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Racism?
by Kavicandra Swami

There was some comment that everyone in ISKCON is a "racist." I hesitate to comment for fear of an inundation of arguments for the sake of arguments, but anyway I am daring to comment. I think the following quotes express Srila Prabhupada’s true mood:

Prabhupada: Krsna is black and we worship Him. (laughter) You have seen our Deity? Yes. Krsna is from your community. (Prabhupada laughs) There is no question of black and white. Krsna consciousness is above the skin — the soul which is there. Either he’s black or white or yellow, it doesn’t matter. Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe [Bg. 2.13]. This is the first education, that do not take the body, but the living force within the body. That is important; we have to understand that. We are talking from that platform. Therefore sometimes it is little difficult, because people are very much absorbed with bodily concept of life. But our philosophy begins from that platform where there is no more bodily concept of life. Therefore it is little difficult. (pause) So any question also?

(Ref. VedaBase =Interview with Jackie Vaughn [Black Congressman] — July 12, 1976)

Detroit, Jackie Vaughn: I suppose we could use the same analogy for black and white getting together. Ofttimes, we all become impatient because the progress appears to be so very, very slow.

Prabhupada: Slow, but sure, that is wanted. If you are slow, it is not bad, but it must be sure. But if you become very busy without any surety, then what is this? Simply waste of time. Slow, there is English word, "Slow but sure."

(Ref. VedaBase =Interview with Jackie Vaughn [Black Congressman] — July 12, 1976)

Detroit, Pusta Krsna: Another meaning of Krsna is blackish.

Jackie Vaughn: Black is beautiful?

Prabhupada: Why not? He’s the most beautiful. Otherwise, why people are attracted? There is a verse in the Brahma-samhita: kandarpa-koti-kamaniya-visesa-sobham [Bs. 5.30]; barhavatamsam asitambuda-sundarangam. He has got one peacock feather on His head and He’s blackish, but wonderfully beautiful.

(Ref. VedaBase =Interview with Jackie Vaughn [Black Congressman] — July 12, 1976)

Detroit, Hari-sauri: Have you seen the Deities in the temple?

Jackie Vaughn: Yes. I am very fortunate. Twice I’ve been before you.

Prabhupada: Thank you. Oh, that’s nice.

Jackie Vaughn: I’m very grateful. ]

Prabhupada: Whenever you find time, please come.

Jackie Vaughn: I will. (Ref. VedaBase =Interview with Jackie Vaughn [Black Congressman] — July 12, 1976, Detroit)

Srila Prabhupada referred to judgement based on so-called skin color, as "skin disease." In other words, if one judges the value of an individual simply because of one’s perception of the skin color, that judgement is the product of an aberrant consciousness. The following statement, studied carefully, should make this clear:

"For example, 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 take birth in a good and highly placed family, to become rich, to become learned, and to acquire beautiful bodily features. Impious acts lead one to become poor by parentage, to be always in want, to become a fool or illiterate and to acquire ugly bodily features. Vidura requested Maitreya to explain these differences between all the living creatures made by Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Ref. VedaBase =SB 3.5.9)

As witnessed by the fact that some supermodels and highly paid movie stars are from the so-called "black" community, we might understand that beauty is present amongst all different types of bodies. In ISKCON, some of our most highly educated sannyasis and GBC members are from the so-called "Afro American" or "black" community. These men are highly respected and their counsel is sought after by many devotees from all different backgrounds.

I hope that we can be careful about making blanket statements labeling everyone in ISKCON as anything. We are a large society and we have all kinds of members. But I believe that most have at least a basic understanding that within every body is a soul that is very dear to Krsna, and the althought the body will soon change, the soul will not.

© CHAKRA 19 November 2001

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