Was the head of our sampradaya a child abuser?

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By Tamohara das

Dear Visakha Priya Mataji, Hare Krishna,

I see that you have struggled with, and apparently succeeded, with the issue of forgiveness in your own life. While the nature of a brahman is to forgive, it is still the duty of those entrusted with the administration of society to assure that religious principles are enforced.

I think there is another way to understand the story of Vak and Lord Brahma. First, Srila Prabhupada very clearly states in one of the first purports that this was NOT the Brahma who was instructed from within by Krsna, and became the founder of our sampradaya (Brahma is a post, not a person). Prabhupada says that this Brahma with the daughter Vak is from a different kalpa. If he were enlightened from with the heart (as our Brahma was) he could not have done such a sinful act. So, it is NOT true that the Brahma who heads our samppradaya lusted after his daughter. So, rest assured, the foundation of our disciplic line in not threatened.

Now, it is also noteworthy to follow the rest of the story. What happened to this Brahma? He had to give up his body! Prabhupada states in a purport in that chapter:

“The best way to compensate for one’s sinful acts is to give up one’s body at once, and Brahm€, the leader of the living entities, showed this by his personal example. Brahm€ has a fabulous duration of life, but he was obliged to give up his body due to his grievous sin, even though he had merely contemplated it in his mind without having actually done it. This is a lesson for the living entities, showing how sinful an act it is to indulge in unrestricted sex life. Even to think of abominable sex life is sinful, and to compensate for such acts, one has to give up his body. In other words, one’s duration of life, blessings, opulence, etc., are decreased by sinful acts, and the most dangerous type of sinful act is unrestricted sex”.

This is hardly an endorsement of this Brahma’s lust for his own daughter. Even thinking about this act required him to give up his body. Prabhupada repeatedly, over and over, throughout this chapter uses words like sinful, abominable, etc to describe this behavior.

If one should really give up one’s body if one even thought about abusing one’s child, why is so difficult to simply ask child abusers to step down from a high position and become a humble devotee?

Your servant, Tamohara das

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1 Suresh das

I felt the article written by Tamohara was very well thought out and presented. It was a pleasure to read, not unlike an article one might find in BTG.

The ideas that are being presented by Ribhu das, in contrast, are extremely offensive towards a personality that is beyond our control or jurisdication. Lord Brahma is considered an Isvara.

We by contrast are tiny, ordinary human beings, just beginning our Bhakti path, but we are speaking as if we are on the same level with Lord Brahma, and speaking in a most offensive manor about someone who is extremely powerful.

All the rules you speak of due not apply to Lord Brahma. The problem I believe is that Ribhu das doesn’t actually believe in the Vedas, and probably believes that the Vedic teachings are simply mythology.

Comment posted by Suresh das on July 1st, 2006
2 Kavicandra Swami

In regards to Lord Brahmas kidnapping being child abouse, I can offer the following.

First, this was Krsna Lila, so it is inconceivable.

Brahma put into some kind of trance and there was no suffering during the year, nor was there any remembrance of any suffering or even knowledge that a year had passed when it was over. They just picked up where they left off. It was like a good nights sleep.

They whole show was for the pleasure of Krsna and all the older cows, cowherd men and Gopis so that Krsna cold personally be their child. Krnsa would not allow his friends to suffer. He was always rescuing them from demons. If there had been abuse He would have immediately rescued them and punished Lord Brahma.

Kavicandra Swami

Comment posted by Kavicandra Swami on July 1st, 2006
3 Unregistered

Dear Praghosa prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I just read Ribhu das’ (?) response to Tamohara prabhu. PLEASE prabhu! Please don’t become another Chakra printing angry, offensive comments. I couldn’t even understand what the heck he was ranting about. I was hoping that Dandavats.com would be a refreshing alternative to Chakra’s anti-Iskcon, anti-Prabhupada, anti- just about anything. The only reason I would go there is to see any news that might be important. If you can fill that void without all the vitriol that would be a wonderful service. Also, the moving news at the top is moving too fast for my old brain and eyes to read. I do intend to respond to Tamohara’s comments myself. Hopefully, I can practice what I preach. Hare Krishna.

Your humble servant,
Srutadeva das

Praghosa: Dear Srutadeva prabhu, the comment you mention somehow genuinely slipped through but we agree that it crossed the line of our posting guidelines and we appreciate you reminding us as we want to keep Dandavats free from unsavoury language. We’ve also slowed down the rotating bar for you! Remember to stop the rotating bar you just have to put your cursor over it.

