I am a liberal by my conditioning. I was raised during a time when permissiveness was in vogue. Voices demanding equal rights for blacks and women blared from media. I understood that there was no difference between men and women on the inside. I bought into the quest for equal treatment. Who wouldn’t? – besides the “Man” like Chicago’s Mayor Daley who sent his Chicago police bearing their truncheons on protesting youth at the ’68 Democratic convention or the Ohio National Guard when in May 1970 they murdered four students at Kent State – yes, maybe those ignorant sops doing the bidding of the people in “suits.” But my generation? Not.
Then suddenly, Srila Prabhupada appeared out of nowhere in my life to obstruct my foundational beliefs; He spoke a truth so bold that I was shocked in submission to listen like a deer frozen in the headlights. He said all kinds of *politically incorrect* things; yet, the truth of his statements dissipated the darkness of Kali yuga. He made so many statements that challenged my view of the world; I put the ones that I didn’t understand in mental boxes to be revisited over the years. One by one, everything he said proved to be deadly accurate, and there are more stored in my mind that await further revelation.
The area of assessing the differences between men and women have always been difficult for me to fathom. Nevertheless, I have continued to keep Srila Prabhupada’s insights and instructions in mind. I have noticed where my finite assessment has been expanded by Srila Prabhupada’s advice, counsel, and example.I may not realize everything Srila Prabhupada said, but I do have faith in everything Srila Prabhupada said. I have no doubt that Srila Prabhupada does not want to see any women become GBC’s, what to speak of guru’s. His books, lectures, talks are just too full of contrary instructions in that regard. The few examples brought to contradict his overwhelming teaching in this regard are like a feather compared to his preponderant teachings to the contrary.
I don’t like the way Srila Prabhupada relegates women to the simplistic and routine jobs of sewing, cooking, and tending a maximum of three cows. Yes, I admit it. It makes no sense because I was raised by an independent, intelligent mother, two capable sisters, and in a profession where there are plenty of talented and competent females. Of course, we want to treat everyone equally, but none of us do it even in our relationships with each other. We are constantly sizing up people, capabilities, energies. Let’s not be hypocrites, we are judging all the time. I say that we should judge using Srila Prabhupada’s words as our measuring stick. I see where *my* senses have taken me – to this birth in Kali yuga. My senses are not a good barometer of the truth – that I have been forced to admit via Srila Prabhupada’s higher intelligence.
I prefer to stick with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions even if I don’t believe/realize them. Yes, you heard it right. I don’t believe some of them. But that’s really ok, because I have the faith that I will eventually. The more that I study Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, the more I understand that I haven’t or don’t understand. I’m still a liberal at heart, but I am also struggling to become a disciple.
Reading Krishna Kirti’s latest article about “consequentialism,” I felt it was like a searchlight had been focused on the real problem with how some look at Prabhupada’s instructions. ISKCON gained its followers based on principles; it will only survive doing the same thing.
YS, Nrsimhananda das