Re. Jagadananda das’s “apology”
By Vidura Mahatma das
May 19, 2018
Recently published on Vrndavantoday.org was Jagadananda das’s / Jan Brzezinski’s apology for the abuse he inflicted on children under his care as a gurukula teacher in the early days. It is of course good of him to apologize to these children, but it seems that Jagadananda das wants to place blame elsewhere at the same time, even on Srila Prabhupada! He points a finger at Srila Prabhupada for creating an atmosphere of “misogyny” in the movement. On top of that, he provides a curious remedy to the problem: to begin to accept the reality that Radha and Krishna are symbols of even mundane sex life. The points made by Jagadananda das in his apology did not settle well with what I have read from Srila Prabhupada’s books regarding both how to respect the spiritual master and the transcendental nature of Radha and Krishna’s loving affairs. I was impelled to address his statements in contrast with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
Here are some of the statements made by Jagadananda das in his apology letter:
“Misogyny is a fact in ISKCON and many intelligent ISKCON bloopers have cited it. […] This attitude is particularly destructive in the marital situation where it leads to abuse of both physical and sexual kinds. […] Whatever praises of the grihastha ashram might be found in Prabhupad’s books, everyone knows that sannyas is really where it’s at. This attitude, funnily enough, was started only after Prabhupada returned to India in the early 70’s and started making sannyasis.”
“As St. Paul says about householder life in his epistles, ‘It is better to marry than to burn [in the fire of hell]’ but that is about it. Prabhupada contributed to this with his famous ‘licking a leaking vagina’ remark which he made to Acyutananda, Bhavananda, Sudama and other homosexual misogynists in Mayapur in 1976. His comments about women’s smaller brain size did not help.”
“The Absolute Truth for Gaudiya Vaisnavas is Radha Krishna, the divine syzygy. Look at Radha and Krishna and don’t deny what they symbolize. ISKCON people are so eager to say Radha and Krishna are not symbols of mundane sex. This is serious denial, folks. They represent the ideal love and we should think of that when we love, just as we should think of Yasoda and Krishna when we see our child.”
“These are a few of the realizations that have come out of my experiences.”
END OF QUOTES FROM JAGADANANDA DAS
There is no doubt that a handful of leading disciples in the early years of the movement behaved in a way that can only be described as fanatical and deviant. And their behavior certainly caused great havoc in the movement. But to blame Srila Prabhupada for this behavior on the part of some of his disciples is naive, childish, and offensive.
Sometimes a devotee interprets and uses Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in a way that benefits his/her own selfish motives, when, practically speaking, such instructions from Srila Prabhupada might otherwise be far from applicable to the scenario the devotee applies them to. This is even the case today, and during Srila Prabhupada’s physically manifest presence this phenomenon was also very prevalent.
Srila Prabhupada praised and encouraged Krishna conscious marriage. He also spoke of how abominable mundane sex life was. Srila Prabhupada writes in a letter: “Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that I am sex life performed according to religious principles. Sex life for any other purpose means illicit sex.” (Letter – Mayapur 18 June, 1973)
With regards to illicit sex life or any other degrading habit in society for that matter, Srila Prabhupada would often describe the activity explicitly, from an angle of ridicule, to demonstrate the gross reality of what people would otherwise hold in a sort of blissfully-ignorant regard. This was Srila Prabhuapda’s preaching tactic to sever the knots of material attachment for the fallen members of today’s society.
When Srila Prabhupada spoke of the petty, animalistic pleasure derived from male/female genitalia, this was to denounce illicit sex life and to encourage bona fide marriage between man and woman according to religious principles. It is puzzling how Jagadananda das could accuse Srila Prabhupada of contributing to “misogyny” – dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women – from statements by Srila Prabhupada trying to elevate society from dog-life sense gratification to Godly life. Jagadananda das only reveals his own lack of acquaintance with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, their context and purpose. To make matters worse, he attempts to give advice on how to appreciate Radha-Krishna lila after criticizing Krishna’s pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. Such advice only further reveals his lack of experience and poor understanding of Radha and Krishna’s transcendental loving affairs.
