Chakra Discussions

Reflections On Murky Waters

by Ramachandra das

Posted June 15, 2006

First of all, I would like to compliment Chakra.org for mantaining an open minded attitude, allowing many wonderful Vaisnavas to express their feelings and opinions on critical issues, such as the one regarding the stepping down of Dhanurdara Swami.

I have been reading all the letters in relation to the tragic death of Ananda Prabhu and I'm very sad to find out that his action to commit suicide was predominately caused by the traumatic abuses he suffered --as an innocent child-at the hands of Danudhara Swami and other teachers. Also, I have been reflecting deeply on how this has been affecting my own feelings and understanding of our philosophy and, as a result of this, how I now view the leadership of ISKCON.

Although Danudhara Swami has said something in response to Shakuntala's article, I believe he has failed miserably by not responding adequately to the many requests to step down from his position of guru and spiritual leader. There has been also silence on the part of our ISKCON leaders who refuse to step forward in taking responsibility, as requested by so many Vaisnavas. Unfortunately not all the vaisnavas consider it their position to take a stand in these matters, or to oppose those in power in our institution for the sake of what is right and good and compassionate. In this respect I would like to share with you a little of my own journey, which some may find instructive.

Many years ago I was married to a wonderful Prabhupada disciple and a mother of a gurukuli boy who was molested at the Gurukula in Dallas. During our marriage, she received a phone call from a lady who informed her of a lawsuit that had been initiated by former gurukulis. She was hoping that my wife would talk her son into signing on too, as it might assist him. I remember her discussing it with me and I immediately tried to discourage her from pursuing it, as it would be detrimental to the good image of ISKCON. What a horrible logic, I had.

Shortly after this, my marriage ended, and I found myself in a very difficult predicament and I became very confused. One day, while visiting a friend, I saw on his bookshelf a book by Kundali Prabhu, and reading it, I started realizing how institutionalized I had been, and how much my personality had deteriorated due to the dysfunctional dynamics started in the late 70's. The profound analyses and philosophical presentations of Kundali Prabhu helped me to become aware of the robotic personality that I had developed while living and serving as a full time devotee. I realized also that my ability for critical, independent thinking had been smashed and almost destroyed by the authoritarian dynamic in place in ISKCON; consequently my capacity for honest vaisnava feedback had been severely damaged. Hence, I was expressing cold hearted and dry responses to the emotional turmoil that my wife and her son were going through.

My dear Ananda Prabhu, dear gurukulis, and dear reader, I would like to confess that I feel ashamed of myself for taking the side of the cold hearted and dysfunctional instititution in the name of saving its false image, rather than taking a stand on the side of truth and compassion which are the essence of the real ISKCON, Prabhupada's ISKCON. I feel I have been so long on the side of Drtarashtra, whom the GBC so much resembles. He protected, as they do, a demoniac personality, who used his power to torture the Lord's devotees. Unfortunately they are far worse than the blind king, for they excommunicate the Vidura's in our society, those who offer honest and critical feedback. In this respect, our GBC resemble more Duryodhana himself, who excommunicated Vidura with sharp words. Drtarashtra was better- he eventually listened to Vidura and was reformed by his advice, but only after Duryodhana was killed, and he was free of the demoniac activity of supporting this criminal.

I hope our GBC will take heed of the lesson in this important literature. Let them take note, and renounce the demoniac Drtarashtra and Duryodhana who reside in the innermost hearts. Let them renounce all connections with "materialistic persons in vaisnava dress", for as Srila Prabhupada warned us, they are within ISKCON, and they "should be completely neglected" (Cc. Madhya 2.218 ), as per his advice. When Pariksit saw the personality of sin pretending to be a saintly king, he was infuriated, and wanted to kill him immediately. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada stated that abusers pretending to be teachers deserved to be killed: "They should be hanged!". It is the utmost hypocrisy and shamefulness for the GBC to support them as exalted gurus, and it was shameful for me to support the whole rotten system when I should have known better.

The lawsuit falls far short of what we owe these special and dear devotee demigods who lined up to get trained in devotional service. If the sale of the entire assets of ISKCON can help one such sincere soul to get over the abuse he has suffered, and progress in his spiritual life, it is worth it. If this movement claims to represent Krsna and if we really believe that Krsna has unlimited opulences, then whatever amount of money these gurukulis need to assist them in their process of recovery, we should immediately oblige. Krsna will be very pleased at this service to His devotees, and He will give us back ten times more whatever we spend.

That was Prabhupada's vision- he used to say that Krsna is no a cheap employer, it's us who are cheap employees. The goal of this spiritual movement is not to keep alive a false image of another so-called religion, but to encourage as many souls as possible to become Krsna's servants, to love Him, and to go back home, back to Godhead. What use is it to maintain temples which are nothing but morgues for the corrupt corpse of a body, rotting from the inside out? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta used to say that he would sell all the marble in his temples only to print more books; the only purpose of those books is to keep the essence of bhakti alive; that essence is faith, but the faith of so many sincere souls has been lost due to lack of compassion amongst us; better therefore to sell all the temples and give all the money to those whom we abused, as it would help their faith to see us doing all in our power to rectify the situation, and it would also help restore the faith of those who have left Krsna Consciousness in disgust over the child abuse scandal. If we can't keep the thing good and pure and right, what point is there in grandiose and spectacular temple worship? What happen to that "house in which the whole world can live peacefully". We are supposed to be a positive alternative, a spiritual oasis, a religion free from pretension, not another Vatican!

I'm learning so much about the positive Krsna consciousness that Prabhupada very hard tried to introduce in the West, especially from reading Kundali's books, and I'm trying to apply it in my personal life. For me, writing this letter is an attempt to reform myself by recognizing my faults and by admitting my misunderstanding of the philosophy. I'm convinced that the silence from the leaders is a symptom of the same ignorance I used to be in.