We All Failed Ananda
Posted June 2, 2006
Sadly, another gurukuli has passed away and this time I would like to say something on the subject. Though I knew Ananda for many years, we were never close. A lot has been said about his abuse in gurukul at the hands of Dhanurdhar and I agree that anyone who abuses children must be made accountable.
Having said that I would like to bring something up that has been on my mind every time a gurukuli commits suicide. I believe when something tragic happens like this in our society everyone immediately looks for someone to blame. Perhaps in part this stems from a sense of guilt that we all feel in these situations because deep down (whether we acknowledge it or not) we are all somewhat responsible. I personally feel ashamed when a gurukuli takes their life because I know that, as a society, as a social group, as an extended group of friends, we have failed them. Sure Dhanurdhar abused Ananda, but in the many years since, we - gurukulis and otherwise - did not reach out to him, did not befriend him, did not make him feel safe so that he could begin the difficult process of healing.
I think we need to put an end to the blame culture (while acknowledging that every criminal must be brought to justice) and take responsibility for our peers. When I heard the news, I too felt I wanted to know who to blame for this tragedy, and there is no doubt that the terrible abuse meted out to this gurukuli was the catalyst for his trauma. But if I am honest, I think I am as much to blame for not reaching out to Ananda or any of the other gurukulis who have felt they had no choice but to go this route.
So please, I encourage everybody to take the time in future. If you are a gurukuli, brahmacari, householder, guru, temple president or just another human being, take responsibility for those who may be struggling due to their tragic pasts or otherwise. Say a friendly haribol or whassup. Ask how they are doing and really, genuinely mean it. Make them feel safe. Let them know you sincerely care. Be their friend. It is so important for us to take care of each other.
If anyone would like to talk about this my email address is: