Damodara Dasa
    Sitalatma Das

Sitalatma Das’s First Post

In the above post of Sitalatma Das, Damodara Dasa has replied several comments which are as follows, over that Sitalatma Das also replied:

Below highlighted lines in Blue color from the first post of Sitalatma Das

Damodara Dasa’s Comments: 

<<<None of these people are qualified to raise this subject in the first place. It’s none of their business. >>>
What qualifications does one need to have to understand and state that child abuse is wrong, that ISKCON’s leaders should have zero tolerance for it, etc.
Arguably it was because Lokanath Swami was treated like a special case as if above the law that this issue became such a big deal

– It’s everyone’s business to see that child protection is properly conducted

–  <<<<They are not representing anybody but themselves>>>>
Evidently, you have not witnessed just how many devotees have appreciated that this has been tackled.

–  <<<<Much has been made of “adultization” of the victim, but another, totally reasonable way to see it is that GBC tried to demonstrate that LS was not sexually attracted to a pre-puberty girl – that he wasn’t a pedophile, which is a psychiatric disorder requiring special treatment.>>>>

She was 11 years old at the time of the offense. That’s a child. Trying to argue that she was in the process of transforming into a woman is an attempt to downplay the degree of moral turpitude. Those who “certified” that Maharaja is not a pedophile and poses no threat had their licence revoked.

–  <<<<Have our self-appointed investigators shown any hint of judging this case from a devotional point of view?>>>>
There are no self appointed investigators. The investigation will be carried out by the CPO as directed by the GBC who thought that the proposition that it should be re-examined had merits.
Now perhaps you can tell us what the “devotional lens” is on child abuse

–  <<<Seeing LS as a victim of kama is unacceptable to them because the word “victim” gets involved.>>>
The conditioned still has agency. We are accountable for our actions. They don’t just happen to us.

–  Evidently you have not seen Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami’s CPO case files

–  <<<<I just remembered their argument against “it’s no big deal”. They, of course argue that molesting a child IS a big deal, but who gets to decide? Big compared to what? Why do they assume the right to judge what is big deal and what is not? >>>>
Evidently you have no sense of right and wrong

–  If you can’t appreciate how repugnant sexually abusing a minor is – how thoroughly incompatible it is with being a leader in a spiritual movement – then all of your philosophising is empty

– For the morally minded, anything short of unequivocal denouncing of sexual violence on a minor is indefensible

Damodara Dasa: 

As far as the accusation goes that anyone complaining (in this case about abuse) is a sudra, I would observe that this entire article is a complaint. The difference is that the article is attempting to rebut reporting of abuse. There’s your mode of darkness

Sitalatma Das’s Response:

Well, Damodara Prabhu, the fact that you can post so many comments here means you have unblocked me, which also means I can re-read our last conversation and give examples of language that contributed to my conclusion that you do not have adhikara for a vada debate.

You called me routinely deficient in empathy, having warped ideas, obnoxious, bullish, boorish, posting mean-spirited deranged comments, uncaring, judgmental, and dogmatic. Personal insults like this signal the end of the conversation to me and I don’t want to resume it now. You don’t seem to have changed much.

Not having adhikara for a vada discussion means one will go about it the wrong way, which means the discussion will not discover any spiritual truths, and that even is something spiritually correct will somehow appear one will not be able to recognize it due to be being blinded. Thus there is no point in prolonging the conversation.

Okay, you could say that some of these epithets are really applicable to me. Maybe half of them, maybe even all of them – it doesn’t really matter because I’m not the one trying to influence our ISKCON policies. My faults are inconsequential while your activism has already brought meaningful changes in the form of resolutions, suspensions, counter petitions and so on.

The point of my original post was to declare that my mind has been made up and that whatever doubts I had in the beginning have been dispelled. I then demonstrated how I answered some of the arguments for myself. These answers seem to have helped others, too, and it’s in this spirit that I will address the string of your comments here.

You still insist that you have a standing in Lokanatha Swami’s case and you cite appreciations from many others in support. Maybe it seems reasonable to you but not to me. Those others have no standing in this case either and they can’t add to your standing, which is still none. They don’t magically turn you into the abused girl nor into her parents. And if it’s their verdict that warms your heart – many of them admitted to having personally suffered from child abuse in ISKCON, too, and that would have probably disqualified them from even sitting on a jury in case of hypothetical trial. A month ago they had no idea about Maharaja’s offense, then they saw your presentations (collective “you” here), and agreed with your conclusions. You may represent them now but it doesn’t do anything to your standing in the actual case, which remains beyond your purview.

