Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Srila Prabhupada is More Compassionate than God

How can i say that Srila Prabhupada, who was a man, a jiva, is more merciful than God Himself? Am i not guilty of the worst kind of fanaticism? Of deifying a mortal man? God, of course, is universally praised as "all-merciful" (rahmani rahim in the Koran), the "ocean of mercy" (he krishna karuna sindhu in Sanskrit) and He who forgives all sinners (in the Bible). So how can i make a claim that Prabhupada was more than God in his mood of compassion?

First, I want to point out there are many controversies surrounding Srila Prabhupada. Even back in the 70's, when he was preaching, it was difficult to accept the concept that guru and God are to worshipped with equal status. It goes against our western, skeptical and impersonalist world views, to accept a human being as flawless. The typical mind, being influenced by a false sense of independence, projects ill on any claim of absoluteness. So it was difficult to accept that the acarya, even one who seemed to transparently represent the message of God, was as good as God.

Today, in the absence (at least in my perception) of a similarly empowered living representative of the divine, it's even more difficult to comprehend such a proposition. The field has become cluttered with all sorts of speculators, some purer than others. Some claim that Prabhupada was omniscient, another quality of God. But Srila Prabhupada himself rejected that concept, which is illogical also. A jiva never has the same powers of God, unless, for a particular reason, God wishes to give that power to his devotee. A pure devotee is always dependent on the Lord. He does have mystic powers. But full omniscience is something only possessed by God himself.

Other speculators with less purity claim that Srila Prabhupada was an ordinary man with flaws, but with extraordinary bhakti. Recently a feminist blog moderated and led by an educated. articulate, but in my opinion, a highly prejudiced vaisnavi, has appeared on the net. It can be found at: http://harekrishnawomen.wordpress.com

The blog's mission statement: "A place for the empowerment of our daughters, sisters, friends, mothers and wives. Also for our black bodied brothers and sisters as well as others facing discrimination in order to raise self esteem and give impetus to self empowerment. To destroy the lies of disempowerment, subjugation, lack of intelligence, and irrelevance to society that female gaudiya vaishnava bhaktas and others have been taught–is the purpose of this blog."

But when i read its posts and many of its comments, what i find is a kind of rage, resentment and envy that is typical of most body-centric philosophies and social reform movements. "Take a part of the message you like and then kill the messenger." In its protest against bias, it is so preoccupied with bias, that it becomes itself a platform for reverse bias. It selectively picks and chooses what it likes and dislikes from the mouth of Srila Prabhupada, using its own speculative voice as absolute. It promotes a feminist voice at the expense and condemnation of the voice of the guru from whom it received its inspiration and wisdom of spirit. Sounds like the "punar musika bhava" story.

Such a miserly approach is not at all attractive to those who have even a small appreciation of the sacrifice and magnanimity of Srila Prabhupada who preached the truth at his own risk in a dangerous world.

Now, getting back to my original claim, that Srila Prabhupada exhibited more mercy than God himself. Of course, real compassion is a divine quality, and is found in inexhaustible quantity only in God. But Srila Prabhupada, in his desire to serve God and lift the fallen souls of this world, in some ways surpassed God in exhibiting this quality. Here is part of a room conversation in Mayapur, on February 14, 1977.

