I owe Srila Prabhupada everything. It is because of him that I found my place, my spiritual path back home, back to Godhead. It’s because of him that I have some amazingly wonderful friends who follow the same path. It’s because of him that I am living my life in the best way I know how and am happy. Without him, I’m not sure where I would have ended up.
Though I had never personally met Srila Prabhupada, I’ve always seen him as a spiritual grandfather, a teacher. The role he took with his disciples was one very similar to a parent.
Similarly, my parents were also great and raised me with many of the morals that I will keep through all my days. I feel amazingly fortunate to be born into such a caring and loving family. I may not agree with my parents on some issues, but they will always be my parents. I will always love them unconditionally and will be forever unable to repay them for all they have done for me.
When I was a kid, I thought my parents, especially my father, could do anything. My dad could fix anything. If the car was broken, he’d fix it, if a toy was broken, he’d fix it. Of course, there are things he can’t fix – I know that now. But, of course, that could never change how I feel about him, how I respect him and how I love him.
For the longest time, there were passages written or spoken by Srila Prabhupada that I simply didn’t agree with. I skimmed over them and skirted the issue time and time again. But as I continued down my path, it became harder for me to ignore this.
At first, I was angry at Srila Prabhupada. How could he say such things? Sure, he was from a different culture and a different time, but even so, there’s no way I could agree.
The same was true when I first started disagreeing with things my father said. I was angry at him. How dare he believe things I don’t?! Of course, that’s a pretty childish and selfish way to see it, but I was young.
Likewise, my first knee-jerk reaction to some of Srila Prabhupada’s statements was selfish and immature. How dare Srila Prabhupada disagree with me?!
But then I calmed down and thought about it. Turns out, I don’t seem to have an answer that makes much sense to anyone but me.
With my father, I accepted the differences and still loved him – probably loved him more. My father and I are different in many ways, but the morals, the values that he taught me have always stuck with me. That’s what’s important.
And with Srila Prabhupada, I have to accept these differences and still love him. There are things he said and did that I cannot ever agree with. But there are things he’s taught me that make me a much better person.
I disagree with him about women. I don’t believe that a single woman living on her own is the same as a prostitute. I don’t believe that women should only be taught how to clean, sew and cook rather than being given an education of her own choosing. I do not and cannot ever believe that women are less intelligent than men. I have seen the opposite many, many times and so has anyone reading this.
I don’t agree that the brain of a woman is half the size of a man’s. That is simply not true and we all know it.
There are many such things that he said that the vast majority of his followers know to be untrue, out of date, impractical or simply incorrect. We know this. It is a fact.
But what is important is what do we do with this fact? That was my question and, in many ways, still is. What do I do? I disagree with Srila Prabhupada… now what? Am I committing the greatest offense in the history of offenses? Am I just some liberal neophyte trying to modernize Krishna consciousness? Am I being unfair?
I guess here is where it gets personal.
As I said before, my father and I disagree on some issues, some big issues. But this does not effect our love for each other. If I go to my father, even though we disagree, he is there for me unconditionally. Though we disagree on some pretty big issues in both of our lives, that bond is there and will always be unbroken.
How can Srila Prabhupada be any different? If I disagree with him on some issues, is that love, that bond now null and void? Is what he taught me, through his books and lectures now automatically invalidated? Or do I take the spiritual essence of what he has taught and add it to my life, just like I’ve been trying to do all these years?
There are some who have rejected Srila Prabhupada completely for what he has said. And there are others who pretend that he didn’t say such things. Both of those paths would be dishonest in my life. Others might be able to do that, but I can’t.
I’ll have to choose the middle path and be open about it, neither rejecting the truth nor hiding that I don’t believe in certain things.
Many times he said to “simply add Krishna.” I think that’s my favorite teaching of his. Simply add the chanting of Hare Krishna and your life will be sublime. I may not agree with him on some things, but he was dead on with that one. For now, I’ll continue working on that.
I believe that this is all I’ll be posting on this subject. I was going to go through quotes, but if you wanted to, you could find them pretty easily. For now, this is my conclusion. In the future it may or may not change, but for now, this will have to suffice.