Rochana Prabhu’s Double Standard

Janus

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.

Both reasons have merit, but with respect to the second reason Rochana Prabhu has in fact pursued a double standard. Almost every single article with an opinion against Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja that Rochana Prabhu has published has violated nearly every one of these guidelines. Regardless of how one feels about the matter, the guidelines he outlined should apply equally to both sides, not just one. Yet it is clear that he imposes them on only one side and allows the other to violate them.

Moreover, the violations across the various authors expressing an opinion against Maharaja are neither infrequent nor mild, they are typical and excessive. Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s articles in particular are fraught with character assassination, errors in logic, condescension, lack of citations and accurate quotations when they are clearly called for, etc. Rochana Prabhu’s double standard is neither an accident nor an oversight, it is deliberate.

Hence, in hoping that pointing these gross discrepancies might lead to their correction, I replied on 22 June 2017 to Rocana Prabhu with the following email, to which he has not responded. Since at this point I do not expect a reply, I am publishing my email to him.

  • Rama Kumara Das (BVKS)

Dear Rocana Prabhu,

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

Thank you for your response. I went through your reasons for not publishing the article. I found several inconsistencies between the statements in your email and the articles that you have published in last few weeks on this issue.

Although you mentioned that you are declining to publish opinion pieces supporting the two sides, I see that several of them supporting Sanaka Rsi Prabhu have been published consistently. Some of them are:

Bhakti Vikasa Swami Defending the Indefensible – By Caitanya das,

An Appeal to H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami – by Krsna das,

A Gentleman and His Obligations – by Krsna das,

I Hereby Give You H.H. Bhakti Vikasa – by Krsna das and

H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami??? By Giribaradhari das

However, not even a single article has been published from the side of Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja. Why is this so?

If you kindly note, the statements which you quoted from my article in your email have been derived based on the reasoning either before them or are explained after the statements. For instance, you quoted the following from my article:

“Sanaka Rsi Prabhu is severely minimizing the good that BhaktividyaPurna Maharaja has done. He wants to focus only on his mistakes.” AND “Why does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu keep minimizing their importance and cry foul all the time?”

The reasons for making these couple of statements are sandwiched between these two statements itself in the article.

Another point you mentioned in your email is that:

“all the subjective ‘good feelings’ on the swami’s behalf are moot points.”

The Gurukula in Mayapura is functioning as Srila Prabhupada desired. And irrefutably Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja has made a huge contribution towards it. I elaborated on this point in my article as well. Isn’t the presence of this Gurukula itself objective and substantial? I couldn’t understand why this is dismissed as subjective “good feelings” by everybody.

You had mentioned that my article is ill-reasoned. But with all due respects, I don’t agree to it. Throughout my article, I have taken the effort to provide several important points to refute the ill-reasoning of Sanaka Rsi Prabhu. He doesn’t know or understand the current situation in Mayapur Gurukula otherwise he will be aware that Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja has no involvement there now. So his articles calling to remove Maharaja from Gurukula are not at all valid.

I would like to quote some of the statements (emphasis mine) made in the before mentioned articles which were published in Sampradaya Sun recently. I have included my comments inline for some of them.

Some former gurukuli wrote here:

…In his old age, the man goes on to the Sannyasa Asrama, now in his twilight, all his effort and remaining energy can be focused on spiritual activities, preaching which includes advising the younger generation on leading a proper life. Our eternal Spiritual Master, Srila Prabhupada went through and experienced every single moment of this, which is why he has utmost authority in giving advice and direction relating to every segment of life.

My Comment: In the highlighted line above, this person is saying that Srila Prabhupada is an authority in social matters only because he had gained firsthand experience of mundane relationships in this material world. Isn’t he minimizing the position of Srila Prabhupada severely? Also, how is it that Narada Muni being a renunciant speak about these aspects in Canto 7 of Srimad Bhagavatam but others in his sampradaya can’t? Aren’t these principles explained in sastras? What this person is presenting is disguised atheism.

Caitanya Das writes here:

The latest attempt to justify violence and abuse of children in our schools by Bhakti Vikasa Swami is lamentable, giving reasons like we did not know Srila Prabhupada did not approve of violence against children.

…My advice to the Maharaja: stop digging yourself further into a hole and quit defending the indefensible.

My Comment: In the above referred article (or anywhere for that matter), Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja never justified violence and abuse of children. No direct quotations are given here for reference by the author.

Krsna Das writes here:

I hereby present to you H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami, ISKCON sannyasa and ISKCON Guru. I hereby present to you Bhakti Vikasa, who has no moral compass. I hereby present to you Bhakti Vikasa who, evidently from his own written statements, has no understanding of human dignity. I hereby present to you Bhakti Vikasa, who thinks it reasonable that Bhaktividya Purna ought be allowed to torture and abuse children…

Bhakti Vikasa is a person who ought not, in my not so humble opinion, be allowed to hold any office in ISKCON where there are children nearby who may be tainted by his associationand lack of moral character values, as evidenced by his own recent submissions on the subject of child abuse and child abusers.

Krsna das writes in another of his article here:

…Will he show some respect for the cloth he wears? Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, honour your obligations. A gentleman need not be reminded of his obligations.

I submit to those who are reading this, that Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj has painted himself in the very worst possible light by the association of his own choosing of those with very poor character. I certainly would not associate with Bhaktividya Purna. And I certainly would not associate with Bhakti Vikasa. Or those of his ilk.

Giribaradhari Das writes here (taken from different sections of his article):

I would therefore ask that H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami stand down or be removed from his post. Resign with dignity. Through his recent writings he has truly demonstrated to one and all that he is unfit in every sense of the word to be in a position of leadership. That is patently obvious. He ought step down.

He is a danger to those who are fighting against Maya. He is a liability that ISKCON cannot afford. He must continue in his war against Maya of course, but as a private. Not as a general. It is obvious that he is not fit for such a post. Better he not misguide others and make more casualties.

…Bhakti Vikasa, I say to you, “Do you want to help Srila Prabhupada’s Mission? Then please don’t help. Your help is causing untold ruckus. Please don’t help.”

…It is not only Bhakti Vikasa who is a hindrance to Lord Caitanya’s movement. Why are the contributors to Sampradaya Sun taking it upon themselves to point out to one and all, the frailties and dangers to ISKCON of having someone such as Bhakti Vikasa advising people on marriage or women or children? In the vernacular one would say, “He hasn’t got a clue!

