Modern Liberalism

BY: DHAMESVAR MAHAPRABHU DAS

Thoughts on Modern Liberalism in the Hare Krishna Movement

I notice the way that politically-left preachers avoid association with the "conservative" elements inherently part of their tradition, for example, certain statements of Shrila Prabhupada and the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Let's take, for example LGBT+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc.). Shrila Prabhupada took a stance on this issue, unequivocally speaking of homosexuality as something degraded. Liberals though will avoid taking a stance on this issue by equating homosexuality with heterosexuality because both are 'of the flesh', which we aim to transcend.

Ask them, "So if a man and woman are trying to procreate is it on the same level as a man and a man together?" And even when pressed on the point, they will avoid taking a stance on the relative issue. They do not want to create an ideological barrier for people who identify or sympathize with the LGBT+ community, and I assume that some of these devotees actually disagree with Shrila Prabhupada, or even think that he was dead-wrong. But few are bold enough to admit it outside of outspoken apostates and some so-called scholars of Gaudiya-Vaishnavism. I think they consider ISKCON a new religious movement in need of acceptance rather than the eternal dharma of all jivas.

Are these issues important? Yes, because it is not so much about the issues themselves, but the succession of values from one generation to another.

Shrila Prabhupada himself was well aware that people were offended by things he said, and yet chose to stick to his guns. I have heard whole conversations after-the-fact where disciples discussed with Shrila Prabhupada negative responses and feedback they received from people who were offended by His Divine Grace, and not because of "essential" theological points! For example, in a morning walk on December 10th 1975, an Indian man reported feeling "ashamed" while Shrila Prabhupada was debunking the idea of gender equality. The following conversation followed:

Prabhupada: But in speaking spiritual understanding we cannot make any compromise. What to speak of in Mauritius, in Chicago I told. There was great agitation in papers.

Harikesa: In the TV, on television.

Indian man: Same thing?

Devotee (2): In France also.

Prabhupada: They were very upset. And when I was coming, I think, in Chicago, in the airplane, one of the host girl, she was seeing... (laughter) I asked her to supply one 7-up. And, "I have no key." She was so angry. But all the captains and others, they gathered around me. (laughter)

Harikesa: I think that was the same stewardess who came in the back and asked us, "Why the Swamiji doesn't like women?"

Prabhupada: No, no, I don't say that I don't like women, but I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show that you equal rights -- your husband becomes sometimes pregnant and then you become pregnant, alternately.

Aksayananda: That doesn't mean you don't like them.

Prabhupada: No, it is truth. I am speaking the truth, that "If you have equal right, then let your husband become pregnant. Make some arrangement."

Harikesa: Visakha was preaching to her. She said that "Actually we are less intelligent." (laughter) That started a big scandal...

Prabhupada: Yes. And that is Krsna consciousness. [break] They are in equal right, then... Nowadays, of course, they are thinking like that, that man should remain independent, and they'll have homosex, and the woman also independent and they will make some... This is most immoral things.

Shrila Prabhupada could have kept certain points to himself thereafter to avoid "turning people off" to Krishna consciousness, but he did not do that. Rather, he explained the "offensive" points to clear up doubts. And then continued to speak all the same as he did in Mauritius, Chicago, on TV, in France, and so on. Shrila Prabhupada insisted that it was a matter of objective truth and so he would not compromise. In fact, he equates his stances on these points with "spiritual understanding" or "Krishna consciousness", as well as his disciple, Vishakha mataji's statement that, 'actually, we are less intelligent'. Why? Because she had faith in her spiritual master like Shrila Prabhupada had faith in his. This is disciplic succession. It is not like Socrates to Plato to Aristotle where each has his own 'rascal opinions', to invoke Shrila Prabhupada's voice. Whether preachers avoid these kinds of points so as not to offend potential devotees or they actually disagree with Shrila Prabhupada, I question their faith in His Divine Grace. Here's why…

Logically, if one believes that one should not take a stance on any issue that could deter people from Krishna consciousness, and it is a fact that Shrila Prabhupada consciously did that, then that person must believe that Shrila Prabhupada was taking the wrong approach! Someone will object, "No, Shrila Prabhupada could say things like that because of his age" Or "We're not pure enough to preach like Shrila Prabhupada". But I say it's a polished version of the same compromised belief system. If taking a stance on social issues like gender equality requires age or spiritual purity, then it is not a matter of objective truth. Objective truth means that when daddy says, "Son, this is a Dictaphone", the son does not need to grow and have his own kids before he is qualified to understand what the devise is and what it does, or tell others. The fact that Shrila Prabhupada appeals to objective truth, logic, and tradition in defending his views shows that the ashamed liberals have not understood him. The disciple accepts what the spiritual master says as true and is qualified to repeat it because he has received the order to do so. Amara ajnaya guru haya.

