Chakra Discussions

Boarding schools "heartless"; child protection paramount

by Srinitamba dasi

Posted October 7, 2004

I question the meaning of supporting the system of gurukulas. I ask myself what reasonable explanations parents may possibly give themselves for sending their child across the world to a gurukula and themselves staying back in another country. Children don't need slokas and Bhagavad-Gita verses at the age of five -- they need love and protection by their parents.

Why does this point seem to be so difficult to understand? To send a child away like this is against all human and psychological laws; also, it is cruel and heartless. I ask all parents seriously to consider the effects of sending their children away to be taken care of by someone else (perhaps even to be abused by this person). Unfortunately, to raise the same question to ISKCON authorities like the GBC seems rather meaningless. The policy favouring gurukula education seems to depend on the theory that we can all become pure devotees before we have even managed to become human beings. That, in my opinion, is sick.

As long as ISKCON can't provide a safe environment for children, there should not be any gurukulas. Why are names not clearly mentioned in obvious cases of abuse? The general public should immediately be informed of what has happened and who the abuser is. Because this was not done in the past, an abuser was able to go from temple to temple without being stopped. The so called "karmis," whom we as devotees often tend to judge and look down upon, surely seem to know better how to deal with child abusers than ISKCON does.

Nonetheless, until abusers stop being protected from above, there can actually be no question of genuine protection of the children in the movement. Especially not when the GBC welcomes persons like Dhanurdhara Swami to return to the Vyasasana, despite the proved fact that he has been responsible for such deep wounds in Krishna's little children.

It is a shame beyond words.