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Knife Crime in London: Krishna's Solution

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Matchless Gift Magazine

Knife Crime in London

by Maitreya Rsi Dasa


crime scene yellow tape

Jamel Boyce; a 17 year old boy who, in October of 2016, was stabbed in Clapham (a town within London) in the leg and chest in a brutal, unprovoked attack. To this day, he remains alive, but in a vegetative state. He had nothing to do with the attacker, nor was he robbed. It was simply senseless violence. The rise of so-called “zombie knives,”–serrated swords that stretch as far as an arm–has elevated the situation to new heights of ferocity as boys, some of whom are not older than children, run around with machetes in their tracksuits. Kali-yuga is the age of quarrel, hypocrisy, and degradation. Srila Prabhupada says: knife crime london


With the advancement of Kali-yuga, the duration of life, bodily strength, memory, mercifulness, religious sense -- in this way everything will be reduced.

(Lecture Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31 -- Mauritius, October 4, 1975)


With time, the issue will only get worse. Social workers, the goverment, and police enforcement agenices are taxing their brains for solutions to the knifee crisis gripping the UK’s streets. As of yet, they have not found anything substantially helpful. In fact, one article in the Gaurdian predicts: “...while knife crime, like most crimes, can never be eradicated, it need not be understood as an intractable, cultural feature of urban life.”


But the Srimad-Bhagavatam does not agree with the idea that it will not be a part of our life. In the 12th Canto of the great work, we find a description of the coming days: “...the occupations of men will be stealing, lying, and needless violence” (SB 12.2.12-16)


The Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of such predictions that are becoming true day after day; such is the spotless nature of this scripture.


Srila Prabhupada reading his Srimad-Bhagavatam

There is an upside, though, and that will be discussed throughout this article: The Srimad-Bhagavatam also predicts the appearance of Krishna in a merciful incarnation who gives an easy process for delivering the whole world from it’s presently wretched condition.


The number of knife crimes per year is only increasing. In fact, one of the most recent years had more knife crimes together than the entire decade preceding it.

In the year ending March 2023, there were around 50,500 offenses involving a sharp instrument in England and Wales (excluding Devon & Cornwall). There are 45 knife offenses in the city of London every day. You might think not that’s a lot for a city of 9 million people, but a stabbing every 16 minutes in any given place is not something you jump for joy over, exactly. Yet it’s become the norm for the people of Kali-yuga. It’s not the just the frequency of the stabbings which are shocking, but the sheer brutality and animalism of them. Josh Osbourne is a former gang member, and during an street interview even he was shocked to hear that now, kids as young as 14 run around with machetes and aim for the throat and heart. “It wasn’t like that back in my day, 15-20 years ago,” says Josh. “we used to aim for non-vital areas of the body just to scare them.”


Ken Hines is the founder of an independent stop and search party in Harringay, London. During a show on TalkTV he said: “I think three, four years ago, a law came out... to stop zombie knives and the purchasing or even having them in your home. And the manufacturers got around it because they removed the offensive writing that used to be on the knives.” (TalkTV)



Shockingly, the above information is not at all an exaggeration. The governments’ attempt at legislation to stop the purchase of easily available zombie knives was a measly removal of some offensive writing. As if someone is going to care about the writing on the knife while it’s being lunged into their chest. If you think that “easily available” is an exaggeration, you should know that one can, at the present moment, search Amazon for machetes and zombie knifes, pay as little as 20 pounds, and get one delivered to their doorstep, with no checks for age or criminal history, and not even a signature for the Amazon delivery guy.


“...some retailers continued to sell these kinds of weapons but evaded breaking the law by removing the threatening wording on the blade or handle that incites violence. Today’s announcement closes this loophole, banning these ‘zombie style’ knives and machetes that do not have this threatening writing, but are just as dangerous.” (Gov.uk)


This legislation was announced in August of 2023. As of yet, it has not been passed. This means that you can still purchase and own “zombie” style knives from Amazon in as little as a few clicks. This raises the question whether or not the Government cares or at least understands the severity of the situation. Perhaps they know that this will not solve the problem.


Although the UK Government's website does have a list of types of knives and weapons that are completely banned in the UK, and although the list is somewhat extensive, it doesn’t rule out kitchen knives, butter knives, or even machetes. In fact, when you look at some of the pictures of police confiscated knives, you’ll see that the majority of them are simple kitchen knives, presumably because that’s whats already lying around, and doesn’t draw a lot of attention. Of course, there’s the factor at play here that the knives are increasing in size just for show and to boost the criminal ego of some the delinquent youth, but on the whole, kitchen knives are widely used for their somewhat discreet nature, the fact that they are widely available, and that there are no laws restricting the purchase of them. So, there may be a ban on zombie knives and samurai swords, but, to be frank, I don’t really fancy having a 10” kitchen knife plunged into my throat, either. People should be using those knives to cut vegetables for Krishna and offer Him nice food instead of cutting their neighbors’ throat. That’s why we at BLISS made “How to Offer Your Food to Krishna,” a small pamphlet which teaches the process of offering to Krishna with love and devotion whatever we eat, a process which purifies the body and mind. There should be a ban on the sale of knives, even kitchen ones, unless one is a devotee of Krishna, in which case he can use the knife for the purpose it was originally created for; making Krishna prasadam (the Sanskrit word for food offered to Krishna).