You can argue that you want to protect ISKCON’s image and this gives you the standing, but I will stick to my original argument – it was you (collective “you”, again) who created this image problem in the first place. You may say that it’s only temporary and after guilty persons get punished this image problem with disappear. This sounds like a winning strategy and it will probably pacify your intended audience, but there is another way to look at it – you are afraid that you might have to deal with an uncomfortable problem and your solution is to blame it on your predecessors, thrown them under the bus, find a designated scapegoat and throw it to the wolves, and come out personally squeaky clean and problem free. Could be effective, but it’s a spiritually losing strategy. Instead of defending the honor of our senior devotees who denigrate them.

This brings me back to “adultizing” and “infantilizing” -in this strategy you need to show GBC investigation is flawed and assign all kinds of ill motives to the devotees who conducted it. You don’t accept distinguishing between a pre-pubescent girl and girl who passed puberty as a legitimate form of inquiry. By today’s standards attraction to any girl below 16 could be considered as pedophilia, but it’s not your decision to make. You are not an expert and you don’t know what is a legitimate consideration and what is not, you just assumed that the investigators were devious in their motives. You don’t assume that investigating why Maharaja behaved like he did could have been a legitimate inquiry either. This could have had nothing to do with his personal agency or degree of personal responsibility but with determination whether he continued to pose danger to others and whether sannyasa ashram was still suitable for him.

Speaking of experts – you imply that the investigators specifically selected one with questionable reputation when you inform us that later on he lost his license. This is another case of ascribing devious motives to otherwise respectable devotees on that team. It works for your strategy but it’s a spiritually losing proposition, if I may repeat myself.

When you mentioned Bhaktividyapurna Swami’s CPO files you demonstrated you have no clue what you are talking about. There are no publicly available CPO files concerning his dealing with sexual abuse between Mayapur gurukula students in the 80s and 90s. There is only a resolution that doesn’t touch on what I spoke about in the original post and there is an old interview with BVPS published on Sampradaya Sun, where I got my information from. But since you mention CPO files that were made available to the public – final reports talks about two incidents that could possibly fall into a category of child abuse, and then later on says that it’s the “others” who may raise concerns when they hear about it. “Others” – not the victims and not their parents. Actual parents are reported as saying that they didn’t think of it because it had always been like that.

Today this “others” role is played by you (collective you again).

I’ll attach a picture where BVPS reaction is also notable – he didn’t think westerners would be perverted enough to make a big deal out of these incidents.

The rest of your comments are just new claims of your moral superiority. I won’t even argue that and let you have it – perhaps I am, indeed, is morally inferior to you in every way, but that doesn’t really matter because morals are material objects and they evolve and degrade on their own schedule. I can just wait it out and, in due course of time, my morals will become superior to yours by whatever metric you choose to judge them. It would also be a waste of human form of life. Arguing for one’s moral superiority or striving to achieve it is an activity contradicting trinad api sunicena principle and I refuse to indulge in that.

To me it, once again, demonstrates that there is no spiritual value in your collective endeavors. I’m not here to convince you or convert you either, do whatever you like, but these are my arguments that dispel my doubts and they, hopefully, can help others to answer their doubts, too.

As I said already – I’ve heard enough of arguments from your side, hundreds of them, plus this string of the ones I’m replying to, and I don’t see how adding a bunch of new ones can change anything for the better.

Oh, I missed one – you argue that there are no self-appointed investigators and that investigation will be carried out by CPO. That’s not how I see it – a month ago you didn’t know about this case, then you investigated it, collected all available documents, discovered that the expert had lost his licence, and then results of your investigation influenced GBC NAC which explicitly referred to your online activism as grounds for their petition. Moreover, one of you is still calling for evidence of other instances of Lokanatha Swami’s misconduct, posting the request in your Vedic Inquirer groups with over a thousand members. No one came forward so far – no one knows anything bad about him, but you are determined to find faults no matter what.

And yes – no one appointed you to investigate Maharaja. It’s entirely your own initiative.

