LAW OFFICES OF WINDLE TURLEY, P.C
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS
34 charges of Iskcon child abuse
listed by lawyer Widle Turley
A. YEARS OF PRIMARY ABUSE
1. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of the minor children occurred primarily between the years 1972 and 1990, although abuse continued after 1990 and, it is believed, continues to the present. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of minor children was inflicted on children from as young as 3 years of age to 18 years of age, and included both boys and girls.
2. The abuse to which the ISKCON children were subjected was inflicted on some children for several years. It included a pattern and practice of sexual abuse of both boys and girls, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. In many instances, the abuse could be accurately described as torture of children. Not all of the following described acts of child abuse were carried out on every child, but every plaintiff in this case was subject to multiple forms of child abuse over extended periods of time, some for years. Some examples of the types of abuse and neglect to which the children, ranging in age from 3 years to 18 years, were subjected include but are not limited to:
B. ABUSE INFLICTED
3. Sexual abuse including rape, oral sex, intercourse with children, sexual fondling of children, and masturbation with children.
4. Physical beatings of children with boards, branches, clubs, and poles.
5. Physical beatings by adult teachers and school leaders with fists to the head and stomach.
6. Kicking the children into submission.
7. Children were in some instances made to walk great distances in bitter cold, including snow and rain, without jackets, coats, or shoes.
8. Children were often forced to sleep on cold floors and in unheated rooms.
9. Children were frequently deprived entirely of medical care or provided such inadequate medical care as to suffer long-term and, in some instances, permanent injury. The medical conditions for which children were not treated included malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, teeth being knocked out, broken facial bones, and broken bones in their hands, often inflicted as they attempted to shield themselves from beatings.
10. Children were sometimes kept in filthy conditions. In at least one instance, a local group utilized what had recently been a cattle or horse barn for a nursery.
11. In almost every school the children were kept in severely overcrowded conditions, often forced to sleep shoulder to shoulder on the floor or in small rooms in three-high bunks with 10 or 12 children to each tiny room.
12. The children were physically abused by being awakened every day in the early morning hours (generally at 4:00 a.m.) and subjected to a cold shower, after which they were taken, without any breakfast, to a daily religious service. At some schools, the children were forced to walk great distances in the dark to attend the service, and often in cold or rainy conditions, clothed only in their thin gown-like "dohti."
13. The children were not provided bathroom tissue, but instead were expected to wipe themselves with their fingers, after which they would dip their fingers into a bowl of water.
14. As punishment for not cleaning themselves thoroughly, children were scrubbed with steel wool until their skin was raw and sometimes bleeding.
15. Children were abused when they were forced to sleep on their wet blankets or in tubs as punishment if they wet their bedding.
16. Some children were forced to wear their soiled underclothes on their heads for long periods of time because they had wet themselves.
17. Children were often forced to go without food entirely, either because there was none, or as punishment. When food was provided, it was always inadequate for a growing child's diet.
18. The inadequate food that was provided was often prepared in unsanitary conditions, was of very poor quality and so unpleasant that even hungry children frequently could not eat it. In at least one school, the children learned as a matter of routine to remove insects from their food before eating it.
19. Each child was expected to eat what they were provided. If they did not do so, their served portion was kept on their plates until the next meal when it was served again. This process often continued until the cold food -- even mouldy and insect-infested -- was swallowed.
20. In some schools, children were forced to lick up their vomit from any foul food they may have thrown up.
21. At New Vrindavan, three young boys, about six or seven years of age, who worked in the kitchen, took some food to their hungry friends. They were caught and punished by being gagged, having bags placed over their heads, and being put in a small room for several days with only a bucket for their waste and no food or water. One of the same boys was later slammed by a teacher into a marble wall, resulting in a loss of some teeth and fractured facial bones.
22. Children were controlled by various threats to hurt or kill them and by punishments. Young children, strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, were continually terrorized when told that non-Krishnas were meat-eaters, that they ate each other, and that the children, if given to or taken by the meat-eaters, would themselves be eaten.
23. Children often saw rats in their rooms and schools. Some children (such as those at the school in Dallas) were told the rats lived in a particular old closet, and the child would be, and often was, placed in the closet if they didn't do as told.
24. One form of punishment included forcing little children to stand on a crate for long periods of time in a darkened closet "so the rats would not eat them."
25. Very young children were in fact placed in those dark and locked closets and left afraid and crying for hours at a time. They were locked overnight in dark cellars with dirt floors. One young child was made to sleep alone in the loft of a cold barn for many nights.
