Chakra Discussions

Shakuntala Devi Dasi's Call To Integrity

by Dhirasanta das (Tasmania)

Posted May 23, 2006

As a survivor of child abuse from Christian priests, I am moved by Shakuntala devi dasi's call for a truly compassionate response in ISKCON to child abuse. The suffering of the gurukulis is personal. Their pain, their damage, their spiritual dysfunction, their inability to keep the 4 regulative principles is because they were robbed of the freedom to practice Krishna consciousness free of physical, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse. Until perpetrators work out the horrendous karma that they have done to these children, the victims will not move on – and ultimately it will catch up with them. No one should be guru who has sexually or physically traumatized children – not in this lifetime, no matter how much they have amended their lifestyles. They should as Shakuntala says, show genuine remorse at the feet of every victim and seek them out, whether in McDonalds, on the streets – wherever.

Most perpetrators of abuse against children fail to appreciate the enormous damage they have done in the lives of children. They certainly do not see the struggle – the massive uphill battle that goes on in survivor's lives. It is surviving at best and some like poor Ananda are the ultimate casualties.

ISKCON leaders should face the reality that they have been harmed by pedophiles and perpetrators of abuse against gurukulis. They shattered the faith of children in devotees; they made a mockery of the 4 regulative principles, and the 26 qualities of a devotee. Empty brahmacari ashrams, financially struggling temples wholly reliant on the generosity of the Indian community – there is a link between this and the damage caused by child abuse and the institutional failure to cut out at any cost the people responsible for this from ISKCON.

Even I feel harmed by these degenerates because as a survivor of horrific harm from sexually perverted priests, I came to ISKCON among other things believing in the integrity of ISKCON, its leaders and spiritual preceptors. All of us are made poorer by the suffering of the gurukulis and all of us have a responsibility to face the facts, deal with them and do it with a spirit of commitment to the suffering, determination to protect children at any cost and a refusal to whitewash the harm done to children.

Finally, perpetrators of abuse, particularly sexual abuse seldom change their psychological and sexual makeup. Do not make the mistake of thinking that child abuse relates to ISKCON's neophyte infancy, or the naiveté of leaders then. We do not see the standards of child protection in 3 rd world countries like India that we have in the west – and those standards still do not adequately protect children or administer justice.

The best legacy we can offer Ananda is to genuinely resource the Child Protection Office and ensure mandatory reporting of alleged criminal conduct to the civil authorities every single time.

I would welcome the chance to support any survivors or pro-survivors via devahotra@hotmail.com