By Govinda dasi
One day in Montreal, during afternoon guest hours a young devotee from the temple asked me for an appointment to see Srila Prabhupada. I agreed and told her to come in the late afternoon, as it was his custom to visit with guests and devotees after his afternoon nap. This girl was an artist, her name was Madhavi Lata and she had come from New York. She was now living at the Montreal temple and I assumed she wanted to discuss her paintings with Srila Prabhupada and ask questions about them, as did Jadurani and the other artists from time to time. However, her intention was different. When she came, she began to explain her problem to Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada having difficulty understanding her, called me into the room.
I was working in the kitchen nearby and heard his call: “Govind Dasi!” He always pronounced my name with 4 syllables: Govind Dasi, other than Govinda Dasi. I rushed in and made obeisances and he told me to bring prasadam. Then he motioned for me to sit down and listen to the discussion.
Madhavi Lata was explaining to Srila Prabhupada that as a brahmacarini at the temple she was having difficulty being around all the other girls as they were often dressing and sometimes wearing only slips and cholis while putting on their saris. She tried to explain to Srila Prabhupada that this was a great agitation for her and she needed a different living situation. She was very upset and didn’t know what to do.
Srila Prabhupada was having difficulty understanding her problem. Srila Prabhupada was encouraging her to chant Hare Krsna, read his books and do her wonderful art work. He inspired her and preached to her and talked to her about Krsna and the temporary existence in the material world. I sat quietly listening to the conversation nearby and observing that he was giving her the highest instruction that was applicable in every case. However, there was clearly a lapse in communication.
Eventually, the girl graciously respected prasadam and left. Then I sat down in front of Srila Prabhupada’s desk and he asked me: “What is her problem?” I groped for words, trying to find a way to express it and finally said: “Srila Prabhupada, in this country there are some women who are attracted to other women sexually, not to men. So she is having this problem living with the other girls and doesn’t know what to do about it”.
Srila Prabhupada’s eyes grew large and round and he said: “Oh”. He saw the whole thing immediately. Then he said in a very surprised tone: “In India there are some such low-class men but not women, never women”. His face was full of surprise. I said: “Yes, Srila Prabhupada, in the West there are such women also”.
Then he leaned back and wagged his head side-to-side, Indian fashion in a very amused and almost amazed look. “Just see, this sex life. Men to men, women to women. Men to women. Sex life is the bondage. It is all bondage. But, he opened his eyes wide: the sex life between man and woman can be sanctified by marriage. That is the difference. Krsna says in the Gita that I am the sex life within marriage. So within marriage it can be used for having nice Krsna conscious children but not like this. This is very low class”.
Srila Prabhupada you clearly cut through the illusion of homosexuality, simply and concisely. Never mind arguments one way or another. You saw it simply as another form of bondage, one that cannot be sanctified by God or purified within the marriage institution of God.
Nowadays, Western society has begun to aggressively promote homosexuality but their promotion cannot change the truth. It is simply another form of bondage in the material world, forcing the soul to take birth after birth of endless suffering. Unlike us, Srila Prabhupada you never became swayed by personal likes or dislikes, preferences or passions. You cut through our illusions with the swift and sure knife of knowledge and irrefutable truth. Then you stitched the wound with your divine love and instruction: chant Hare Krsna and be happy.
Thank you. Your opinion, Srila Prabhupada is as valid today and unchanged by time as it was in 1968. All these various modern trends of society you once commented to me, that nothing is new, they are all old, these things have been done again and again and Krsna knows them all. He spoke about them and he deals with each one in the Gita.
Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for being above everything and being able to teach us so that we also can see things from the window of spiritual realization. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada.
[An Excerpt from “Prabhupada Stories” by Govinda dasi]