Chakra Discussions

Reply to "Did Srila Prabhupada Really Say That to Upendra?"

by Amara das

Posted May 11, 2005

Regarding Akruranatha prabhu's article, Did Srila Prabhupada Really Say That to Upendra?, the quote was related to me directly by a very close friend and godbrother of mine, Adi-karta das. There is no doubt in my mind that the quote is accurate because I know Adi-karta very well and he is a thoroughly honest devotee. He would never lie about things Upendra or Srila Prabhupada said.

Upendra prabhu spent a lot of time here in Hawaii and made lots of friends with other devotees who were gay. While I was not living here at that time and never met Upendra, most of my best friends and godbrothers, including Adi-karta and others, knew him very well and spent lots of time with him talking about this subject. I'm not sure if Upendra would have mentioned this statement to his wife or to other devotees who were not gay. I would suspect he probably wouldn't have.

The statement quoted in the Chakra article was from Tripurari Swami. I don't know whether he also heard this directly from Upendra, or if he was just paraphrasing Adi-karta's statement, which had previously been posted on GALVA. Either way, the two quotes are nearly identical and express the same point.

I included Adi-karta's written statement of his conversation with Upendra in my recent book, Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex. Here it is:

Adi-karta dasa: In his early brahmacari days [Upendra dasa] had the honor of being Srila Prabhupada's personal servant for a couple of years. And I had the honor of being his close friend from 1975 until his death. Upendraji was always one to speak from the heart. He related to me once something that he said Srila Prabhupada told him in a private conversation. Upendra was bemoaning his fate as a homosexual in the Hare Krsna movement, and (according to him) Srila Prabhupada -- perhaps tired of his endless moaning -- advised him: "Just find a nice boy, then, and settle down!"

This was in a private conversation (not recorded), and what actually transpired was that Upendraji got married to a woman instead, some time later. But he did tell me this anecdote; I can vouch for that. And Upendra was, in my experience, an honest and honorable man. Srila Prabhupada was an absolutely sacred memory for him, the most meaningful thing in his entire life, and it's hard for me to imagine he would ever make up something and pass it off as "Prabhupada said. . . ." (Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, p. 112-113)

Tripurari Swami's statement is very similar and appears in the following context, also quoted in my book:

Tripurari Swami: Although my Guru Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] frowned on homosexuality in general, he was also very practical, flexible, and compassionate. One of his earliest disciples was a gay man who once related how he had ultimately discussed his sexual orientation with Srila Prabhupada. He said that at that point Srila Prabhupada said, "Then just find a nice boy, stay with him and practice Krsna consciousness."

I also had the experience of meeting a transsexual who explained her sexual orientation and confusion to Srila Prabhupada before committing to an operation. She told me that Prabhupada told her, "Just pick one or the other [sex] and stick with it." Those who knew him well would have expected him to say something like this in both of these instances. Again, he was very flexible and compassionate. (Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, p. 112)

Both of these statements can be passed off as "random" or "off-the-cuff" comments made by Srila Prabhupada, but his quotes against gay marriage were also made in much the same way. This only makes my point: that Srila Prabhupada never fully discussed or addressed this issue among his gay disciples. It can be argued that more comments were made against gay marriage, but it can also be argued that the comment made to Upendra was at least delivered in a personal context.

In any case, there is no doubt in my mind that Srila Prabhupada did indeed make the statement and I stand behind it 100 percent.

What a shame that we have to cling to Srila Prabhupada's every little word in this way! Nevertheless, it is often the only way to deal with certain types of devotees. And since they always repeat his most negative statements on this topic over and over again, I feel compelled to search out and repeat his most positive ones in the same way.