…However, if Bhakti Vikasa can be humble enough to stand down, reflect upon the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, imbibe the mood of Srila Prabhupada and take it upon himself to speak out, tell the truth, then perhaps we will have a start to a real spiritual movement, the real ISKCON, as Srila Prabhupada envisioned.

…From the submissions of Bhakti Vikasa, it is blatantly obvious that he is indicative of the deep seated problem. The tip of the iceberg, as they say.

…There is certainly a dearth of that morality and ethicsright now, as clearly shown by the position that Bhakti Vikasa has foolishly taken

All these quotes do several things: they completely do character assassination of Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja. They are totally speculative. None of them are philosophical in nature and they aren’t factual. All of them are ill-reasoned and therefore just sentimental out-pours.

Another thing I noticed is that in couple of articles Maharaja is also criticized for giving his guidance on topics related to women and on marriage etc. Now, why was this point brought out when it has no relevance to the present child abuse discussion? How should we infer this? Dislike for Maharaja due to their (the authors’) adherence to mundane feminine equality?

So when you kindly ask me to follow all these standards, I am not able to see any example from the publications in Sampradaya Sun (on the Child abuse issue) where one is not speculating, doesn’t indulge in character assassination, deals only with factual and philosophical points and is not sentimental. This includes Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s articles as well.

Therefore, to me this seem double-standards in publication. Could you to please clarify on how I should understand all of this?

In my article which I sent for publishing, I had tried to bring out and stress on the road-blocks which Sanaka Rsi Prabhu himself is creating with his strong yet emotional articles. He is not speaking anything positive for the sake of child protection in these articles.

With several opinionated articles being published in Sampradaya Sun,focusing on only one-side of the whole issue, I feel this is tantamount to witch-hunting which will completely repress Srila Prabhupada’s mission of establishing gurukulas.

Your Servant,

Rama-kumara dasa
(This is my initiated name)

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.

But among us, John’s recollection easily took first place. In Nigeria, his father was the principal of a Christian boy’s school. One day, he told John that when school got over that he must immediately go home. “Do not go anywhere else.” But John went to see a friend, and one of John’s uncles saw him do that and told his father. Despite dallying with his friend, John was first to reach home. His father came home soon afterwards and asked him where he had been.

“What did I tell you?”

“Go straight home.”

“And what did you do?”

“I went to a friend’s house.”

John first got a tongue-lashing, then he got a real lashing. His father tore off a branch from a nearby hedge that John referred to as a “whipping bush”, because not only do the branches make a good hedge but they are ideal for use as a switch in whipping someone. John’s father then whipped him so hard with the switch and so long that John literally could not sit down for the rest of the day. When his mother came home and called him to come sit next to her, all he could do was moan. He really couldn’t sit down. Yet to this day, John speaks about his father only with absolute reverence and says that his father did him great good by chastising him.

Over the years, my own personal observation is that his experience was not uncommon. I can remember once, when growing up on a military base, a friend of mine had loitered too long at my home, and his father, in uniform, walked over to our house, took off his belt, and gave his son a couple of hard lashings. Subsequently, his son, without complaint or crying returned home with him. We were no more than 11 years old back then.

Nowadays such discipline is hardly encountered in everyday life, but when I grew up during the 1970s in America it was common, even among civilians. And we generally turned out OK. So, with this perspective, when considering grievances with regard to corporeal punishment, as mentioned by Sanaka-Rishi Prabhu, most of the incidents, if not the great majority, don’t seem to surpass the severity of the beating that my friend John received from his father.

For sure, notions of what is acceptable in disciplining a child have changed considerably since the 1970s. But perhaps the actual problem is that the notions of acceptable discipline themselves, by way of the therapeutic enterprise, have changed not for the better but for the worse. On other important measures of social and personal well-being, sociologists, psychologists, and therapists have served the rest of society poorly. For example, the out-of-wedlock birth rate in America is today 43%. In other words, more than 4 out of 10 children in America are born outside of a marriage, almost four times the rate in 1970. All this has happened under the guidance of the mental health profession.

So, it is quite plausible that the people creating the problem mainly are the therapists. In most cases, the so-called victims and so-called perpetrators simply would not have been regarded as such fifty years ago. Hardly any men who got beat up by fathers and teachers thought of themselves as victims until a class of mental health professionals came along and sold them on the belief that they were.

It’s not difficult to see why the mental health profession is making matters worse, for the idea it sells to others is that “they are the body.” Mental health professionals intensify the bodily concept of life in their clients, which is most unhelpful. As the late philosopher Christopher Lasch once said,

“Even when therapists speak of the need for ‘meaning’ or ‘love,’ they define love and meaning simply as the fulfillment of the patient’s emotional requirements. It hardly occurs to them—nor is there any reason why it should, given the nature of the therapeutic enterprise—to encourage the subject to subordinate his needs and interests to those of others, to someone or some cause or tradition outside himself.” — The Culture of Narcissism (1979)

Intensifying the bodily concept of life means implicating the unfortunate recipients of such therapy in progressively deeper modes of ignorance. And for the unfortunate soul, this results in “happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion” (BG 18.39). In his purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada says, “For the person in the mode of ignorance, everything is illusion. There is no happiness either in the beginning or at the end.“

From this perspective, the real problem is that because this increases the mode of ignorance in them, they are excessively self-absorbed in their own bodies and minds and thus experience excessive suffering and pain. Hence, by adopting the therapeutic model to help their children deal with experiences of real or imagined abuse, parents, ISKCON decision-makers, and health-care professionals, though all well-meaning, have unwittingly made matters worse for their children, not better.

In order to transcend the suffering of this world, there is no alternative to taking up Krishna consciousness, beginning with the realization that one is “not this body.” The therapeutic model will not help because it deepens the mode of ignorance. Its adoption in the ISKCON education system has been like using gasoline to put out a fire. But in order to be actually freed from suffering, one must adopt the Krishna conscious perspective on all things in life, including those negative experiences one may have had within the society of devotees. This will create men of sterner stuff.

 

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.

According to Krishna conscious understanding, even parents are guilty of abusing their children if they for instance:

  1. divorce;
  2. encourage their children to adopt a worldview more acceptable to mundane academicians than in line with sastra;
  3. set a bad example by regularly rising late, having poor sadhana, eating karmi food, and in other ways acting as materialistic rather than ideal Krishna conscious parents;
  4. allow their children unrestricted access to TV, computer games, and the like;
  5. fail to educate their children about the dangers of illicit sex, and allow or encourage them to freely mix with members of the opposite sex;
  6. fail to take the time and trouble to solidly train their children not to abuse their rare and valuable human form of life, but rather to seriously practice Krishna consciousness, which is their only hope of getting free from repeated birth in the world of exploitation and abuse.

