Dhanurdhar's Removal As a Guru
Posted April 19, 2007
I would like to give my support and encouragement to the GBC for their action in finally removing Dhanurdhar as an initiating guru.
This decision has been a long time coming, and has been hard fought, so it is a relief to finally see it put to rest.
The key statement in their current resolutions are: Part B. Clarification of the Term "Positions of Leadership"
- Whenever the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection rules that an offense is such as to restrict a person from serving in ISKCON in "positions of leadership" (including but not limited to offices of GBC, minister, zonal secretary or temple officer), the restriction must include the position of initiating guru. This restriction shall apply to all previous and future decisions of the Central Office of Child Protection.
This clarification unambiguously outlines Dhanurdhar's restriction on being an initiating guru.
Of course, there are many ways in which the GBC will be faulted from various perspectives. Whatever the merits of these criticisms, I would like to see a general encouragement of their action in this matter.
In fairness, this matter has required a delicate balancing act which their introduction addresses.
It must be accepted scripturaly and religiously that sincere chanting of the holy name is liberating. A fair society must also leave room for punishment, forgiveness, and rehabilitation.
Balanced against such principles of rehabilitation and transformation must be the overall reputation, function, and well being of the wider society.
It is indisputable that Dhanurdar was responsible for many physical atrocities against the children in his care, scars that are still resonating for a number of individuals. It is also quite simple that it was always up to Krsna's youth who suffered abuse to find the space and desire to forgive Dhanurdhar, and no others can do this.
However, ISKCON as a spiritual movement must always attempt to offer shelter, encouragement and guidance to those seeking a spiritual path. Therefore I also support their letter of apology to him (although equally they could apologise to those victims of his abuse who have also had to suffer ISKCON's indecision in this matter), and I also see their invitation to him to remain inside ISKCON as one with merit.
As an example of why such an invitation has merit I would say that we still still invite those serving criminal sentences to chant, to change their lives, and to become productive members of society, as well as follow sincerely a path of liberation.
Having been indecisive about this issue, it is right that they apologize. Having stripped Dhanurdar of his ability to initiate inside of ISKCON (he obviously can't be restricted from initiating outside of ISKCON), it is best that they encourage him to stay humbly within ISKCON, providing positive association to those who seek it from him, and gaining positive association where he can, but without the plaudits of title, position, and recognition.
I pray that this issue is now closed. Although it is certainly not for me to judge when he has been forgiven by those who can forgive him, I feel that from a social perspective the GBC have made the right choice, and have found the right balance in this particular matter.