29 years down the drain
Author's name withheld
Reposted November 29, 2002

Editor's note: Chakra agreed to post these powerful recollections by a young woman who attended gurukula in an effort to help our readers understand the gurukula experiences of some of the children who were hurt. However, we have decided not to name the alleged abusers, since they have not been tried in any court or investigated by the ISKCON Office of Child Protection. The author has agreed with this decision. Your servant, Madhusudani dasi, Chakra co-editor)

29 years down the drain: A comment on Sri Ram's article
Author's name withheld

I joined the movement with my parents in the 55th street temple in New York City when I was very very young. a few weeks after we had darshan with Srila Prabhupada , Adi Keshava, then a Swami, ordered that my mother send me to gurukula that it was the intelligent thing for a devotional mother to do. It was her duty. So off to gurukula I went . I went to the Philadelphia Temple.

When I left the N.Y. temple I was pretty much accustomed to seeing physical and verbal abuse being showered on the married women. As a matter of fact I remember listening to temple authorities instructing my stepfather to slap and shake my mother into submission. And so he did and so did others. Being a woman in this Krsna Consciousness is hard I discovered at a very young age. So going to gurukula I thought would maybe be wonderful. I am so sad and still wretched inside to say that this was farthest from the truth. I and my gurukula god sisters and god brothers suffered in that place.

Devotees ask me all the time "why didn't you tell your mataji?" I was reminded often by my teachers Mother D and Mother M that telling my mother I was being punished would only prove to her how much in "maya" I was, and how could my mother care for a daughter like myself that she would not want me any more. They make you believe you deserve it. We were constantly called "little prostitutes" and when I turned 11 they were ready to marry me off because my body was developing too quickly. I remember one devotee who arranged for his daughter to marry some older man who was one of our gurukula teachers. We could never figure out what he saw in a 12-year-old little girl.

One day my mother came to visit me at gurukula from the New York temple. I hadn't seen her in a few months. When I saw her, I immediately ran into her arms and she hugged me and picked me up and kissed me all over my face, she used to call me her "little chapati face." We greeted each other with love. A few moments later my mother was pulled aside and mothers M and D pulled me aside. They told me that I could not carry on affectionately like this with my mother! They said that I should know better because I was 9 years old now, and I was to teach my mother not to be attached to me and not to allow her to kiss and hug me because this was SEX life. I said "but I love my mataji" and M said, "there is no love but the love of Krsna. The rest is maya and sense gratification." I remember feeling very guilty after this. Every time my mother was coming or going when it was time, I was supposed to only pay my obeisances to her. She would always sneak a motherly hug or a kiss on the forehead. I felt guilty because I missed her touch and I loved her sweet kisses but I would be petrified that someone would see me and think I was having sex with my mother. Then I would be punished and humiliated. It was so painful!

Mother D used to lock me in this nasty kitchen on the 3rd floor. Why they never cleaned or used it was beyond me. But she would lock me on there for the night. I would have to zip up my sleeping bag till I was "cocooned" in, so the bugs would not get in with me. This was a regular occurrence. God forbid I got caught talking after 6pm. I have continuing nightmares about her. I have witnessed Mother M push my friend Padmini's little face in her own runny stool, all the time yelling this is what we do to dogs when they make a mess, because she had the runs and didn't make it to the bathroom on time. I remember Mothers M and L slapping us around too, for the darndest of reasons. We were denied food far past the reason of austerity. In lake Huntington, S slapped me off my chair because Mother M said she saw me talking to a boy. Not that it matters but I actually did not speak to that boy, but when I denied it S called me a liar and a little prostitute and joked about getting me husband and gave a bunch of demerits. I have too many bad memories of neglect, abuse, I was touched sexually by a bhakta in Philadelphia and when I reported it to Mother M she told me that Srila Prabhupada said that men are the butter and women are the fire. So I must have done something to entice him I was around 10 years old. I believed her.

I believed everything ever told to me by the ISKCON gurus and all the senior devotees. I once thought so highly of spiritual life. But now that I am 29 years old, I am having nightmares, and "day mares." I can't even hear Srila Prabhupada chanting japa because they used to use this tape during my punishments. Severe and degrading punishments. I have very little peace of mind and I can't bear the site of any devotional paraphernalia. I have stopped as of 7 months ago chanting and doing my gayatri. I would be lying to lord Krsna if I continued and I think that would be more offensive. The sight of devotees saddens me. I am reminded how much devotees don't care. Bad feelings about gurukula and my whole experience of trying to lead a devotional life. How as a child and now women we are treated with not much respect.

I just cant understand how Sri Ram wrote that article about abuse and all he could come up with was expenses and his non-compassionate attitude toward the very children that were under his care, like myself, for 5 1/2 years. How can he live with himself? How can anyone who let this happen to us live with themselves? I have so many, many awful gurukula stories. I watch my 12 year old brother and unfortunately I have to thank the Lord that we was not sent to gurukula. This should make devotees want to change things, to accept responsibility for their actions and not be so puffed up and arrogant. I ache in my chest when I read negative articles about us written by self-proclaimed devotees. My greatest understanding is that, the best way to serve Krsna is to serve and worship the lotus feet of his devotees. Instead we were abused, and worst of all is that devotees knew and chose not to get involved, or they would give the offending abuser a gurukula position in another temple, as we have witnessed before. I am outraged. I and my gurukula brothers and sisters did not ask for this. Nor do we deserve to be shunned by you. We are not out to destroy; we are out for justice and to make a change for the other children coming to you. Otherwise this will never end ..........and neither shall we........
CHAKRA 08-Feb-2000