Chakra Discussions

Questions About GBC Resolution 311

by Amara dasa

Posted May 5, 2008

I read with interest the new GBC resolution (311) recommending that the BBT explain, in endnotes or appendices, statements about women that may be misunderstood in Srila Prabhupada's books. This seems like a good idea but I'm wondering how far it will be extended. The examples cited involve only a few "rape" quotes whereas it has been my experience that most women, educated professionals, college students, graduates, etc. are more often offended by the numerous "less intelligent" and "no independence" statements found in the BBT books. Will these types of statements also be addressed in the appendices?

I would furthermore be interested to know whether or not such a policy could be extended to include statements made by Srila Prabhupada regarding minority groups. These statements are also commonly misunderstood and taken the wrong way; for instance, statements describing dark-skinned people as "sinful," "very ugly" and prone to stealing (SB 4.14.45-46, purport) or the SB 3.20.26 purport describing people with homosexual orientation as "demoniac" and not sane. Appropriately written endnotes or appendices to these statements, "which when taken in isolation may be considered derogatory to and offensive against" certain minority groups and their supporters, would go a long way in bringing Srila Prabhupada's books into the twenty-first century. Indeed, some ISKCON devotees have also regrettably used these statements "out of context as an excuse to offend, neglect and abuse" minorities and "some people who read such statements may consider them to be derogatory or offensive, may misunderstand what Srila Prabhupada actually means, and may not want to further read those books, notwithstanding the many other beneficial statements in them."

I applaud the GBC for taking this initial step forward but still see a long road ahead.