The Essence of Dharma is Truth - a response to “Time to be Dharmic”

4,606 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » The Essence of Dharma is Truth - a response to "Time to be Dharmic"

by Badrinarayan Dasa / July 11th, 2006

(A reply to Satyaraja Prabhu’s “Time to be Dharmic”)

What follows is not an official GBC position paper. Rather, it is a statement of one member’s personal views, expressed in response to Satyaraja Prabhu’s posting on Dandavat.com titled “Time to Be Dharmic.” I respect Satyaraja Prabhu’s right to express his opinions. At the same time, I feel the need to balance the scale. I pray that since Satyaraja Prabhu advocates forgiveness, he will also forgive me for any offense found in this reply.

Satyaraja Prabhu complains that the GBC has not shared with the devotees in general all the information it has on this case. The fact is that when we offered to circulate the details of the case so that devotees could weigh the information and make up their own minds, Dhanurdhara Maharaja raised a hue and cry. He did not want all the information released because he felt it would bias opinion against him. Complying with the request of Dhanurdhara Maharaja and his supporters, we did not circulate the information freely.

Now the matter has proceeded to the point where the GBC executive committee has issued an interim instruction to Dhanurdhara Maharaja that he should not initiate. They have also petitioned the full GBC to discuss and then vote on whether or not that interim restriction should be extended for the rest of Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s life.

To inform that discussion and vote, each GBC member has received:

a) A copy of the original Child Protection Office (CPO) decision from October of 1999

b) Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s reply /defense in that original case

c) A summary of the evidence from that case

d) A cover letter by Tamohara Prabhu, the director of the Child Protection Office.

The above was done in consultation with Dhanurdhara Maharaja and it was agreed that this was a fair and balanced body of information. If Satyaraja Prabhu would like to see this information circulated further, I suggest that he seek the permission of Dhanurdhara Maharaja for its release.

Satyaraja Prabhu states that Dhanurdhara Maharaja “has paid his dues.” Actually, the original CPO decision of 1999 states that while Dhanurdhara Maharaja would immediately be restricted from initiating in ISKCON for five years, his future, permanent status as an initiating guru in ISKCON should be decided by the GBC. That is the question the GBC is taking up now. There is no double jeopardy here (being tried for the same crime twice). The GBC is simply responding to a question remaining from the initial case decision. The devotee community is now asking other questions of the GBC, such as “Should Dhanurdhara Maharaja continue as a sannyasi?” Satyaraja Prabhu criticizes the GBC for making decisions on high without allowing the devotees to be informed of or involved in the decision-making process. Yet when the GBC agrees to give serious consideration to questions from the devotees, he faults the GBC. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. For Satyaraja Prabhu to demand that the GBC take up his questions but slam the door on the questions of others is inconsistent and unfair.

As for whether or not Dhanurdhara Maharaja did in fact perform the deeds he is accused of, there is no question about it. There is an overwhelming body of firsthand accounts. These abuses (and they are horrendous and heartbreaking) have been confirmed by numerous adult witnesses and admitted to by Dhanurdhara Maharaja himself. To brush these aside as “the dim memories of young minds” is profoundly insensitive to the victims and a distortion of the truth.

Satyaraja Prabhu argues that the abuses Dhanurdhara Maharaja engaged in, whatever the details, all occurred long ago, and the transformative power of bhakti has now made him “a pukka Vaisnava without question.” Thus, he should be forgiven for past offenses and be honored for his present preaching activities and character.

I regret having to mention the following, but Satyaraja Prabhu’s repeated claims and demands oblige me to do so. A case can be made for a questionable pattern of behavior that continues up to the present day, a pattern of one who may not yet be fully purified by the transformative power of bhakti.

There is the dark chapter of Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s first tenure as headmaster of the school from 1979 to 1986. He stepped down and then returned to the post in 1989. As late as April of 1995, against ISKCON policy and despite his personal public promises, Dhanurdhara Maharaja continued to covertly instruct teachers at the Vrindaban gurukula to beat students with sticks. Again, there are firsthand adult witnesses, photos of students covered with black-and-blue welts, and Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s admission of guilt. These events are not in doubt.

