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Dancing White Elephants

The Hare Krishna Movement

In India in the early 1970’s, when the devotees held Pandal Programs, Srila Prabhupada referred to them as ”Dancing White Elephants”. Brahmananda Prabhu describes the story…….

Brahmananda: I’m thinking what Srila Prabhupada, when we came here, [India] what he called us. You may know. What did Prabhupada call us? Dancing White Elephants. Now, I did some research about white elephants, what that means, and I found out the term comes actually from Thailand where they have many elephants there and every once in a while there is an albino is born, a white elephant. So when a white elephant is born, it’s considered very special and the white elephant is treated very special, not like the other elephants. He’s pampered, he’s kept very nicely. The thing is, of course, elephants are used to work. In the logging industry, the elephants pull the logs and push them and they work very hard. But the white elephant, they don’t work, they don’t put him to work. They just keep him. So the thing is that it’s very expensive to maintain the white elephant. He has to be given special treatment and all kinds of facilities and so on, whereas the other elephants don’t have this. The other elephants, all they do is work. But the thing is, the white elephant doesn’t produce anything. The white elephant is actually useless, he cannot work, he’s just maintained. So what they do with the white elephant, they teach him some tricks, to perform something, they make some show and they’re entertained. They find it very entertaining to see the white elephant dancing. The black elephant, nobody cares to see the black elephant dance; but the white elephant, oh, that’s very good. But the problem is that the white elephant can’t do anything else. So it’s a very apt description, I think, when we came to India. We could not do anything. Sometimes we thought we were maybe doing something, then Prabhupada had to remind us actually he was doing everything. Actually Prabhupada had to manage everything, every last detail, to how to distribute prasadam, how to teach us to eat the proper way and wash and so many things. So Prabhupada had to micro-manage everything. And why? Just so the white elephants could attract the brown elephants to dance. But this was Prabhupada’s mission. When Prabhupada came to India in 1970, then He made India his headquarters, he stayed in India. From India, then he would go out and visit the West for preaching. But he stayed from 1970 all the way through 1977 in India as His base. So the mission was to have the Indian people become devotees…..And Now that Prediction has become True with Hundreds of Thousands of Indians becoming Devotees of Lord Krsna.

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