Many who consider themselves protectors of children may themselves be active perpetrators of abuse.

10 May 2001

Your text above has been read by both gurukula alumni, parents and some child protection advocates. The question has arisen whether you consider the practices you list, which you refer to as child abuse, to be equally abusive as e.g. the practice of spanking children, or as child molestations. This topic has been discussed on this conference, as well as on a conference for gurukula alumni. Could you please clarify for us how you see the relative seriousness of what “mundane lawmakers” refer to as abuse and the items on your list? Thank you.

12 May 2001

Thankyou for discussing these important questions and for asking me to clarify my position.

But asking which I think worse is like asking me to compare brown stool with black stool. Both are disgusting.

Consciousness of gross child abuse has been awakened in ISKCON and there are now systems in place to prevent it. Notwithstanding unresolved controversies, the practical effect is that children of ISKCON devotees today are much less likely to be grossly abused than those of previous generations. The devotees who have been instrumental in bringing this about have done a great job and deserve applause.

Yet there is much more to do. We need to build a culture of stable family life wherein children can grow up looking up to their parents as ideal persons and not having to experience the pain of seeing their parents divorce.

Furthermore, parents should be made aware that if they do not take the trouble to seriously train their children in Krishna consciousness, they thereby send them back to suffer repeated birth and death, with concomitant intense suffering, for a practically endless period.

Gross child abuse, horrible as it is, is only a manifestation of a much greater problem, the root of all problems: forgetfulness of Krishna. Although gross child abuse should certainly be purged from the community of devotees, unless we focus on the spiritual decrepitude that is at its root, then any solutions are not really solutions at all; for unless and until one fully surrenders to Krishna and goes back to Godhead, he simply abuses others and gets abused in the most nasty ways life after life without respite. Therefore although letting children live a free undisciplined life may seem not nearly as bad as gross child abuse, in the long run it fosters abuse and is therefore abusive.

This does not in any way condone manifestations of gross abuse of children, but is meant to awaken consciousness of the need to do much more for them.

It is highly desirable, and not impossible, that devotees show an example to the world of stable, peaceful, wholesome, religious family life. But at present, devotee marriages tend to be short-lived, and most children of devotees are neither spiritually nor materially well developed.

In the case of gross child abuse, first awareness of the problem was aroused; positive and beneficial action followed. Let it be so also in this case.

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…”

I cited several quotes, not one, that at face value show Srila Prabhupada endorsing corporal punishment.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu continued:

“Maharaj, your presentation has been disingenuous and manipulative. I did not say that you quoted out of context because the quotes you provided were not relevant to the conversation, as you suggested. But rather because you have provided an edited version of the conversation, that created a slanted perspective.”

The only editing I did was to present a part of the conversation (as is standard practice; no one quotes whole conversations) and to add a translation of some of that part which was in Hindi.

In fact, Sanaka Rsi Prabhu himself edited what I quoted by leaving out part of what I quoted.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu continued:

“You seem to believe that somehow the Hindi portion of that conversation is unrelated to the rest. Essentially you are trying to take it out of its context, as if the fact that Prabhupada spoke that part in Hindi makes it a new conversation that took place in a different time, space and context, which is nonsense.”

Speculation. I simply included the Hindi part where it occurred within the conversation.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu continued:

“But what is perhaps your biggest blunder, is that you failed to inform the readers that the transcript of the conversation you provided in your article was an edited collage of different bits of the same conversation that you had selectively pieced together so as to create a version that incidentally happens to be more supportive of your agenda than the actual exchange that took place.”

These are heavy accusations that would certainly frame me IF THEY WERE TRUE. But they are NOT.

There is no collage.

Nothing is selectively pieced together.

There is no tampered quote, as he claims. I simply cut and pasted that section from the Vedabase and added Hindi translation. In fact, he “tampered” with what I had quoted, by leaving out a line by Yasodanandan Prabhu.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu then gives a detailed explanation of how I have “fabricated a distorted account of the events that indicates that Srila Prabhupada was as equally disposed towards the use of corporal punishment as he was towards alternatives.” Although he presumes this to be my “agenda,” I was simply presenting (as I wrote) “several other quotes wherein Srila Prabhupada expresses approval of stringent corporal punishment,” that “somehow, in discussions about child abuse within ISKCON … never seem to be cited.” (http://akincana.net/gurukula_controversy/child-abuse-definitions-and-subjectivity/)

I was presenting a case that, although some statements of Srila Prabhupada’s concerning corporal punishment express total prohibition, there are others also with a different message, so the issue is not as cut and dried as Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has made out. For a thorough, balanced discussion of any topic all evidence has to be considered. (Admittedly it is often difficult to discuss this particular subject in a balanced manner.)

He calls on me for “publicly acknowledging the gravity of this misrepresentation of your spiritual master.” But there is no misrepresentation, no collage, no selective piecing together, no tampering. In summary, he has accused me of being “disingenuous and manipulative” but it is these ABSOLUTELY FALSE CHARGES that are disingenuous and manipulative. (How can anyone think that they can get away with posting such bull dung and not be called out for it? I urge readers to check for themselves the original against what I posted.)

A major point has been overlooked in the discussion of corporal punishment in the early days of ISKCON gurukulas in India. Those days were very different indeed: corporal punishment was legal in ISKCON and in India; within India, it was widely accepted and approved of. This of course does not justify corporal punishment, nor is it an endorsement of excesses; but it should be understood that attitudes have greatly changed within one or two generations.

Even more importantly, the standard quotes cited in this discussion were largely unknown until after the period in which corporal punishment was common in ISKCON schools. Srila Prabhupada’s letters were not published until well into the 1980s, and even then it took time for devotees to read and research them. The whole collection of Srila Prabhupada’s audio recordings was released in the early 2000s (and at a price of $1800, was not affordable to all) and it would take years to hear them all even by listening to several a day.

Would devotees in the 1980s have administered corporal punishment had they known Srila Prabhupada’s position on it? Is it reasonable to hold persons guilty when almost certainly they were unaware that what they were doing was forbidden by Srila Prabhupada? Their superiors (the managers of ISKCON Mayapur and Vrindavan) must have known that they were administering corporal punishment, and they did not forbid it – and in those days the mandate to follow authorities was embedded in the psyche of ISKCON devotees. If authorities approved something, it had to be okay.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu refers to my “agenda.” Here it is: my agenda in this matter is to oppose the one-sided, destructive propaganda against the only disciple of Srila Prabhupada who has dedicated his entire life for children by developing a traditional gurukula in the style that Srila Prabhupada wanted. Anyone who actually cares for children would be delighted to recognize the extraordinary good that Bhaktividya Purna Swami has done, rather than trying to drag him down by citing mistakes (even severe mistakes) that he has made.

Why does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu NOT see the many parents who enthusiastically endorse Bhaktividya Purna Swami’s contributions by continuing to send children to him? Why does he not see the several children who grew up under him and are still with him, or elsewhere in Mayapur, and who now have their own children? Why deny this? What is the “agenda” here?

Why have dozens of parents all over the world, who know full well the reported history and could send their children anywhere in the world, have still chosen Mayapur gurukula? Are those parents all stupid? The ongoing propaganda against Mayapur gurukula would make them seem so.

Everyone knows that there have been serious allegations against Bhaktividya Purna Swami, even fairly recently. But those accusations have been countered, mostly by his students and ex-students, on Facebook and elsewhere. Why does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu not inform others about that? What is his “agenda”? (These countering statements are presently being retrieved and collated and soon should be up in one place on the internet.)

Is not api cet su-duracarah applicable here?

As I previously wrote, “Does the Krsna consciousness movement not allow any possibility of reform?” Must a person who has made mistakes in the past be eternally condemned for them? Should we remember Valmiki as a sinner? Shall we reject the Ramayana because it was written by an ex-robber? Do we condemn Jagai and Madhai, or instead glorify Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy upon them?

I strongly urge those who would negatively judge Bhaktividya Purna Swami and the Mayapur gurukula to first personally visit there and see for themselves. Spend time, imbibe the pure atmosphere of the dham, speak with Maharaja and his students, ex-students, and staff, and parents and other members of the broader Mayapur community. No one will pretend that the gurukula is perfect, but the overwhelming opinion of those who are on the spot, living there, is that a very good job is being done in accord with Srila Prabhupada’s wishes.

What does Sanaka Rsi Prabhu have to offer in comparison? If he cares so much for children, what is he positively doing for them? He has had enough time in his life to set up a gurukula in the manner that Srila Prabhupada wanted. All he can do is bash others who have literally given their life to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in this regard.

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. Incidentally, one of the leaders of the gurukula in Mayapur whom I recently spoke with told me that he had proposed to Sanaka Rsi Prabhu that they work together to make comprehensive guidelines on child protection issues, that could be used by ISKCON schools worldwide. Sanaka Rsi Prabhu declined.

By the way, everything that I have published on Sampradaya Sun has been written by me. I may send articles for review by others prior to publication, and I may incorporate certain suggestions and changes. But if my name is on it, it is by me. The Sun editors may make editorial changes to my articles, which explains why they might slightly differ to versions published on my website.

I plan one more article on these topics, concerning Indradyumna Swami. Then I’m finished. I am under no obligation to engage with anyone who employs lies and deception to paint me in the worst possible light. That shows very poor character, and our acaryas have warned us to avoid bad association.

[First published at the Sampradaya Sun (www.harekrsna.com/sun) on 2 June 2017.]

 

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.

You might not like such quotes. You might try to explain them away. But you cannot deny that Srila Prabhupada made them, and specifically in the context under discussion. In fact, you admitted “it is indeed true that Srila Prabhupada sanctioned the use of corporal punishment in that instance”—which is at least one instance of Srila Prabhupada sanctioning the use of corporal punishment. Nothing that Srila Prabhupada says or does should be lightly discounted. Even one instance of our founder-acarya’s advice in a certain situation is instructive for us in dealing with similar situations in future.

You state that the quote is out of context but you do not state the context – instead you substitute a hyperlink for an entire conversation. But the context of the statement is clear: at that point in the discussion the context was how to deal with an unruly boy.

You stated: “You found one instance where Srila Prabhupada reluctantly consented to the repeated requests of Jagadisa…” But I also added the Hindi part, with translation, that you left out, in which Srila Prabhupada, unprompted by Jagadisa or anyone else, used the word pito (beat). The context is that Jagadisa suggested (once, not several times) beating as one of two alternatives, the other being to “send him back.” Srila Prabhupada endorsed “send him back.” Then other devotees explained in detail just how misbehaved the boy was, after which Jagadisa said, “In my opinion, the best thing is to make an example and beat him.”

This was only the second time (not several, as you state) that Jagadisa had suggested beating, to which Srila Prabhupada replied

Yes, send him to farm, work in the field. If he does not work, beat him. Murkhasya lathyausadhih [“The medicine for a fool is a stick”].

A little later in the conversation, Srila Prabhupada, speaking in Hindi (not to Jagadisa) and not prompted by anyone else, again recommended beating: “Send him to (the ISKCON farm at) Hyderabad, make him work. Give him digging work. If he refuses, beat him, that is the way to do it.” Srila Prabhupada recommended that a boy be beaten.

These quotes might seem shocking, but Srila Prabhupada actually made them. We have to be careful to not try to stereotype Srila Prabhupada to fit our own ideas.

Regarding ear-tweaking. In your film you showed a boy complaining about it, as if it was a big deal. But you didn’t supply any context. The children in the video accused a woman of twisting the ear.

[10:17 “Cost of Silence, part 3 of 4”]

Kid 1: [indistinct] to our stomach very much, very hardly and to our ear she pulled it like a key.

Kid 2: Our head is going in the wall.

Kid 1: Anybody has any problem, any people not jump in mangal arati, then he will come and jump so much.

Kid 3: Mata Ji, can I speak in Hindi? Aap jante he main jab vahaan par thaa. Mata ji khadaa hua. Unhone mujhe tapar diyaa [slapped] aur mujhe bolaayaa “come here come here”, aur unhone mera pinch kiyaa pet [stomach] aur ghuma diyaa [twist].

Kid 1: Pulled it like a key. Mata Ji, she turned it like a key.

But now you describe ear “pulling” in quite a different manner: physically lifting children by the ear. A woman twisting a boy’s ear is not the same as lifting children by their ears off the ground. Yet you accuse me of citing you out of context.

Although you make some valid points, for instance, about possible misuse of corporal punishment, which are certainly worth discussing, I can’t write whole articles (like this one) to rebut all the opinionated and flawed statements that you make as if they are proven facts.

As is well known, Srila Prabhupada sometimes said different things at different times on the same issue, and different devotees explain these apparent contradictions in varying ways. Indeed, alternative approaches to harmonizing seemingly disharmonious statements is the stuff that religious schisms are made of.

But there can be no discussion when someone is so convinced that he is right that he won’t give an inch and resorts to ad hominem attacks. However noble the cause, zeal in pursuing it must be tempered with openness and humility – a willingness to admit that there might be another side of the story, and possibly to adjust one’s stance – otherwise it can become an inquisition.

By no means am I on a campaign to institute corporal punishment; I am only discussing it because you asked me to clarify my position regarding it. I was planning to respond to further of your challenges in a series of articles (as suggested at the end of my previous article), but there can be no fruitful dialog unless you display a more fair-minded and accommodating spirit.


Regarding Bhaktividya Purna Swami: there are horrendous reports about him and glowing ones also. Paradoxical. Is it discussable that there might be some good about him, that he is not all bad? Not according to you. You have given the verdict, and woe to anyone who dares question you!

Here, I have a suggestion for you. If at all you feel that there are any GBCs in ISKCON who are seriously concerned about child abuse, try approaching them individually and attempt to cojointly devise a strategy as to what is to be done. Sure it is tough to make changes in ISKCON or to get through to the leaders but someone must be concerned, otherwise why was the CPO set up?

[First published at the Sampradaya Sun (www.krsna.com/sun) on 13 May 2017.]

 

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.

I have spoken with some of the ex-students from that time and my impression is that most of them are chiefly grateful for what they got. Gurukula was tough, but for many of them who were from poor families, life would have been tougher outside gurukula. They acknowledge that both materially and spiritually they are far better off than had they not been in gurukula.

Anyway, Bhaktividya Purna Swami was convicted by the quasilegal body that is the CPO, and banned for life from initiating and from child education within ISKCON. Resultantly, the gurukula he oversaw closed. In the following few years he worked with several disciples to plan re-opening a gurukula, analyzing what went wrong and writing curricula (a huge job). Eventually the gurukula re-opened, with systems for the vetting and gradual induction of students, and for dealing with misbehavior. Bhaktividya Purna Swami skirted the CPO edict by not accepting any official position and by working through his disciples. The overall result, according to feedback from parents, current students, and alumni, has been very positive. Although, obviously, not without faults.

What else could he have done? He could have quit education and done another service. But he stuck to his duty, even if it was performed imperfectly. Indeed, all endeavors in this world have some kind of fault. (See Bhagavad-gita 18.47–48).

Still the call is out to remove Bhaktividya Purna Swami. Which is understandable, for in most cases of reported child abuse the most effective way to address the problem is to permanently remove the accused. Another way, the path that Bhaktividya Purna Swami took, is to examine, “Things went wrong, but I want to do it right for Srila Prabhupada.” To carry on, despite defamation. Isn’t it better that instead of giving up or being dismissed, one works hard to do things better? Does the Krishna consciousness movement not allow any possibility of reform?

To those who say, “What about happened thirty years ago?” can be responded “What about what is happening now?”

Again there is much subjectivity on concerning various facets of this topic, as discussed in my previous article. A rider to that article: obviously devotees should not employ corporal punishment in countries where it is illegal. And a correction to that article: I stated that corporal punishment seems to be an issue specifically within ISKCON. I was wrong. See:

http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-corporal-punishment-be-banned-in-schools

http://debatewise.org/debates/547-corporal-punishment-should-be-reintroduced/

I do not necessarily endorse everything that Bhaktividya Purna Swami does or stands for. But 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.

There are further important points to be discussed, including the more recent accusations against Bhaktividya Purna Swami. Coming soon.

[First published at the Sampradaya Sun (www.harekrsna.com/sun) on 11 May 2017]

 

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.

He’s not envious. He cannot be envious. The killing of the demons, that is also His affection. Just like sometimes we punish our children; we give a very strong slap. (From Srila Prabhupada’s lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.29 — April 21, 1973, Los Angeles)

If you want to train your children, sometimes you have to slap, you have to chastise for his benefit. (From Srila Prabhupada’s lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.2 — April 12, 1975, Hyderabad)

In a conversation on 5 November  1976, in Vrndavana, the topic arose of one particularly badly-behaved boy.

Rupa-vilasa: Bhavananda told me he did not want to see that boy again.

Pradyumna: In Mayapur he had some girl…

Jagadisa: In my opinion, the best thing is to make an example and beat him.

Prabhupada: Yes, send him to farm, work in the field. If he does not work, beat him. Murkhasya lathyausadhih.[“The medicine for a fool is a stick.”]

 

[Hindi conversation with Bhagatji, with translation by BVKS:

Bhagatji: ek baat yaad aa gayi. /Something I recall.

Prabhupada Eh?

Bhagatji: Pehle log jo hai, pehle jo kuch crime karte the, to phasi

ya kala-pani. Kala-pani me singapore ki taraf malaya bhej dete the.

Aap unko Hyderabad bhej rahe hai./Previously, criminals were hanged or exiled by being sent to kala-pani (nickname of a prison in the Andamans) in Malaya, in the direction of Singapore. You are sending them to Hyderabad.

Prabhupada: Ha! Hyderabad bhejo, usko kaam karao. Usko matti khodne ka

kaam do; nahi kare to usko pito, aise kiya jaaye. /Yes. Send him to (the ISKCON farm at) Hyderabad, make him work. Give him digging work. If he refuses, thrash him, that is the way to do it.] [“pito” means “severely beat”]

Yasodanandana: He was just in Hyderabad for that ceremony there, and he caused such disruption in the whole temple that I don’t think they’d want him there.

Jagadisa: The thing is, if we beat him here and keep him here, then all the boys will straighten up because they will see that if they go bad, then this will be their punishment.

Prabhupada: As you think, you can do. But I wanted to engage in farm work, in digging.

On 5 April 1977 Srila Prabhupada said:

When child is sixteen years old he can do as he likes, not before that.

lalayet panca varsani
dasa varsani tadayet
prapte tu sodase varse
putram mitravad acaret

This is the moral instruction of Canakya Pandita. Up to five years, don’t chastise, don’t take any action. Let him be free. Whatever he likes, he can do. Then after fifth year, for ten years you must be very strict. Then five years and ten years, fifteen. And when he is sixteen years, treat him like a friend. Prapte tu sodase varse putram mitravad acaret. At that time, no stricture that he will break. “My dear boy, if you do this…” This is necessary. And from fifth year to fifteenth year you should chastise the sons and disciples just like tiger. After five years.

