Déjà vu

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By Caitanya Bhagavat das

Nothing has changed since 2000 when I was initiated by Dhanurdhara Swami under GBC approval. I have read the case file and was asked to sign a paper saying so, as an ISKCON member in good standing and in faith. This was bona fide contract then. I’ve been in ISKCON since 1993, when the investigations into gurukula abuse began to gain serious momentum.

There has been no new case, no new findings and no formal accusation since. Neither appeal to the final decision or sentence, nor amendment to the existing case has been made. No formal committees have been formed to revisit Maharaja’s case and no further investigations have gone on. Rather, the only thing that has happened since then is that certain people who are clearly unfamiliar with the actual case file have begun to post on message boards, demanding Dhanurdhara Swami leave ISKCON.

This is especially surprising and painful to me because I thought we went through this already in the 1990’s. The arguments are the same, the recommendations are the same, and the charged emotion of the issue has not abated one bit. The only difference is that it’s not the 1990’s; it’s 2006 and instead of closed conference discussions, the debate has moved to the open internet. How could message boards change my life so drastically? Is this mob-justice, so openly in ISKCON?

To those who have posted their opinions, my question to you is this: Have you ever read the case file? I have. This issue has already had extensive judicial treatment. Investigations have been made, findings documented, and verdicts handed down. Each instance was carefully researched and addressed. Sentence has been served…all spanning over a decade! Officially, it’s case closed; at least as far as Maharaja’s involvement is concerned. Now, barely 10 months into his reinstatement, Dhanurdhara Swami has found himself facing a flood of Internet postings prompted by the unfortunate death of Ananda prabhu.

While I can’t begin to comprehend the enormous loss we as a society of devotees feel in this tragedy, I do see the rage it has incited. Can uninformed rage be used in Krsna’s service? While intense emotions are a natural result of grieving, we have let our guard down and allowed them to pervert our sanity. These postings conveniently ignore any of the past history of this case and offer no reference to Maharaja’s efforts toward rectification and healing at all. Instead of inviting us to examine the gains we have made in the fields of child protection and internal justice, the blame has again been laid on Dhanurdhara Swami for the abhorrent conditions of our educational system movement-wide at that time. Again, not much has changed. And just like in the 1990’s, these postings have caused the North American GBC to quietly push him out like an expendable liability. Their silence on this matter is troubling, as I do not believe for one second that any devotee should be left to the tearing hands of mob justice. If sanity does not prevail, then at least let there be civility. That is why we have rules and government in human society, isn’t it? May we please have it in our devotee society?

So now that Maharaja has been forced from behind closed doors to step out, let me pose this question to you all: What are the disciples supposed to do? Give up their guru although nothing has changed and despite a decade of investigations, findings, reports, decisions, court cases, bannings, verdicts, sentences and re-admittances? I did not then, and will not now. Are we supposed to lay down our beads, vows, names and faith? What has changed? Can Maharaja still chant Hare Krsna with the mercy of Lord Caitanya? Can he still impart the gayatri mantra? Are we as disciples no longer considered good followers of the Hare Krsna movement as well? We were authorized by ISKCON when we took initiation, are we still authorized now? Or would you ask us to be summarily kicked out of ISKCON?

I would like to hear the answers to these questions from those who authorized my initiation in the first place. Why do I have to hear it from some faceless poster on a message board? Even in secular society, such claims made by questionable and anonymous individuals over the internet carry little weight.

No, if my godbrothers, godsisters or I were to be asked to leave, I would first like to hear it from someone actually authorized to make that decision, not by someone with an axe to grind. Secondly I would ask those devotees who authorized my initiation to please stand up and defend your decisions, or at least explain your actions if you feel you were in error. Were you acting to protect us in our seva? Were you acting outside your authority in making such concessions or were you given the green light to do so? If not, then what were the repercussions for you from managerial superiors? And finally, if asked to leave, I would simply tell you “No.” Your rubber-stamping of my faith means nothing to me. My guru has not ordered me to leave, so therefore I am staying.

Do we have enough faith in our Hand-of-God legislation that we can offenselessly extend it to our devotee relationships by legislating diksa, forgiveness and healing? If you had that much faith in our judgment, then wouldn’t you honor the decision to allow Maharaja’s return to active preaching in ISKCON?

