Chakra Discussions

Can a child molester come to an ISKCON temple?

by Bhagavat das

Posted September 7, 2004

My name is Bhagavat Das. I am twice initiated by Srila Prabhupada and I have been around since 1969. My wife Radha and I have also been licensed foster parents for the last 7 years. We have taken care of close to 70 children in our home during that time, many of them physically and sexually abused. My experience has put me in a position of understanding to some extent the plight of the Gurukulis. I deeply sympathize with their dissatisfaction with the the way ISKCON has handled the situation. If ISKCON had followed at least the first example Srila Prabhupada set for us in this regard we would at least have made an important statement to the children that we did not tolerate child abuse.

I was in Allahabad in 1977 when Srila Prabhupada was at the Kumbha Mela. During that time one of the first known child molesters was caught in Vrindaban and brought to Allahabad to be judged by Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada curled his lips in disgust and shook his head in great disbelief as he was told how this disciple of his sexually molested practically every child in the Gurukula. Srila Prabhupada was so disgusted that he told the GBC and others who were in the room that this boy, on his order should never for any reason be allowed in any of our temples ever again. When questioned about the severity of the sentence Srila Prabhupada said on occasion the boy could come to a temple for the Sunday feast and eat prasadam. Unfortunately, after Srila Prabhupada left this child molester found his way back into our temples. I would always complain whenever I saw him somewhere but usually to no avail. "He is doing service prabhu" is what I was told as the authorities disregarded the words of my Guru Maharaja. I finally told some grown up Gurukulis the story in Alachua and the next time he came around he was warned to leave ISKCON and never return or else. I heard recently he is in our temples in India, some things never change.

Based on Srila Prabhupada's personal handling of the situation I feel ISKCON has no other recourse than to make the following policy: If a person is caught as a child molester in or out of our temples; 1) that person should be reported to the proper authorities; 2) that person should never for any reason be allowed in any of our temples ever again except on occasion for a Sunday feast. That was Srila Prabhupada's instruction and it should be followed without change or hesitation. If the person happens to be a pot washer or an ex-guru the punishment should be the same. Since the child who has been molested will feel the same scars no matter what the position of the perpetrator is or was. I hope this teaching of Srila Prabhupada has shed some light on the proper way to handle some of the apparent controversial situations that have arisen lately.