26. Sometimes the children were sent by their superiors to massage and bathe the religious gurus and then drink their now "blessed bath water."
27. In some cases, children were stuffed into trash barrels for periods of two to three days, with the lid on, as punishment for relatively trivial "sins."
28. Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished. When complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.
29. Girls, as young as 12 or 13 years, were frequently "given" or "promised" to an older male in the movement. Although their marriages were generally not sexually consummated until the child was at least 16 or 17 years old, the little girls were terrorized by the threats, and often reality, of being given away by their leaders to become engaged to marry "strange old men."
30. Children were often forced to lie awake in their beds or sleeping bags and listen as their little friends were sexually molested by teachers and other leaders.
31. The children were emotionally abused by subjecting them to near-total parental and societal isolation. In an effort to totally control their minds, the children were, in most cases, separated and isolated from their parents and were not allowed to have regular contact with their parents. Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were either forbidden or discouraged. Gifts, particularly of food, were intercepted. For example, one young boy felt abandoned by his parents, and had no contact with his family for more than a year. He later learned the one small package of cookies sent by his mother was intercepted and kept from him.
32. Children were frequently moved to different schools in different states without the consent (or, sometimes, knowledge) of parents. Some children were hidden from parents. Some boys were shipped out of the country to ISKCON schools in India. In at least some cases, after the parents discovered their child's whereabouts and made arrangements for them to come home, their plane tickets were intercepted, and torn up in front of the children. Then, these children were punished for their parents' attempt to bring them home.
33. Even though the children were given by their parents to ISKCON to educate, except for the reading of their "vedic scriptures," the children received little or no education.
34. Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education,
the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time
were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme
difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including
marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in
need of extended psychological and/or vocational training, rehabilitation, and
Homosexual child abuse:
the perpetrators are named by the children
childrens witness account:
None of us escaped being abused...
and no one helped us...
and no one protected us....
and no one believed us...
and no one listened!
Taken from the "VOICE" Violation of ISKCON Children Exposed
I. Iskcon child abusers named:
2.1 Ananta Rupa
2.4 Dhanurdar Swami
2.6 Gyanagamya and Krishna-Kumari
2.7 Doyal Govinda
2.8 Hare Krsna das
2.10 Lalita Madhava
2.15 Raghunatha Swami
2.16 Rupa Vilas
2.1 Ananta Rupa
Ananta Rupa, along with his group of monitors, were known to be sexually abusing children in the Vrindavan gurukula. Ananta Rupa was American. He was extremely domineering toward the boys and did not hesitate to yell, punch, slap, throw things, or pull our ears.
Ananta Rupa was teacher at the Mayapur Gurukula (from 19?? to 1981) and was openly known to be having sex with some Bengali children there. The circumstances surrounding is discharge from Mayapur are unclear, but it was common knowledge amongst the gurukula children, that he left Mayapur because of his pedophile activities. He was transferred to the Vrindavan gurukula, where he stayed from 1981 to 1984
Ananta Rupa came to Vrindavan, while Dhanurdar was the principal, and was assigned immediately to be a gurukula teacher. There is little doubt that Dhanurdar was well aware of the allegations. The impression was that Dhanurdar fully cooperated and endorsed decisions and punishments made by Ananta Rupa while he was a teacher in Vrindavana gurukula.
Ananta Rupa was extremely domineering and mean toward us - he did not hesitate to punch, slap, throw things, or pull our ears. He constantly yelled and used very intimidating gestures and words when he interacted with us.
Ananta Rupa arrived at the Vrindavan gurukula with several of the adolescent - adult boys with whom he was having sex with in Mayapura.
These adolescents, who came to Vrindavan with Ananta Rupa, where from my estimation between the ages of sixteen and twenty two. It was difficult to determine their age since none of them knew their birthday or age. During the four years they were around, they didn't grow any taller nor change in physical appearance, so I suspect they were adults. The rumour was that these were the Bengali boys, Ananta Rupa was having sexual relations with in Mayapur.
As for his ashram, Ananta Rupa was very friendly with the monitors, while he was extremely mean to us. Each of these monitors had an ashram of between five and fifteen younger boys. They would pick out the boys in their ashram who they thought were vulnerable or non threatening and sexually molest them. If the situation was appropriate they would bring the boy to Ananta Rupa. Ananta Rupa had an ashram with those people that came with him as monitors, for around two or three years.