And on 25 November 1976 Srila Prabhupada said:

If you want to bring somebody under your control, then you must always chastise him; otherwise it is impossible. Canakya Pandita, the moral instruction, he also says, lalane bahavo doshas tadane bahavo gunah: “If you pat your subordinate, then it will increase the faulty habits.” Bahavo doshah. And tadane bahavo gunah: “And if you chastise, then they will improve.” Tasmat sishyam ca chatram ca tadayen na tu lalayet. Therefore it is advised, “Either your son or disciple, you should always chastise them. Never give them lenience.” So little leniency, immediately so many faults will grow.

More, from 1 February 1977:

Prabhupada: You can force, just like the father forces the child, “Go to school.” Because he knows without education his life will be frustrated, so he can force. I was forced. I was not going to school. Yes. [laughs] My mother forced. My father was very lenient. My mother forced me. She kept one man especially to drag me to the school. So force is required. Father-mother, natural guardian, they can force. The child may be foolish, but father-mother cannot see that their child will remain a fool. He can force. Government also. Why there is military force? Why there is police force? If you want to be outlaw, then you’ll be forced to accept the law. Force is required.

Devotee (1): But first the child has to see that there is some benefit from going to school.

Prabhupada: Child cannot see. He’s a rascal. He should be beaten with shoes. Then he will see. The child cannot see. Putram ca sishyam ca tadayen na tu lalayet [Canakya Pandita]: “Sons and disciples should be always chastised.” That is Canakya Pandita. “Never pat them.” Lalane bahavo doshas tadane bahavo gunah… “If you pat, then he’ll be spoiled. And if you chastise him, he’ll come out a very nice person. Therefore, either disciple or son, they should be always chastised.” This is the injunction of Canakya Pandita. There is no question of patting them.

To clarify my present position on corporal punishment in gurukulas: I generally do not recommend it, although in some form it might sometimes be employed. If a child regularly severely misbehaves, and the teachers cannot reform him (due to lack of expertise on their part, or intransigence on the part of the child), then some changes need to be made for the benefit of all concerned. Such changes might include involving more devotees to monitor and counsel the teacher or child, or even removing the teacher or the child or both from the school.

Some will say that the endorsement of any form of corporal punishment of children is endorsement of child abuse. I disagree, and aver that too much lenience can be disastrous – as in the case of a guardian who failed to properly discipline her ward.

There is another story—it may be fact—that a boy was raised by his aunt very liberally. Then, gradually, the boy became, in bad association, a thief. And the aunt was encouraging, “Oh, it is a very good business. You are bringing so many things without any labor.” So… Or out of affection he [she] did not chastise the boy when he was stealing. Then he, at the end, became a murderer. So he committed a murder. Then when he was to be hanged, so the government men inquired, “What is your last wish?” “Now, I want to speak with my aunt through the ear.” Then he was allowed. And the aunt was generally crying, that “My nephew is going to be hanged.” She was… So he caught up her ear with the teeth and cut it. So he said, “My dear aunt, if you would have chastised me in the beginning, then today, this position, that you are crying and I am going to be hanged, this would not have happened. But you did not do that. Therefore you are uselessly crying now, and this is your punishment: I cut off your ear with the teeth.” A very good instruction. (From Srila Prabhupada’s lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.47 — October 27, 1974, Mayapur)

Much further to be said. More to follow, gradually.

[First published at the Sampradaya Sun (www.harekrsna.com/sun) on 7 May 2017]

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.

Your case largely rests on the assumption that the CPO is highly trustworthy, makes no mistakes, and has no bias or political agenda. A different picture of the CPO appears in at least two articles (posted on this website, Sampradaya Sun), which I urge readers of this letter to peruse.[i]

I certainly agree that everyone, especially sannyasis, should be extremely careful in dealing with women and children. It is good to be vigilant, as you are, to highlight serious errors so that they may be rectified.

Among materialistic people, what is considered to be socially acceptable conduct is not fixed; it changes in time. For example, in the modern era abortion is considered socially acceptable whereas a few decades back, even in Western society, it was unacceptable. And divorce is largely acceptable within ISKCON today although previously it was not. As far as possible, we should follow Vedic tradition and not flap in the ever-changing wind of materialistic speculations. Presently, rigid disciplining of children is largely disfavored in the West. Here is one of Srila Prabhupada’s quotes in this regard:

When child is sixteen years old he can do as he likes, not before that.

lalayet panca varsani
dasa varsani tadayet
prapte tu sodase varse
putram mitravad acaret

This is the moral instruction of Canakya Pandita. Up to five years, don’t chastise, don’t take any action. Let him be free. Whatever he likes, he can do. Then after fifth year, for ten years you must be very strict. Then five years and ten years, fifteen. And when he is sixteen years, treat him like a friend. Prapte tu sodase varse putram mitravad acaret. At that time, no stricture that he will break. “My dear boy, if you do this…” This is necessary. And from fifth year to fifteenth year you should chastise the sons and disciples just like tiger. After five years.  (April 5, 1977, Bombay)

You wrote: “If you read his entire case files, you will find that BVPM has been personally investigated and sanctioned by the authorities several times. The first major investigation took place in 1990, the second in 1998, the third in 2007 and the last one in 2015. Each one of these investigations brought to light the negligent, inappropriate and abusive behavior towards the children placed under his care.”

On your site there are no case files for 1990 and 2015 regarding BVPM, which could be seen as abusive on your part; if you make severe allegations, you should provide evidence.

The 2007 case file included many letters of appreciation. One parent asked to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, which is the crux of my position.

You quoted from my lecture, “Fear is good.” This is rather unfair, because what I actually said was, “A little fear is good.” One “little” word makes a big difference!

To explain by analogy: in any polity, fear of punishment is required to maintain law and order. Similarly, religions teach people to follow rules so as to be freed from punishment and not be cast into hell. Thus both state and religion invoke fear for the betterment of their wards.

Children should not be raised in an atmosphere of fear, but some fear is required. Children must learn the difference between right and wrong, and that there are consequences for doing wrong. Those who do not imbibe this are more liable to bring harm to themselves and others. For almost all children, some forceful teaching of this principle is needed.

A transcript of the lecture that you commented on is available at this link, and others may go through it to better understand my position.

