Chakra Discussions

Prabhupada's "mistakes" were no mistake

by Bhaktin Sara

Posted September 13, 2003

In response to Niscala dasi's interesting article regarding the essence of Prabhupada's "mistakes." Please forgive me if my understanding is too simple for this forum, but I would like to share it anyway. I apologize for not citing verses, but this view is not summarized in any one verse but stems from my understanding of many -- more than will fit within the word limit here.

When Srila Prabhupada was here, teaching his disciples as much as possible in the time he had left in his body, he was rather like a teacher in a kindergarten class. Everything was brand new to all his students, they had never been to that school before, never heard the words or spelled the language or talked the talk or walked the walk. Even the forty-year-olds were like children in the Vaisnava world.

Now imagine you are a kindergarten teacher trying to educate a large, excited classroom about fire safety. You can explain many things, but they don't realize the meaning of what you're saying. None of them have ever really been burned, so they don't really understand the consequences you are describing. Some of them keep reaching for the fire; it's attractive and warm and they are pulled toward it like moths to a flame -- or devotees to Krishna --and they are going to make a dangerous mistake.

The things you have said are not sinking in. The students are not having any realizations of what this fire can do. So you put your hand in the fire before they can reach it. You say, "Look at this burn, it's so painful. Look at this mistake I made. Now don't you make this same mistake. You realize what happens now." When the students see your hand, your pain, most of them stop reaching for the flame and think harder about your lecture on fire safety.

I believe Prabhupada was teaching us by whatever means necessary to make us realize the meaning of his words, the unadulterated teachings of Krishna consciousness wherein many mistakes are possible. And of course he would call them "mistakes." If he said, "I faked a mistake to make you realize the consequences," the lesson would not be as powerful.

As for the times when Prabhupada's "mistakes" had to involve some apparent harm to a devotee, as in the Sannyas incident, there is no need to pity them their temporary suffering or say that Prabhupada would never "hurt" a devotee on purpose. A pure devotee is the instrument of Krishna, and the devotee chosen to give of himself in assistance to the pure devotee and his teaching (even if the devotee himself is unaware of his part in Krishna's plan) receives tremendous spiritual benefit, despite the temporary pain of having been burned.

Just the fact that the soul took part in such a valuable lesson, which so many devotees learned from, is an eternal blessing.

You can call that lunatic's logic if you want, but that's just how I see it. Glories to Prabhupada!