All of these monitors were brahman initiated mainly by Bhavananda and possibly another guru. They frequently led kirtans, performed aratis, and were treated by all the devotees including visitors, with a high degree of respect.
These were some of the sexually molesting monitors in Ananta Rupa's ashram: Doyal Govinda, Padasevana, and Hare Krsna Das. They were also all Bhavananda's disciples. There are others in that group who slip my memory right now who were also involved in sexual as well as physical abuse.
I saw that there were a number of young boys who were passed around between the monitors in Ananta Rupa's ashram and Ananta Rupa, and other teachers and monitors. I was lucky in that, although I was in both Ananta Rupa and Niragadev's ashrams, I wasn't sexually molested by them or the monitors. This was only because of my father's position.
This doesn't mean they didn't make passes at me. I found it confusing and pretended not to notice it because I didn't want to get involved in that. I was attracted to girls and a particular girl back in the US. To some people, it may minimize the truth or validity of what I am saying because I didn't have any physically sexual contact with these people. However, I don't feel that the only way for people to believe that the boys that were victimized and molested in Vrindavan and elsewhere, is for them personally to come out and disclose exactly what happened to them. -- nch
Bombay, India -- Temple Vice-President and Head of Orphanage 1986 - ?
Dhanurdar mentioned at an Isthagosti (community meeting) in 1993, that in 1987 he became aware of Ananta Rupa's pedophile activities and removed him. Ananta Rupa was moved to the Bombay temple, where he soon became the vice president of the temple and was again ina position where he wa molesting children. Dhanurdar stated that he had again, with considerable effort convincing people of this man's past, had him removed from that position. He concluded by saying that now thge man was thought to have started an orphanage where he is undoubtly continuing his activities. As usual, nothing was ever reported to the law, and the only reason for his action seems to be reputation, after all he continues to molest innocent children.
Bhavananda was a member of the GBC, Governing Body Commission, and was one of the original eleven zonal gurus assigned a region after Prabhupada left in 1977. Bhavananda's region included the India gurukulas of Vrindavan and Mayapur - two of the worst gurukulas for child abuse.
When he took power as a guru, he had people address him as Vishnupada, or at whose feet Vishnu serves, a title of dietification and reverence.
Prior to joining the ISKCON movement, he was known to be bi-sexual. There is ample evidence that he carried on homosexual activity throughout his time in the movement and that the GBC knew of his sexual activities.
As a guru and sanyasa, he was known to engage in sexual acts with children.
Bhavananda was in charge of the zone which included both Vrindavan and Mayapur. Most of the Bengali boys were his disciples and so was Ananta Rupa. When Bhavananda would come to Vrindavan, his disciples and others who were in the gurukula would be sent to his quarters. Sometimes they would go over to Bhavananda's suite in the guest house and spend days there with him, serving him, and I presume in sexual ways as well.
Many of these boys who were Bhavananda's disciples were known to be having sex with each other and molesting other younger children.
Since these boys were Brahmana initiated, they performed aratis, they led kirtans and they were looked on by Dhanurdar and the teachers, as our superiors, and role models.
Bhavananda and Dhanurdar would insist on inspections of us children during his visits. We were to line up with only a loin-cloth, and then he would go through the showers while we were naked in the shower. He then, with a corn scrubber in hand, would look at our bodies and arbitrarily scrub some 'dirt' off.
I was standing in the line up, naked and scared. When he came to my turn for inspection, Bhavananda told me to go to the initiates bathroom because I didn't have to be inspected. He was trying to act as though he was being benevolent to me, but this was their way of getting you to feel special so you would become initiated and join the clique. Of course I felt really relieved that I wasn't inspected. At the same time, I felt horrible for my friends that were forced to stay and go through this abuse and humiliation. He was also just trying to protect his hide by not torturing me.
Bhavananda did not excuse me out of compassion, but rather because my father was a member of the GBC. He did not want to compromise his position by risking having me tell my father.
At times some of us were singled out and treated in what may seem to be preferencial treatment. This was actually another form of control and torture. I think that this tactic was to break our solidarity, and to get us to become like them. To ensure that we were totally alone. When these type of situations happened, I would just look at the boys who were having to undergo the mistreatment, and feel for them. To me it was the same as if they had done it to me. -- nch
Bhurijan and his wife Jaggatarini arrived to 'teach' at the new gurukula in mid PA, later to be called the Gita Nagari farm, around 1976. Bhurijan had a seemingly endless list of "crimes and punishments". Most of the punishments seemed to involve going behind the haystack for a caning in one way or another. -- from this gurukula 1975-1976 (10 Dec/96)
Bhurijan was a teacher in Vrindavan gurukula starting from around 1982 until some time in the not-too-distant past.