In Srila Prabhupada’s service

Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Notes

[i] Snake Oil, Scapegoats, and the Hare Krishnas: The CPO’s Use of Bogus Science (By: Visnugada Dasa, PhD in Clinical Psychology) http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/06-09/editorials4595.htm

A Bad CPO Decision should be reversed (By: Dharini Devi Dasi) http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/06-09/editorials4635.htm

[First published at the Sampradaya Sun (www.harekrsna.com/sun) on 21 April 2017]

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.

Practically every day nowadays there is a terrorist attack somewhere in the world. It comes up in the news, twenty people killed. But if you take all the living entities killed daily, there are literally millions; cows, pigs, birds, fish, goats, lamb all put together, must be millions. Cow slaughter, terrorism, these are the horrible things in the world today. Human trafficking, there are various kinds of human trafficking. Human trafficking means selling people, moving them around to sell them, especially girls are kidnapped and sold into prostitution. There are whole organized businesses going on with them.

There are many horrible things going on the world. One of them which is widespread in the modern world and has also severely impacted ISKCON is child abuse. Although within our society now there are all kinds of systems that are meant to prevent that, it seems that it is impossible to totally prevent. Even if the systems were to be fully followed, it would be difficult to prevent. There is one particular issue in this regard I wish to speak upon: Recently, a film was released on the internet, which highlighted some of the past and present child abuse cases in ISKCON.

One of the cases highlighted was involving H.H. Bhaktividya Purna Swami, who is behind the gurukula in Mayapur. There are many schools around the world in ISKCON that are called gurukula, but that’s practically the only real gurukula inasmuch as its whole and sole focus is to train children to become devotees. Devotees under my guidance, in the last few years, have also started gurukulas. We can say gurukula but that (in Mayapura) is the only well-established one.

This film highlighted how Bhaktividya Purna Swami is known to be or certified by the ISKCON Child Protection Office (CPO) to be a child abuser. For some things which happened many years ago, twenty-five – thirty years ago. There is no record of him being engaged in pedophilia, but he was judged to have been very harsh in punishing some of the boys. And there was pedophilia going on; some of the boys were themselves engaging in homosex. And apparently, he knew about this and didn’t take steps to prevent it. So in this film it was said that why was he allowed to be engaged with children at all after this?

I don’t want to be an apologist for child abuse in any way or any form. I saw that gurukula thirty or so years ago, in which Anirdesya-vapu Prabhu, the brahmachari, who later became known as Bhaktividya Purna Swami. He was there but he really didn’t have any…, he had very little authority, practically no say in how the school was run, which boys were accepted, anything. So, there was no training, no oversight, no guidance. Just there are the boys, do something. When I say, no training, there was no training for him.

This all happened many years ago, and see what he has done in the meantime. Anyone who wants to blame him should go and see what he has done in Mayapur, and speak to the many young men who went there as young boys and are very very happy that they did so. Many boys who graduated from that school never want to leave it and want to stay in Mayapur for the rest of their life. Two of the older boys, they are not boys now, they are married and have children, they have taken up very responsible posts in the development of the Mayapur project. Your own Pritivardhana Prabhu, from Czech Republic, who you know very well, is overseeing the school there. With practically no support and nothing, even though he was under much blame, Bhaktividya Purna Swami has developed that gurukula and he has done something wonderful.

In that film the question is asked, why is he allowed to be involved with children? Well, there is the answer, go and see. We might also consider one statement of Krsna’s in the Bhagavad-gita (9.30): api cet su-duräcäro,  bhajate mäm ananya-bhäk / sädhur eva sa mantavyaù, samyag vyavasito hi saù. Even if one commits abominable activities, if his resolution is to serve Me only, such a person, Krsna says, must be considered a sadhu. Do we want to edit this out of Bhagavad-gita? Is there some crime which is unforgivable?

The reason I am particularly bringing this up here is because, so I am told, some of my disciples are disturbed that I don’t want Bhaktividya Purna Swami shot or hanged or hung upside down or removed from the position or shamed or whatever. Apparently, some of my disciples are disturbed that I have any sympathy whatsoever. I have stated my position in this regard and my disciples and anyone else can form their own opinion in this regard, as they like. So, if you like you can hang or shoot me also.

Questions and Answers:

Q: Devotees would like to educate their children based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. CPO seems to have policies or norms which are coming from mundane world, which do not seem favorable in many cases. Please comment.

A: What are you referring in particular? The CPO wants all children to recognize child molesters? By the way there is another thing in that film, the film that was made recently, they showed Indradyumna Swami with young girls. Alright, everyone knows that Indradyumna Swami likes kids and young girls but there has never been a case of him doing anything wrong. It seems, let’s be frank, he is attractive to young women, it seems like that. He is a very colorful, heroic kind of preacher; he is out there all the time, on the frontline, preaching. But there has never been any record of him engaging in any illicit activity, so why blame him? He has done tremendous preaching throughout his life. So that’s another point.

Q: How we should cooperate with the CPO office when we want to educate children, he heard from other devotees that there are some mundane approaches but he does not have any specific…

A:   It seems to me that the CPO, a lot of what they recommend is based on recommendations from karmis who are trying to prevent this child abuse. What are the Vedic ways of child protection? I think in the world and what to speak of Vedic, everywhere in the world up until recently, it wasn’t an issue. And probably in the Czech Republic it probably isn’t nearly as much as a problem as it is in England or America, I don’t know, I can guess like that. It is very widespread in India. No doubt one reason for that is because lust is being promoted, more and more and more. People have overwhelming lusty desires and I guess some of them see children as easy victims.

I don’t exactly know the psychology of pedophiles. But it is hypocritical that the whole society promotes sex so much and then they are shocked by child abuse which is an overspill of lusty desires which are being promoted. The point is that, if you want to put systems in place to try to protect children, what do you do? It is an issue. And to pretend it is not an issue; we might regret very much in future if we pretend it is not an issue. If, Krsna forbid, any of the children of the devotees present here were abused, what would you feel? Maybe it is best to take advice from people who have experience in this, even if their background is in mundane psychology. At least they have some experience, and hopefully they are able to prevent.

You don’t want to expose children by saying “Be careful of everyone, they might do this or that to you,” so their basic childish innocent trust is spoiled from the very beginning. But on the other hand if there are so many people around who are looking for opportunity to exploit that childish trust and innocence, we have to consider that also.  What do you think?

Q: They have two categories, gross abuse and psychological abuse. When you force them to…for example there are some norms according to which you need to treat children…to force them to wake up early in the morning…

A: To get children up early in the morning is child abuse?

