advanced,And has a new machinegun in his hand!

Or if a man discovers a new wayOf dalliance with women he should beAllowed to show his skill in public parksBefore the eager eyes of hungry crowds!Or let a student who invents a bombWhich, using only air, can kill a crowd,Can deploy the new device, when in class,To cow down teachers, frighten other boys,Or rob the school of books and magazines,And, when restrained, explode in self-defenceTo blast the offending kids, as their restraintWould mean infringement of his right to doWhate'er he likes with this new wonder ofHis more enhanced skill in technology.

The truth is that a vile, infernal stuff, Prepared in secrecy by clever brains,By wrongly using their great intellects,Howe'er high in repute they might have been,Howe'er high their attainments and their skill,To be used by their nation which, withoutRegard to principles of justice, truthAnd fair play, laws of ethics, human rights,Divine Commandments and the rules of war,Employed it for revenge on innocents.To exact the penalty imposed for suchA wild defiance of Celestial Law,The stuff-assuming now the awful formOf an infernal Monster-is aboutTo pounce upon the guilty intellect,And hovers close to every spot on earthThe ends of heavenly justice soon to serve.A Dragon reared up by man with his wit,To inflict due punishment for guilty actsOf his own and to learn a lesson whichHe shall recall with awe for centuries.

The wonder is how all the world is deadTo so gross a denial of the rightsOf other nations, threatened by the blasts,Though not a party to the deadly feud,Who run the risk of radiation, death,Pollution, famine, dearth, disruption, lossAnd e'en a direct hit with missiles, whenThe war is at its height, and palsied hands,Inert with horror at the ghastly sights,Mis-aim the monsters to unchosen sites.Who will then pay the damage done as noneOut of the parties may survive the clash,Or be in a position to make goodThe loss inflicted on a neutral land,Which is inevitable in a warWith nuclear engines of the latest type?

This raises issues how on moral grounds,And how, while advocating human rights,A nation can deploy a weapon soUncertain and unmanageable thatIt can cause grievous harm to distant soils,And wreck and ruin them beyond repair,Can damage and disrupt contiguous lands,In no respect connected with the war,With fallout and contamination ofThe native elements essential forThe existence and survival of their life?

How can we justify a weapon whichCan prove as lethal for noncombatantsAs for belligerents? Where is the lawOr e'en convention which permits a state,Wittingly or unwittingly, to blastA neutral land, with irreparable lossOf life and property to its unarmedAnd guiltless folk? How can a foul device,That has this possibility, be usedBy nations proud of their traditions forUprightness, freedom, justice, rule of law,And human feeling shown for all the race?How can they reconcile the two, O God?How can they reconcile their word and deed?

It is beyond the slightest shade of doubtThat, judged by any standard, e'en of war,The use of nuclear weapons is a crimeAgainst both man and God, and all upheldAs Right by law and world religions both.No arguments or logic can defendWhat will be undefendable to the end.'Tis but a waste of time and energyTo whitewash what is but a heinous crime.How odd that this egregious sin is madeA subject of debate, when it would meetOnly contempt and condemnation fromThe law-abiding nine-tenths of the race.

The nuclear nations know it too well thatTheir lives will be in gravest danger, whenAtomic weapons are employed, and henceThose well informed about this menace tryTheir best to end the overhanging threat,To save their own dear lives, well knowing thatThey may cause e'en more damage to their landThan to that of the distant enemy,For no one can predict whose aim will beMore true, or favoured more by chance, to hitThe most strategic sites on either side.

We know these foul contraptions have not beenAccepted e'en by all the people ofThe nuclear nations, and but one exchangeOf fire might cause upheavals that may forceThe ones in power to quit or end the war.Those who are counting on the nuclear armFor their ascendancy, survival orSubdual of the foe live in the landOf dreamers, and will be the first to reapThe fruit of their revolt against the Law,By paying forfeit with their robes and gowns;For such a murderous frenzy will soon gripThe crowds that they will stop at nothing, and,May rise in mad rebellion 'gainst the fewIn power who will be out-and-out for warTo end at once the diabolic fray.

How does the conscience of the leading ranksOf these ascendant lands remain unpricked,When they know that their own compatriotsLive with a dread sword hanging o'er their heads;That pregnant mothers, crowing babies andThe toiling crowds of simple, honest folk,Who bide contented with the tithe they have,Delighted to be moving and alive,Will all be instantly hurled into hell,For no fault on their part, no sin, no wrong,No action done to merit such an end,Save that of cheering loud the ruling teamsWhene'er they chanced to pass their way or, whenThey saw them in a gala function heldTo listen to the words they had to say-Without least knowledge of their hid designsOr actions or what they intend to do-A state of trust unparalleled on earth,But often from one side alone, returnedBut seldom by the other and, sometimes,Repaid with treachery by those adored?

If all the world upholds this kind of war,This murder from a distance of the folkOf hostile lands, in millions at a time,Unarmed, defenceless women, children, men-That does not mean 'tis not a heinous crime.

If all the world upholds a way of lifeWhich contravenes the gospels of a faith,And acts conversely to the precepts taught,Or revels in defying all the rules,That does not mean adherents of that creedAre right in their behaviour, in the least,Or true to their profession or belief.

If all the world upholds ideals whichConfer equality on one and all,With liberty and brotherhood to add,And then to enforce these high ideals putsTo sword and into concentration camps,For grinding labour with frostbitten hands,Millions of victims in dark secrecy,It does not mean that what is done is right And that the principles professed are sound.

