Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

President Obama Receives Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita
By Madhava Smullen   |  Feb 21, 2009

The 44th president of the United States Barack Obama has been presented with a copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by an old friend – the brother of Srila Prabhupada disciple Krishnalaulya Dasi.

Growing up in Hawaii in the early 1970s, Krishnalaulya
attended Punahou School at the same time as Obama. Although she was
three grades above him, her younger brother attended the same class as the young
Barack Obama and the two were good friends.

When she learned that her brother had been invited to Obama’s
inauguration on January 20, Krishnalaulya gave him a gift to pass on to the new
president. The one-of-a-kind copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is was encased in a
specially hand-crafted, Japanese-style cover made with  silk and exquisite beadwork by Krishnalaulya’s
daughter, Mandakini.

A formal gift-exchange luncheon, during which dignitaries
and others presented gifts to Barack and his wife Michelle, followed the inauguration.
But Krishnalaulya’s brother held back his gift, preferring instead to present
it at a light, informal meeting held the next day at the Oval Office.

“My sister wanted me to give this to you,” he said, handing Obama the Gita.

A personal note from Krishnalaulya, tucked into the book,
read: “In modern times, Bhagavad-Gita provided guidance, wisdom and solace for
Mahatma Gandhi, who regularly turned to it. Even the great American
transcendentalists  Thoreau and Emerson
found great wisdom in the Gita and often quoted from it. My hope is that you
will also find the same support in this classical Vedic text. Please let it
speak for itself.”

President Obama is known for his open-mindedness and for
embracing and appreciating many faiths. “For we know that our patchwork
heritage is a strength, not a weakness,” he said at his Inaugural Address on
January 20. “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus.”

And this is not the first time the president has come across
a Bhagavad-gita. In his book The Audacity
of Hope
, Barack Obama writes: “In [my mother’s] mind, a working knowledge
of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded
education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on
the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology.”