Comment posted by Srutadeva das on July 1st, 2006
4 Unregistered

Dear Tamohara and Visakha Priya prabhus,

Thank you for your very nice article and response. Yet, just for the sake of clarity and accuracy please allow me to make some comments. Tamohara prabhu, in your article you say, “Srila Prabhupada very clearly states in one of the first purports that this was NOT the Brahma who was instructed from within by Krsna, and became the founder of our sampradaya…” However, in the actual purport Srila Prabhupada says:

“This extraordinary immorality on the part of Brahma was heard to have occurred in some particular kalpa, but it could not have happened in the kalpa in which Brahma heard directly from the Lord the four essential verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam because the Lord blessed Brahma, after giving him lessons on the Bhagavatam, that he would never be bewildered in any kalpa whatsoever. This indicates that before the hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam he might have fallen a victim to such sensuality, but after hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam directly from the Lord, there was no possibility of such failures.”

So Srila Prabhupada is making the point that the indiscretion of Brahma must have occurred in a different kalpa, before hearing from the Lord, not that it was a different Brahma. Srila Prabhupada goes on to say:

“They knew very well that even though their father committed a mistake, there must have been some great purpose behind the show, otherwise such a great personality could not have committed such a mistake. It might be that Brahma wanted to warn his subordinates about human frailties in their dealings with women. This is always very dangerous for persons who are on the path of self-realization.”

Here Srila Prabhupada explains the real reason behind the apparent lustfulness of Brahma. Visakha Priya please take note. Lord Brahma is not a child abuser. As Srila Prabhupada points out in these two conversations:

Devotee: So, Srila Prabhupada, isn’t Lord Brahma the original spiritual master in our sampradaya?
Prabhupada: Yes. But we should take that it was his lila to show that “Even I am subjected. How much you should take risk here.” We should take like that because he’s our guru. We should not take him that he was subjected to lusty desires, but he made a show that “Even I am also subjected.” And he gave up this, changed the body for that.

Devotee: I was recently told by one devotee that the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee.
Prabhupada: What?
Devotee: That the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee.
Prabhupada: Who said? Who is that rascal? The acarya does not require to be a pure devotee?
Devotee: He said it in this context. He said that Lord Brahma is the acarya in the Brahma-sampradaya, but yet he is sometimes afflicted by passion. So therefore he is saying that it appears that the acarya does not have to be a pure devotee. So it does not seem right. So there’s no doubt that Lord Brahma is a pure devotee?
Prabhupada: Whatever he may be, he is acarya. These things are to be seen in this way, that “Such exalted person, he sometimes become passionate, so how much we shall be careful.” This is the instruction. Then we petty things, petty persons, how much we shall be careful. It is not that “Acarya has become passionate, therefore I shall become passionate. I am strict followers of acarya.” These rascals say.
Indian man: In this world this is our disease. This is our disease.
Prabhupada: Yes. That disease… Brahma… Lord Siva also, he was attracted to the Mohini. So they are acarya. They are controllers. So the instruction is that even such personalities may be sexually attracted, so how much we shall remain careful. This is the instruction.

So I think that it is clear from these conversations that the Lord Brahma who became apparently lustful towards his daughter is the same Lord Brahma who is the head of our sampradaya. But rest assured Tamohara prabhu, the foundation of our disciplic line is not threatened by his actions but rathered strengthened by it.

Now also in the above conversation and in Tamohara’s article it is mentioned that Brahma gave up his body. However in another purport Srila Prabhupada clarifies this:

“According to Sridhara Swami, Brahma’s constant dropping of his body does not refer to his actually giving up his body. Rather, he suggests that Brahma gave up a particular mentality. Mind is the subtle body of the living entity. We may sometimes be absorbed in some thought which is sinful, but if we give up the sinful thought, it may be said that we give up the body.”

So in closing I would just like to say that we must be constantly on guard against the temptations of maya, whether subtle or gross. We should not think that we are so advanced that we are above lusty thought or activities and we should be prepared daily, to give up our bodies in the constant struggle to advance in Krsna consciousness.

Comment posted by Namaprabhu on July 1st, 2006
5 Unregistered

Dear Namaprabhu,

Hare Krishna. I think that Mother Vishakha’s point is still very valid. Certainly, your point is well taken that we cannot understand Lord Brahma’s activities. However, this also supports a point that seems implicit in her presentation, ie: that we cannot percieve with our material senses when someone is purified of their offense or not. One lesson that we can learn from this pastime of Lord Brahma is that even if someone performs what seems to be the most abominable act, if they are performing genuine devotional service then the Lord will protect and purify them.