Bhurijan was an intense emotionally abusive teacher, and seemed to delight in controlling and feeding the fear environment. He fully endorsed all the abusive policies.
He was not known to sexually molest the boys, but he certainly ignored that molestation that was taking place and hardly did anything when it was "discovered".
When sexual molestation of children became publically known in the society, the only action that he took was to remove these teachers and monitors from the school. He, along with Dhanudar, used the principle 'not in our backyard'. The pedophiles were just relocated to another temple where they could continue molesting children. There was no attempt at justice or retribution or apologies to the children or parents.
2.4 Dhanurdar Swami
Dhanurdar joined the Dallas temple as a neophyte (Bhakta Dennis Wiener) around 1972. Around 1975 he became an ashram teacher at the Vrindavan Gurukula and by 1981 he was the Principal of this gurukula. He was made a guru sometime in the late 1980's.
As the Principal of the Vrindavan Gurukula he made the decisions to engage teachers knowing their history and encouraged severity in all of our treatment. The atmosphere that Dhanurdar created for the Gurukula was one of cold hard "discipline," based on his philosophical attitude that there was no such thing as "love" in this "material world". We existed in a very cold uncaring environment, where there was no love or sympathy toward any of us. No attempt was made to act with compassion, empathy and fairness. We were under a nonstop onslaught of spiteful and abusive tactics intended to destroy and control our will.
Dhanurdar defended this Gurukula from anything that could threaten it's existence. This included preventing us from saying anything about the conditions and treatment at the Gurukula. The method he and the teachers used was surveillance and tyranny; all of our correspondence was censored, inspections of our belongings, and monitoring of conversations were constant. If we even insinuated that we were being mistreated, the result would be severe and public (amongst your peers) punishment.
We were forced, through fear, to keep up the appearances and be on our best behaviour when our parents or any other guests visited. Dhanurdar and the rest of the teachers would also be very friendly with visitors and parents and made arrangements to give them all kinds of nice treatment. This was all done in such a way as to give the impression that this was the normal condition.
A memory of his stupidity, was he would want to punish one of us, he would order you to "go wait outside my room!" then you would go there and wait. You would wait there anticipating that he was going to come back and hit you or yell at you or tell you what your punishment was. Then he would come back ten minutes later, or a couple hours later and he would say, "what are you doing here?!" You would be like, "you told me to wait here." And he was like, "no I didn't, don't lie." Then he would get really pissed off at you and tell you to get out of there. It was just stupid. He was just really stupid.
There may be some question as to wether Dhanurdar knew about all of the sexual abuse perpetrated by his 'employees' on the children. It appeared to us that Dhanurdar either didn't know about it, or chose to 'act' ignorant.
Regardless, he is responsible for creating and maintaining the environment that allowed, and even encouraged sexual molestation of young boys by the teachers and supervisors. Throughout his years as principal, he took to active steps to change or improve the conditions for the children under his protection.
Indeed, he totally advocated and participated in the use of violent discipline and mistreatment to make us submit. He never allowed us to speak in our defense against accusations. He was in favor of hitting us and other forms of humiliating punishments. All of his actions engendered a great deal of anger and distrust toward him, our teachers, and even our parents because of their having put us there. A side of me is very reluctant to believe that he was totally unaware. This is because they had regular meetings where they discussed their strategies and policies.
One perception of many of the boys', was that Dhanurdar was really stupid and naive. It was common knowledge among us that the teachers like Ananta Rupa and Niragadev were abusing children and having sex with each other. Dhanurdar seemingly acted as though he knew nothing of these abusers' pedophile history and their on going abuse at his school. An aspect about this that doesn't make sense to me is that Dhanurdar must have known about the allegations of child abuse on Ananta Rupa and those older boys before they came from Mayapur. The only explanations I can assume, are that Danurdar either knew but didn't care or choose to acknowledge the information, or he was just really naive or stupid.
We referred to him as stupid because for him to be unaware, we felt, would have required a certain amount of stupidity or naivete. If, in reality, he wasn't aware, even though it was going on all around, these teachers must have been glad to use this to their advantage.