Krishnna prasadam at bliss london temple
Take prasadam, not drugs (or knives)

Regarding increased legislation as a step forward for curbing knife crime, Ken Hines says further:


“It doesn’t matter what legislation you put in place, because the people who are going to get hold of them aren't the people who are law-abiding anyway or pay attention to what the law is or its consequences.”


In the ‘Upadeshamrta’ of Srila Rupa Goswami we find the following injunction: “...a rascal, a foolish man, may have the experience of both hearing and seeing and may even be punished, but still he continues to steal. Even if such a person atones and is punished by the government, he will again commit theft as soon as he comes out of jail.” (NoI 1)


 ‘Upadeshamrta’ by Srila Rupa Goswami

The Government should be intelligent enough to ask, why is the phenomena occurring? How come, even though people know it’s wrong to kill, and may even be punished for it, they continue? Clearly something more is at work here.

The head of the National Police Coordination centre, Mark Williams, chimes in:

“I think we're seeing a better understanding of the the background of violent crime. We know that at its heart, violence comes from inequality; it comes from deprivation; it comes from poor housing and education; it comes from adverse childhood experiences; it comes from young men who've suffered often physical, emotional, sexual, or violent abuse of some sort in their younger years, and it comes from a whole host of different causes, and we know that the police alone cannot solve that issue. It has to be solved by society as a whole, by politicians, by local authorities, and by the community themselves.”


It’s apparent that it’s not just about putting away the knives. After all, if someone wants to do harm, he can do it with his natural, Krishna-given weapons: his fists. So the blades are not the problem. It’s the people behind them. And, more specifically, it’s heart of the person that is dirty. It’s the unclean mind that is the breeding ground of all the evil ideas and intents that a criminal contemplates. The idle mind is a devils workshop, goes an old English saying. So, in answer to this, some suggest youth clubs or other engagements to keep young men out of gangs and gang-related activity:


“Nowadays, there aren’t many youth clubs for people to go to. If there were more, a lot of young people wouldn’t be on the streets and getting up to things they shouldn’t be.” (Tristan Green, 19, from South London*)


If you watch or read any report on knife crime in the UK, you’ll have a board full of experts all speaking up on how horrible it all is and how somethings got to change. They’ve found ways to minimize it and divert the criminals for some time (and who knows, perhaps they’ll graduate to white collar crime instead), but no one has found a way to purify the criminal mentality altogether, to offer something so sublime that, on mass a scale, crime is abandoned as something unnecessary and distasteful even to hardened lawbreakers.


What, then, is the solution to this madness? More legislation? Stricter police enforcement? Youth workshops? Or, perhaps, this is all missing the point. It would appear we need to purify our very hearts, otherwise, our efforts for peace will be just like an elephant’s bath: an elephant takes his bath in the river, but then as soon as he reaches the bank, he throws mud all over his body again. Similarly, suppressing crime with limited material measures without addressing the lack of spiritual knowledge and higher spiritual taste will only lead, eventually, to more crime.


The criminal mentality is due to a polluted heart. Originally, the soul is pure and uncontaminated by material desires. In pure consciousness, we are all blissful and full of knowledge of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When society is in such Krishna consciousness, the original consciousness of everyone, there is no crime, because everyone is self-satisfied and not in want of anything material. The Krishna consciousness movement is a movement to revive this original consciousness and thus solve the problem of crime as a natural consequence. Srila Prabhupada explains this process thus:


Lieutenant Mozee: I understand you have some ideas that could help us in our efforts to prevent crime. I’d be very interested to hear them.


Śrīla Prabhupāda: The difference between a pious man and a criminal is that one is pure in heart and the other is dirty. This dirt is like a disease in the form of uncontrollable lust and greed in the heart of the criminal. Today people in general are in this diseased condition, and thus crime is very widespread. When the people become purified of these dirty things, crime will disappear. The simplest process of purification is to assemble in congregation and chant the holy names of God. This is called sankirtana and is the basis of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. So, if you want to stop crime, then you must gather as many people as possible for mass sankirtana. This congregational chanting of the holy name of God will dissipate all the dirty things in everyone’s heart. Then there will be no more crime."



