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“The whole thing is a trick, a logical fallacy known as petitio principii, or begging the question. The idea is to prove your point by using a premise that itself has not been proved. If I say, for example, that democracy is the best system because the majority is always right, I am begging the question. No one has ever proved that the majority is so smart.”


Who Says 
Prabhupada Knew?

By Umapati Swami

In an article on VNN entitled "Did Srila Prabhupada Know?" Narayana Maharaja says that Srila Prabhupada knew all about the child abuse in the gurukulas but did nothing to stop it. This news, VNN tells us, "gives great happiness to all sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada." 

Narayana Maharaja's conclusion, however, is based on false logic and gives no joy to those who follow Srila Prabhupada's orders.

The article begins with what looks like praise: "If Srila Prabhupada is a perfected soul, an associate of Radha-Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he can see past, present and future."

It sounds right if you think that a pure devotee must be omniscient. But that's not so, says Srila Prabhupada: "'Everything' means [that] whatever his guru knows, he should know, that much. Not like God, everything. Within his limit, that's all. If he tries to understand whatever his guru has said, that much is 'everything.' Otherwise, 'everything' does not mean that we know everything, like God, like Krsna. That is not possible." (morning walk 4/8/75)

Narayana Maharaja adds that Srila Prabhupada also knew which sannyasis would fall down: "If he was sarvajna[all-knowing], he should first know a person's quality, and then give sannyasa. Do you realize this fact-that he was a saktavesa avatara?"

The whole thing is a trick, a logical fallacy known as petitio principii, or begging the question. The idea is to prove your point by using a premise that itself has not been proved. If I say, for example, that democracy is the best system because the majority is always right, I am begging the question. No one has ever proved that the majority is so smart.

In the same way, if I say Srila Prabhupada knew about the child abuse because the pure devotee knows everything, I am begging the question because the premise that pure devotees are all-knowing has not been established, even though many people think it has.

In fact, it has been refuted: 
"Jayadvaita: Because we see... For instance, sometimes the acarya may seem to forget something or not to know something, so from our point of view, if someone has forgotten, that is... 

"Prabhupada: No, no, no. Then... 

"Jayadvaita: ...an imperfection. 

"Prabhupada: That is not the... Then you do not understand. Acarya is not God, omniscient. He is servant of God. His business is to preach bhakti cult. That is acarya." (morning walk 4/8/75)

It can never be proved, then, that the pure devotee must be omniscient because this premise has been refuted by Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada never disagrees with scripture.

In Srimad Bhagavatam 2.10.51, Srila Prabhupada notes the importance of proof. "Any question that is put forward may be answered by quoting the authority," writes Srila Prabhupada, "and that satisfies the saner section. That is the system even in the law court. The best lawyer gives evidence from the past judgment of the court without taking much trouble to establish his case. This is called the parampara system, and learned authorities follow it without manufacturing rubbish interpretations."

In the VNN article, Narayana Maharaja admits his own shortcomings. "Since we conditioned souls cannot understand our own spiritual nature," he says, "we surely cannot understand the sublime transcendental nature of the mahabhagavata devotee."

If this is so, why does Narayana Maharaja try to interpret the actions of the mahabhagavata, whom he admits he cannot understand? And who, including VNN, will listen to someone who does not know?

VNN, it seems, has graduated from insulting Srila Prabhupada's disciples to insulting Srila Prabhupada himself. No one can count the times VNN has hurled names like "homosexual" or "child abuser" at people who have never engaged in such activities. But by working in ISKCON, they have silently assented, says VNN.

Now VNN is saying that Srila Prabhupada also silently assented to child abuse, and this news "gives great happiness to all sincere followers."

Who the sincere followers are is a mystery, as this insult brings only anger to those who follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions: "Why Nitai should be attending lectures outside of our temple?" writes Srila Prabhupada. "If he is not satisfied with the standard of lectures in our temple, then he should be permitted to give some lectures himself, but this habit of going outside to [hear] others should be stopped immediately." (letter 7/14/76)

It is all in the name of "inconceivable pastimes," of course. Srila Prabhupada supposedly ignored the child abuse to hide his omniscience. "Prabhupada came as though he was in the stage of madhyama adhikari," says Narayana Maharaja, "as though he didn't know anything; and on a few occasions he said to certain disciples, "I am not sarvajna.'"

First of all, Srila Prabhupada did not come as a madhyama adhikari. The disciples understood from the very beginning that Srila Prabhupada was on the highest level.

Second, if Srila Prabhupada says he is not sarvajna, why should we think he is hiding something?

"You have to become blank slate: 'Now, sir, whatever I have learned, oh, I forget. It is now blank slate. Now you write whatever you like.'" (SB lecture 3/15/67)

But now we let Narayana Maharaja, or maybe someone else, write over Srila Prabhupada's words with another piece of chalk. There are those who would have us believe that Srila Prabhupada did not always speak the truth and that his disciples need help in understanding which words are true and which are not.

 Since Narayana Maharaja does not believe Srila Prabhupada's words, he warns us against following Srila Prabhupada's example: "We may think, 'Prabhupada did this," he says, "and I will also do like him. Don't do this; otherwise you will go to hell."

Certainly we will go to hell if we imitate Narayana Maharaja's version of things, but we will attain perfection if we understand and follow Srila Prabhupada's pastimes as Srila Prabhupada presented them to us:

"Your task ahead is very huge, but it will be quite simple and easy if you simply do as I am doing." (Letter to Hrdayananda 7/9/72)

Those who live completely for Srila Prabhupada have no problem here. They can emulate their spiritual master, but those who go outside are faced with a contradiction. Srila Prabhupada says emulate; Narayana Maharaja says don't.

But the fault is not with Narayana Maharaja. He can say and think what he wants. He is not Srila Prabhupada's disciple, and when guests come, he speaks his mind, the same as everyone else.

The fault is with those disciples of Srila Prabhupada who think their spiritual master left something out and that they can go to someone else and get the blanks filled in. Narayana Maharaja cannot help these people, nor can anyone else:

"'Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.' This Vedic injunction is very important, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu supported it by His personal behavior." (CC Adi 7.95-96)

And who among Srila Prabhupada's disciples, if he had the chance, would approach Srila Prabhupada and ask, "Is it true that you knew about the child abuse and did nothing because you were performing inconceivable pastimes?"

Who would have the nerve to ask this?

Not me.

© CHAKRA 2-September-2000

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