Did Prabhupada Make Predictions That Did Not Come True?
Srila Prabhupada always encouraged us in chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. He told audiences at 26 Second Avenue that the boys and girls who are chanting Hare Krishna are experiencing pleasure and absorption in love of God. What could be attained previously only through great austerity can now be achieved simply by chanting Hare Krishna. As proof of this, Prabhupada offered the example of his disciples who are chanting Hare Krishna and giving up attraction to material life.
Sometimes I doubt whether these things are actually coming true. Were they true when Prabhupada was present, but not true now? Were they ever true? If they are true, how to understand them? Or should we not make attempts to analyze?
Prabhupada’s statements are true because they are based on sastra. In the sastra, we find much encouragement that lowborn or low-class persons can successfully chant Hare Krishna. Even if a person born in a family of dogeaters chants Hare Krishna once, he becomes qualified to perform Vedic yajnas. Those who are chanting Hare Krishna in this lifetime must have accomplished all Vedic practices in previous lifetimes. There is no doubt that the Vaisnava acaryas, and especially the followers of Lord Caitanya, praised the power of the holy name over all other spiritual practices. What Prabhupada has added to all of this is the claim that now these teachings are actually taking place, people from all races and religions all over the world are chanting Hare Krishna and getting good results.
Sociologists have their empirical methods for assessing the effects of chanting. They might follow a group of devotees for twenty years. They give them questionnaires and interviews and judge how they progress in spiritual life from year to year. In this way, they try to build statistical evidence for theories. That is not the Vaisnava way – at least it is not my way.
One way to reply to doubts is to speak for yourself. When your experience confirms what is stated in sastra and by the spiritual master, then you have strong evidence. I want to be a successful statistic to prove Prabhupada correct. If I can do that, then my confidence will be strong. If someone claims that most devotees do not get benefit from chanting as Prabhupada predicted, I can reply, “I know the benefits have been there for me.” Unfortunately, I cannot claim significant progress in my own chanting. I look at some of the positive statements Prabhupada made about chanting, and I feel sorry.
I know, however, that Prabhupada was not making false predictions. One has to look carefully at his use of language. He may say that if a devotee sincerely chants, then he will get the good results. In one purport Prabhupada states that chanting is very simple, but you have to take it seriously. There may be something wrong with us, rather than with Prabhupada’s statements. Our own inability to experience the benefits of chanting may be a cause for concern, but this should not lead us to doubt the spiritual master or the namacarya, Haridasa Thakura, whom he represents. In fact, our individual failure is also predicted by the acaryas. They say that if someone does not take advantage of this easy system of chanting Hare Krishna, then there is no other hope for him.
The Vaisnava acaryas sympathize with people like me. They have stated on our behalf, “I do not have attraction for the chanting of Hare Krishna; therefore, I must be cursed by Yamaraja.” Lord Caitanya speaks for the conditioned souls and says, “I do not have a taste for chanting Hare Krishna because of committing offenses.”
Jan 22, 2023
Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies