Chakra Discussions

ISKCON Needs To Cut All Ties With Abusers

by Baladev Barry

Posted May 25, 2006

Ananda McClure is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

To those who will say that the blame of this suicide cannot be entirely placed on those who abused him as a child: this blame cannot be entirely removed from his abusers either. I say this from the experience of being one of Ananda's classmates at the Hare Krishna temple in Vrindavan, India (1978-1980).

At some point during this time, Dhanurdhara served as the head of this boarding school / ashram. This man's record of persistent, physically violent child abuse finally prompted ISKCON to temporarily remove some of his priestly authority. While this was a nice gesture, it was not, and is not, enough.

Dhanurdhara is currently a SWAMI, and is not completely shunned by the global ISKCON community. His status is incompatible with the notion of ISKCON as the courageous religious institution that its members see it as.

Now is the time to prove that ISKCON is a moral institution -- instead of a cult that can't face the shame of hosting child abusers.

Ananda's suicide is a potent reminder that injustices of the past have not been resolved - a reminder that these abuses continue to resonate in the minds and bodies of those who attended ISKCON schools.

I encourage the global ISKCON community to meaningfully address these crimes of the past. A good starting place is for all Hare Krishnas to demand of their leaders, of themselves, to permanently cut all ties -- spiritual, economic, social -- with child abusers such as Dhanurdhara SWAMI.

One easy way to cut an economic tie to Dhanurdhara SWAMI is to petition to take his book, "Waves of Devotion", off their website.

To contact regarding this book, please call their customer service department at 1-800-201-7575 (U.S. and Canada) or 1-206-266-2992 (International), or visit this link.

Starting with this mostly symbolic action, I invite all members of the Hare Krishna community to do something more meaningful -- something that will change the current status of child abusers within YOUR community.

If Ananda's suicide fails to move ISKCON's members and leaders to meaningfully reconcile with the past, these tragedies will continue. And, if that's not enough, any future version of ISKCON will be bankrupt of its founder's vision.

If all ties with ALL child abusers are not completely cut, how can the public fail to see ISKCON as anything but a sham, a cult?