Damodara Dasa:

<<<Well, Damodara Prabhu, the fact that you can post so many comments here means you have unblocked me, which also means I can re-read our last conversation and give examples of language that contributed to my conclusion that you do not have adhikara for a vada debate.>>>

Yes, I unblocked you. And I also don’t observe your style of communicating to be in the spirit of vada. Let’s see how we go.

<<<You called me routinely deficient in empathy, having warped ideas, obnoxious, bullish, boorish, posting mean-spirited deranged comments, uncaring, judgmental, and dogmatic. Personal insults like this signal the end of the conversation to me and I don’t want to resume it now. You don’t seem to have changed much.>>>

You can see them as insults if you like. I see them as descriptors that accurately sum up your mode of communication. Of course, we don’t have to resume conversation. Since you passed judgments on my actions I thought that I would offer some challenge.

<<<Not having adhikara for a vada discussion means one will go about it the wrong way>>>

And what is the right way exactly? You are not one to mince your words.

<<<which means the discussion will not discover any spiritual truths, and that even is something spiritually correct will somehow appear one will not be able to recognize it due to be being blinded.>>>

Let’s see. I am open to seeing things differently. Are you?

<<<Thus there is no point in prolonging the conversation.>>>

Yet here you are writing at length

<<<Okay, you could say that some of these epithets are really applicable to me. Maybe half of them, maybe even all of them – it doesn’t really matter because I’m not the one trying to influence our ISKCON policies.>>>

So you feel that gives you carte blanche to communicate in your acerbic fashion?

<<<My faults are inconsequential while your activism has already brought meaningful changes in the form of resolutions, suspensions, counter petitions and so on.>>>

Evidently the GBC saw some merit in what I and others had to say

<<<The point of my original post was to declare that my mind has been made up and that whatever doubts I had in the beginning have been dispelled.>>>

If your mind is made up then vada may not be possible.

<<<I then demonstrated how I answered some of the arguments for myself. These answers seem to have helped others, too, and it’s in this spirit that I will address the string of your comments here.>>>

Fair enough.

<<<You still insist that you have a standing in Lokanatha Swami’s case and you cite appreciations from many others in support.>>>

All I claim is to be a concerned member of the community. Does one need to be more than that to express a concern about this matter?

<<<Maybe it seems reasonable to you but not to me.>>>

The point is that a considerable number of devotees are deeply concerned.

<<<Those others have no standing in this case either and they can’t add to your standing, which is still none. >>>

Members of ISKCON need to be able to trust the Society’s leaders. How to trust where leaders express leniency towards abusers – in particular those in leadership positions. They have a right to express their concerns and, thankfully, the GBC recognised the legitimacy of the concerns.

<<<They don’t magically turn you into the abused girl nor into her parents.>>>

Sometimes those abused need advocates to speak for them. But, the point is that as members of ISKCON the right to raise our concerns about leadership conduct and policy was already a given.

<<<And if it’s their verdict that warms your heart – many of them admitted to having personally suffered from child abuse in ISKCON, too, and that would have probably disqualified them from even sitting on a jury in case of hypothetical trial.>>>

Why would you suggest that someone who has been abused has no legitimate right to express views about the Society’s conduct regarding abuse? We have not set ourselves up as a jury. All the adjudication will be done by CPO – following due process.

<<< A month ago they had no idea about Maharaja’s offense, then they saw your presentations (collective “you” here), and agreed with your conclusions.>>>

Many have known for some time. Perhaps not every detail.

<<<You may represent them now but it doesn’t do anything to your standing in the actual case, which remains beyond your purview.>>>

I am bringing no case. I merely put it to the GBC that the case needed re-examining.

<<<You can argue that you want to protect ISKCON’s image and this gives you the standing, but I will stick to my original argument – it was you (collective “you”, again) who created this image problem in the first place.>>>

Letting abusers get away with it is what does the damage. The movement’s reputation has already improved since the GBC referred this.

<<<You may say that it’s only temporary and after guilty persons get punished this image problem with disappear.>>>

This has been hanging around for years

<<<This sounds like a winning strategy and it will probably pacify your intended audience, but there is another way to look at it – you are afraid that you might have to deal with an uncomfortable problem and your solution is to blame it on your predecessors, thrown them under the bus, find a designated scapegoat and throw it to the wolves, and come out personally squeaky clean and problem free. >>>>

Your argument here is incoherent to me.

