There was a rumour going around that we ladies were in Mayapura
to present some feminist agenda. The idea was that, under the influence
of the modern women's rights movement or the theology which denies
the hierarchical nature of existence, we would plead with the GBC
to change the philosophy or adjust Srila Prabhupada's teachings
in order to fit in with the times. You can feel reassured that the
ladies here before you are among the most philosophically conservative
in our movement. Confronted with serious questions about the philosophy
Srila Prabhupada has given us, any one of them could give a very
satisfactory and strictly bona-fide explanation. The difficulty
is not in defending or explaining the philosophy, but rather in
trying to defend or explain our behaviour and, even more so, trying
to defend our policies, unofficial and official.
Some of these ladies were among Srila Prabhupada's very first disciples.
They experienced Srila Prabhupada's personal interaction with women
first-hand, so you can be sure they were paying attention and asking
him pertinent questions. There is speculation that Srila Prabhupada
dealt with the ladies very liberally in the early days because he
was very kind and could see that they weren't up to a very high
standard; that the early examples of what Srila Prabhupada did or
said are irrelevant to his actual desire. The speculation is that
because of his kindness and mercy and out of necessity, Prabhupada
allowed ladies to do things he really didn't want them to do.
As we know, Srila Prabhupada went to America to preach Krsna Consciousness
on the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Srila Prabhupada
had the idea that he would present the Srimad-Bhagavatam to
the intellectual and political leaders of America and then eventually
the common people would follow. Srila Prabhupada was surprised to
find that the people who came forward and took an interest were
mostly from the counter-culture. He was perhaps even more surprised
to see that it wasn't just boys that were coming forward but girls
too. Rupanuga's wife, Kalindi, told me that Srila Prabhupada was
amazed to see that we drove cars. We should appreciate how naturally
Srila Prabhupada saw everything and everyone as coming from Krsna
and how as a pure devotee, he was able to engage everything and
everyone in Krsna's service.
Srila Prabhupada was not ungrateful to Krsna for what he provided;
nor was he an atheist who saw who and what came as a matter of chance.
Because of Srila Prabhupada's purity and full surrender to executing
his spiritual master's order, he received instructions and guidance
directly from Krsna. Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave us the vision, Srila
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati gave the order and Srila Prabhupada executed
that order. The early instructions and examples establishing principles
and strategies for spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world
are extremely important because they were coming directly from Lord
Caitanya to his pure devotee. As time went on, more and more was
left to his disciples.
It is my contention that we should not portray Srila Prabhupada's
early personal mood, his preaching strategy, example and instructions
as some sort of compromise to necessity, while arrogantly thinking
that after a few years we became so advanced that we were able to
understand and improve upon the foundational instructions. When
Srila Prabhupada first came to Mayapura and asked Malati to give
class in front of his own Gaudiya Matha Godbrothers ('... and in
front of our Godbrothers with their big sticks, too,' as Malati
puts it.) Srila Prabhupada knew exactly what he was doing. Should
we think he was just being provocative for no purpose? It is a testament
to Srila Prabhupada's intense faith in the chanting of the holy
name that he left the awesome responsibility of spreading Krsna
consciousness in our incompetent hands. His faith was that the holy
name would purify us so that we would eventually follow his instructions
and example and that we too would receive instructions from Krsna.
It would be such a blessing to be united by the Supersoul, rather
than by e-mail.
Prajapati: In the early days of this movement, Srila Prabhupada,
in New York, devotees said they did not know how to treat Your
Divine Grace. They did not know your exalted position. I think
we are still very much offensive.
Prabhupada: No, I am servant. I have no exalted position. Servant.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu sat down in a place where people were washing
their feet. Yes ... a representative of Krsna. I came to preach
Krsna consciousness, and Krsna has sent so many representatives
to help me. I consider like that. Without your help I could not
do. So I wanted Krsna's help, so Krsna has sent you. Therefore
you are representative of Krsna. That is my conception.1
1 Morning Walk, 15
December 1973, Los Angeles.