(Response to Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s article on Sampradaya Sun http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/06-17/editorials14984.htm on June 4, 2017)
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s cause is noble. But the methods and means he is using in his discussions with Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja are not at all appropriate and cultured.
He somehow seems to think that by defaming and accusing anyone who takes a different stance on this subject, he could achieve his goals (protection of children in gurukula). But this approach won’t help him.
When he speaks like this, one can only wonder whether improving the protection and welfare of children in gurukula education is indeed his agenda or not. I see that he is very adamant and quite aggressive in speaking with anyone who does not agree to his view point.
Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj wrote in his previous article: “The suggestions to have clear guidelines regarding child abuse, as proffered by Krsna Dasi and Sanaka Rsi Prabhu, are well taken and I am going to work on them. It won’t happen overnight.”
This is very important to note. Maharaja is not discounting any valid points raised by Sanaka Rsi Prabhu. Child abuse is an important issue and must be addressed. Considering this, Sanaka Rsi prabhu should be thankful to Maharaja for taking his time out to work toward this. Isn’t this what he wants to achieve?
It seems not.
Sanaka Rsi prabhu wants to invest all his time and energy only in ousting Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja than trying to improve the Child protection system. He may say that these two are mutually interdependent, but then they are not because Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja is not involved with children in Mayapur gurukula anymore and Sanaka Rsi prabhu seems to be more preoccupied with Maharaja than with Child protection, as will be pointed out later in this article.
It is quite evident that Sanaka Rsi prabhu is an extremely impatient person. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja wrote in at least 2 of his articles that he wants to present a series of articles on this topic to clarify several points. He systematically started his articles with: “Child Abuse – Definitions and Subjectivity”. He wrote at the end of this article: “Much further to be said. More to follow, gradually.” In his next article: “About Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami”, he again wrote: “There are further important points to be discussed, including the more recent accusations against Bhaktividya Purna Swami. Coming soon.”
But each time Maharaja’s article came out, Sanaka Rsi prabhu would impatiently reply and complain about how his questions have not been answered and so forth. If he needs answers he has to wait for Maharaja to give his response in his articles. If he exhibits some patience, constructive discussion can take place. But it seems he doesn’t want to listen to anyone. He just wants to prove that he is right.
Unfortunately, no solution can be arrived with this attitude.
In his previous article here Sanaka Rsi prabhu wrote:
I don’t think there is anything anyone could have said or written that would have painted you in a worse light than what you have done by demonstrating your poor judgment and lack of philosophical understanding in your recent series of articles.
You have exposed yourself more than I ever could have; you repeatedly deflected and avoided key topics of the discussion and misquoted Srila Prabhupada to try and excuse the unacceptable behaviour of a known child abuser, and you confuse common sins with the most egregious Vaisnava-aparada.
What is this common sins? Sanaka Rsi prabhu has used this term here (and also in the heading of his article) but has not attempted to define it. And I don’t think Sanaka Rsi prabhu should be talking about Vaisnava-aparadh anyways because he himself is committing this offense all the time and he knows it as well.
In his articles, Sanaka Rsi prabhu uses several deprecating and reproachful words (poor judgement, lack of philosophical understanding, exposed!) while addressing Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja is known for his complete dedication to Srila Prabhupada. Maharaja has maintained strict standards and has rendered more than 40 years of wonderful service for Srila Prabhupada. His lectures and books (more than 17) are famous for their intense Krsna conscious content and the potency to change people’s consciousness. To accuse him of “poor judgement and lack of philosophical understanding” only because he doesn’t seem to accede with some of Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s points is totally absurd and blasphemous.
In his articles, Sanaka Rsi prabhu has consistently demonstrated a complete lack of etiquette, demeanor and qualification in speaking to a senior, respected and sincere disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Discussions on sensitive topics are to be conducted in a healthy and respectful manner; not like this where one exhibits complete lack of culture and behavior in speaking to a senior devotee. What qualification does Sanaka Rsi prabhu possess which makes him think that he can address Maharaja like this?
It seems, his only focus is to make this discussion as sensational as possible and get mileage to achieve labha, puja and pratistha (material gain, worship and fame).
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu further writes:
Now you have resorted to repeating some of your earlier arguments, api ced sudaracharo and appealing to the mitigating factors in Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj’s circumstances without having addressed my rebuttals of these points.
The verse from BG 9.30: api ced sudaracharo has been quoted so many times over the years, so much so that when it is quoted in an appropriate situation, it is viewed as a defensive strategy from the person who quotes it. But irrespective of what our impression of the verse is, due to its overuse (abuse?), the fact remains that: “Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.” The meaning of this verse is quite clear. I would suggest readers to go through Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary in this regard (for BG 9.31).
In his articles, Maharaja has asked a very important question couple of times: “Does the Krsna consciousness movement not allow any possibility of reform?” What is Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s answer (Yes/No)? What is his benchmark to decide the situations when Krsna consciousness allows the possibility to reform a person and when it does not? Does he think that there is a better way of justice or punishment that can reform a person than devotional service? Is there such a system derived from material nature which can act superior to a spiritual system?
One only demonstrates one’s lack of faith in the holy name and the process of devotional service when one tries to establish material punishment, banishment and justice as a reformatory exercise above devotional service. This is an imperfect understanding of the devotional process.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu wrote:
The comparison of Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj to Valmiki and Jagai and Madai is highly offensive and not relevant. Believe it or not, you are not the first person that tried to use these stories to defend child abusers.
This is an incomplete argument with no justification or explanation. Why is this comparison highly offensive and not relevant? Were they not serious offenders before? Did they not get purified by association with a pure devotee/Supreme Lord? Did they not engage in devotional service thereafter? What kind of abominable activities did Jagai and Madhai not commit? Did they not receive the mercy of Mahaprabhu? Why do we have the history of Jagai and Madhai described in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta? Sastras give us several examples such as this to glorify the process of devotional service. The most fallen can be elevated to the highest position by the process of devotional service. How can one deny this?
Sanaka Rsi prabhu writes:
The crux of our disagreement is that while you accept that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj has made severe mistakes, somehow you seem to think that the good he has done buys him an overarching pardon for his mistakes AND a licence to continue teaching, whereas I don’t.
Taking into account the fact that the Lord Himself is unable to forgive Durvasa Muni, how on earth is it that you think you can decide that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj ought to be forgiven for the abuse he inflicted on other Vaisnavas???
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is severely minimizing the good that Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja has done. He wants to focus only on his mistakes. It is an undeniable fact that the current Gurukula in Mayapura is functioning the way it is because of Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja’s immense contribution and his dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s directive to establish traditional gurukulas.
It is a fact that child abuse happened, nobody is denying that. But is Sanaka Rsi Prabhu ready to completely acknowledge the service that Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja has rendered over the years in developing a traditional gurukula in Mayapura? Is he capable of delivering such service to Srila Prabhupada? This is the only gurukula which is functioning the way a traditional gurukula should, in pursuance with Srila Prabhupada’s desires. How would Sanaka Rsi prabhu weigh this service? Since the present gurukula [Mayapura Academy] was primarily developed under Maharaja’s guidance, should we discredit the gurukula also from ISKCON along with Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja? Isn’t this a violence to Srila Prabhupada and his order?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is not willing to accept the testimonial of any person who favors the gurukula and Maharaja’s contribution towards it. There are hundreds of parents, students and well-wishers who are appreciative of what they have gained from the gurukula. Why does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu keep minimizing their importance and cry foul all the time?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
One of the more ridiculous arguments you have brought forth is that because the abuse took place some 35 years ago it should be disregarded, as if somehow the time factor cancels out his offence or the need for him to seek forgiveness with humility…
Again, an incomplete and twisted understanding of simple statements. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja didn’t talk about time factor canceling anything. He brought to light the service which Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja has rendered in all these years for the gurukula, irrespective of the severe challenges that he had faced. So, this should be the consideration here. When did Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja suggest that time heals everything or such nonsense? This is complete speculation on Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s part.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes (producing all his statements here to preserve the context):
Besides, even if ALL his victims decide that they wish to forgive him (which so far has not been the case), that still does not mean that it is advisable to allow a man with a history of child abuse to continue interacting with children. That is not forgiveness, that is insanity. There is an infinity of other services he can perform, without placing the lives of more children at risk.
It is due to the fact that many in leadership see things your way, that he has been allowed to continue teaching despite the abuse he inflicted 35 years ago, and the result has been that he has abused more children since. It is ludicrous to suggest that he should be given more chances. How many children does he need to abuse before you will deem it necessary that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj is removed?
Pleading for his “forgiveness” so that he may be allowed to continue teaching to children is irresponsible, especially when we take into account the fact that he has lied on several occasions about past incidents to diminish his responsibility and the gravity of his wrongdoings.
I was in Mayapura for two weeks last month. I visited the gurukula and I had the opportunity to interact with devotees in the gurukula. Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja is not teaching children anymore. I hope this is clear enough. He is not involved with the gurukula directly. He is only giving adult education classes in the old gurukula premises (where there are no children). If he is not teaching children anymore, it is ludicrous to suggest that he can openly and easily abuse children. Does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu think that Maharaja is on a prowl to grab any child he sees in Mayapura and start beating him? I don’t know what Sanaka Rsi Prabhu wants? Remove Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja from where?
Sanaka Rsi prabhu has not got his facts right. He has not done his homework properly and thus has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the present situation in the gurukula. It seems his arguments are made only to polarize the society of devotees and he is making senior devotees as his bait in this destructive process. His motives are totally vindictive and he seems to desire only vengeance against Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
You have stated your belief that sometimes it is appropriate to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary option for children, but you have not given any specific guidelines on when/where and how this can take place. You have essentially left the specifics to the discretion of your followers, which is irresponsible and potentially very dangerous.
Maharaja wrote in his previous article here: “The suggestions to have clear guidelines regarding child abuse, as proffered by Krsna Dasi and Sanaka Rsi prabhu Prabhu, are well taken and I am going to work on them. It won’t happen overnight.” Now why should Sanaka Rsi Prabhu ask the same question in different ways again and again as if they have not been addressed? To manipulate his readers and confuse them? Isn’t it clear that Child abuse guidelines would also have relevant sections on corporal punishment?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu wrote:
You also wrote:
“There is no tampered quote, as he claims. I simply cut and pasted that section from the Vedabase and added Hindi translation”.
You did not simply cut and paste a section of the discussion!!! I am not sure whether I should be amused or concerned to read your claim that you didn’t selectively take bits from that conversation and present a collage that endorsed your agenda, I don’t see how you can support such defence. At any rate, I noticed that you forgot to link/reference where exactly on the Vedabase we can find your quote, intact, that you copied and pasted as you presented it. Because I didn’t find it.
Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja has simply copy-pasted a quote from the conversation. This is clear. I suggest anyone doubting this to take the pains to go through the conversation, listen to the audio and check.
Maharaja has given the reference to the conversation in his article: “Child Abuse – Definitions and Subjectivity”. The conversation took place in Vrndavana on 5th November 1976. Moreover, Sanaka Rsi Prabhu himself has given reference to this conversation in his article here. So why does he say that he didn’t find it? Isn’t this an outright lie? Also, if he could not find the quote then how is it that he rashly accuses Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja with tampering the quote? Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is contradicting himself in the same paragraph. This is ridiculous. He is resorting to malicious falsehoods to defame Maharaja and this in itself is abusive to all those who sincerely want to understand the present situation and want to establish proper child protection system. Does he think that by his confused explanations and blunt words, his deceit could be hidden?
This is a very serious problem because if to prove a point he can resort to lies then how do we trust all the points that he is presenting to us as the truth? Where is the credibility in his statements? This calls into question everything else that he has written or presented, including the CPO files that he claims to have leaked.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
I have gone to great lengths to explain the reasons why I believe you have indeed misquoted Srila Prabhupada.
I could not find anything substantial in Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s responses in this regard. He has tried to take the reader for a ride with his confused explanations. As I stated above, the quote is directly copied and pasted from Srila Prabhupada’s conversation. There is no fabrication!
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
Perhaps you actually believe that your presentation of those quotes does not constitute the sort of “quoting out of context” that changes the meaning of the exchange that took place between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. Or perhaps you feel that you have too much to lose by acknowledging the gravity of what you have done.
Unabashedly Sanaka Rsi Prabhu calls Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja a cheater thus resorting to name-calling.
I will not repeat my previous statement about Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s lack of maturity and etiquette. But it seems he just wants to push on with his agenda in every possible and crooked way he can. I think Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has become immune to the call for humility and other such Vaisnava traits because these have been used as a weapon against him from raising his voice on important matters. But if he cannot discriminate between the ones who are trying to help his cause and who are not, then he is only demonstrating his lack of intellectual discrimination.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
Many of the parents sending children to Maharaj’s gurukula are from Russia and Eastern Europe. I am not convinced that the majority of them are aware of the history, as you suggest.
Isn’t it right that Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has tried to ensure that everybody in ISKCON knows (from the internet and other sources) about the child abuse issues? If not everybody, then at least the parents who want to send their children to the gurukula? In any case, I know of devotees who are living in Mayapura from quite some years and are sending their children to the gurukula. Are they stupid?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
The argument that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj should be allowed to continue his involvement in education because he has done some good and because some people like him, is another fallacy.
Many mafia bosses have used proceeds of their crimes for the welfare of needy families in their localities and have thus built a large and loyal fan-base. When eventually they go to trial, their good deeds do not cancel out their crimes. The same goes for Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj. The good he has done needs to be taken into account, but allowing him to continue his involvement with education on account of the fact that some people like him is not a sign of forgiveness; it is reckless.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu says comparing Valmiki and Jagai-Madhai with Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja is offensive and irrelevant. But he compares Maharaja with mafia bosses. This is thoughtless and offensive. Mafia bosses deal at the lower level of consciousness (pranamoya). It is carried out in the bodily conception. There is a difference between “common piety” and devotional service. How can this mundanity be compared with the gurukula system established by Maharaja? This comparison is improper. I don’t want to dismantle this example and refute it point by point as it is not going to contribute to my response in any positive way.
In any case, Maharaja is not involved with the education of children. Therefore, Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s attempt to define the situation as fallacious and recklessness is irrelevant and useless.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
Your suggestion that I can not/should not express my concerns about the fact that a known child abuser (Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj) has been deeply involved in the education of children for many years, on account of the fact that I haven’t created a better alternative (my own ideal school) is silly. It’s like saying that a journalist can’t write an article exposing corrupt politicians unless he is also a perfect politician. It’s like saying that only a proficient cook can make it known that there is not enough salt in the paneer subji, or that only a fireman can call out a fire.
Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja never suggested that Sanaka Rsi Prabhu should not express his concerns. The question for Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is on his contribution for children and their education. He is abusing those who are involved in establishing and running gurukula but he is not willing to contribute anything towards it. Gurukula projects are not a joke. How many traditional gurukulas are still functioning within ISKCON?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
There is a fire that has been burning the Mayapur gurukula for 35 years. Somebody needs to call it out.
This is a cheap attempt to catch attention with sensationalism.
On a lighter note, the only fire burning in the Mayapura gurukula is that of the teachers and students doing fire yajna every day, morning and evening in order to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu further writes:
We have a child abuser involved in education who is supported by many ISKCON leaders, including yourself. I don’t need to have my own school to express my concern and outrage. These are logical fallacies.
Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja is directly asking Sanaka Rsi Prabhu what his positive contribution for education of children is, according to Srila Prabhupada’s directives. If he can only find fault in other’s methods of establishing and running a gurukula and if he thinks that no one is qualified enough to conduct gurukulas in our present ISKCON society then he should take the responsibility to do something about it. Isn’t that a fair call? Considering that Sanaka Rsi Prabhu himself is a gurukuli, he can and should definitely contribute positively to the gurukula education system within ISKCON, especially when he has spent most of his time in publishing and broadcasting the problems in ISKCON’s gurukulas. Why does he want to be the one to find problems but detests contributing anything to resolve them?
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes:
In other words, he wanted to cooperate with me on improving child protection in ISKCON, but he did not want to tackle the fact that the man who is behind the Mayapur gurukula is a known child abuser… Rightly or wrongly I felt that such collaboration would not be the best use of my time.
Sanaka Rsi Prabhu writes that “rightly or wrongly” he decided to not waste his time with Sri Madhava Gauranga Prabhu. This means that he declined for any type of collaboration for the betterment of child protection even without thinking whether this decision is right or wrong! What is the reason for this shallowness? His personal vendetta against Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja?
Irrespective of whether the collaboration would have been the best use of Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s time or not, isn’t it proper that one having so much concern for children’s abuse in Gurukula at least consent to an initiative (albeit not as he wanted) to get the ball rolling? The point about Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja could also have been discussed later. Sanaka Rsi prabhu by rejecting the opportunity to make a positive difference to ISKCON Gurukula and child protection system with Sri Madhava Gauranga Prabhu has instead chosen to remain inactive and use his valuable time in attacking Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja. This suggests that Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has an intense and emotionally surcharged dislike of Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja so much so that he is willing to let go the opportunity to make some positive difference in child protection system.
Maybe he thinks that there is no one in ISKCON whom he can trust to do anything positive in this regard or even have the goodwill to do so. So, he just wants to keep doubting indefinitely and raise the red flag all the time. This type of mindset will not solve anything.
Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja is not teaching in the Mayapura gurukula anymore. So when Sanaka Rsi Prabhu calls out for removing him from education, I am not able to comprehend what he means. Remove Maharaja from where? From Mayapura? From giving classes to adults?
And how does he plan to remove the services that Maharaja has rendered over these 35+ years for the gurukula? Is it even possible? Desiring to throw out a devotee who has worked most part of his life to establish this gurukula and only retaining the fruit of his efforts (the gurukula itself) is plain selfish. For his mistakes, he has been asked to stop initiating disciples, he is nowhere near the gurukula premises now and he is not teaching children.
In his exchanges with Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has consistently resorted to manipulative and confusing argumentation. Why is he doing so? Is he fearful that his position regarding child abuse is at stake because Maharaja is pointing out that Srila Prabhupada has indeed suggested corporal punishment in some cases contrary to what he had us believe?
On a more serious note, all this begs the question: Does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu have some hidden motives? Does he want to close the Mayapura gurukula completely and uproot Srila Prabhupada’s order to establish such a traditional gurukula? We are left to wonder if Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is sitting on a big elephant called child abuse just to tamper and destroy any fledgling or fully functioning gurukula establishment within ISKCON.
My point of view is surmised in the following statements by Bhakti VIkasa Maharaja in this article:
“…I strongly feel that devotees who have performed outstanding service over many years should not be wholesale condemned. Serious anomalies should be addressed but give credit where it is due and don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Lots of discussion has happened on child abuse but not enough on establishing gurukulas as Srila Prabhupada desired. We must all understand that establishing traditional gurukula projects is a definitive order from Srila Prabhupada. Devotees should spend their energy and time to work towards this order and correct the issues and mistakes as they come by in a suitable manner. Simply making examples out of devotees who have committed mistakes (even serious) in executing this order and to keep finding faults in the current gurukula procedures is insufficient and actually destructive if one has the sincere desire to please Srila Prabhupada. We should not end up in a situation where due to blowing an issue literally out of proportion, Srila Prabhupada’s order is minimized and then completely forgotten.
Failures and problems in establishing gurukula projects should not be an indication to stop trying. But if we only publicize the failures and issues in a “mega” way and not develop any desire to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s order, why do we even think that we will please him and will become eligible to go back home, back to Godhead?