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Please Stop Misusing Srila Prabhupada’s Quotes

Please Stop Misusing Srila Prabhupada’s Quotes

By Amara dasa

There are some quotes from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada that are commonly misused to discriminate against women and minorities. These quotes concern relative social and bodily issues that have nothing to do with the spiritual nature of the soul. They are frequently taken completely out of context and delivered in a fashion that is both mean-spirited and ill motivated. The result has been that many sincere people and prospective devotees are completely turned off to the Krsna consciousness movement and given a poor impression of Srila Prabhupada. As society continues to evolve in a way that accepts diversity, minimizes bodily distinctions and rejects bigotry, we must correspondingly present Vaishnava culture as equal-visioned and all embracing. We must also present Srila Prabhupada as the loving and compassionate person that his own life exemplified—someone who befriended and treated all living beings equally as spiritual parts and parcels of God. When we instead misuse his quotes and scriptures to exclude, oppress and demonize other groups of people, I think it is fair to say that we have veered off the intended course and are endangering our own spiritual foundation.

I normally do not take interest in these types of quotes, in fact, I would rather they were not even made public. However, since they are often misused to hurt others and, after all, Srila Prabhupada did say them, I am throwing them out on the table for open discussion. There are some devotees who relish these quotes and use them constantly in their preaching. I have to hear them all the time myself as a member of a minority group and they give me much pain. I am not pained because I am a minority, but because my own spiritual master’s words are being misused to limit and demean other human beings in direct contrast to the personal example he always so lovingly set.

The subject of our movement’s slowness to evolve in certain areas (e.g. attitudes towards women, gay people, etc.) is something that concerns me greatly. The core Vaishnava truths all have to do with the spirit soul, and everything else changes with time. It always has and always will. Srila Prabhupada presented the essential truth and adapted the outward details to a certain degree according to time and circumstance. This has been done by all great acaryas throughout the ages. Had he not passed away several decades ago he might well have instituted other social changes to the movement. Who knows? The world now is vastly different (in certain ways) from the world he grew up in.

I know one thing: Any religious movement that remains inexorably rooted in some past era becomes extinct. There are many examples. Krsna consciousness must always remain dynamic and adaptable to the times. Let us therefore focus and preach on Srila Prabhupada’s essential and timeless spiritual teachings. We should not dwell upon relative social statements that may change with time. Most importantly, we should not misuse those statements to vehemently put forth our own personal prejudices—in a manner devoid of love—which only succeeds in discouraging others from the path of bhakti.

Quotes Used Against Women…

-“…woman has no independence, because they cannot keep their independence---it is not possible.”
-“By nature they are weak…”
-“In the Western countries, the women are given freedom like man, but that is unnatural.”
-“So, woman—the conclusion is that women are weak.”
(SB Lecture, Los Angeles, 11/30/73)

-“Independence for women means they become like prostitutes.”
-“Women cannot do anything independently. To give them independence means to create some trouble.”
(SB Lecture, Los Angeles, 5/19/72)

-“Women are inferior to men, and… men are given full charge of the women.”
-“Women are supposed to be less intelligent.”
(TLK 5)

-“Women should not be given freedom. Like a child, she is not given freedom.”
(SB Lecture, Los Angeles, 7/11/74)

-“It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to 64 ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than 34 ounce. You’ll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher, among women. You’ll never find because their brain substance cannot go.”
(BG lecture, Hawaii, 2/3/75)

-“Women as a class are no better than boys, and therefore they have no discriminatory power like that of a man.”
(SB 1.7.42, purport)

-“According to Canakya Pandita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy.”
-“As children are very prone to be misled, women are similarly very prone to degradation.”
(BG 1.40, purport)

-“Now, in the ‘Manu-samhita’ it is clearly stated that a woman should not be given freedom. That does not mean that women are to be kept as slaves, but they are like children. The demons have now neglected such injunctions, and they think that women should be given as much freedom as men.”
(BG 16.7, purport)

-“Women as a class are no better than boys, and therefore they have no discriminatory power like that of a man.”
(SB 1.7.42, purport)

-“A woman’s attachment to her husband may elevate her to the body of a man in her next life, but a man’s attachment to woman will degrade him, and in his next life he will get the body of a woman.”
(SB 3.31.41, purport)

-“It is understood that the sexual appetite of a woman is nine times greater than that of a man.”
(SB 3.23.44, purport)

-“Women in general are very much sexually inclined. Indeed, it is said that a woman’s sex desire is nine times stronger than a man’s.”
(SB 4.27.1, purport)

-“Women as a class are merciless and cunning. They cannot tolerate even a slight offense. For their own pleasure they can do anything irreligious, and therefore they do not fear killing even a faithful husband or brother.”
-“Because of her nature, a woman can respond to even a slight offense from her husband by not only leaving him but even killing him if required. To say nothing of her husband, she can even kill her brother. That is a woman’s nature.”
(SB 9.14.37)

-“It is the nature of women to fight verbally at even a slight provocation. As we see from this incident, this has been their nature for a long, long time.”
(SB 9.18.16, purport)

-“To satisfy their own interests, women deal with men as if the men were most dear to them, but no one is actually dear to them. Women are supposed to be very saintly, but for their own interests they can kill even their husbands, sons or brothers, or cause them to be killed by others.”
-“Women must be cared for so that they will not be free to manifest their natural tendency for gross selfishness. There have been many cases, even in the present day, in which women have killed their husbands to take advantage of their insurance policies. This is not a criticism of women but a practical study of their nature.”
(SB 6.18.42, purport)

-“A man is always famous for his aggression toward a beautiful woman, and such aggression is sometimes considered rape. Although rape is not legally allowed, it is a fact that a woman likes a man who is very expert at rape.”
(SB 4.25.41, purport)

Quotes Used Against Blacks…

-“It may be concluded that white or a golden hue is the color of the higher caste, and black is the complexion of the sudras [lower class].
(SB 4.14.45, purport)

-“(The dark-skinned races) are not allowed to live in cities and towns because they are sinful by nature. As such, their bodies are very ugly, and their occupations are also sinful.”
-“They are always engaged in sinful activities like stealing…”
(SB 4.14.46, purport)

-“Sudra is to be controlled only. They are never to be given freedom. Just like in America. The blacks were slaves. They were under control. And since you have given them equal rights they are disturbing, most disturbing, always creating a fearful situation, uncultured and drunkards. What training they have got? They have got equal right? That is best, to keep them under control as slaves but give them sufficient food, sufficient cloth, not more than that. Then they will be satisfied.”
(Room Conversation, “Varnasrama System Must Be Introduced,” Mayapura, 2/14/77)

-“…the higher classes of men are white (sukla), and the lower classes of men are black. This division of white and black is in terms of one’s white and black duties of life. Pious acts lead one to… acquire beautiful features. Impious acts lead one to… acquire ugly bodily features.”
(SB 3.5.9, purport)

-“Yes. We hate to mix with you (a man reported to be homosexual). No gentleman tries to mix with loafers. Even in America, they don’t like to live with the blacks. Crows will not like to live with the ducks and white swans. And white swans will not like to live with the crows. That is natural division. ‘Birds of the same feather flock together.’”
(1/11/77, Allahabad)

Quotes Used Against Gays and Lesbians…

-“…the homosexual appetite of a man for another man is demoniac and is not for any sane male in the ordinary course of life.”
(SB 3.20.26, purport)

-“In India there are some such low-class (homosexual) men, but not (lesbian) women, never women. This is very low class.”
(Conversation with Govinda dasi, Montreal)

-“When after enjoying so many women, they become impotent, then they artificially create another impulse in homosex. This is the psychology. So people are degraded so much.”
(7/3/75, Chicago)

-“The world is degrading to the lowest status, even less than animal. The animals also do not support homosex. They never have sex life between male to male. They are less than animal. This is all due to godlessness.”
(5/25/72, Los Angeles)

-“They are discussing in the university homosex. Just see. They are not even fourth class men; they are animals, producing so many animals, that’s all, dogs and hogs.”
(5/14/75, Perth)

-“Now the priestly order is supporting homosex. I was surprised. They are going to pass a resolution for getting married between man to man. The human society has come down to such a degraded position. It is astonishing.”
(5/25/72, Los Angeles)