Q: They cannot recognize this, they say that this is mental abuse.

A: In that case we have to follow what Prabhupada says. You can’t follow the karmi psychologists fully. Not all that they say. Srila Prabhupada said to not train children in austerity is one kind of cruelty to children. They would say that training children in austerity is child abuse, but Srila Prabhupada put it round the other way. Srila Prabhupada said that they have got this rare human form of life and to indulge them in sense gratification – that is spoiling their human life in the beginning. One thing I should say about this film, lest I be remiss, it is good that they are keeping the issue of child abuse alive so that we don’t allow it to go on.

It seems to be vindictive. Vindictive means, you just want to find a fault, looking for revenge or something like this. In one part of the film they showed the boys in the so-called gurukula in ISKCON Vrindavan today. One of the boys said, “One of the teachers twisted my ear.” Well, if you are not allowed to discipline the children even by twisting their ear, isn’t it another form of child abuse that they can never be disciplined? It is part of training children, that they should learn some fear also. That if they do something wrong that they are punished. Not that it is done maliciously. But in most cultures throughout the world, children are given some form of physical punishment, it doesn’t have to be very severe, just to train them to do the right thing and particularly not to do the wrong thing.

In Sri Lanka, there are shops that sell educational supplies. One of them is bamboo rods, and the parents they tell the teachers, “If my child misbehaves, beat him.” They expect it to be part of the job of the teacher to discipline the children. Maybe I will get suspended for child…they will find something to suspend me…having said all these things. Srila Prabhupada he said not to beat the children but he did also quote the English saying, spare the rod and spoil the child. This is another idea coming from pop-psychology that the children they should not know any fear but a little fear is good. It is good to be afraid of doing wrong. And until we become perfectly pure devotees, fear of punishment is a good incentive to not do the wrong thing. It’s a quotable quote…note it down, put it on the internet with waterfalls and mountains in the background. Have you seen this? They put quotes on the internet with nice scenes of nature, maybe for this picture we can have a picture of Yamaraja. A certain class of persons is always trying to think up some quote which can be put on the internet. They find pictures from nature…anyway here is a quote.

What I have said now, I know that at least some members of our movement will very strongly disagree with this. If any of you feel some disagreement, let it be known. Again, I am not at all condoning child abuse. One thing is, what is the definition of child abuse? I might disagree with some people on the definition of child abuse. Sexual violation of children is getting down as about as low as anyone in the human body can do anything – to sexually abuse children – no doubt about that. But twisting a boy’s ear because he has misbehaved it is really not…to say someone is raping children and someone is twisting their ear when they misbehave is all child abuse and to put it in the same category is extremely unbalanced and unfair.

Those who…here is another quote you can put on the internet…those who are so adamant to prevent child abuse, in doing so they should see that they are not doing another kind of abuse. I heard a story, I don’t know if it is true or not. There was an Indian working in America or maybe he immigrated to America.  He got jailed because his son complained to the police after his father had beaten him. He was in jail for a few months, he came out and said we are going back to India. In India, he beat his son and said we are never going back to America again. I don’t know if it is true or not or how badly he beat the son or whatever, an anecdote that I heard.

Q:  It is said that it is not really good to tell these things to children how to recognize these situations or these persons. On the other side, we should tell them something. For example, he knows two cases here in Czech Republic, who had this experience when they were kids and they never told this to anybody. The general tendency according to modern statistics is that these children do not reveal what happened to them. How can we deal with our children in such a way that they will tell us if anything improper happens or is going on.

A: This is what I am saying that we don’t like the idea of training the children in that way but maybe it is a good idea to do so. Naturally, if a child comes, even if you don’t know the child you might want to give them a little hug or pat them on the head or something but nowadays you can’t do that because you might get pulled up for being a child molester. I am absolutely serious in saying this. If you do that to an unknown child, the parents might call the police. That’s the way the world is nowadays, it is insane but we can’t escape in all respects this miserable world that we live in. I say the parents, most likely it will be the parent.

Q:  He wants to confirm if he understood properly in regards to Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja if he is leading gurukula?

A:  He is not officially leading the gurukula, he has no official position. But from behind he has been guiding Pritivardhana Prabhu and others for years. As far as I know, he has complied with the CPO laws. There is some injunction against him. He has been doing everything from behind. Like I said, he has done something unique and laudable.

Q: The situation is such that he is accused that…

A: He is not only accused, there is a whole case against him and he has been found guilty. Again, these are things that happened thirty years ago.

Q: He is asking if he understood it properly, that there is no record that he was a child abuser.

A: Yes, there is a record that he is a child abuser inasmuch as he severely beat some of the boys.

Q: Regarding the principle of api-cet-suduracaro, devotees who are on the side of Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja, they are giving example of Lord Brahma who once ran after his daughter and then he was ashamed…

A: The example of Lord Brahma. Yes, he is still respected as Lord Brahma, even though he engaged in some duracara, suduracara – very bad activity.

Q: They are giving this example that the other demigods did not kick him out.

A: The other demigods did not kick him out and in fact, the sons of Marici who laughed at him, they took birth as demons and were killed by their father. They eventually became brothers of Krsna, they became sons of Kalanemi and then they became sons of Devaki and were killed by Kamsa, who was Kalanemi in a previous birth. There is a difference, of course, there is a difference. As far as I know, Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja is not Lord Brahma.

Q: He was just chasing the daughter but he did not abuse her physically. But there are cases in gurukula, little children were abused, and it was not only thirty years ago, but still sometimes it is going on in gurukula, not from Maharaja’s side but from the side of others.

A: In Mayapur gurukula?

Q: I heard it from one boy who used to stay there he said he saw, and he also heard from other boys.

A: Still going on? I personally know of a case which very few people know about. This is recent, less than two years, one boy was there and he expressed some desire like that (homosex) and he was removed from the school. It may be that there are cases but as far as I know, especially given their experience, they are very strict not to indulge that.

I also heard what Pritivardhana Prabhu said in this case, from one of the parents of the boy. He said that this is very common in the modern world, nowadays. If we were given the opportunity, we could work with the boy, he is a good boy and help to rectify him. But the atmosphere in our movement is so frenzied about this issue that if anyone comes to know that we have kept a boy who has such an inclination, they will use it to close down our school or whatever. I also know a case of a very good devotee in India, very good means, he was practicing very well. Then it was discovered, that he was engaged in such activity…[END]

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.

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.

Conclusion:

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?