On Saturday January 14th, Sura Das of ISKCON Los Angeles was invited to speak at Culver City’s 12th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Culver City Hall.
Sura serves as the secretary and treasurer of the Interfaith Council of West Los Angeles, and represents ISKCON Los Angeles on the Council.
This theme of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration was “Peaceful Warriors for Positive Change.”
Sura Das spoke to an audience of a few hundred people, including the Mayor and City Council of Culver City, which is the township right across Venice Blvd from the ISKCON temple.
He described Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s non-violent civil disobedience against the Chand Kazi, who was the city magistrate of Navadvipa, West Bengal in the 16th century, and tried to stop Mahaprabhu’s followers from holding kirtan.
This model of civil disobedience, Sura said, was the same model followed by Mahatma Gandhi for his Satyagraha movement for Indian independence.
Howard Thurman, one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s mentors, met Gandhi in 1935 in India, and studied his Satyagraha movement.
Meanwhile King himself traveled to India with his wife Coretta in 1959. Speaking to a group of reporters at the airport, he said, “To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim.”
He met with the followers of the Satyagraha and imbibed many of Gandhi’s teachings in his non-violent civil rights movement.
Now, many years later, Sura said, the youth of America have again taken to the streets, marching for non-violence and disobedience as part of the Black Lives Matter and He’s Not My President movements.
And of course, the devotees of ISKCON Los Angeles are there too, to dance and chant with the thousands of non-violent marchers.
Jan 22, 2023
Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies