Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America, has been compared to a number of great men before him. The charismatic young politician has been likened to president John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, as well as to civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. But here's one that the mainstream media is not likely to catch: it seems Barack Obama has something in common with Lord Krishna's dear friend and devotee Arjuna.
This Time Magazine White House Photo of the Day reveals that "amongst the things that Barack Obama carries for good luck are a bracelet belonging to a soldier deployed in Iraq, a gambler’s lucky chit, a tiny monkey god and a tiny Madonna and child." Monkey god? Is the small brass statue that Obama considers a luck charm, in fact a deity of Hanuman -- a powerful demigod and dedicated devotee of the Supreme Lord?
Maybe. To be fair, the Time caption did not elaborate, it is hard to make out much detail in the photo, and there is a divine being in some Chinese Buddhist sects also known as a "monkey god."
In any event, one can't help but think of the famous description of Arjuna given in Bhagavad-gita: "At that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in the chariot bearing the flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow..." (1.20)
Vaishnava commentators have expressed the significance of the Hanuman emblem on Arjuna's chariot.
"The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory," Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to this verse, "because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama in the battle between Rama and Ravana, and Lord Rama emerged victorious."
In carrying his little Hanuman deity with him wherever he goes, could Obama be following in Arjuna's mighty footsteps?
Of course, as interesting as the connection may be to Hindus, the devoutly Christian Obama would probably not view the little statue as anything more than a lucky trinket. Still, in an increasingly pluralistic America, it might not hurt Obama to keep his mind -- and pocket -- open to the possibilities.