(Kadamba Kanana Swami, June 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia, Radio Interview)
In the same group (kirtan party) I saw walking up the street, I noticed that the men were leading and the women were at the back. Is that normal and why is that?
It’s not everywhere that it’s like that. It’s a little bit old fashioned. In the beginning, the Hare Krsna movement styled itself very much on like an Indian model – a very patriarchal society and not only would women be kept in a subdued place but women themselves in Indian society, would keep themselves in a more private place. In the Indian culture, it is not just putting women down but the women stay in a somewhat not so upfront (place), little in the back. Women are more part of home-life in a traditional Indian culture.
Nowadays, in the more evolved Hare Krsna movement, or let’s say, in the more progressive aspects of the Hare Krsna movement… just as you said that Slovakia is a conservative country, I think that Hare Krsna in Slovakia is also, in that sense, behind with the development of Hare Krsna as in other parts of the world. If you look in Australia or in the United States, or nowadays in Poland where there is a big festival, generally the women dance in the front. The women dance in the front and the men are sort of like the band in the back, with the idea that it is more attractive to people. We’ve also had an arrangement where the women were in the middle, more protected! Single men in the front, some ladies in the middle and some married men at the back.
You have to understand that when you are dressed up like a Hare Krsna, you become a target for some people who want to just have some fun…let’s throw something at them or let’s grab one of the women. These things are not uncommon.
How do you tolerate something like that?
It’s disturbing but what can you do!? I am from Holland and in Amsterdam, we used to have one vegetable store that used to throw rotten tomatoes at us, so we would have to duck! We knew that when we were coming around the corner to watch out, because he would be ready.
Does that remove any of your strength for your passion or does that give you strength?
It’s a bit of both, I guess. Some people may feel a bit intimidated, depending on how deep our conviction is. When one’s conviction is very deep then it will give strength. If one’s conviction is not so deep then opposition will break one’s personal strength. But anyway, that grocer just by throwing these tomatoes, later on had a change of heart and now he donates vegetables to the temple.
What do you attribute that change of heart to?
He made offerings to Krsna. He started to think about Krsna too much and if you think about Krsna too much then you will get a change of heart!