This is what ails the clever mind today,'Tis dead to its transgressions all the time;It ne'er perceives the ugly, darker sideOf its behaviour or its thought and act,And, as one pets a sweetheart, hugs its faults,Condones its errors, justifies mistakes,Excuses misdemeanours, waives off sins,By self-deceit keeps merry all the time,Dwells on but its good traits, ignores the bad,Which, when remembered, might its conscience prick,And thus, oblivious to its own defects,Which one must keep before one's eye to mend,With slow erosion of the moral side,Has made embellished lie a passable normOf man's behaviour in his business deals-A practice which, condemned by every faith,Is honey to sophisticated minds.

The outcome is that of the leading brainsThe bulk delights in what it thinks or doesAnd often views an action, e'en if wrong,In the light of its broader interests;Or of the high position which it holds,Judging them not by the criteria laid,Nor by some standard fixed for what is right,But by its interests, objectives, aims,Or nature of the expediency-An egotistic and narcissistic mind,Which firm believes 'tis always in the rightAnd salves its conscience with the logic thatThis was the only course it could pursue;In that position all would do the same;That was how it could best its country serve,Its firm or office or its interest,Casting morality in diverse molds,Like wax, to make it suit its ends and aims.

Since moral values are essential forMankind's survival in the atomic age,It would be virtual suicide to breakThe wall that stands between us and sure death.'Tis for this reason that the actions doneBy leading minds in all academies,In trade, in politics, professions, artsOr in the media-the leading witAnd skill in every sphere of human life-Unless restrained by strict adherence toThe Moral Laws would jeopardise the race.The present crisis is a warning signFrom heaven, reminding us to change our ways;But since we are bedazzled by the glowOf our achievements in the earthly fields,There is a common error that we canDefy the moral laws that rule our lives,A fatal blunder at the very baseOf dangers which now stare us in the face.

A full-blown nuclear war is suicide,A mad itch for self-immolation doneTo meet some foul distemper of the mind,For sanity can ne'er become so madTo walk into the jaws of death at choice.

Those who display a lack of sense to seeThe present hideous conflict in this lightBetray a deadness of the instinct forSelf-preservation, the primordial urgeOn which survival of the race depends.

A half-way nuclear war is out of count,For once the Demon of Hate is at large,And the exchange of nuclear missiles starts,With capitals as the first targets hit,Who will retain the sanity of mindTo call a halt to the exploding bombs!For there will not be one but many statesInvolved in this infernal give and take,With wounded, dying and dead everywhere,The country in a shambles, transport andCommunication wrecked, the leaders outOf wits, a thousand problems on their mind;The people in the grip of mortal fear,Running in panic, dead to everythingSave how to flee from the pursuing flames;A wild stampede, more than frantic rush,In which the weaker would be crushed to death;Who will maintain his balance, keep his witsIn these macabre, mind-unhinging scenes,Unfolding with the speed of lightning and Beyond the power of man to handle now?

Those who complacently talk of this threatWhich can make earth a fuming hell in space,While lolling in their chairs, with pen in hand,Smoking, as if they are the lords of earth,Looking so calm and undisturbed, the whileThey speak on this unspeakable curse of war,Treating atomic fights, too, as routine,Howe'er accomplished, are a hopeless preyTo that abnormal state of intellect,Which barren of compassion and the powerTo place herself in the shoes of the crowdsThat will fall victims to the awful blasts,And form the objects of those grisly scenes,They, like the colour-blind who have no senseOf colour, fail to assess the pain involved-A common failing of conceited minds,Which all their life think only of themselves,Against injunctions laid by every faithTo think of others in one's prayers andTo exercise compassion off and on.For sans this love of neighbour and the thoughtOf poor and helpless in one's daily life,The mind becomes too self-indulgent toThink kindly and humanely of the world-The type of mind neglect of faith has bred.

The mighty heads of states, on whom devolvesThe great responsibility of our timeTo avert the threatened holocaust, should notBend low to listen to the phobic lot,Who ne'er can taste the bitterness of thatWhich they propose unless themselves hit hard.The only potent method to resolveThis hard dilemma is to moderateThe heat, stop adding fuel to the fire,And slowly bring to a halt the weapon race,Convene effective meetings of the statesWhich stand up stoutly for a peaceful world,Ban weapon sales to needy lands for gain,For you thus arm yourself potential foes,Nor e'en supply them free to your allies;Reduce production of this ware untilThe curse of war is lifted from the earth.

Key up the U.N.O. to push this cause,Alert the people of all lands and climesAbout the dangers of a nuclear war,In duty bound, as you first should have doneBefore embarking on this fatal course.Enlist their full support in this campaign,Their cry will be resistless and shall winE'en in the lands where their voice is suppressed.

Begin discussions with the foe to evolveA formula for coexistence inA climate of peace, friendship, love and trust,And draw up soon a mutual agreement,With fullest safeguards set for either side,Each bound to observe for e'er the solemn pact,Each bound to honour and respect those whoAre parties to this holy covenant.

This is the only dignified way out,The only sure and honourable course,Which, with pure efforts and the Grace of God,Can grant humanity a further leaseOf life to win the glorious prize ordainedTo crown her hard millennial toil on earth.Do not forget when in fear of this warThat Hope is ne'er away from human hearts,And blank despair is ne'er the only courseFor those beleaguered by an adverse Fate,As Grace of God is always near at handTo fill the darkest day with bright sunshine.

 

Gopi Krishna

April 13, 1981

Written by: Gopi Krishna

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