Sometimes I think that perhaps the liberal preachers have a God-given place to facilitate the kanistha-adhikaris who will never have full faith in Shrila Prabhupada, but it's too bad. They can never be fully Krishna conscious as long as they have reservations about Shrila Prabhupada. Liberalism has been institutionalized in ISKCON to the point of censoring preachers who concur with our Founder-Acharya, like an Orwellian mind-control wart. It's a classic case of atmavan manyate jagad. The preacher believes in Feminism and assumes that it is an act of benevolence to shield his followers from any "fanatic" who stands with Shrila Prabhupada against his compromised belief system. Are the followers too delicate to think for themselves?

I mean, men are women are different, two things that are different cannot be equal, and therefore men and women are not equal. Women become pregnant and are biologically bound to the child. So they are more at risk in sexual encounters, in addition to being physically weaker, and more susceptible to deception. So they ought to be protected! Practically any point which Shrila Prabhupada makes can be explained and I think this is where leftist scarecrow arguments reveal their ignorance. They say, "Well, I could just repeat what Shrila Prabhupada says and tell people to get their daughters married by age 13, but they might be repelled thinking we're religious fanatics" (a real ISKCON guru quote). Well, doesn't that imply that Shrila Prabhupada taught us a certain amount of religious fanaticism that is better left behind? (And that you are the savior to explain that and save us?!)

Again, the principle here is for women to be married at a young age so that they are safe and set with a trustworthy husband, and the exact age is secondary. Unless explained to be true, rather than explained away, of course it could sound fanatical. And of course, unless balanced with the reality of a person's individual situation, it could be well-intentioned but harmful advice. But why throw it out completely, as if Shrila Prabhupada left us a written and spoken canon of words which require radical revision and omission? Faithlessness. With such cancerous thought in power, it is not hard to image the day when institutional elites order further editing of Shrila Prabhupada books on increasingly subjective criterion, all with the lie of "coming closer to Shrila Prabhupada", "fixing previous editor's mistakes", or even "removing offensive topics to make the books more acceptable for the sake of preaching".

My years of experience living in a liberalized ashrama and studying at a liberalized devotee college online allowed me to see to the roots of this subversive liberal influence. There is a vacuum created by rationalized interpretation or straight-up rejection of the words emanating from the lotus mouth of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada. The neophyte takes independent shelter of his own intelligence, but inevitably comes to be influenced by so-called scholars, scholar wannabes, and their "prestigious" student-folk. The infection is so bad that the devotee college in Shrila Prabhupada's own name has books in their curriculum which blaspheme the pure devotee in his glorious work of imparting transcendental knowledge, all spewed forth by the calculations of their pathetic mundane frog "knowledge". Truly, it is pure ignorance and the so-called Gaudiya Vaishnava scholars will fall further into the darkness than those who propagate outright ignorance, such as Hollywood and the music industry.

Ksipamy ajasram asubham asurisv eva yonisu. First comes doubt in Shrila Prabhupada, then a vacuum, then ignorance in the guise of knowledge. But where does it begin? Human imperfection, a.k.a. faulty perception, mistakes, illusion, and cheating. Conditioned souls, albeit sincere, misuse the words of the acharya. Then the victims 'throw out the baby with the bath water', by… I can hardly say it… blaming their savior. Liberalism is born out of the mistaken beliefs that abuse in the name of tradition is the tradition itself. Is it not the nature of prisoners to envy the free with violence? There may never come the day when the guilty confess, but I hint that there is already information out there exposing the extent of the poison called Guru-mara-vidya, the cancer of ISKCON!

The whole mess can be easily avoided simply by having full faith in the words of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada. Otherwise it is impossible to distinguish reality from illusion. It may be hard to imagine that rakshasas who eat their own sons are currently managing the world. And there is evidence to support this statement of Shrila Prabhupada found in chapter 4 of Raja-Vidya. But simply the fact that Shrila Prabhupada said it is all the evidence that is needed because his authority is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So as long as we have any doubt, then looking to other sources, whether they be academia, Youtube, psychic intuition, or whatever, only implies that we be of poor faith!

Of course there is evidence that Shrila Prabhupada was…. Nay… IS right! (A learned man speaks of Shrila Prabhupada in the present tense). But all that evidence is imperfect and secondary. Krishna says that one who thinks of Him at the time of death will come to Him without a doubt. How can one verify that?! Unless a devotee has full faith that it is true simply because Krishna promises it, then there is no other way to verify it. One may write volumes about death, but let him show his valor in the spiritual battlefield of the moment. Similarly, as long as Shrila Prabhupada's words are not enough, nothing will be, and we are lost in relative opinions on relative matters subject to interpretation ad infinitum in 8,400,000 species of life.