Wednesday, November 18, 2009

OBAMA'S GESTURE SPARKS CRITICISM

WAS PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DEFERENTIAL BOW TO
JAPANESE EMPEROR AKIHITO TOO LOW FOR US PRIDE?
WASHINGTON (AP - ANSA) - President Barack Obama greeted Emperor Akihito, whose father ruled when Japan bombed a US naval base at Pearl Harbour in 1941, with a simultaneous handshake and nearly 90- degree bow, sparking negative commentary. Obama's deferential bow to Japanese emperor Akihito has set off a firestorm of debate in the US about everything from diplomatic protocol to the decline of American power and prestige to the African-American President's own loyalty to the country. The controversial bow took place earlier on Saturday when Obama met Japanese emperor Akihito. Pictures of the meeting showed a tall Obama bowing deeply before a much shorter Akihito.

Some American conservative commentators are accusing the US commander in chief of grovelling to a foreign leader. Many conservatives accused Obama of everything from being apologetic, to diminishing the US and the presidency, to even acting treasonous.
However, US officials insisted Obama's gesture was nothing more than a sign of respect. US presidents from both political parties often have been criticised for attempts at culturally sensitive greetings to high-ranking foreigners. Former President Richard Nixon, a Republican, can be seen in a Life magazine photo from 1971 bowing to Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito. In 1994, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was criticised for almost bowing to Akihito. The resulting image, The New York Times wrote, was of "an obsequent president and the emperor of Japan".

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The tarka-panthās (who believe in the process of gross dialectic to acquire knowledge) can display their pride, but they cannot touch even the doorstep of the realm of bhakti. By instructing his own mind in Śrī Manah-śiksā, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī humbly teaches us to renounce all pride and quickly develop sublime and incessant rati for Śrī Gurudeva; for Śrī Vraja; for the residents of Vraja; for the Vaisnavas; for the brāhmanas, who are like the demigods of this Earth; for our dīksā-mantras; for the holy names of the Lord; and for the topmost shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, the eternally youthful couple of Vraja. As long as the false pride that stems from one’s wealth, scholarship, beauty and birth in a high class family remains in one’s heart, it is impossible to practice devotional service even slightly.
Śrīla Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja
"Śrī Śrī Rādhāstamī" - 'Humility and Service: Not Pride and Erudition'
Year 16, Issue 8 (1976) Rays of The Harmonist 48.

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