On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada's Service

To the devotees it was inconceivable. Why had Prabhupada, in the middle of his talk, invited a crazy hippie onto stage, given him a microphone and a seat, and then argued with him to the point of yelling and shouting? And all before an audience of twenty thousand!

Bhavananda: One man who had helped organize the pandal protested, "Oh, Swamiji has gotten angry. This is not good." But Srila Prabhupada seemed to have done it purposefully. He had spoken for a long time that evening on how to understand the Bhagavad-gita, and then he had this hippie brought on the stage. It was bewildering to us. We couldn't figure it out.

Giriraja: Srila Prabhupada was actually using the entire incident to illustrate the process of understanding Bhagavad-gita. After the man left, Prabhupada completed his lecture by stating that one must approach Krsna or Krsna's representative with a submissive attitude, by serving and inquiring, not simply asking challenging questions. The whole incident had illustrated this point.

Yadubara: Many in the audience misunderstood the incident. It caused a split. But those who understood what Srila Prabhupada had done could see that this hippie was a rascal, and this had been a time for transcendental anger against his nonsensical opinions.

Tejas: After everything was over, Prabhupada told us, "Just as the gopis were lusty for Krsna, Arjuna would also get angry for Krsna. So it is not bad that a devotee becomes angry for Krsna." But many people in the crowd could not understand this point -- how a devotee is not impersonal. (From Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Vol. 5 Ch. 1)

Srila Prabhupada could have dismissed the hippie with a terse comment. But he didn't. He called him up on the stage and publicly engaged in a shouting match with him. If any other member of ISKCON had done it, they would have been dismissed as immature or inexpert. Satsvarupa Maharaja has commented on this incident, explaining his understanding of Srila Prabhupada's action: that Prabhupada wanted to stress on hearing the acarya, not challenging him. Srila Prabhupada is the empowered representative of Krsna, and there is no question of his preaching in a manner any less then perfect. Here we see him fighting on stage with a hippie.

- From the "My Memories of Srila Prabhupada" by HH Bhakti Vikas Swami
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