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:
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.
(This is my initiated name)