Comment posted by Krishnadas on July 2nd, 2006
6 Unregistered

Hare Krishna.

I would like to clarify that there seems to be two different devotees named “Tamohara das” posting on Dandavats. The commentary following Mahatma Prabhu’s article on 108 mistakes was not made by me. I am the Tamohara das who is the Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office. The comments by the other Tamoharadas speaking against background checks and screening is contrary to the position of the CPO. We strongly urge temples to screen and check all new devotees and volunteers as one preventive measure against child abuse in ISKCON.

I will address all future correspondence as “Tamohara das - Director, ISKCON CPO).
Thank you

Comment posted by Tamohara das on July 2nd, 2006
7 Unregistered

Dear Tamohara Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

I see that you have struggled with, and apparently succeeded, with the issue of forgiveness in your own life. While the nature of a brahman is to forgive, it is still the duty of those entrusted with the administration of society to assure that religious principles are enforced.

Granted.

I think there is another way to understand the story of Vak and Lord Brahma. First, Srila Prabhupada very clearly states in one of the first purports that this was NOT the Brahma who was instructed from within by Krsna, and became the founder of our sampradaya (Brahma is a post, not a person). Prabhupada says that this Brahma with the daughter Vak is from a different kalpa. If he were enlightened from with the heart (as our Brahma was) he could not have done such a sinful act. So, it is NOT true that the Brahma who heads our samppradaya lusted after his daughter. So, rest assured, the foundation of our disciplic line in not threatened.

In the Bhagavad-gita (8.17), Srila Prabhupada writes: “The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.”

The fact that the story of Vak and Brahma took place in another kalpa doesn’t mean that it was a different Brahma. It means it happened on a particular day of Brahma, as evidence by the following words of the sages headed by Marici:

“O father, this performance in which you are endeavoring to complicate yourself was never attempted by any other Brahma, nor by anyone else, NOR BY YOU IN PREVIOUS KALPAS, nor will anyone dare to attempt it in the future. You are the supreme being in the universe, so how is it that you want to have sex with your daughter and cannot control your desire?” (SB 3.12.30)

Now, it is also noteworthy to follow the rest of the story. What happened to this Brahma? He had to give up his body! Prabhupada states in a purport in that chapter:

“The best way to compensate for one’s sinful acts is to give up one’s body at once, and Brahm€, the leader of the living entities, showed this by his personal example. Brahm€ has a fabulous duration of life, but he was obliged to give up his body due to his grievous sin, even though he had merely contemplated it in his mind without having actually done it. This is a lesson for the living entities, showing how sinful an act it is to indulge in unrestricted sex life. Even to think of abominable sex life is sinful, and to compensate for such acts, one has to give up his body. In other words, one’s duration of life, blessings, opulence, etc., are decreased by sinful acts, and the most dangerous type of sinful act is unrestricted sex”.

This is hardly an endorsement of this Brahma’s lust for his own daughter. Even thinking about this act required him to give up his body. Prabhupada repeatedly, over and over, throughout this chapter uses words like sinful, abominable, etc to describe this behavior.

I agree it is abominable. But Brahma’s giving up of his body (which is made of intelligence, not of flesh, bones, blood, and other such delicacies) simply means that he gave up his sinful mentality. Not that he killed himself and the creation had to be continued by another Brahma. Be it as it may, the process of atonement has no place in devotional service. We are simply meant to continue engaging in devotional service. Now, in the issue under fire, namely H. H. Dhanurdhara Swami, I do not know all the details, but I personally saw that he took whatever chastisement was prescribed to him and continued engaging in devotional service, studying Srimad Bhagavatam deeply, associating with senior godbrothers, and sharing his realizations with whoever was ready to hear them. Not that he left ISKCON in a huff and a puff and went over to Narayana Maharaja or became a babaji or something like that. A friend of mine (who endorses your zero tolerance petition) told me that actually, Maharaja’s troubles started when Kirtanananda Swami sent one hundred children from North America to the gurukula in Vrindavan and that these boys were a real handful. If you read Jayadvaita Swami’s 1997 letter to Prithu Prabhu (on Dandavats. com), you will hear that DD Swami was very much after getting rid of child abusers and that he was repeatedly asking the GBCs to send their best men to the gurukula instead of their rejects. Anyone having to deal with a bunch of unruly boys with an unqualified staff and uncooperative superiors in a tough place like Vrindavann could conceivably have cracked up and taken his frustration on the kids, which is NOT the thing to do, obviously, but what I am trying to get across is that there is such thing as extenuating circumstances. The fact that DD Swami was not sexually involved with the children should weigh in his favor. Outside of his trying time as gurukula headmaster with uncooperative and unqualified people, he doesn’t have a record of going around bashing people, whereas hardcore child abusers will usually abuse until the day they die. And therefore, they should be kept at a distance.

I met some of DD Swami’s disciples, and they don’t look like abominable persons to me. They appear to be trained in devotional service. I haven’t seen or heard of Dhanurdhara Swami trashing them with his danda. Furthermore, I understand that whoever wants to take initiation from him is given a full rundown on Maharaja’s ruthless behavior as Gurukula principal. In my experience, Maharaja’s disciples and prospective disciples are educated, articulate persons with inquisitive brains, and the fact that they still accept him as Krsna’s representative tends to indicate that they have studied the philosophy, understood its principles, and estimated that whatever happened in the past was not likely to occur again.

If one should really give up one’s body if one even thought about abusing one’s child, why is so difficult to simply ask child abusers to step down from a high position and become a humble devotee?

As far as I can see, DD Swami has taken the humble position by accepting the GBCs instructions, not leaving ISKCON over the past few years, and taking association from solid devotees. But he is a preacher and continues to preach, and if people develop faith in him, knowing whatever there is to know about his past activities, what is the harm? As Srila Prabhupada writes in Bg 9.3, “It is only by faith that one can advance in Krsna consciousness.” Faith is not an easy thing to develop in Kali-yuga. Nevertheless, it is the vehicle that propels us back to Godhead and it is an individual thing. No one can regiment faith, just as no one can regiment love (which, of course, is the end result of faith–adau sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, etc…). If too many people are too emotionally charged up to see Dhanurdhara Swami giving a public Bhagavatam class, then work it out somehow, but to destroy the faith of his disciples, to not allow those who have faith in him to take shelter of him, and to suggest that he should just wash pots in the kitchen when he can do so much more doesn’t seem right to me.

One last thought: In his letter to Prithu Prabhu, H. H. Jayadvaita Swami mentions that in the eighties ISKCON didn’t take child abuse very seriously. But according to his testimony, DD Swami was taking it seriously. Who then is at fault, really? We all know (at least many of us do) what it was like in the zonal acharya days.

Thank you. Hare Krsna. Your servant, Visakha Priya dasi

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on July 3rd, 2006
8 Suresh das

Visakha Priya Prabhu,

Thank you for answering my question. I wanted to know what type of body Lord Brahma possesses. As we rise higher and higher in the universe our bodies are supposed to become more and more refined. Here on Earth our bodies are made of 70% water and earth, etc. On the Sun the bodies are made of Fire, and the heavenly demigods’ bodies, Srila Prabhupada states, are barely visable to our eyes, so I had been wondering what life is like on the higher planets above the heavenly planets - Mahar, Jana, Tapo and Brahmaloka?

Hare Krishna,
Suresh das

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

Dear Tamohara Das, CPO director;

Yes, actually Srila Prabhupada initiated at least two Tamoharas. I usually these days use Tamoharadasa, ie appellation dasa attached to the name, or differentiate by using the honorariums of my degrees; CHFS, BGS, MS, Aud ( C ).

I am a Canadian devotee, joined Iskcon in 1972, twice initiated by Srila Prabhupada, friend and servant of Gour Govinda Swami Thakura, currently employed in Calgary as Audiologist. I last served at the Toronto temple, and Bhaktimaraga Swami knows me well. Padmapani is a close friend since high school days.

I work closely with children also, in my occupation, and am naturally concerned that there is protection for the innocent. However, as you will have noted by my somewhat outspoken concerns, I just don’t wish to see Iskcon dominated by a “church lady” mentality. I reluctantly bow to the opinions of my godbothers and sisters re; the apparent need for background checks, but remember that Iskcon includes countries and situations outside of the USA, including Russia, etc., where cooperation with the police could spell a death sentence for devotees. In our own “peace and love days”, a police record was one way that the authorities of the time destroyed the lives of many well-intended souls, and so there is a reaction from me when you suggest that we involve the police in any regular and systematic way to get their approval, as it were, of any of our members. Many of our friends enjoying the preaching efforts in jails have taken to harinama, and they will also have records. Anyway, perhaps there is currently an over-sensitivity to these issues, so it is bad timing on my part to raise this concern. Hare Krsna.

My obeisances at the feet of the Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis.
Your servant’s servant, Tamoharadasa

Comment posted by Tamoharadasa on July 4th, 2006

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