Chakra Discussions

An Open Letter To Sakuntala Devi Dasi

by Dhanurdhara Swami

Posted May 27, 2006

Madhusudani Radha forwarded me your open letter that was posted on Chakra. I wish you would have contacted me directly. I think the benefit of doing so will be apparent from my letter.

I deeply regret the mistakes I made and the harm they have caused. As you have correctly pointed out, these mistakes have contributed to great tragedy, including as you mentioned in matters in matters of faith. I also mourn the death of Ananda. It is terrible to see the loss of someone from our family of devotees, especially when that death is at his own hands. I do feel that I share responsibility in this tragedy.

I agree with you that my work in rectifying the past does not end with a CPO decision about my status in ISKCON. I thus beg you to help identify other students that I can reach out to and help.

I think, however, you are not aware of the efforts I have made to rectify the past. Perhaps it is because it has not been publicized widely. I have spent considerable time in the last ten years meeting many gurukula alumni, falling at their feet, begging for their forgiveness, and offering them whatever help I can. Unfortunately, if my efforts are misrepresented we will only open old wounds and delay the healing process. I invite you to study my case including the efforts I have made to rectify my mistakes and to also speak with me personally about those efforts. I then welcome you to report your findings publicly.

I would like to share with you letters I have received just recently, only in the last few months, from gurukula alumni that I have been trying to help. I am in a difficult situation. I don't want in any way to minimize the mistakes I made and the pain it has caused by defending myself, but as your open letter gives a false impression that I am callous to the suffering I caused, and since that impression causes further pain, reluctantly I have decided to share the following with you. Obviously I cannot post the names of these persons, but if you want to contact them to verify their letters, I can give you their names and addresses privately. You could also note by the dates of the letters, that my latest efforts to contact gurukula alumni and help them is way after the final resolution of my case in terms of my status in ISKCON.

The following is from a student that was seriously sexually abused by a gurukula teacher. I have been helping him for the last two years to get established in life. Below is his response to my recent effort to help him.

"Thank you very much Maharaja.

I have never been in a situation where I have been at a loss of words and didn't know how to express myself but now I am....right now I can only humbly thank you.

I will get in touch with Kunja and will update you."

Letter of April 23, 2006

The following is a letter from a student who was also seriously abused. I have been supporting the education of his eldest son. This is a letter in response to my agreement to also help his youngest son.

"Maharaja, I would like to thank you very much for your kind help to educate my children. You already know my situation and this kind gesture of yours has lifted my well being very much.

I remember you had been kind to me right from the time of gurukula. It was just a bad time that everyone had to go through. We are all trying to get out of that heavy situation.

Please don't be upset that I recalled the old days. But you are the beginning of my old days, but I am so fortunate that you are still being kind to me. Even though I had some grudges towards you in the past now I am completely freed of that. This is not because of your financial help alone. I am really seeing your good nature and how seriously you make effort towards your commitment.

Anyway, Thank you again for your kind advance fees $600/- and others that you have arranged. I will certainly write to you as soon as I receive the rest of amount sent.

I pray that Krishna will make arrangements for you to freely preach and advance rapidly in Krishna consciousness."

Letter of March 3, 2006

The following excerpt is from a student who approached me recently to share his grievances towards me and also his personal problems. It was the culmination of an extended effort to reach out to him. After several meetings I helped him find and pay for professional psychological counseling.

"I would really love to discuss this more and talk something even deeper as I really started to get trust in you and started to really heartfully admire you also for your service.

Letter of April 4, 2006

So I agree with you that I should continue to seek out any others that need help and closure. Help me. I am sure you will find my efforts sincere in this regard.

I know that you and many others may have quite a different impression than what is suggested here. I just ask you to investigate my case and be everything I regretfully was not in Gurukula--neutral, open-minded, non-prejudicial, and fair.

Your servant,
Dhanurdhara Swami