His compliance with the CPO decision was lukewarm and at times crossed the line, as confirmed by Tamohara Prabhu, the director of the Child Protection Office. Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s response to the CPO decision was not the surrendered embrace of both the spirit as well as the letter of the law that Satyaraja Prabhu presents.

Up until today, despite the firestorm his position of continuing as an initiating guru has created, Dhanurdhara Maharaja appears to maintain a deep attachment to initiating disciples. To resolve the current conflict, a number of senior devotees have recommended to him that he let others initiate those new devotees enlivened by his association, while he continues to help them via a siksha relation. This is not an unreasonable proposal. Rather, it is a principle under which ISKCON has functioned since its creation. All over the world, temple presidents, sannyasis, and GBCs guide and encourage devotees who are not their initiated disciples.

Vows of self-sacrifice for the greater good are found throughout the Vedic history. Bhismadeva gave up his personal desires, renouncing the throne and vowing to remain a brahmacari. In private conversations, many senior devotees have appealed to Dhanurdhara Maharaja to voluntarily vow to not initiate anymore, thus avoiding much grief for himself, his disciples, and the other members of ISKCON. Such a magnanimous act would earn him appreciation from around the world. Yet he has refused to do so.

This adamancy, added to all the other history above, serves as another indication that his continuing to initiate may not be best for him or for ISKCON in general.

Satyaraja Prabhu asks the GBC to consider the effect on Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s disciples, followers, and friends. No doubt this is one of the elements of this issue that pains the GBC the most. It is one of the reasons it has taken so long to resolve the situation. However, it should also be noted that the disciples and friends will take their lead from Dhanurdhara Maharaja. Imagine if he were to sincerely say to them, “This is the decision of the GBC. I accept that it is for my own purification and the good of ISKCON. Therefore, I will abide by, not bitterly but willingly, and I ask you to please do the same.” The storm clouds would part and we could all move forward together.

As for forgiveness, the GBC does not have the power or right to mandate that. It has to be given freely, by those offended. Therefore, the GBC executive committee has recommended that Dhanurdhara Maharaja allot 50% of his time to help heal the wounds of those abused in ISKCON’s gurukulas. This is not a punishment but rather the best means for him to actually earn their forgiveness.

I am sorry to have been obliged to speak so frankly. There is no doubt that Dhanurdhara Maharaja has another side to him, one where many good qualities are found. I regret having to lay out facts that will undoubtedly be painful and disturbing for his disciples to read. I can only pray that Dhanurdhara Maharaja will reconsider, voluntarily vow to not initiate anymore, and by such a magnanimous and saintly act help to begin healing this tragic rift.

Your servant,

Badrinarayan dasa

Please click the "Like" button below if you haven't done so already!
 
 
 
4,606 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » The Essence of Dharma is Truth - a response to "Time to be Dharmic"
 


Comments • [comment feed]

1 Unregistered

“Satyaraja Prabhu states that Dhanurdhara Maharaja ‘has paid his dues.’ Actually, the original CPO decision of 1999 states that while Dhanurdhara Maharaja would immediately be restricted from initiating in ISKCON for five years, his future, permanent status as an initiating guru in ISKCON should be decided by the GBC. That is the question the GBC is taking up now. There is no double jeopardy here (being tried for the same crime twice).”

Umm.. I don’t get it. Should Dhanurdhara Maharaja follow the CPO or the GBC? If he followed the mandates of the CPO and 7 years latter the GBC makes its own judgments, that is not technically double jeopardy, but he is being tried by two different courts for the same crime. Isn’t that really the same as double jeopardy? Isn’t he also being asked by the GBC to give 50% of his time to healing the victims and now there is even a question of his sanyasa? That is an ex post facto law (adding on new penalty to an already tried case). How would you like to be tried in this way? Honestly does this sound like due process?

“His compliance with the CPO decision was lukewarm and at times crossed the line, as confirmed by Tamohara Prabhu, the director of the Child Protection Office. Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s response to the CPO decision was not the surrendered embrace of both the spirit as well as the letter of the law that Satyaraja Prabhu presents.”

Isn’t this an issue of compliance? If he didn’t follow the decision of the CPO the way the decision was intended, then the current responsibility would be on the CPO to state the consequences of following the verdict lukewarm-ly. If the lukewarm-ness is the reason for adding penalty to the CPO decision then the GBC should say “Because Dhanurdhara Maharaja did not follow the CPO verdict properly then ___ will be added to his punishment”. No?

I guess I am confused about the position of the CPO. Why follow them at all? It would have been better for Maharaja to have ignored the mandate of the CPO and wait till the whole thing is summed up by the GBC and then follow that decision. This is not a question of the severity of the crimes he has committed, it is a question of due process or the lack thereof.

Your servant,

Jagai-Nitai dasa

Comment posted by Jagainitai on July 13th, 2006
2 Unregistered

Thank you for the frank insight into how this issue is being considered. Personal bias (either way) and vox populi are not the way to decide these types of issues. I am glad that the leaders of the Society are going to consider this dispassionately and I look forward to hearing an objective decision based on sastra.

Comment posted by Gaura Keshava das on July 13th, 2006
3 Unregistered

A Bowl Of Popcorn In The Magic Forest

If his dialogue with Satyaraja Prabhu is any indication, Badrinarayan Prabhu has convinced me that the leaders of our Society are not going to consider Dhanurdhara Swami’s case either dispassionately or objectively. I will cite one excerpt from Badrinarayan Prabhu’s first post as an example of why I have come to this conclusion:

“.As late as April of 1995, against ISKCON policy and despite his personal public promises, Dhanurdhara Maharaja continued to covertly instruct teachers at the Vrindaban gurukula to beat students with sticks. Again, there are firsthand adult witnesses, photos of students covered with black-and-blue welts, and Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s admission of guilt. These events are not in doubt.”

This is a collection of truths strung together to create an impression that is untrue: that Dhanurdhara Swami has admitted to covertly instructing teachers in April of 1995 to beat students with sticks. What’s true is that there is evidence and witness testimony to support the conclusion that in the Spring of
1995 a student was hit with a stick by a teacher at the Vrndavana Gurukula. However, though he has admitted to many things worthy of his atonement, Dhanurdhara Swami has categorically denied having given this instruction, covertly or otherwise, to the teacher who administered the punishment in question. So a “fact” being characterized as “not in doubt” is actually an allegation very much in dispute.

Also, please note that I am referring to the incident in the singular – one teacher, one student – which is consistent with the conclusion of the CPO investigation of the incident being referred to. Badrinarayan Prabhu’s use of the plural implies a very different situation than the one described by the CPO report.

Based on this example I’m obliged to suspect that, when subjected to closer scrutiny, many of the “facts” Badrinarayan Prabhu has offered as the foundation for his opinion may similarly turn out to actually be allegations in dispute embedded within established facts. At the core of his arguments one will certainly find kernels of truth. My concern is that, with all due respect to his sincere efforts over many years to resolve this case fairly and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, in this instance Badrinarayan Prabhu appears to have taken a few kernels of truth and heated them up to make a bowl of popcorn. And as we know, popcorn, though appearing to be voluminous, is actually not very substantive when subjected to closer scrutiny.

As Badrinarayan Prabhu points out in his second reply to Satyaraja Prabhu, we should not “divert attention from the essential by focusing on the detail”, or, “lose sight of the forest for the trees”.

I agree. And I am compelled to point out that, while comparing Satyaraja’s attention to detail to a magicians use of misdirection, Badrinarayan Prabhu employs his own sleight-of-hand by describing a forest while asking us to forget what a forest is made of: trees! And our perception of a forest is determined by the varieties and placement of those trees: Move the trees around and the forest looks one way, move them again and it looks another. Change a few species of trees and – wait a minute: is this a Tropical forest or an Alpine forest? The “essential” forest is composed of and supported by the details – the trees. And the details to be found in a thorough reading and analysis of the case material does not, as I see it, add up to the kind of forest Badrinarayan Prabhu would have Dhanurdhara Swami cop to.

By casting allegations in dispute as indisputable facts Badrinarayan Prabhu has engaged the rhetoric of politics in the service of making exculpatory details disappear. I doubt that such rhetorical contrivances will turn the albatross that flew out of the GBCs sleeve into the rabbit they need to pull out of their hat. If the GBC intends to consider this case by construing indisputable truths from disputed allegations then the logic of applying a sastric basis for a final decision is lost. Rather than balancing the scales in service to the essence of Dharma, I must respectfully propose that Badrinarayan Prabhu has rendered them further askew in the service of political expediency.

Humbly submitted for your consideration by your servant,

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment posted by Hari-kirtana dasa on July 27th, 2006

Comments are closed. Please check back later.

 
 
Home » The Essence of Dharma is Truth - a response to "Time to be Dharmic"
 
  • Post Details

Author: Administrator Administrator's website Administrator's email
Post Date: Thursday, July 13th, 2006
Trackback: Trackback
 
  • Last update: Thu August 28

  • Who is online

    • 30 currently online
    • 170 maximum concurrent
    • 11981598 total visitors

    Registered users online

  • Registered users: 6352

  • Navigation

  • -OTHER INCOMING LINKS
  • BC VTE Bhakti Sastri Online
  • Bhaktimarga Swami's blog
  • Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  • Bhaktivedanta College
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute (Alachua)
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
  • Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online
  • Cooking with Kurma
  • Darshan of SS Radha-Londonisvara
  • Dharmapatnis
  • Diary of a Traveling Preacher
  • Euro GBC
  • Forbidden Archeology
  • Gaudiya Vaisnava texts
  • Indradyumna Swami Media
  • ISKCON Bangalore Official
  • ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry
  • ISKCON Health & Welfare Ministry
  • ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development
  • ISKCON's Congregational Development Ministry
  • Iskcon-desire-tree
  • Iskcon.com
  • Jayadvaita Swami's personal site
  • Krishna Dharma's website
  • Krishna Lila Entertainment
  • Krishna.com
  • Krishnamarriage.com
  • matchlessgifts.org
  • Mayapur Academy
  • Mayapur Days
  • Mayapur International School
  • Ministry of Educational Development
  • Our Spiritual Journey
  • Parisisvara
  • prabhupadavani.org
  • Radio Krsna Central
  • Saligrama Sila site
  • Sridham Mayapura
  • The Bhaktivedanta Archives
  • The ISKCON Sannyasa Ministry
  • The Official GBC site
  • Trivikrama Swami
  • Vaisnava Calendar
  • Vaisnava Calendar Reminder
  • Vaisnava care website
  • Vanipedia
  • varnashrama.org
  • Vedic Astrologer
  • Vedic knowledge online
  • Vedic view on controversial issues
  • Website in Bengali language
  • Yadunandana Swami's personal site
  • Alachua Temple Live Podcast
  • Comments by author
  • Donate through searching
  • Founder Acarya
  • Incoming Links
  • Iskcon News TV Channel
  • Iskcon Radio stations
  • Iskcon Universe Feed
  • Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
  • Krishna conscious "youtube"
  • Krishna Conscious Media
  • Most commented articles
  • Most read articles
  • New Dwaraka Archived Lectures
  • Polls
  • Stats
  • Temple webcams
  • Thanks!
  • The last seven day's most read articles
  • A life of spiritual transition in ISKCON. Varnasrama, ISKCON, and the GBC - video
  • The all-sweet tonic cum medicine of Srimad Bhagavatam
  • A Three Month Residential Course for Men
  • “Conservative and liberal positions in and around ISKCON” - video
  • “Unity in Diversity” - video
  • Srila Prabhupada Storie, Footprints in the sand – stories on Srila Prabhupada and his journey - video
  • Evolution of ISKCON requires further evolution of education in diverse forms and venues for the future - video
  • HH Badrinarayan Swami: Harmonizing Lines of Authority; Some Questions and Some Practical Challenges - video
  • Harinama Boat Festival in NY
  • The Hare Krishna Children Camp 2014 at Simhachalam (Germany)

     
    "Artwork and photos courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com. Used with permission"