ISKCON Youth Fund - Genuine Care and Loving Support

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By Gupta Das (Joseph Fedorowsky)

Disparaging statements were recently published on the Internet by ill informed individuals regarding the ISKCON Chapter 11 Youth Fund. The gist of the malicious falsity is that in order to punish the original Texas Gurukuli plaintiffs and avoid the payment of millions of dollars to those plaintiffs, the North American GBC and the SSPT formulated a strategy to illegally increase the number of Gurukuli claimants worldwide with the result that ISKCON filed for Chapter 11 protection and created a Reorganization Plan in US Bankruptcy Court.

As a member of the ISKCON legal team which defended against the Texas lawsuit and as Special Master appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to evaluate the claims and oversee distribution of the $9.5 million dollar Youth Fund, it is clear that these spurious allegations are far removed from both an understanding of the legal mechanics involved as well as the actual motivation of ISKCON leadership.

The fact is that the bankruptcy legal strategy originated with counsel and was subsequently presented by counsel to ISKCON management – not the other way around. Moreover, it was the studied opinion of counsel that the case filed against ISKCON in Texas was fully defensible based on the applicable statutes of limitations.

ISKCON leadership ultimately decided to create a multimillion dollar compensation fund under the auspices of the Bankruptcy Court to uniformly compensate as many Gurukulis as possible rather than defend and prevail against those ninety-one Texas plaintiffs. This approach resulted in placing more money in more Gurukuli hands – not less money in fewer Gurukuli hands.

The resulting legal strategy chosen by the ISKCON leadership achieved three important goals. First, it protected the good name and honor of Srila Prabhupada from spurious attack. Second, it saved temples from closure that may have been sold to cover legal fees if the case had gone through an expensive trial process. And third, in addition to the original ninety-one Gurukulis who sued ISKCON, almost six hundred more young devotees who had suffered abuse were located and included in the final settlement, and thus allocated their fair share of the compensation fund.

ISKCON’s open, innovative and straightforward approach in the ISKCON Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan was well received by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. During the confirmation hearing in West Virginia, Hon. L. Edward Friend II of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court stated he was “impressed” with the Reorganization Plan and with all the effort that it took to put together, and that he “wholeheartedly endorsed the Plan” as being in the “best interests of the creditors [Gurukuli tort claimants].”

Hon. L. Edward Friend II also noted that the Plan “makes sense” in that it will avoid numerous lawsuits which would otherwise waste assets that will be used for the benefit of the claimants, and then went on to praise the Plan as a “model” that should be followed in similar cases throughout the country.

The Court’s unbiased, objective and laudatory analysis of the Reorganization Plan eviscerates the ludicrous assertion that the Chapter 11 case was a secret, corrupt conspiratorial plot devised by ISKCON leaders to disenfranchise the Movement’s youth or to punish any individual or group. Disparaging statements along this line serve no purpose other than to insult and vilipend ISKCON’s sincere, long term commitment to the Movement’s youth.

Thus, from my perspective as legal counsel and Special Master in the bankruptcy proceedings, it is abundantly clear that the Reorganization Plan would not have been successful were it not for the day-after-day devotional commitment of innumerable devotees, GBC members, gurus, sannyasis, temple presidents, regional leaders, congregational leaders, supporters and other well wishers from around the world who – with genuine care and loving support – voluntarily took on the responsibility and shouldered the burden of financing the Youth Fund to successful completion.

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1 Unregistered

As an abused gurukuli I would like to say that you’re article has touched me deeply - matter of fact it’s kept me awake at night so I’m taking some time to reply while trying to remain respectful. If Iskcon decided to go chapter 11 it was not out of genuine care and loving support but more because of the danger it faced from its children. Chapter 11 is not a product of love and caring. When I was in LA in 1991 for the gurukula reunion there was a meeting with several ex gurukulis and some GBC members. During that meeting it was told that if the GBC didn’t do anything to help those who were abused there would be dangerous consequences for ISKCON. Despite that nothing was done and one GBC even went on Indian television totally denying that anything happened. Over the years I still hear of abuse cases in ISKCON and protection of the abusers. Though I believe that some of the members on the chapter 11 panel may have acted with love and caring for the abused children, the leitmotif of this move was to not lose loads of money and temples in future court cases which would be bound to come up. And it’s normal that ISKCON reacted that way. Anybody in such a position would react so as to come out of it with the least harm possible. What I find disturbing is the lack of honesty and real outreach. If I took the money offered by ISKCON it is because I know I will never get anything else. Matter of fact, the Prabhupada disciple who abused me over a 4 year period is still attending his local temple. When I approached my local GBC (his local GBC too) he took one year to get back to me to tell me that he was deeply touched by my story and would take care of the matter soon. He didn’t do anything. My CPO representative was most unqualified to deal with this situation so I let the whole thing go. If these abuse cases had been treated with genuine care and loving support maybe you wouldn’t have had to counsel a chapter 11. I believe ISKCON has a long way to go to actually give a safe environement for its children. I’m actually quite surprised that you wrote this article - I mean it’s a bit asking for trouble.

Comment posted by veda on March 19th, 2012
2 Unregistered

Abuse, abuser, abused.

Just see after all how hell can brake loose sparked on simple misuse of one’s free will by certain individuals. Misuse of one’s free will is the undermining disease of material reasoning at the very root of material existence. All in forgetfulness of one’s true function as a soul.

What can we expect in the material world? We are not in the spiritual world. We are in the material atmosphere and that means that souls will misuse their free will. It is unfortunate and the cause of reactionary work. God knows who has perverted illusions, who wants what and who will be involved. It is far from pleasant from A to Z for all concerned to say the least. This is how strong the power of illusion can be over the living entities who can be so easily bewildered at times. This is nothing new in the material world and the same will prove to repeat itself over and over in the material world.

But still, despite all the sufferings involved, we have nothing left except to look at where we stand in relationship to our soul, abuser or abused. Where are we heading? The spiritual values of the soul are our only true and everlasting treasure. How much successful are we as far as these are concerned? In all humility we should look for them. Ahaituki apratihata. No material conditions can hamper our will to find them if we at all are serious to look for them despite our conditional life.

The spiritual values of the soul are to be discovered and realized throughout the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and past acharyas. This is our only solace for our yearning soul, hankering for ultimate shelter at Lord Krishna’s lotus feet in a spirit of revived honest use of one’s free will.

Care is provided by Providence in its own way, but especially if we are caring to take care of our soul. Everything else can be favorably adjusted and rectified for oneself over time. And then we can start thinking being an instrument to provide care to others. A doctor must know how to heal himself before healing others. That is healthy understanding. Similarly the mission of Srila Prabhupada is of caring for the whole world, and we have to be real clean individuals to be helpful in his great mission.

Thanks to the author of the article and Veda for both of your straightforward writings. Hare Krishna.

Comment posted by Prabhava Vigraha das on April 13th, 2012

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