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GBC Statement Concerning Dhanurdhara Swami

Wednesday, 14 June 2006 / Published in Announcements, GBC, Ongoing debates / 9,949 views

The GBC body were deeply saddened on hearing the news of the suicide of Ananda prabhu. Ananda lived an extraordinary life and throughout it all it was so evident that he had such a big and loving heart.

Ananda’s journey began as the son of devotee parents in ISKCON. Tragically, even though the least a family could have expected of Srila Prabhupada’s movement – that their children would be protected, cared for, loved and nicely educated – sadly this was not the case for Ananda, as well as many other children entrusted to the care of ISKCON.

Of course this is not the whole story of Ananda’s life but it does represent his formative years, those tender character-building years that would resonate and impact on the rest of his life.

ISKCON has made much progress since the days of widespread abuse in its school’s not least the efforts of the ISKCON Child Protection Office. Many of the worst abusers have been brought to justice to the satisfaction of not only the general devotees but also more importantly the victims.

One of the more difficult cases has been that of Dhanurdhara Swami. Even though the CPO has processed his case, there is still much concern, and anger, related to this case. The GBC is keenly aware of the controversy surrounding this issue and is actively working to reach a resolution that, hopefully, will be acceptable to Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s youth past, present and future as well as the general assembly of vaisnavas.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,

Praghosa dasa. ISKCON CCO

19 Responses to “GBC Statement Concerning Dhanurdhara Swami”

  1. Braja Sevaki says :

    Thank you for addressing this issue with intelligence and a clear head. And compassion: for ALL involved. It’s a relief after the emotional venting seen on other sites interested on in the repetitive mantra “the GBC is doing nothing” or is “too scared” to address the issues. Seems a lot of devotees have little or no idea of what goes on ISKCON…I hope this site contributes to alleviating that problem.

  2. Radhika seva dasi says :

    If wants to discuss Ananda’s suicide, I hope it will do a better job than other sites in informing devotees about other extremely significant incidents in Ananda’s life beyond his horrible Gurukula experience. This includes his horrifically traumatic experiences as a soldier who disarmed landmines in the recent US war with Iraq, the death of many of his close friends of his that were fellow soldiers, his serious personal injuries in Iraq that were to leave him without the ability to walk, and his extensive subsequent involvement with a terribly dangerous mix of anti-psychosis medications that warned of suicidal behavior as likely side-effects.

  3. pavankumar says :

    It is encouraging indeed that the GBC has finally commented about Ananda prabhu’s tragic suicide. The GBC has a wonderful oppourtunity to demonstrate their caring attitude towards the vaisnavas by asking Dhanudara Swami to step down from his position as an initiating Guru. By asking him to step down it will show a zero tolerance policy towards child abusers in ISKCON.

  4. Locanananda dasa says :

    Dear Pragosa prabhu,

    Thank you for acting as GBC spokesman in offering condolences upon the loss of one of our devotees, Ananda prabhu. Please note that the present outcry is not limited to those who were abused in Gurukula. There are also many godbrothers and godsisters of ours who believe it is indecent, insensitive and unjust to allow someone who was directly involved in the mistreatment of children, Srila Prabhupada’s children, to be worshiped as though he were a sterling example of tolerance, mercy and compassion, the qualities that exemplify a saintly person. titiksavah karunikah suhrdah sarva-dehinam. A sadhu is the friend of all living entities. He has no enemies. He is peaceful. He abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.

    You say the case of Dhanurdhara Swami is a difficult one. I see it as one that is easily
    resolved. What is most important for the GBC’s credibility is to act decisively and expeditiously to curtail Maharaja’s role as an initiator in ISKCON, for life. I see no harm in his attempt to preach Krishna consciousness or write books if he has a receptive audience. Secondly, all worship of Dhanurdhara Maharaja should stop, and that goes for those who are instructed by him as well as those who have been initiated by him. He can direct all of his students to worship Srila Prabhupada, and, by so doing, both he and they will remain in our society and continue to make advancement in Krishna consciousness.

    Maharaja has already offered to stop initiating, and the GBC should accept his offer because it was inspired by Krishna from within his heart. Because the GBC did not accept his withdrawal, Krishna is now speaking to you through the enraged devotees who are offended by your lack of vigilance in curbing the activities of a known child abuser in ISKCON. In how many ways must Krishna speak to you before you agree to execute His will?

    Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
    Locanananda dasa (ACBSP)

  5. simonkitty says :

    Imagine a restaurant, where the only thing the staff ever talked about was the garbage. How stinky the garbage was, how the garbage inconvenianced the staff & made everything else dirty & contaiminated. Imagine the staff talking endlessly about who neglected their duty to put out the garbage, always angry about it.

    Imagine a restaurant, where noone talked about better menus, better advertising, better training – noone talks about how to be more friendly & serve customers better.

    Iskcon is like this restaurant at the moment. This ongoing issue is sucking the motivation & vitality out of devotees when we need it most. We need to be talking about so many other things besides this ! I want to work for that glorious spiritual organization that Prabhupada founded … I want to believe in it deeply.

    I would be favourable towards seeing this entire topic put to bed permanently and so I NEVER see the words Swami & Abuse in the same sentance ever again !

    Simon Kitty ( aspiring JPS )

  6. BhaktaMikael says :

    May I ask, how is it possible that a sannyasi and GBC authorized initiating spiritual master can be a child abuser? Hos is it possible? On another page of, Romapada Swami explains about the Degree of advancement of spiritual master, saying among other things that such a spiritual master should be on the topmost platform of devotional service, i.e. an uttama adhikari. How is it possible for an uttama adhikari to be a child abuser, having to resign from being guru?
    Even though there is a quite recent GBC resolution declaring that an ISKCON guru doesn´t exactly have to be on the topmost platform, still we see that ISKCON gurus are treated as above everyone else in terms of advancement. Until they fall down. Then they are rejected, leaving place for the next “authorized” guru. Who authorizes? Do we follow Shrila Prabhupada´s instructions or not? When will this habit of downfalling “topmost devotees” end?

  7. BhaktaMikael says :

    Dear Simon Kitty, PAMHO. AGTSP.
    You say you don´t want to ever see the words Swami and Abuse in the same sentence again. Does this mean that you are longing for a cleansed ISKCON, where such things are not even possible? Or do you mean that you just want these things to be kept in the closet?
    ys, Bhakta Mikael

  8. Braja Sevaki says :

    Bhakta Michael,

    While your desire for an end to child abuse is understandable, stop speaking of a “cleansed ISKCON” as if it has so far to go to catch up to the rest of the world’s standards. What kind of vacuum do you live in? Do you realize the person upstairs from you or downstairs from you or next door, or even in the same room, is a child abuser? Are you so naive that you think these things can be “stopped” in Kali yuga? As for your comment about gurus falling down, if it was a problem only experienced by ISKCON, then why did Narahari Sakara write of it 500 years ago? Your expectations are clearly the result of a lack of understanding the philosophy and the workings of the material energy. On top of that, they completely dismiss the most important element: the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His eternal associates.

    Read more, pray for understanding, and consider silence as an option.

  9. simonkitty says :

    Response to Mikael Prabhu,

    Of course it is human nature that there will always be a rotten apple in any religion or organization. That is human nature.
    But in a fully developed religious organization, there are standard organizational responses towards anybody who is accused / suspected of child abuse.
    We, I believe, are currently lacking this. The best we got, is a rule which says that an individual is innocent until proved guilty in a civil trial. Which is absurd … it is actually very difficult & a lengthy process to even get someone into a civil trial & even then it is a big challenge to get a conviction.
    It was also pointed out in the article \”Sacrifiial Lambs\”, that iskcon has a long-standing taboo against challenging authority. So under the present system, it is difficult to remove or even speak against an iskcon authority who is abusing his position.

    Personally, I don\’t think the petition has a hope of passing. The GBC will continue to ignore it, knowing that time will eventually make people forget.
    If it was passed, it would start a \’Witch-Hunt\’ which could target existing leaders.
    The only way it could possibly pass, is if we add 2 new clauses.
    (1) An amnesty ( forgive & forget ) for all current iskcon leaders.
    (2) Immunity from any further investigation for all current iskcon leaders.
    ( this I think, would also save Jayapataka Swami from becoming a target !!! )
    It could take many more decades until iskcon evolves the procedures to properly deal with child abuse … and I predict we will see many more abuses of power like Kirtananda Swami before iskcon leaders finally wake up & smell the coffee.

    So, we just need to be tolerant.

    Yours Simon Kitty


  10. Al Wolf wrote:

    At first I thought it cut and dry that Dhanurdhara Swami should be removed, but the problem is that he is a guru. But there has been another precedent set in this regard. Kirtanananda Swami was removed for abusing children.

    Perhaps a reminder of that and an article showing the difference between what Kirtanananda did and what Dhanurdhara Swami did might be helpful. And although it takes a lot to do it, if Dhanurdhara Swami admits to smashing boys heads against the wall out of malice, if that is what he did, then that admission of guilt will go a long ways towards the devotees thinking that he at least is honest about it and has come clean. Otherwise it seems that offering obeisances isn\’t going to work this time.

  11. BhaktaMikael says :

    Dear Braja Sevaki prabhu, Dandavats!
    Thank you for your humble comments! Your solution seems to be to keep one’s mouth shut and let the glorious abusers come and go. Sorry, but this is a forum meant for speaking, not for silence. I never said it was an ISKCON specific problem. But as long as we are in ISKCON, we should clean up our own act first, before saving the world. I perfectly understand the powers of the material energy, and I am not surprised (as you seem to suggest) that there are bound to be members in ISKCON who will turn out to be something opposite to what was expected of them. This is natural since we are all individuals from different backgrounds. My reaction, however, is against the ISKCON system of authority, when it seems to sanction all kinds of misbehaviour and let these so called gurus and leaders stay in their positions even after they have been exposed as cheaters. The standard required in ISKCON for becoming guru and treated as topmost devotee (as good as God) seems relatively low in comparison to the criteria of a pure devotee as described in shastra. That is my only objection.

  12. Braja Sevaki says :

    Bhakta Mikael, it would be worthwhile discussing this with you if you showed some understanding of humility, the system of authority in ISKCON, and sastra: three topics that you have brought up but so far have shown no acumen in.

    Hare Krsna.

  13. BhaktaMikael says :

    Braja Sevaki, thanks again for your kind tone! Since you are expert in the three topics mentioned, why don´t you educate me (and others), instead of cutting me off with that attitude of disgust? If you´re more advanced (than me), shouldn´t you be more humble and willing to help also?
    Bhakta Mikael

  14. Braja Sevaki says :

    Bhakta Mikael: I have experienced your vitriol, offensiveness, inability to hear, and rudeness over the years on various forums, always in the capacity of thinking that you — an uninitiated aspirant whose position is questionable — know more than those senior devotees you are so swift to attack. Nothing in your speech or behavior indicates to me that you’ve attained the desire to be of any service, to contribute a positive comment or action, or indeed — as you put it above — to be “helped.” You can write as many posts as you like in the smug tone that is your trademark, but it’s of absolutely no use to you or anyone else — you are just another unidentified nobody ranting away on the internet, thinking they know so much about what ails ISKCON. The only thing you’ve been right about is that I’m disgusted.

    So in that respect, there’s nothing left for me to say to you, and your responses will go unanswered. No doubt your ego will be unable to resist the opportunity to have the last word…congratulations in advance.

  15. Braja Sevaki says :

    Dear Simon: Re your text, “Iskcon is like this restaurant at the moment. This ongoing issue is sucking the motivation & vitality out of devotees when we need it most. We need to be talking about so many other things besides this ! I want to work for that glorious spiritual organization that Prabhupada founded … I want to believe in it deeply.” I too am tired of hearing of one issue in ISKCON, as though the entire movement revolves around it. As usual, the emotional and uninformed are the loudest voice, but as Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, “The jackals may howl but the caravan will pass…”
    There is much to celebrate in ISKCON — many successes that go on under the direction of Srila Prabhupada, our previous acaryas, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Daily, thousands of people worldwide are having Krishna brought to them via book distribution, sankirtan, temple programs, harinama. Nothing can stop this movement. All glories to Danudhara Swami for his years of dedicated service to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. I, along with many, many others, pray it continues.

    Your servant
    Braja Sevaki dd

  16. BhaktaMikael says :

    Dear Simon Kitty, PAMHO. AGTSP!
    Thanks for responding. Yes, obviously there is a lot in this movement that requires our tolerance and patience. Nice to see that you have dynamic viewpoints and the ability to express them in a civilized manner. If devotees can´t even speak to each other without yelling and being abusive in language, then where can there be any hope?
    ys, Bhakta Mikael

  17. Jahnudvip says :

    It’s notewothy that people like Bh. Mikael are more concerned with the wrappings than the contents. I guess that’s understandable of the non devotees who live in a culture steeped in facade, but it’s alarming to find the same in those who aspire to be devotees. They take great pains to point out when others express themselves in a manner not to their liking, but at the same time they reserve the right to respond as they feel like. But they never address the essential subject related to the philosophy. Is this kind of double standard something they have learned from devotees? I think not. That’s the kind of behavior you learn from the modern global culture. That’s what they teach in the modern educational institutions, which BTW Srila Prabhupada called slaughterhouses.

    Let me ask you this, Bh. Mikael, what makes you think you are qualified to understand what’s going on in a movement like ISKCON on the basis of your obvious secular thinking? What makes you think you can understand what goes on in a spiritual movement under the guidance of Krishna and Prabhupada from a perception like yours? which is obviously conditioned by your local culture. Just because your your local culture has turned global doesn’t mean it’s of any value.

    What’s your spiritual merit? Have you carefully studied all of Srila Prabhupada’s books under the guidance of experienced and loyal devotees in ISKCON? You don’t sound like it. You sound like any other person with a polished false ego I meet on the internet every day. These people always become very offended if the people they discuss with are not extremely polite and softspoken. We see the same phenomenon in ISKCON. First the neophytes attack everything and everyone in ISKCON, then, when devotees of ISKCON defend themselves, the same neophytes whine about not being polite, they complain that we are not showing good manners. Manners according to whom? That’s another question I have for you, Bh. Mikael. What makes you think you are fit to teach me manners?

    Think about it. Who taught you your value system? You are certainly not expressing Srila Prabhupada’s value-system. Where do you get all these ideas of humanism, neatralism, relatavism and so on, that your value system obviously is based on? Why don’t you answer me these simple questions before we get into a whole discussion about the faults of ISKCON? I know the faults of ISKCON, much better than you. I don’t need some bhakta proud of his university degree telling me what ails ISKCON. I have a much longer and dedicated experience in ISKCON than you have.

    I am sorry for this long ranting. I guess what I am trying to tell you, is why don’t you learn philosophy from some devotees before you try to understand what’s going on in ISKCON? In the mean time, while you are learning to see things from a philosphical perspective rather that being endlessly hung up on the specific manner in which people express themselves, continue with your nice service designing the Newsletter for the Gothenburg temple. That’s an impoertant service which you are obviously good at. I take it you are the same Bh. Mikael. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  18. Jahnudvip says :

    Simon Kitty said this:

    I would be favourable towards seeing this entire topic put to bed permanently and so I NEVER see the words Swami & Abuse in the same sentance ever again !

    Simon Kitty ( aspiring JPS )

    The real point is that you shouldn’t worry yourselves about these things. The only thing you should be worrying about as an aspiring disciple is to chant very nice and focused rounds and diligently study Srila Prabhupada’s books under the guidance of his loyal followers. Why should you concern yourself with the inevitable traits of Kali-yuga as if it is something new or shocking? Better concern yourself with your purification and let others deal with their purification. You are in absolutely no position to understand what goes on in ISKCON before you have been trained by ISKCON devotees.

    If you want to sit outside and points fingers, that’s one thing, but I know for sure it’s not going to help your spiritual development.

  19. BhaktaMikael says :

    Dear Jahnudvipa, PAMHO. AGTSP.
    Thank you for your comments. I don´ t think it´s a good idea for me to give a lenghty response here in this public forum. I don´t wish to waste any more webspace on off-topic responses related to accusations against my person. Who I am is really not important. The topic of discussion is. But it is obvious that certain devotees are obsessed with personal qualifications pertaining to one´s hierarchical position in ISKCON, rather than being interested in give and take. To me this sounds like bodily consciousness rather than Krishna consciousness. I have more interesting things to do than to meditate upon the amount of years I have been in ISKCON, how many books I have read, how grand my institutional merits are etc etc.
    I have certainly not attempted to teach you anything. Your whole message is full of personal attacks and jumping to false conclusions. I don´t know you, and you don´t know me. If we want to get to know one another, this forum is not the place. If you want to say something to me in private you are most welcome to do so.

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