You may or may not have heard about “drill music,” a genre popular among UK youths, especially those involved with gangs. That’s right; there a whole genre of music dedicated to living a life of crime. It’s far less about melodies and instrumentation and more about the extremely provocative and violent lyrics which promote drug use, drug dealing, unlimited sexual relations, and, you guessed it, knife and gun crime. Oh, we forgot to mention, they have guns too. And while the artists of the genre themselves will not attest to violence being a result of their music (which is really not very surprising at all, since their career depends on not being partially accountable for the murders and attacks of hundreds and hundreds of people), they cannot avoid the fact that their music is glorifying, promoting, and encouraging terrible things that people deal with on a daily basis. There’s one song where a rapper proudly says “If you saw what I did one day in Brookmill park, you’d stay at home. I banged my blade, I grabbed his neck, I slashed him down, I felt his bones.” It would take some serious arguments to convince me that these lyrics didn’t have some sort of effect on the consciousness of the listener, as some advocates of the genre propitiate.


So this drill is the modern sankirtana movement for the juveniles of today. The sankirtana movement of chanting the holy name of Krishna: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare was started 500 years ago by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the golden incarnation of Lord Shri Krishna for the present iron age of Kali. His movement is a joyful one; reviving our original Krishna consciousness in the easiest way, by the congregational chanting of this great Mantra, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. By the chanting process, one associates with the supreme pure, Krishna (God) Himself. The adolescents of London are presently enjoying a perverted form of sankirtana called “drill music” which, instead of reviving their original Krishna consciousness, is awakening a consciousness of hate, murder, theft, and drug abuse. The sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya will not be foreign to them, because it uses the same elements; singing, eating, and dancing. Simply singing and dancing to Hare Krishna instead of drill, a person can transform himself from an animal to a god-conscious saint capable of delivering himself and others from the cycle of birth and death. The government is spending many thousands, if not millions of taxpayer money to combat the issues of knife crime through various programs, stop and search groups, and increased police presence. But if they simply supported this inexpensive and simple movement of chanting Hare Krishna, they would solve all the problems of crime, as well as uncountable other obstacles mankind confront.


Krishna kirtan

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Without religious principles, what is the difference between a dog and a man? Man can understand religion, but a dog cannot. That is the difference. So if human society remains on the level of dogs and cats, how can you expect a peaceful society? If you bring a dozen dogs and put them together in a room, will it be possible to keep them peaceful? Similarly, if human society is filled with men whose mentality is on the level of dogs, how can you expect peace?


Social workers sometimes argue that the situation of these troubled young men is largely due to their karmic situation; they are born into an environment and atmosphere of violence and therefore have no option but to fight back and arm themselves with knives. As a matter of fact, one hoodlum resident of Liverpool, a young boy in an interview with a BBC news journalist, admitted:


“Karma happens both ways. I know my karma is probably gonna catch up to me one day, but when it happens it happens. I'm not gonna run from it. I’m gonna fight back.”


Unfortunately, this young man does not see the foolishness of the idea that you can fight with the authority of God. Krishna Himself designed the system of Karma, so how can someone expect to fight against it? It’s impossible. The fact is, there are youth clubs, and there are many other alternative activities for young people to get involved with. One could just read a book. And yet, they are not effective at solving the problem. Crime is becoming more widespread, and more severe.

 

There’s no other way to overcome this karmic destiny in which they are entangled except the process of Krishna consciousness, by which one can transcend the limits of his karma by liberating himself from his material body and mind. One can argue that it is due to the environment and upbringing which leads young men to a life of crime, but beyond the scope of one’s environment and karma, however, is the notion that people commit crime because they suffer from a lack of knowledge of their eternal self and their real goal of life, Krishna consciousness. In fact, any person, regardless of their position in society will suffer the entanglements of his respective karma and be forced to act according to the nature he is destined to have if he fails to realize the true nature of the self.


Ken Hines concurs:

“A lot of these kids, they don't value their lives. There's an identity crisis. They don't know who they are...”


By the simple method of sankirtana, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and taking sumptuous prasadam, he can easily and happily understand the self. Therefore, the government should enlist the help of the Krishna devotees to distribute the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra widely so that young people can be attracted with musical entertainment and palatable foods, which will bring them very quickly to the purified state of self-realization, free from all the polluted violent ideas stocked up in the heart. This is a practical program that the BLISS South London temple is already trying to propagate throughout London. Every Saturday, the devotees of BLISS storm the streets of London and it’s suburbs with a mridanga (drum) and karatalas (hand cymbals) and chant the Hare Krishna mantra, which is received very well by the public. Even the road-men (gangsters who often are implicated in knife crime) themselves participate by clapping, dancing, and chanting. And during the week, the devotees spend the majority of their day distributing the sacred literature Bhagavad-gita to enlighten the people of the UK about Krishna. This movement is simply for the purification and upliftment of society, yet we are not met with the support we require to make it widely available. So, until that time when the Government realizes the inefficacy of their programs and the superior method of Krishna consciousness, the people of the UK with have to live in fear of machete wielding villains paroling the streets, increasing day by day. But there is a practical, perfect, and pure solution; Shri Krishna sankirtana, and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, as they are presented by His Divine Grace A.C Bhkativedanta Swami Prabhupada, and the BLISS devotees will continue to push these on despite all odds.


BLISS devotees

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