Chakra Discussions

Abusers And Those Who Support Them

by Dhritarastra das

Posted June 12, 2006

In ISKCON scriptures are quoted that the guru is to be worshipped "as good as God." The GBC is sending a cowardly message to everyone in and around ISKCON and to its enemies as well, by letting persons who abused children physically or sexually hold the highest positions in the institution. It makes everyone very sad. When will the GBC show real concern and give protection and justice to its citizens both good and bad?

Many devotees prefer that abusers be kicked out of ISKCON, but at least they should not hold a position. Why do we still have persons representing ISKCON as gurus who are guilty of these charges? If the files on the physical abuse -- many hundreds of pages -- were released, any person reading them would break down and cry in disbelief.

The persons who have been abused may chose to forgive; that may or may not be their choice. As an institution, we may also forgive if one shows complete remorse and repentance, but the offender should never again have a position of any kind in the institution. If agreed upon by the society and, most of all, by those who were abused, the abuser may come to the temple for darshan, participate in congregational chanting of the Holy Name, listen to discourses and associate with devotees. This is the reformatory process, not keeping a position in ISKCON. Every person in a position should know that his/her position is finished as soon as criminal actions like child abuse are uncovered.

To end this ongoing nightmare, the offender should get a job and give 50 percent to the court case plaintiffs to show his sincere repentance. Those GBC and associates who have made an unforgivable mess of the situation should also consider giving 50 percent of their incomes to pay the court settlements and not try to put a guilt trip on the average devotee to pay, when many of them have been against the GBC's decisions on this matter all along. If the leaders want the average devotee to give, let them lead by example.

Some devotees say that Srila Prabhupada let fallen devotees keep positions in ISKCON. Yes, but he was there to watch over them. He also preached that purity is the force. He himself was the purity and the force and he set the standards by his pure activities. If his disciples failed to live up to the standards, the integrity of the movement was not in question because he was there as the purity and the force, but does anyone believe he would have let child abusers sit on the Vyasasana to represent his ISKCON and say to the world that this person is to be worshipped as good as God? Srila Prabhupada would crush bogus "gurus" without concern for their nonsense excuses.

ISKCON's position reminds me of the story The Emperor's New Clothes. We all know who committed the crimes and who covered them up. Even to this day, criminals are being protected, yet ISKCON's members are to believe that these persons are gurus to be worshipped as good as God? Is this how Lord Rama would have governed the citizens and led society?

In so-called "karmi schools," a person is turned over to the police and loses his job for child abuse. Public schools are not being sued for harboring abusers, but religious institutions whose leaders have covered up criminal activities have had cases and large judgments made against them. The reaction for the cover-up is many, many times greater than it would have been if the GBC had decided immediately to remove any person who abused children. Instead we have decades of ill feelings among the victims, the public, life members and devotees from all over the world. The decisions on this matter have been horrible.

In order to protect a few, the whole institution suffers on and on. ISKCON's name is dragged through the mud, huge court settlements must be paid and many devotees who were here when Srila Prabhupada departed are inactive in ISKCON today, frustrated and disappointed at the leaders' inability to lead as Srila Prabhupada would have wanted them to.. The reaction for these crimes and the cover-up has been severe to ISKCON and continues.

It is embarrassing for members of ISKCON to defend such a position, and the GBC can only possibly fool themselves. The GBC still hides its head in the sand, hoping it will all go away. Unless ISKCON takes a strong position very soon it is going to get worse, because devotees are standing up for what is right. The days of the intimidated majority are over, because we are no longer dependent on the GBC financially or spiritually.

A solution is and always has been very simple, and much of this could have been avoided. All of Srila Prabhupada's disciples must take a stand that can be praised for the next 10,000 years and set a "no tolerance" policy -- not a policy that bankrupted ISKCON and became a laughing-stock, in the same way as the Catholic Church is now seen by many.

We should end this crisis now. Simply stated: any person who engages in any criminal activities such as child abuse should never hold any position in ISKCON -- period -- not head garbageman, gardener, temple commander, etc., what to speak of sannyasi, guru, GBC or temple president.