Dhanurdar reserved preferential treatment toward the few students whom he thought could effect his status in the Indian community. There was one child, for example, who was the son of a mayor or some other district official, who Dhanurdar was extra attentive. He was also preferential to initiates and to some of the children from poorer Indian families. To the children from the west, it was clearly interpreted that Dhanurdar and the teachers paid extra attention and care for the Indian children.
Isthaghosti 1990 at Gita Nagari, Pennsylvania
In 1990 there was a community meeting, an Isthaghosti, at the Gita Nagari farm attended by Dhanurdar, Ravindra, Satsvarupa, and around thirty five devotees.
The subject of child abuse came up. Dhanurdar mentioned an incident about a couple of teachers namely Ananta Rupa and Manihar. After 1986, ISKCON finally started to slightly admit that there was a problem with abuse in the gurukulas. By that time the molestation had become soo blatant. It was also around this time when the guru Bhavananda's pedophile behavior could no longer be covered up. Dhanurdar, then principal of Vrindavan gurukula, recalled that he had made those teachers leave the Vrindavan temple. He sent Ananta Rupa to Bombay. Not surprisingly, Ananta Rupa was later appointed vice president of the Bombay temple and allowed to open an orphanage, where he undoubtedly continued his molestation of young boys.
Some time later, Dhanurdar recounted that with some effort he had gone to the Bombay temple and had Ananta Rupa removed. Subsequently this man was forwarded to another temple where he continued to sexual abuse boys until Dhanurdar told the temple authorities the man's past and again with considerable effort had him removed.
In Dhanurdar's narration of this story, he did not appear agasted or appalled with the cyclic nature of these events. He did not seem to recognize that he was responsible for informing the new authorities of Ananta Rupa's past history of molestation, and that he, Dhanurdar, should have made sure that his previous 'employee' was not around children. It was as if the crime of child molestation did not merit punishment or even an effort to prevent it from happening again. Dhanurdar even seemed pleased that the 'problem' was solved 'in-house' and didn't warrant contact of outside authorities. Dhanurdar's main point in his narration was to emphasize how he prevented further bad publicity.
I will grant Dhanurdar one concession, his behavior did present a marked difference from the absolute complacency of the past, although his motivation was to me distorted.
I raised my hand and said that during ancient Vedic times such a crime would probably be punished with death. I continued that we are not in that time, so we should use the legal means and go to the police and let the law take appropriate measures. The response from the panel and the audience was one of horror and repulsion. Everybody there looked at me like I was some lunatic radical person. As if to say, "how dare you even mention that?" I seemed to be immediately written off as some angry, dramatic kid. -- nch
Teacher at Dallas Gurukul. No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
2.6 Gyanagamya and Krishna-Kumari
Gyanagamya and his wife Krishna-Kumari were ashram teachers in Dallas. Here are some memories of the abuse and anguish they inflicted on small children.
I was Locked in a Trash Can
I remember spending a long time (I think it was the whole day) in a trash can. It was one of those plastic barrel size things with plastic lid. I was 3 or 4 years old at the time. (I always remembered Gyanagamya as the teacher involved.) I was put in the thing at first with no lid. I remember crying and screaming until I didn't have the energy any more. Then someone showed up. I thought rescue was at hand. I was wrong. That's when the lid went on with a small air gap "so I could breathe". I screamed some more, but no one came. I managed to curl up in the bottom of the thing and sleep for a while. When I woke up I was still in the thing and it wasn't all a bad dream like I'd hoped. That's when I decided that the only way I'd get out was on my own. I tried climbing the inside by pushing my back against one side and walking up the other side. When I got to the top I pushed the lid aside and started to climb over the edge when the teacher came back. I got a beating for good measure, was put back in the thing and the lid was nearly closed so that it could support some heavy object that would keep me from opening it again.