Prabhupada: Yes. Not... He did not say possible. Iha bahya. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was interested only on the spiritual platform. He had no idea of material side. He rejected material side.
Satsvarupa: But don’t we do that also?
Prabhupada: No. Our position is different. We are trying to implement Krishna consciousness in everything. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally took sannyasa. He rejected completely material. Nishkincana. But we are not going to be nishkincana. We are trying to cement the troubled position of the... That is also in the prescription of Bhagavad-gita. We are not rejecting the whole society. Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected everything, iha bahya. Rejected meaning, I do not take much interest in this. Bahya. It is external. He was simply interested in the internal, the spiritual. But our duty is that we shall arrange the external affairs also so nicely that one day they will come to the spiritual platform very easily, paving the way. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu, personality like that, they have nothing to do with this material world. But we are preaching. We are preaching. Therefore we must pave the situation in such a way that gradually they will be promoted to the spiritual plane, which is not required.
Satsvarupa: Varnasrama is not required.
Prabhupada: Not required. Caitanya Mahaprabhu denied, I am not brahmana, I am not kshatriya, I am not this, I am not this. He rejected. But in the Bhagavad-gita, the catur-varnyam maya srishtam [Bg. 4.13]. So we are preaching Krishna consciousness. It must be done.
Hari-sauri: But in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s practical preaching He only induced them to chant.
Prabhupada: That is not possible for ordinary man.
Hari-sauri: What, to simply induce people to chant?
Prabhupada: Hm?
Hari-sauri: He only introduced just the chanting.
Prabhupada: But who will chant? Who’ll chant?
Satsvarupa: But if they won’t chant, then neither will they train up in the varnasrama. That’s the easiest.
Prabhupada: The chanting will be there, but you cannot expect that people will chant like Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They cannot even chant sixteen rounds. (And) these rascals are going to be Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Satsvarupa: No. But if they at least will chant and take some prasada...
Prabhupada: Chanting will go on. That is not stopped. But at the same time the varnasrama-dharma must be established to make the way easy. Hari-sauri: Well, at least my own understanding was that the chanting was introduced in the age of Kali because varnasrama is not possible.
Prabhupada: Because it will cleanse the mind. Chanting will not stop.
Hari-sauri: So therefore the chanting was introduced to replace all of the systems of varnasrama and like that.
Prabhupada: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? The... People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridasa Thakura to chant, it is not possible......
Vaishnava is not so easy. The varnasrama-dharma should be established to become a Vaishnava. It is not so easy to become Vaishnava.
Hari-sauri: No, it’s not a cheap thing.
Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore this should be made. Vaishnava, to become Vaishnava, is not so easy. If Vaishnava, to become Vaishnava is so easy, why so many fall down, fall down? It is not easy.

Srila Prabhupada was a pragmatist. By 1977, he had preached non-stop for 11 years in western countries. And he could see, that despite his preaching, despite everything he had given to his disciples, still they were falling down, they could not reach the proper standard. So he wanted to go beyond the scope of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He wanted to re-establish varna-asram, a society based on progressive values, to give people (including his own disciples) a chance to gradually come to the spiritual platform. This was even more merciful than what Krishna, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, was prepared to do.

Mahaprabhu avoided worldly people. Even the King of Orissa at the time, Prataprarudra, who was his own devotee, had to overcome great resistance from Mahaprabhu to meet Him. But Prabhupada was eager to meet with leaders and celebrities-- he even wrote letters to Presidents and Popes-- not for any personal glory, but with a desire to beg them to help him turn a hard-core materialistic environment into a more spiritually favorable one. Of course, his disciples could not easily understand how to assist him in this. They were enthusiastic but unable to actually help him establish a more favorable social situation. In many cases, they turned a neutral situation into an unfavorable one thru their malefic or ignorant actions. And immediately after Srila Prabhupada departed, in November, 1977, the leaders of his movement turned everything upside down and sabotaged his movement. The results can now be seen as the present farce that masquerades as an international spiritual society.

To set the record straight: Srila Prabhupada was not in any way a bigot, a fanatic or a megalomaniac as some prejudiced observers now claim. He was absolutely liberal and revolutionary in his insistence that none of us are these bodies. That we are, in reality, spirit. And as spirit we have a birthright of liberation from this material world. He was an incarnation of mercy who was empowered to distribute that mercy and to liberate anyone who could follow him. But as he himself said, it's not easy to become a vaisnava. It is not easy to give up envy and the speculative mind and to surrender to mercy. But our disqualification-- our cataract vision and our spiritual deafness on this plane of existence-- in no way diminishes the beauty and glory that was and is Srila Prabhupada.