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On Racism
by Isvara das

Some time ago I wrote an article regarding racial prejudice in ISKCON, which was a comment on an earlier article by another devotee, Krishna Avatar Dasa. In my article, I expressed certain racial derogatory statements often made by devotees. However in that article I had written "majority of white-bodied devotees have been unable to shed their racial prejudice upon join ISKCON."

Actually I had mistakenly used the word "majority," instead of which I should have used the word "some, many, or few." I have received many letters from many devotees who expressed their disapproval of the language I used, while many devotees also show their approval of my article. My intention was never to categorize white-bodied devotees as being racist or anything of that sort. Devotees of the Lord do not belong to any racial category, as their only identification is with the Supreme Lord. Every devotee in the movement is aspiring to attain the ultimate goal of life, which is loving service of the Supreme Lord Krishna. I apologize for my use of the word "majority of white-bodied devotees."

Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would often say that this material world is an insane asylum. The Krishna consciousness movement is an institution where all insane living entities are coming for reformation. Therefore various living entities respond differently to the treatment. One of the diseases of the living entities is prejudice that has been acquired due to conditioned life. One is prejudiced against other living entities by the color of their skin, ethnicity, caste, low or higher status of society, etc.

When people walk in the door of ISKCON, for cultivation of spiritual life, that prejudice is there with them. However, upon time on purification, they see the equality of all spirit souls, and participate equally in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord. It’s only due to ignorance that a devotee will maintain superiority over others because of their caste, heritage, or color. That ignorance will be removed in due course of time.

Queen Devahuti made this prayer about the devotee of the Lord:

"Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in the families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Persons who chant the holy name of Your Lordship must have executed all kinds of austerities and fire sacrifices and achieved all the good manners of the Aryans. To be chanting the holy name of Your Lordship, they must have bathed at holy places of pilgrimage, studied the Vedas and fulfilled everything required."

© CHAKRA 24 November 2001

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