By Kesava Krsna dasa ‚Äď GRS
Let us suppose a Spiritual Master tells a disciple he wants to rest due to tiredness, and requests the disciple not to wake him up under any circumstances. Let us also suppose that after some time, the president of the country comes quite by surprise and asks for an audience with the Guru. Is the disciple going to ask him to wait and apologize profusely, sticking rigidly to the order? Or would he intelligently wake up his master foreseeing a golden preaching opportunity?
Srila Prabhupada came to the west, and brought with him an ancient tradition which was then untested and untried in a relatively free democratic society; a way of life Srila Bhaktisiddhanta formulated for the Gaudiya math institution, in which chanting a minimum of 4 rounds and an average of 64 rounds a day was the norm, and the men generally dominated temple affairs and so on.
In the beginning Srila Prabhupada had his early disciples chant 64 rounds per day. This was a short-lived exercise because no-one could maintain such a high standard. Seeing the equality of the sexes, the women were just as eager as the men to participate in temple duties, particularly deity worship.
Was Srila Prabhupada not going to budge from his Spiritual Master‚Äôs way of doing things? Was he going to adhere rigidly to the conservative ‚ÄėIndian‚Äô standard? Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs heart was too soft to allow a golden opportunity slip by. He intelligently reduced the number of rounds to a minimum of 16, which apparently seems a compromise, but is more than the 4 rounds and therefore requires a higher minimum standard. As for the women, he kindly allowed them to worship the deities by granting them second initiation.
In this way, Srila Prabhupada intelligently adapted Lord Krsna‚Äôs teachings for the western mentality without compromising, just as Srila Vyasadeva divided the one Veda into four for the benefit of the quarrelsome people in the age of kali. Such intelligence was exhibited due to great maturity.
Just as the disciple awakes his Spiritual Master to preach to the president, so Srila Prabhupada pleased his Spiritual Master by making Krsna consciousness easier for us.
Your servant, Kesava Krsna dasa ‚Äď GRS.