<<<Could be effective, but it’s a spiritually losing strategy.>>>

A spiritually losing strategy is to engage in child abuse and then sweep it under the rug.

<<<Instead of defending the honor of our senior devotees who denigrate them.>>>

And when they do something not only dishonourable but appalling, we should just let it go?

<<<This brings me back to “adultizing” and “infantilizing” -in this strategy you need to show GBC investigation is flawed and assign all kinds of ill motives to the devotees who conducted it.>>>

The only motive I have posited is misdirected compassion.

<<<You don’t accept distinguishing between a pre-pubescent girl and girl who passed puberty as a legitimate form of inquiry.>>>

She was 11. Trying to argue that she was in the process of turning into a woman seems like a device to try and lessen the revulsion that one would otherwise naturally feel. Utilising this kind of rhetoric of course backfires because it starts to sound like a semi-justification.

<<<By today’s standards attraction to any girl below 16 could be considered as pedophilia, but it’s not your decision to make.>>>

Fortunately there are laws. Unfortunately law enforcement was not engaged in this case.

<<<You are not an expert and you don’t know what is a legitimate consideration and what is not, you just assumed that the investigators were devious in their motives.>>>>

Biased – judging by the manner of the interview as recorded. Quite honestly, you are not doing yourself any favours by choosing to defend this act as you are. Denouncing such conduct is the only option for a person with a moral compass.

<<<You don’t assume that investigating why Maharaja behaved like he did could have been a legitimate inquiry either.>>>

The question “why” is not answered in the report. You answered it though – lust. The report simply attempts to play down the culpability – hence the view that those writing it had bias. To her credit, Yasoda did point out that the GBC account attempted to play it down even further.

<<<This could have had nothing to do with his personal agency or degree of personal responsibility but with determination whether he continued to pose danger to others and whether sannyasa ashram was still suitable for him.>>>

Whether or not remaining a sannyasi suited him, ISKCON’s leaders need to ask whether it is suitable for the Society for someone guilty of such a crime to remain a sannyasi and guru.

<<<Speaking of experts – you imply that the investigators specifically selected one with questionable reputation when you inform us that later on he lost his license. This is another case of ascribing devious motives to otherwise respectable devotees on that team.>>>

Bir Krsna Maharaja picked a disciple – a conflict of interests. The fact that one of the experts lost his licence is a matter of public knowledge. It speaks to credibility.

<<<It works for your strategy but it’s a spiritually losing proposition, if I may repeat myself.>>>

Repeat yourself as much as you like. You’re trying to argue that raising concerns about child abuse is not legitimate. That’s an indefensible position.

<<<When you mentioned Bhaktividyapurna Swami’s CPO files you demonstrated you have no clue what you are talking about. There are no publicly available CPO files concerning his dealing with sexual abuse between Mayapur gurukula students in the 80s and 90s. >>>

I have read the files

<<<The rest of your comments are just new claims of your moral superiority.>>>

Show me one place I make such a claim.

<<<I won’t even argue that and let you have it – perhaps I am, indeed, is morally inferior to you in every way, but that doesn’t really matter because morals are material objects and they evolve and degrade on their own schedule.>>>

Yours appear to be in free fall

<<<I can just wait it out and, in due course of time, my morals will become superior to yours by whatever metric you choose to judge them.>>>

Only if you start exercising greater discernment than you are currently.

<<<It would also be a waste of human form of life.>>>

With philosophical misconceptions like that, no wonder the Society struggles with ethics.

<<<Arguing for one’s moral superiority or striving to achieve it is an activity contradicting trinad api sunicena principle and I refuse to indulge in that.>>>

Straw man. No one is making such a claim. Only that morals matter – which you appear not to believe is the case

<<<As I said already – I’ve heard enough of arguments from your side, hundreds of them, plus this string of the ones I’m replying to, and I don’t see how adding a bunch of new ones can change anything for the better.>>>

That’s your prerogative

<<<Oh, I missed one – you argue that there are no self-appointed investigators and that investigation will be carried out by CPO. That’s not how I see it – a month ago you didn’t know about this case,>>>

I heard about it in the 90s

Sitalatma Das’s : 

Whatever

Note: The above conversation is taken from Sitalatma Das’s FB post if you want to see the original post here is the LINK

Follow us

Share: