Earlier this year, Kaunteya Prabhu published a controversial book titled Tough Questions, Difficult Answers on Srila Prabhupada’s Contentious Remarks (TQDA), and the ISKCON India Scholars Board has published several responses to it.…
The intuition that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words are perfect, without defect, even when not explicitly backed by śāstra is definitely the correct understanding. When a devotee is perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, like Śrīla Prabhupāda, he not only perfectly sees Kṛṣṇa, but also perfectly sees Kṛṣṇa’s material energies as well. A pure devotee has none of the four defects of conditioned souls. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says: bhrama, pramāda, vipralipsā, karaṇāpāṭava, ārṣa-vijña-vākye nāhi doṣa ei saba, “Mistakes, illusions, cheating and defective perception do not occur in the sayings of the authoritative sages.”
On page 46 of his book, Kaunteya Prabhu states that we should accept Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words as perfect whenever he is stating from the “original text” (śāstra), and not necessarily perfect (potentially mistaken) if the source of information is not based on the “original text.” And on page 408, Kaunteya also says that we will “never know to what extent the false information Srila Prabhupada received affected his views on women,” but Kaunteya appears to be certain that the extent is not “never.” Indeed, to even consider the possibility that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s views could be influenced by false information, one must necessarily presume that Śrīla Prabhupāda himself is a conditioned soul. This idea is at the heart of Kaunteya’s book.
I appreciate the well-intended concerns of the author, Kaunteya Prabhu, expressed throughout his book. However, after reading it, I find a few observations that need to be addressed in order to truly comprehend Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings. I request the author and other respected devotees to kindly consider the following remarks by my humble self.
In the book Tough Questions, Difficult Answers by Kaunteya (JPS) Prabhu, at the beginning of the third chapter, titled “Homophobia,” the author defines the word “homophobia” and its different meanings. Then, when it comes to scriptural analysis, he mentions it as sin, often compares it with heterosexism, and says that it is also natural like heterosexism. Since heterosexual marriages are accepted in ISKCON, homosexual marriage should also be endorsed and encouraged in ISKCON. So, in this way, he recommends that ISKCON should institutionalise gay and lesbian marriages.
Srila Prabhupada says in his purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya-lila 20.352 that among the sources of knowledge of dharma given by one's guru, other saintly persons, and shastra, "the shastra is the center for all." Yet it is seen in many sampradayas that the acharya is still very much central to the practice and faith of the devotees. So, if the actual center is the shastra, then what does it mean to a community to keep the acharya in the center? This video discusses and answers this question.