Prabhupada: The Cutting Edge
We didn’t know anything until we met Srila Prabhupada! We had an inkling that what passed as civilized was mostly bunk. We saw the establishment—the government and the military-industrial complex and the mass of people out for money and sense gratification as phony, “square.” We learned how to alter our consciousness via marijuana and LSD. We tried to free the language with Beat poetry and jazz. We were prepared to reject our parents’ civilization and carve out our own “superior” civilization. Unfortunately, we were carving out yet another form of animalism.
However, as we became submissive to the teachings of the Swami and the parampara, we began to realize that the animalistic approach was not what the devotee was aiming for. By exposing the flaws in our so-called logic, Swamiji convinced us of the positive advantages of Krishna consciousness. He taught us to desire to be molded by the spiritual master and civilized by the sastras. Nobility is gained by following Krishna conscious rules and regulations, not by endeavoring to be civilized in the way two-legged animals are civilized with their white cuffs and gold cufflinks, their artificial tan and their before-dinner cocktails. Civilization to a devotee means Bhagavatam culture; sense control.
Prabhupada mercifully taught us to want his kind of culture. By setting up shop in the storefront Swamiji was giving us real spiritual culture, real civilization. He taught us to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. He wasn’t dependent on furnishings or externals. There was no prerequisite to receiving his teachings. He sat on a straw mat and, without the advantage of a shared culture, delivered pure Krishna consciousness.
Someone might argue, “Anyone could have done what Prabhupada did. After all, Krishna consciousness is universal.” But no, it remains a puzzle as to why Westerners brought up in a materialistic, secular, Judeo-Christian world would accept Krishna as God and take up “Indian” ways. That it has been planted in Western culture at all is because of Prabhupada’s insistence that Krishna consciousness is not sectarian. Krishna consciousness is for everyone. Pre-Prabhupada, the hope that Krishna consciousness could be taken up by people outside India seemed to have been something that would remain unrealized, esoteric. Prabhupada changed all that. Prabhupada was empowered.
Prabhupada was determined. Somehow or other, he would introduce Krishna and give these people Krishna consciousness. It was bound to work because Krishna consciousness is not sectarian. It is not an artificial imposition on the mind. It is the original consciousness of the living entity. Just chant and this sound vibration will open the heart. Prabhupada’s daring and conviction still holds the Krishna consciousness movement together today. His teachings are cutting edge.
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Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer
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