You didn’t attack him when he was invited back after what the chosen judges considered repentance. Was that court legitimate or was it a sham? If you have a grievance, bring it to that court. That is where the onus lies, not with Maharaja who has paid for his mistakes. Mistakes you never attempt to clarify or define for the uninformed public.

If you believed in the power of legislation, you would not irresponsibly push your own agendas, for fear of inciting a mob riot. Rather, you would acknowledge the fact that we have civilized committees whose duty it is to discern fact from fiction and hand down a verdict, as they have done so in this case nearly 10 years ago!

If you had faith that bhakti translated neatly into legislation, then see how Dhanurdhara Maharaja served his sentence and still remained faithful, humble and repentant. You would see his continued attempts to rectify himself in the society of devotees and bring healing to the issue under the guidance of advanced Vaishnavas.

If you had faith in legislation, then you would turn your frustrations and anger upon those who make it and ask them why they were “lenient” and gave Dhanurdhara Swami “preferential treatment,” if that’s what you choose to believe.

So for all the steps taken already to rectify this horrible situation all around, what has your idea of justice produced? A good and dedicated follower of Srila Prabhupada has been pushed out of the movement, again. If that is indeed justice, then what part of the problem has been solved?

In India, the rule of propaganda is a simple one: Whoever has the loudest speaker gets heard. Volume equals truth. “The truth,” therefore, is whatever information you repeatedly hear the loudest. However, the danger of speaking loudly is that you might not be speaking rightly. But that’s an easy problem to solve: Just check your facts before you speak. Read the case file and see Maharaja’s record for yourself, then decide what you believe based on knowledge, not propaganda from those who seek to discredit the current ISKCON guru structure, or the silence of those who seem unable to explain their actions and decisions.

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1 Suresh das

Sorry you have had to endure so much trouble. It does in many ways seem as if ISKCON is making a scapegoat out of your guru, when so many others were potentially involved as well, and seem to be getting off Scott-free. At the same time my question is: did any of the children the Swami abused have any say whatsoever in his reform? Everyone is saying justice has been served and this is one of the problems with the current legal system at least in the USA today - there is often no justice for the victims of crime. The true purpose of any legal system is to keep law-abiding citizens from taking the law into their own hands, and allowing legal authorities to exact punishments for crime, not to provide a deterrent to crime. The method of reform which your guru endured was made up by a group of people who don’t necessarily represent the victims, speak for the victims, or have allowed his victims any voice in whether justice was ever served. Many of the victims chose not to sue ISKCON or take any money from ISKCON. At the same time they feel betrayed because no justice was ever served in their eyes. And this is part of the problem.

Comment posted by Suresh das on June 29th, 2006
2 Unregistered

Thank you very much for your posting. You are not alone in your feelings toward the unfair treatment of your Guru Maharaja. I sent in an opinion to Dandavats.com last week about this issue, but it was not posted. Again, the saddest part of this whole controversy is the silence of the GBC! Why don’t they defend their judgment? Remember Bhishma was silent at the disrobing of Draupadi? This silence was a form of acceptance. Has the GBC now changed its judgment due to the opinions of an out spoken group? If so, then why do we need a GBC? Let’s just throw all criminal matters to the hands of the angry public? If the GBC does not endorse the current mob mentality then please speak up! We are waiting to hear what you have to say!

Moderator’s note: The comment you are refering to above was posted here.

Comment posted by Jagai-Nitai Dasa on June 30th, 2006
3 Unregistered

RE: Déj Vu

By Nikunjavasini dasi

In Caitanya Bhagavat’s article he claims that noting has changed since 2000 since he signed a contract with ISKCON and took initiation from Dhanardhara Maharaja. He said he read the CPO report and was aware of his guru’s past when he (as an adult) made a commitment to be in that relationship.

Unfortunately, we parents and our children did not have the same opportunity to know what we were getting into at the time when we placed our children under the care of Dhanardhara. We were lied to, kept away from our children and were assured that everything was going on just fine while we were out raising millions of dollars to support the temples. Meanwhile in gurukulas throughout the world, our children were being molested, beaten, starved, deprived, and sometimes they were very sick and we didn’t even know.

Caitanya Bhagavat says, “The only difference (now) is that it’s not the 1990’s; it’s 2006 and instead of closed conference discussions, the debate has moved to the open internet. How could message boards change my life so drastically?” Thank you for informing us that there was a private debate among ISKCON’s leaders over this issue and thank you for implying that there were many “objections” to Dhanardhara Maharaja’s being approved ad guru. The problem is that most devotees did not know any of this was taking place and that is why this is such an outcry now. The general population of devotees did not become aware that Dhanardhara was initiating disciples until we read Shakuntala’s article after Ananda’s suicide. That is why there is an outcry now in 2006! We are outraged!

He claims that those who are yelling loudly about this now are uninformed. He says he joined ISKCON in 1993. Well hello friend! We parents and victims have been dealing with the vivid details of these events since our young sons returned from Vrindavan, mine in 1984. There has been plenty of information out there on websites, youth newsletters, youth gathering and reunions, as well as personal conversations with victims from may different gurukulas. And yes, I have read the case file and I know judges who were on the case. I personally know both heads of the CPO and dozens of victims as well.

Why I am upset about this now is that the only thing I didn’t know in all of this is what happened on closed conference discussion this was all decided by those who we put our faith in to do the right thing. We expect ISKCON to stand up for what is right, protection of Vaisnava’s; women, children, and men alike! What we did not know until now is that Dhanardhara Maharaja has been initiating disciples and as a representative of ISKCON for the last several years.

He may think all of the recent discussion is surprising and painful? How do you think we felt when we found out how our children were mistreated by Vaisnavas while in Holy Dhama, Vrindavan? That is surprising and painful as well. So please, don’t misjudge us who are yelling loudly about this on the internet. We are more informed that you. We have lived through the pain of our children growing up with heavy burden of abuse on their heads. Don’t be so self righteous and naïve.

So the disciples have read some words written down on a piece of paper put out by the CPO but let me ask him this. Has he ever personally spoken with any of the victims or their parents? Has he ever seen the abuse happen right before his eyes? How would he feel then? He has only one perspective because of his love for his guru. Please allow us our perspective.

Just remember, when we get involved in a committed relationship, regardless of what type (marriage, parent/child, guru/disciple, etc.) we have to live with the person’s past along with their present lives. Dhanardhara M.’s disciples have made a choice. So unfortunately they have to hear their guru be criticized by his godbrothers and godsisiters. That’s the brakes! It comes with the territory. We all have to live with our choices. Rest assured, this issue will not go away, so he may have to get use to this inconvenience for the rest of his life. I guess he’ll have to live with the pain of it just as we as parents of victims have had to live with our pain our entire lives as well.

Comment posted by Nikunjavasini dasi on July 2nd, 2006
4 Unregistered

Moderator’s Note: Just to clarify - the author of this article (Praghosa ACBSP) is not the same Praghosa who is the editor of the Dandavats website

Dear Devotees,

I would like to offer a comment on the case of HH Dhanudhara Swami.

Fact: He admitted to being guilty of mismanagement and abusive dealings with the students in his care in Vrindavana.

Fact: He admitted to being untrained and thus naive in all matters pertaining to the education of the students in his care.

Fact: ISKCON was found to be negligent in the extreme in its oversight of this school and all others as well during this period.

Fact: The parents of the students were guilty - in the extreme of - of naivete and ignorance - where it pertained to the supervison of such a situation. Each parent was INDIVIDUALLY responsible for their own child’s care and ignorantly placed too much unwarranted trust in others to see to ALL the interests of their child in their training and protection.

Consequently - The children suffered as a result of neglect and deficient training and experience by FIRST and FOREMOST - their parents….who entrusted them to the impersonal care of the institution of ISKCON …..who then entrusted them to the UNTRAINED and obviously ill-motivated leadership of men who were clearly in the light of the clear scrutiny of hindsight - very ill suited to the occupation of teaching and caring for all the needs of chidren.

When I say that HH Dhanudara Swami was ill motivated - this is what I mean.

None of the boys were HIS sons. They were the results of the love and attachment felt by another man and his wife for one another. Taking responsibility for the results of another man’s sex life is unnatural UNLESS there is perceived gain on the part of he or she who does so. In all action - there is expectation of gain; MOTIVATION. This is clear. All action is predicated upon the perception that what is - is less desirable - than what ought be. So his own motivation could not have been the equal of the boys’ fathers. It would naturally be something else.

I do not know if Dhanudhara Swami was recruited to the positon or if he actually voluntarily pursued it. It really makes no difference. At some point…he perceived that he would gain something personally or would gain the satisfaction of pleasing the Lord or our Spiritual Master in assuming this responsibility. Again it makes no difference. What is important to know is that he had no experience in his past that prepared him for the task. He was not schooled for this. His performance was not reviewed for this as well. And most importantly - he had no personal connection to these boys. He was not their parent and had invested NOTHING in them personally; neither his hard earned money or the naturally affectionate heart of a parent.

Thus his only real motivation was his sense of personal success in achieving whatever he percieved as the ultimate goal in the endeavor.

In the real world - if our livelihood can be affected by failure to meet the expectations of the market - THE MARKET WILL GO ELSEWHERE and we are financially FIRED. So Dhanudhara Swami was simply discovered to be vitally deficient in meeting the most important expectations of the THE MARKET; ie the parents and the children themselves. They were not buying - what he was selling. Simple as that. He failed to prepare himself sufficiently to deal with the motivations of those who were far more personally invested in the future of those children than he was - THE PARENTS! This lack of foresight on his part was immature and naturally irresponsible. However though the subsequent result of this immaturity was decidedly unpleasant - there is no evidence to indicate that it was intentionally malefic. His ignorance was more than anything, a result of his not being personally invested in the business of childrearing to the degree of the parents. This is reality. In addition, his teaching was not a profession. Thus his source of income, his livelihood, his means to maintain his own family of “mouths to feed” was not at risk either. To make it more than this is misguided.

The impersonal formation of a poorly managed, poorly staffed, poorly funded and most importantly parentally neglected boarding school is an open invitation to every conceivable reversal a concerned parent could imagine. Marriage should be seen correctly first and foremost as a business venture. It is a contractual agreement between a man and a woman to care for eachother and any subsequent children that result from this contractual agreement. The parents invest an enormous amount of labor in this venture. Over the span of 30 years - in today’s real world - they invest - at even a minimum - an accumulated 1 million dollars and thousands and thousands of hours in the care of this “venture”. The children and their care and upbringing are the literal “fruit” of their efforts. Who invests 1 million dollars in a business venture without demanding as much oversight in the preservation of that investment as is humanely possible? Only a naive or rank neophyte in business would do this. Sadly - people do squander their “venture capital” every day to the tune of billions. But the old saying goes “Burn me once…shame on you! Burn me twice? Shame on ME”.

It is natural - when such loss of capital occurs, to look for someone to blame. The emotional do this in order to assuage their feelings if guilt. The rational do it in order to stanch the “bloodletting”; the continued loss of capital.

The children learned long ago - in the moment really - that their situation - under the “supervision” of that ISKCON school and Dhanudhara Swami personally - was something they would not VOLUNTARILY seek out and accept. Thus it was contaminated with COERCION.

The parents then discovered through the children - that this situtation was not something they wished to continue to support…in any way.

They then lodged all their reservations and/or outrage with the management of the school, over the “losses” they incurred by investing in a situation that did not meet with their expectations. The end result? They pulled the plug on the program. They voted - as any consumer does - with their feet - by withdrawing their “investment”; the children. The program ended. Very simple.

NOW - what was finalized years ago.. has been resurrected by those who have something else to gain in doing so.

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness failed in all its responsibilities where it concerned the expectations of the parents. ISKCON implied a committment to excellence in all matters pertaining to the care and education of the parents children. They failed their clientele - the customer - the parents. The parents voted with their feet and walked away.

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness then proceeded to assign the lion’s share of responsibility for the failures of the school on the shoulders of the men involved. This was an emotional effort. It was not a rational effort. Since Dhanudhara Swami was acting as “agent” of the institution - his insufficient training is a direct result of a collusion of ignorance and irresponsible actions by both the parents and the institution. Unless he could be shown to have been qualified - yet willfully refused to employ his “qualifications” in the service of the parents and the institution - then his only real crime is being unqualified for the job and devoid of the desire or means to become so. Bas. We could argue till the cows come home over the use of the word “unqualified”. Many I am certain would prefer far more severe terms applied to what they view as particularly abhorrent behaviour or treatment of children. I understand that. But that is a digression that need not be entertained. I prefer to keep it clear. He was unqualified and HAD to cease and desist. He did and its over. The parents have to live with their own remorse in being so damn irresponsible and disconnected. The institution has to live with the results of the lawsuit. HH Dhanudhara has to live - with himself. Everyone has to endure their just desserts.

His transgressions - while they do demonstrate a seriously poor example of qualified teacher, father and dare I say - man - do not disqualify him from serving as sannyasi and samkirtan devotee. Simply put he is fine for adults - but completely unqualified for boys.

To place someone so ill-suited in charge of our sons is highly suspect and most fathers now know that this is the last place one should look for a mentor for his boys. Most sannyasis who have not taken sannyasa after years of committed family life are simply not qualified - principally by dint of their genuine lack of interest - to take personal care of all the needs of young boys. This requires a balanced approach that only real parenting can provide. Educating our boys - is OUR responsibilty. To imagine that someone else will care as deeply for my investment as I will - is strangely disconnected from reality. Possession is what turns sand into gold. This is never more true than where it concerns our family. Family life is for men and women who are invested and know just how much they are so.

Dhanudhara Swami’s leaving ISKCON is another matter. He has his own motivations for doing this that have nothing to do with his history as a lousy excuse for a director of an elementary boarding school.

The issue is simple. The parents and the children - upon learning of the deficiencies of that school - withdrew their support and participation long ago. New arrangements for the education of the children have taken its place. Naturally. Life has moved on.
What happened in the past…is past.

ISKCON has assuaged its guilt as it pertains to that particular school - by assigning the lion’s share upon the person of HH Dhanudhara Swami. He accepted their actions for reasons that only he needs to know. What is done is done. He has demonstrated … for years now ..that he has no interest in being involved in the “investments” of any couple. He has shown no interest in supervising children ever again. He HAS shown interest in sharing the opportunity of Krsna Consciousness with anyone who might equally value this opportunity. Those who appreciate his assistance…or merely his friendship and company - or even his guidance in this endeavor are going to continue to do so - no matter what anyone thinks, says or does. You can take that to the bank.

So there is no point in revisting this history under the influence of emotion. If this history is revisited at all - everyone’s interest will best be served if it is done so - by those who are either “invested’ (married with children) or planning to be, with a clear rational intention to learn from any mistakes made in the past - by anyone - that could in the end lead us to squander our efforts.

Those who clamor for an addtional “pound of flesh” from this devotee fail to understand the principle of liberty. There are presently men who have assigned a particular value to the association and guidance of HH Dhanudhara Swami. If they are indeed real men, they will not be moved by “The Crowd” as Gustave Le Bon would call them. They view him as essential or intrinsic to their own progress in their efforts to serve their own interests as they pertain to pleasing our Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna. How could the desires of others for any additional consequences move them to share their conclusions? If it is not voluntarily done - it would be meaningless. I am sure and certain that all of them know the details of the particular period of his history and simply do not recognize it as being relevant to their present relationship with Dhanudhara Swami the contributions they perceive his offering their Krsna Consciousness.

“A man’s mind changed against his will..is of the same opinion still”.
Now countless individuals clamor again…but for what really? He was found deficient, the school was closed, he is now no longer and has not been for many many years involved with anyone’s children, no one is at risk in any way as a consequence of his living and breathing on this planet and indeed many men have assigned their own value to his continuing to do so.

The sincere will move on with their own life; their own “venture”. There is no secret as regards the history of Dhanudhara Swami and the ISKCON boarding school in Vrindavana. Or anywhere for that matter. It was laid threadbare long ago. The lessons have been learned and clearly for the better. Commit ourselves to more carefully minding our spiritual “investments”; in all matters. That will prove most beneficial for all.

The most important lessons of all that has resulted in all of this history is this.

1. The International Society for Krsna Consciousness must either leave all schooling of children to the parents or do whatever is needed to give themselves the best possible chance of successfully executing this task with little chance of suffering the same horrible consequences as in the past. ISKCON opens its doors to all the inhabitants of this miserable planet. We come with a veritable “ocean of faults” and it takes pure and faithful chanting - for a long time - to free us all of our horrible disqualifications. Care must be taken to ensure that we do not hurt ourselves or eachother - while we are in the midst of the healing process.

2.When men and women embark upon the contractual committment of marriage, the general result to this.. is children. The raising of these children is an enormous financial and emotional responsibility that will place enormous demands upon us. No one will ever assign as much value to these children as we - their parents do. NEVER! No matter how much they crow about “loving children blah blah blah”. Consequently - NEVER ever pretend to imagine that you can do anything but watch over your “investments” - like the proverbial “Hawk”. The responsibility has always - AND ALWAYS WILL - rest first and finally - with the very two persons who made the decision to invite that soul to their protection - in the first place!

As a parent - I always assume that everyone wants to harm my child - then if they don’t I can enjoy being pleasantly surprised. I have always thought this way. Always will.

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada
Respectfully
Praghosa Das ACBSP (NYC)

Comment posted by Praghosa Das ACBSP on July 3rd, 2006
5 Unregistered

Dear Mother Nikunjavasini.
Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All respect to your senior status as a devotee. Please forgive me for any offences.

I am sorry for the pain you have been through. However, as you are a vaisnava and I think a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, I cannot understand why you would want others involved in this case to suffer as well.

You made the following comments:

“We have lived through the pain of our children growing up with heavy burden of abuse on their heads. Don’t be so self righteous and naïve.”
AND
“Rest assured, this issue will not go away, so he may have to get use to this inconvenience for the rest of his life. I guess he’ll have to live with the pain of it just as we as parents of victims have had to live with our pain our entire lives as well.”

Is it not time that you should remove this burden from “your head”. Why don’t you want this “to go away” and why do you want others to to suffer as well. Would it not be better for your spiritual advancement if you forgive and pray for the advancement of those that caused harm to you. After all, this is our siddhanta - forgiveness and tolerance.

You should read the post by Mahatma dasa. http://www.dandavats.com/?p=314#more-314. Forgiving has helped him so much in his spiritual life.

Read comment number 7 by Mother Visaka Priya under the post “WAS THE HEAD OF OUR SAMPRADAYA A CHILD ABUSER?” This will also help you understand the mood of a vaisnava.

Thank you
Hare Krsna

Comment posted by Nitai dasa on July 3rd, 2006
6 Suresh das

The problem is many of the devotees, at that time the incidents occurred in the Gurukulas, did not have the luxury of making their own decisions about their children, especially women in ISKCON, as Praghosa [not the Praghosa who is the editor of this site] proposes.

Can anyone imagine someone in New Vrndavan going up against Kirtananda Swami, and not sending their children to Vrndavan, India? Who knows what the consequences of that might have been so you sent your kids to Gurukula whether you liked it or not.

For many devotees there was not only extreme coercion to blindly follow all the dictates of the higher authorities within our movement without question, at that time, but also there was total economic dependence. No one had any money, or could afford to walk out the door if they didn’t like the way things were run. We all thought we would go to hell if we stepped one foot outside the temple, or tried to survive on our own outside the movement. For most of us we did not have the luxury of telling a temple president, a GBC, what to speak of a Guru - NO.

At the same time, Gurukula was a social experiment. It marked a revolutionary change in methods of modern education, reviving an ancient style of teaching which had been successfully followed in Vedic Culture since time immemorial. The problem was it was totally foreign to Western devotees, and there was a shortage of qualified teachers, as Praghosa Prabhu has stated.

Had ISKCON management known in advance that they faced the potential of huge financial losses from lawsuits, if the experiment failed, they might never have bothered to create the schools in the first place?

Hare Krishna,
Suresh das

Comment posted by Suresh das on July 4th, 2006
7 Unregistered

The GBC (and CPO) has already tried and convicted Dhanurdhara Swami for his past mistakes and it is now their turn to support him. If the GBC has integrity, they will take on the burden of responsibility for their decisions and judgements. To submit Dhanurdhara Swami to the irrational, uninformed sentiments of angry internet posters is completely unjust and unethical. GBC beware: informed devotees are watching your moves carefully. Perhaps this is a good time for the GBC to educate devotees as to what decisions were made in relationship to Dhanurdhara Swami and why, his consistent loyalty to ISKCON, as well as the extensive work he has done to make ammends with the past.

Also, to alienate disciples, well-wishers, friends and associates of Dhanurdhara Swami from ISKCON — people like Caitanya Bhagavat das — would be a great and unfortunate loss for the institution. ISKCON has already “lost its monopoly on Gaudiya Vaisnavism.” Is it ready to suffer the casualty of more schisms because its leadership lacks integrity and rational management?

Comment posted by Radhika seva dasi on July 5th, 2006
8 Unregistered

In regards to Praghosa’s (ACBSP) comment above:

Fact: The parents of the students were guilty - in the extreme of - of naivete and ignorance - where it pertained to the supervison of such a situation. Each parent was INDIVIDUALLY responsible for their own child’s care and ignorantly placed too much unwarranted trust in others to see to ALL the interests of their child in their training and protection.

I’m rather baffled by seeing this kind of insensitivity portrayed as “fact” while it merely represents a personal opinion, and an unpalatable one at that.

If an institution offers educational services, private or public, the natural expectation is that it has its ducks in a row as far as these services are concerned. A public or private school is responsible for screening its personnel to make sure that the standards and requirements to achieve its educational goals are met and to safeguard its students. This responsibility does not rest on the shoulders of the parents.

Yes, a certain amount of responsibility goes to the parents as far as the safety of their children is concerned, but that does not extend beyond what can reasonably be expected. Sometimes this responsibility carries over to others in accordance to how much or little the parents can control. For instance, if parents take a direct flight in the US with their 8 year old, they have full control and responsibility. If the child flies with an escort instead of the parents, they don’t. The responsibility is shared. The parents take responsibility for arranging that the child is picked up at the destination and that an escort service (required by law for anyone under 12) is provided. The parents cannot be held responsible for each individual in that escort service. It is the responsibility of the escort service to make sure that their personnel is qualified to the highest degree to offer the services that the escort service stands for.

In education the same principle applies. It is the responsibility of the educational institution to guarantee that its personnel (not just the teachers, but any personnel — janitors, administrators, substitutes, etc.) is fully qualified and reliable, so that its goals can be met and the service level and promises made to those serviced can be upheld.

That this principle was not given the utmost priority when Srila Prabhupada initiated the “gurukula experiment” (his own words) is regrettable, and the aftermath is felt to this day. Unqualified individuals were given undeserved positions which they then proceeded to exploit to the fullest extent at the cost of mentally and physically scarring children for life. Children that were entrusted to their care based on the promise of educational services that were purportedly of the highest standard and the only alternative to material “slaughter house” like education, and at the request of Srila Prabhupada himself — both personally and through his books.

To disregard the complete failure of the gurukula experiment in living up to its promises, as well as in its responsibility of providing qualified personnel, and shift the responsibility solely to the parents is simply not fair. I can well imagine that the parents of the abused children will take this as salt poured into their already always open wounds. And what message is this supposed to send to the children? That it was all their parents fault? How bizarre…

- Varnadi das

Comment posted by Varnadi das on July 5th, 2006
9 Unregistered

Some may argue: “But of course things have changed since 2000 when Caitanya Bhagavat das was initiated! One of Dhanurdhara Swami’s ex-students - Ananda McClure - has put a gun to his head!”

To such arguments I would like to propose the following: The suicide of Ananda had far more to do with his being a war veteran that was seriously injured and then seriously neglected by the US government than his gurukula experience.

If you’d like to read more about his traumatic experience in Iraq, the death of his friends, his serious war-inflicted injuries, and his subsequent gross medical mistreatment, you can do so here:

http://blog.myspace.com/index......5924c97399

Really, if you’re upset about Ananda’s suicide - and you have every reason to be - you should look into rallying against how the incompetent US government treated him. If you want to ascribe blame for Ananda’s suicide to someone, they’re the institution that abused and neglected Ananda the most.

In my humble opinion, the leader that still needs to be removed from power and position, and taken to task for incompetent, inhumane, abusive behavior is George W. Bush - president of the United States of America.

Comment posted by bh. kurt harris on July 6th, 2006
10 Suresh das

If you read Ananda’s interview, which was posted on Chakra, he stated that he was so angry over his Gurukula experience that he wanted to blow the entire Los Angeles Temple off the map. Instead he more compassionately turned the gun on himself.

It is so easy for others to say be “forgiving”, and be “compassionate” towards Dhanurdhara Swami. They say turn the other cheek, be a Vaishnava, etc. But, as anyone who has experienced deep emotional pain knows, it is impossible to be forgiving or compassionate if the emotional wounds go too deep. We are after all just ordinary conditioned souls. We shouldn’t give ourselves too much credit for being more than that or expect or demand too much of ourselves at our beginning stage of Bhaktiyoga. We will, after all, be Kanista Adhikaris for a long time, and much longer than most of us think.

Some here at this site have compared us to Jagai and Madhai, but they were residents of Vaikuntha -the Door Keepers of Lord Vishnu, whereas we are ordinary conditioned souls, and shouldn’t be compared to any of Lord Chaitanya’s direct associates, or expected to be at their level of devotion or realization.

My wife and I were robbed at gun point in 1984, to give an example. The robbery took no more than 5-10 minutes. The robbers tried to take my wife as a hostage, so I fought with bare hands against guns and knives, so she could get away. I was beaten on the head with a large metal urn until the blood ran down my face and head. The anger I feel towards what happened has been seething in me for 22 years now without abatement. What type of anger exists by comparison in these children who were beaten and exploited for days, months and years?

It is not unlike the pain and anger one feels when a beloved family member dies, or the end of a relationship or marriage. These type of wounds can take years to heal, and sometimes don’t heal.

As I stated before, the legal system too much favors the protection of the perpetrator, and ignores the victim’s rights. The purpose of a legal system is to exact fair punishment, so that ordinary citizens, who are the victims are satisfied, and don’t take the law into their own hands.

Perhaps the GBC is satisfied with what they have done with the Swami, but the victims had no say, and many are still dissatisfied. What will it take for the leaders of our society, as well as their supporters, to listen?

Do we need to have a temple blown up, with all our devotees inside, for us to really listen, pay attention, and get serious?

Comment posted by Suresh das on July 8th, 2006
11 Unregistered

Hare Krsna
I wish to leave some more humble statments as new bhakta whom only found out about ISKCON legal cases through Trying to preach Krsna Con…..

IF WE HAVE A SOCITY WHERE ONE IS TITLED “HIS HOLINESS” HE SHOULD NOT SEEM A UNFORTUNATE MAN,(IE: CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER)

I can understand that EVERYONE can see or seen the ill effects of this so-called preaching
what has happened has happend so please can we have the respect to preach about Krsna and remove the tittle for this very practical purpose? disregarding anything else How many Devottes/Nondevotees get “Fried” by the cheats. We should be the example.
So many Prubhu’s have “given up” the Swami tittle and why not? why is this devotte still trying to preach under the Tittle of “Guru, HH, HG”, or something the devotees may scoff at!
WHAT TO SPEAK OF THE KARMIS!!
Again as far as I know pedestrians/outsiders understand “Maharaja” has Admitted to enough.

Please Forgive me for my offenses known and unknown

Comment posted by RUPANUGA SENA on July 9th, 2006
12 Unregistered

Just a small note of clarification for Suresh das. First, I don’t recall seeing any interview with Ananda McClure on Chakra - at best there was a second or third hand account of his remarks. Second, If you read the policy and procedure handbook for the CPO which is easily available online - http://www.childprotectionoffice.org/policies.html - you will see that the CPO’s court proceedings model the US civil court rather than criminal court. Civil procedures require less evidence than criminal procedures and thus do not favor the rights of the accused in the way that criminal proceedings do.

Comment posted by k.kumar on July 9th, 2006

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