Chakra Discussions

Did Srila Prabhupada Really Say That to Upendra?

by Akruranatha das

Posted May 10, 2005

In the article "Recognizing Gay Marriage," Amara dasa states that Srila Prabhupada told Upendra dasa, "Then just find a nice boy, stay with him and practice Krishna consciousness."

It is not my intention to weigh in on the gay marriage debate. I only write out of concern for accuracy regarding what Srila Prabhupada actually said.

Can Amara Prabhu substantiate the claim that Srila Prabhupada spoke to Upendra as quoted? The quote is not attributed. I would like to know Amara's source and see if it can be traced back to Upendra or anyone else who directly heard Prabhupada say it. I suspect it might be another one of those dubious "Prabhupada saids."

Upendra did tell me that when he told Srila Prabhupada he was sexually attracted to other males, Srila Prabhupada told him, "It is just your flickering mind." This stood out, because Upendra gave me the impression that he was surprised at Srila Prabhupada's dismissal of the issue as just a problem of his "flickering mind," rather than a deeply ingrained part of his psychophysical makeup. Srila Prabhupada made a light thing out of it, rather than an area of grave concern.

I do not want to speculate on why Srila Prabhupada responded to Upendra the way he did. However, based on my discussions with Upendra, I got the impression that it was the only time he spoke directly to Srila Prabhupada about his homosexuality, and that Srila Prabhupada's short statement was kind of curious in that Srila Prabhupada seemed not even to acknowledge that Upendra was part of a category of men who were homosexuals. It was as if Srila Prabhupada possibly did not want to give Upendra detailed instructions about the issue. I got the impression from Upendra (I could be wrong) that Srila Prabhupada didn't say anything further to him on the subject, at that time or ever after.

Upendra did talk to me about other instructions Srila Prabhupada gave him at other times, not directly related to homosexuality. For example, he told me that Srila Prabhupada once instructed him to just go to Vrndavana and chant and study Srila Prabhupada's books. We all know that, years earlier, Srila Prabhupada told him to pick a girl to marry, as recorded in the Lilamrta. I think Upendra would have told me if Srila Prabhupada ever told him to live with another man as his Krishna conscious mate.

I am not ruling out that Srila Prabhupada ever said that to Upendra, but it does not ring true to me. My acquaintance with Upendra was not especially close or longstanding. I met him for the first time in San Francisco in the late 1980s, and we had friendly tallks on a number of occasions when we happened to meet from time to time thereafter. Some of his closer friends might be able to shed some light on whether he ever indicated that Srila Prabhupada told him to "find a nice boy..." I'll make a point to ask Stoka Krishna next time I see him.

Akruranatha dasa