Chakra Discussions

Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami's Backyard Exile

by Maharani dasi

Posted November 16, 2003

In response to Sri Prahlada prabhu's recent defense of Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami's contested involvement in the Mayapura gurukula, I would like to present a brief example from sastra:

When Lord Rama was exiled to the forest, His father Dasaratha left his body out of grief. Shortly thereafter, Bharata, the acting king, went to the forest to beg Lord Rama to come back. Despite his entreaties, Lord Rama remained in the forest, and left Bharata with the administration of His kingdom.

Lord Rama was so intent on complying with a judgment wrongly leveled against Him that He did not return to Ayodhya, even when all of His citizens implored Him, and even though -- with all due respect to King Bharata -- He was more qualified to rule it than anyone else.

Lord Rama was steadfast and scrupulously ethical in abiding by the conditions demanded. He could easily have returned to govern Ayodhya, or even resumed a sort of "exile" in the palace gardens, and instructed Bharata from there. But He stayed in true exile, without taking advantage of any loophole, and leaving Bharata with only a pair of His shoes as guidance.

Given his past record, Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami can hardly be called an ideal administrator -- and yet is in such close contact with a gurukula that at least one parent of children there seems convinced that he's the "principal headmaster" -- hardly a way to appear distanced from the power structure. Moreover, Maharaja must be doing the equivalent of what Lord Rama would have done if He had chosen to serve out the rest of His exile in His back yard.

Couple that with the extreme reluctance of any official body to become overtly involved in an investigation (although there are whispered and confidential assurances that "we're looking into the situation"), and things look less and less straightforward when compared with Lord Rama's example.

Now, no one expects Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami to be able to equal the Supreme Lord in personal integrity, but I am concerned that he does not appear even to be making an effort.

It's inconceivable that a parent, with two children enrolled at a school, would not know who the headmaster is. Although Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami does not officially hold the title, he is obviously so closely involved with the Bhaktivedanta Academy that he is thought of as the "headmaster." That is as good as being headmaster, while at the same time appearing to comply with the Child Protection Office ruling -- "exiled" to the back yard, but still giving direct orders to the figurehead appointed to rule in his place.

Even if this appears to follow the literal wording, if not the spirit, of the unfortunately ambiguous CPO ruling, it takes a great amount of twisty thinking and ethical acrobatics to rationalize. Unlike scamming money from non-devotees, the people most likely to be hurt by this kind of cheating mentality are Krsna's children. Again, Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami may have really changed his behavior and attitudes since the ruling against him of three years ago, but if he is suddenly scrupulous, straightforward and contrite, why is he still involved in gurukula?

"Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja's involvement with the Bhaktivedanta Academy is strictly within the [CPO's] guidelines," Sri Prahlada prabhu writes. How so? Is Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami writing books on his ideas about gurukula and mailing them to the Bhaktivedanta Academy from a hut in Dandaka Forest? Or is he so intimately involved in the gurukula's everyday activities that parents of children there think of him as the "principal headmaster", whatever his official title or lack thereof may be?

If the latter is true, and nevertheless acceptable to Mayapura's GBC and CPT, perhaps it's time to ask whether Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami as headmaster (official or otherwise) of any gurukula is a gamble on which ISKCON is willing to wager its new generation of devotees.