Rochana Prabhu’s Double Standard

On 12 June 2017, I submitted to the Sampradaya Sun website an article addressing some of Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s recent, misleading statements and unfair accusations against Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja (my guru maharaja). But the site’s editor, Rocana Prabhu, rejected it.

In his response to me, dated 16 June 2017, he outlined two reasons for his rejection. The first has to do with giving those directly affected by past abuse the opportunity to respond first. He said he wants to wait for Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja to first post all his responses to Sanaka Rsi Prabhu (although he refused an article from Maharaja as well! This is now published here) and then only will he be inclined to publish articles from supporters, from both sides. He also clarified that he has been publishing commentaries only from those who have a direct personal connection with the child abuse issue.

The second reason he gave for rejecting my article, and this is the one he focused more on, is that he felt that what I had initially submitted was ill-reasoned, contained innumerable errors of logic and was thus sentimental. In this regard, Rocana Prabhu enumerated criteria for me (and I presume also meant for others on “my side” of the issue) to meet before he would consider publishing my article. Some of them are: Eliminate speculation and character assassination statements; deal with factual and philosophical points; use citations and quotations; avoid generalizing, etc. read more

Men of Sterner Stuff

With regard to Sanaka-Rishi Prabhu’s recent communications on the Sampradaya Sun website, specifically on the matter of corporeal punishment in relation to some statements made by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami (who is my spiritual master), I would like to share an experience of mine that I think germane to this matter.

In 2011 I worked as a civilian contractor at a U.S. military installation in Dallas. During my time there, I spent eight months sharing a 6 x 6 foot cubicle with a colleague from Nigeria by the name of John (not his real name). He was about my age, was married and had three children, all of them boys and teenagers. He was also quite visibly a Christian. When we ate together he said his prayers and sometimes spiced his speech with phrases like, “Lord, have mercy!” He was also a strict disciplinarian with his children. Often during the course of the day, he would call his children to find out what mischief they were up to and reprimand them, sometimes threatening them with sterner punishment that can be delivered only in person. And he was quite capable of carrying out his ultimatums, too. He was very strong; his arms were as thick as legs. He was a hard worker, thoroughly honest, devoted to his family, and a gentleman.

So, one day, John, another colleague James, and I, were sitting and having a conversation about the punishments our fathers had given us while we were growing up. James, who had retired from Air Force intelligence and was retiring from a second career as a software developer, described some of the “good whippings” his father gave him. Not wanting to be left behind, I recounted some of the whippings given me by my own father, an Air Force officer and disciplinarian, like most are. read more

Child Protection; Another Perspective

[This was formerly submitted to the Sampradaya Sun by the author but was refused for publication.]

To Topical Discussions Conference

25 April 2001

While appreciating attempts to stop child abuse I propose that it is far insufficient to extend protection simply to the limited extent accepted by mundane lawmakers. Children can only be fully and properly protected if brought up in pursuance of tenets given by the original, supreme and infallible lawmaker. read more

Serious Accusations, But False

After a hectic visit to Mayapur (that was long previously scheduled), I am gradually catching up with pending matters including discussions on the Sampradaya Sun regarding child abuse.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has made serious accusations against me. He wrote:

“We have one conversation where Srila Prabhupada agreed to use corporal punishment, against an overwhelming amount of instances where he spoke strongly against it…” read more

Sorry, Sanaka, You Are Wrong

Response to http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/05-17/editorials14911.htm

Sanaka, you are intelligent, articulate, and dedicated to a noble cause. You also seem to be fully convinced that you are right in all respects and that anyone who disagrees with you must be just plain wrong. However, you have erred in your portrayal of myself as quoting Srila Prabhupada out of context. The context is Srila Prabhupada’s statements on corporal punishment of children, especially in gurukula. I supplied quotes in which Srila Prabhupada generally endorsed corporal punishment and one in which he himself advised beating (pito) a badly behaved gurukula boy. (See http://akincana.net/gurukula_controversy/child-abuse-definitions-and-subjectivity/)

Correction: I slightly mistranslated pito. In Bengali, it means “severely beat,” but in Hindi, it just means “beat.” Srila Prabhupada was speaking in Hindi, so the meaning conveyed was not to severely beat the boy, just to beat him. read more

About Bhaktividya Purna Swami

In the mid 1980s when talk of Bhaktividya Purna Swami and child abuse first surfaced I made a point to ask him about it on my next visit to Mayapura. Which I did. He explained to me that in the early days of the Mayapura gurukula he had no control over which boys were admitted and that many parents sent difficult cases, children who they could not control. And that the only way to keep some kind of order in the school was via argumentum ad baculam.

Did he go too far? Seems so, according to CPO reports. Although until the advent of liberal values throughout the world, in most countries corporal punishment—even to quite a severe degree—in homes and schools was generally considered normal and proper, and some quotes from Srila Prabhupada (cited in a previous article) indicate that he also felt the same way.

Western devotees who did not serve in India in the 1970s have no idea how difficult it was in many ways. That could be the subject of another article. The specific difficulties that Bhaktividya Purna Swami went through in sticking to his gurukula service could be the subject of a small book. Why did he do it? I guess that he felt a calling to serve Srila Prabhupada’s gurukula mission within Mayapura dhama, to which he is strongly attached. read more

Child Abuse – Definitions and Subjectivity

What exactly does “child abuse” mean? Different people will have different ideas, possibly completely opposed. Of course, there is unlikely to be disagreement about its more egregious forms. But some behaviors toward children are less clear—some would define them as abuse, others would not. For example, one person might consider a child’s ear being tweaked as an offense so bad that it should be internationally publicized. Whereas someone else might think that some measure of corporal punishment can be actually beneficial for children.

Today’s world is beset by many “hot” issues on which opinions diverge widely and acrimoniously, and concerning which no middle ground has been reached even after many years of back and forth—and probably never will be. Such issues include abortion, the existence of God, the ordination of women and homosexuals as priests, and so on. It seems that, within ISKCON, child abuse is a similar issue. For while some people are horrified by ear-tweaking, others see their horror to be ridiculous.

Also, opinions can change—as did mine regarding corporal punishment. I was completely opposed to it, based on some well-circulated quotes of Srila Prabhupada’s. My stance changed on becoming aware of several other quotes wherein Srila Prabhupada expresses approval of stringent corporal punishment. Somehow, in discussions about child abuse within ISKCON, these quotes never seem to be cited. read more

Response to Sanaka Rsi Das

Dear Sanaka Rsi Prabhu,

Asirvadam. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your polite and thoughtful letter. The issues the CPO (ISKCON’s Child Protection Office) deals with are indeed very serious. I appreciate the CPO’s effort in highlighting the issues and working towards finding solutions for protecting our children. In your letter, you highlight three main issues: The conduct of certain senior members of our society; socially acceptable conduct in the current era; and use of fear as an instrument of discipline. read more

Regarding Child Abuse

Transcript of a talk given by Bhakti Vikasa Swami on 27 August 2016 in Brno, Czech Republic.

Original recording: http://www.bvks.com/11818/  (Slightly edited for clarity.)

…The whole world is full of so much contamination. Inevitably some of that comes into our Krsna consciousness movement. It is difficult to say what is the most horrible thing going on the world. Massive cow slaughter? The killing of even one cow is despicable, what to speak of massive, worldwide organized cow slaughter and meat sales. Maybe as bad as or even worse than…no one seems to care about it. read more

Sanaka Rsi Dasa misleading, has done nothing positive for gurukulas

(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. read more