Howling Blue Jackals

India's Hitopadesa, a sort of a sort of Aesop's fables, tells of a nosy jackal who, while slinking around a village, fell headfirst into a vat of blue dye. He pulled himself out, shook, and dashed back into the forest, his mangy fur drying to a brilliant blue.

The other forest animals, even the lions, beheld the blue newcomer with awe. Accepting him as a supernatural being, they promptly elected him the new king of the jungle. The clever jackal, long accustomed to scrounging remnants from other beasts, quickly adjusted to the royal life of fresh meat served by loyal subjects.

One night, when the full moon appeared, the jubilant jackal let forth a long, deeply satisfied howl. Hearing it, the other animals realized their new king's true identity and drove him from the throne.

Moral: However one may doll himself up on the outside, his inner colors will eventually show.

Recently, controversy surrounded another election, the one for President of the United States. During the long campaign, the candidates touted their superior character and qualifications. But when a remarkably close finish delayed a decisive outcome, both candidates quickly descended to self-righteous posturing and legal wrangling. Each dispatched packs of diamond-studded legal gladiators to argue passionately and eloquently over a boxful of disputed, ill-punched ballots.

The battle created a sense of what to expect from any new administration: partisanship, petty arrogance, feverish attachment, and scarcely a mention of the God in whom, their motto says, Americans trust.

What would a Krsna conscious leader do?

A Krsna conscious leader, as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, would remember the supremacy of God's will and seek to understand it. He would be detached, knowing he is in truth an eternal soul and not identified with a particular country, race, position, or political party.

Such an enlightened leader might attack the vile, destructive slaughterhouse industry with the same zeal that the American legal system recently cracked down on big tobacco companies. He would present fresh, spiritual approaches to social ills such as crime, divorce, abortion, and inaccessible health care.

Krsna conscious leaders are known as rajarsis, rare souls who embody the abilities of a noble, powerful leader (raja), and yet are saintly persons (rsis). The ancient rajarsis valued character and spirituality above all. In every circumstance they took guidance from priests and scriptures. Rather than clinging to office till death, in their maturity they responsibly renounced their kingdoms and devoted themselves fully to developing love of God.

Without such a sincere and overarching personal commitment to God consciousness, how can a leader exhibit good qualities? One who thinks "I am this body" will always be driven by a self-centered craving for material profit, adoration, and distinction. One such animal will compete with another for the top spot, with public interest an afterthought and God all but off the radar screen.

Tired of the bickering, Americans now hope to hear sweet music. But the howling has already begun. Kalakantha Dasa, Associate Editor