In the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.46, Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport:
“Influenced by an envious temperament and dissatisfied because of an attitude of sense gratification, mundaners criticize a real acarya. In fact, however, a bona fide acarya is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead, and therefore to envy such an acarya is to envy the Personality of Godhead Himself.”
In the Nectar of Instruction Text 6 Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport:
“One is forbidden to observe the activities of a pure Vaiṣṇava from a material point of view. For the neophyte especially, considering a pure devotee from a material point of view is very injurious. One should therefore avoid observing a pure devotee externally, but should try to see the internal features and understand how he is engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. In this way one can avoid seeing the pure devotee from a material point of view, and thus one can gradually become a purified devotee himself.”
“Those who think that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is limited to a certain section of people, a certain section of devotees or a certain tract of land are generally prone to see the external features of the devotee. Such neophytes, unable to appreciate the exalted service of the advanced devotee, try to bring the mahā-bhāgavata to their platform. We experience such difficulty in propagating this Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. Unfortunately we are surrounded by neophyte Godbrothers who do not appreciate the extraordinary activities of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. They simply try to bring us to their platform, and they try to criticize us in every respect. We very much regret their naive activities and poor fund of knowledge. An empowered person who is actually engaged in the confidential service of the Lord should not be treated as an ordinary human being, for it is stated that unless one is empowered by Kṛṣṇa, one cannot spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world.”
“When one thus criticizes a pure devotee, he commits an offense (vaiṣṇava-aparādha) that is very obstructive and dangerous for those who desire to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A person cannot derive any spiritual benefit when he offends the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Everyone should therefore be very careful not to be jealous of an empowered Vaiṣṇava, or a śuddha-vaiṣṇava. It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaiṣṇava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him. One can distinguish between a neophyte Vaiṣṇava and an advanced Vaiṣṇava by their activities. The advanced Vaiṣṇava is always situated as the spiritual master, and the neophyte is always considered his disciple. The spiritual master must not be subjected to the advice of a disciple, nor should a spiritual master be obliged to take instructions from those who are not his disciples. This is the sum and substance of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s advice in the sixth verse.”
With regards to the statements by Jagadananda das on Radha and Krishna’s transcendental affairs, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“One should not misunderstand the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa to be the activities of a mundane young boy and girl. The mundane sexual activities of young boys and girls are most abominable. Therefore, those who are in bodily consciousness and who desire sense gratification are forbidden to indulge in discussions of the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.”
C.C. Adi-lila, 13.42 purport
“A liberated person who hears about the loving affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is not inclined to have lusty desires. One mundane rogue once said that when the Vaiṣṇavas chant the name “Rādhā, Rādhā,” he simply remembers a barber’s wife named Rādhā. This is a practical example. Unless one is liberated, he should not try to hear about the loving affairs between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. If one is not liberated and listens to a relation of the rāsa dance, he may remember his mundane activities and illicit connections with some woman whose name may also be Rādhā. In the conditioned stage one should not even try to remember such things.” By practicing the regulative principles, one should rise to the platform of spontaneous attraction for Kṛṣṇa. Then and only then should one hear about rādhā-kṛṣṇa-līlā. Although these affairs may be very pleasing both to conditioned and to liberated souls, the conditioned soul should not try to hear them. The talks between Rāmānanda Rāya and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are conducted on the platform of liberation.”
C.C. Madhya-lila 8.255 purport
There are many persons today in who see the spiritual master from an external point of view, as an ordinary man. Only from such a perverted view point could one make criticizing remarks about Srila Prabhupada to any degree. It’s important for a devotee trying to advance in spiritual life that he/she stay clear from such an offensive attitude, otherwise they risk falling into the pitfall of finding fault with the pure devotee Srila Prabhupada themselves.