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22 : Unpredictable, Indomitable Śrīla Prabhupāda

At the end of a lecture in Mauritius, a Western guest expressed an unusual doubt to Śrīla Prabhupāda. (Letter, 5 October 1975) He seemed to think that Prabhupāda’s presentation was too clear, as if that was somehow a defect. He said, “Sir, I have listened to your talk with very great interest. You’re very clear and very lucid. But you’re also very dogmatic, I feel. Is there any area of doubt in your own philosophy, or are you quite certain in every field?”

Śrīla Prabhupāda: (Sounding somewhat challenging) What is that “dogmatic”?

Guest: When you have a question put to you, you are very clear what the answer shall be. (Laughter from devotees.) From the tone of the guest’s voice, it appears that he takes Prabhupāda’s self-confidence to be a defect. Have you any doubts yourself that have not appeared to us?

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mood changes to a relaxed one. Previous to this he had had a lengthy harangue with Indian guests who tried to impose their nonsense ideas on him. He deals with this challenge differently by first changing the subject.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So you answer. You are American?

Guest: I am Scottish.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: In Scotland we have got our temple also. Edinburgh.

Guest: But you are very. . . You seem very. . . Your philosophy seems very clear cut.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Thank you very much. [laughter]

Prabhupāda brilliantly turns the implied criticism into a compliment. But the guest persists.

Guest: Are you satisfied with that, that there is no area of doubt?

Prabhupāda continues to accept the guest’s criticism as a compliment and ignores the question.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore it is appealing more to the Western countries, yes. Mostly it is very acceptable in the Western countries.

Guest: (Giving up his persistence) Thank you.