After expending most of my energy climbing the inside again and trying to move the lid I collapsed in the bottom, totally demoralized. After a while, boredom took over and I started trying to get out again. I alternated screaming for help and trying on my own. Somehow I discovered that I could rock the barrel back and forth by throwing my body against the walls. Before I had a chance to get scared about falling over, the thing had tipped and I was free. I knew that there was nowhere that I could go. I was in my underwear, sweating from head to toe, and exhausted. My only hope was to find somewhere to hide. Looking around, the only thing that I saw was the dirty laundry hamper. It was like a giant trough that 50 or 60 kids had thrown their dirty underwear into. I climbed in. I buried myself in urine soaked underwear and waited in abject terror for the teacher to return. As time passed, I fell asleep again from exhaustion. I was awakened by the teacher lifting me bodily from the hamper and throwing me on the floor. I kept wondering how he'd found me. I thought my hiding place was perfect. Back into the barrel I went. This time, however, I wasn't getting out on my own again. The bottom of the barrel was filled with about 6 inches of water. The lid was put back on all the way with the weight on it and a hole was made in the lid so I could breathe. I have no idea how long I was in there. It seemed like forever. I thought I was living a whole lifetime of hellish existence in that thing. I could no longer curl up and sleep because of the water. I sat there freezing, scared, and exhausted until my body turned white from immersion. When I was let out of the barrel it was dark outside. I think the punishment lasted all day.-- from Dallas gurukula 1972-1976
Other examples can be found under 1.3
2.7 Doyal Govinda
Monitor in Ananta Rupa's Ashram, Vrindavan 1981-1985 (initiated by Bhavananda). No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
2.8 Hare Krsna das
Monitor in Ananta Rupa's Ashram, Vrindavan 1981-1985 (initiated by Bhavananda). No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
2.9 Hiranyagarbha (aka. Jagadananda das, aka. Jan Brzezinski)
The following is a letter we received from Jan Brzezinski on 5 Janunary, 1997. He was a gurukula teacher in Dallas (Texas, USA), New Vrindavan (West Virginia, USA) and the head master of the Mayapura (India) gurukula. His letter provides verification for many of our memories, albeit from the perspective of one of the abusive teachers, while also providing evidence of other participants who abuses us as children. By publishing Jan's letter in its entirety, we are by no means agreeing with his analysis and conclusions. In fact, we strongly disagree with his attempts to justify and/or explain the behaviour of teachers and others (bramacharis and sannyasis) who physically, sexually and spiritually abused young boys. We will recognize that he has showed courage by publically acknowledging his role in abusing children under his care.
"Dear anonymous writers and organizers of VOICE,
"My ISKCON name was Hiranyagarbha Das and I was formerly a Gurukula teacher (on and off from 1972-75) at Dallas and later the headmaster of the short-lived New Vrindavan Varnashram College in 1974 and the Mayapur Gurukula from 1975- 1979. I think I had a rather unique position in that I was involved in the early stages of these Gurukulas. I left in disgust when I realized that I was not spiritually or materially qualified to run such a school and when I realized that the ISKCON institution itself did not seek to improve the situation.
"Reading your articles brings back many memories about painful experiences that I had. Painful from bad conscience because I myself perpetrated acts for which I am eternally sorry. I wish to take this opportunity to beg forgiveness for all those acts of violence towards innocent children in which I was involved.
"First of all, I would like to confirm both the stories about Smaranam and the institutionalized use of physical punishment in the Indian gurukulas. Smaranam the paddle was the invention of a certain Dvarakanath Das. It seems to have gotten used to circumvent bursts of sudden violence by frustrated teachers against misbehaving or recalcitrant students. There were very few qualified or experienced teachers in the early Gurukula at Dallas, the only exceptions being Rupa Vilas and Chandrika. At that time in ISKCON in general there was a hubris about individual qualifications. It was thought that a devotee who was chanting his rounds was empowered to do anything and that he did not need any special training. The task of dealing with a hundred children or so from morning to night on a tough schedule through mangal arati to bedtime was too much for most of them. I can remember in 1975 sneaking out of my classes after lunch to go and take a nap in the rooms above the stage in the main prasadam hall where Sunday feasts were held. The schedule was far too demanding for the teachers and far too demanding for the children. There was little or no playtime. There was insufficient time for sleeping. There was little real concern for education in that the primary goal of the school was to get the children to do things like chant sixteen rounds and follow the morning program.
"All these things were doubly true at the Varnashram College and again at the Mayapur Gurukula. I personally always placed a lot of importance on academic education, but ISKCON in general alway downplayed it, saying that all we needed to know was in Prabhupada's books so why bother with too much education? Even Sanskrit, which I started teaching with only a smattering of knowledge, was considered rather unimportant if not a bother. It was only a superficial understanding which was sought. Too much knowledge of Sanskrit and Bengali was indeed blamed as the major cause of my blooping in 1979 as well as in that of other Sanskrit scholars such as Nitai Das, etc.
"There is little that I can say to exonerate myself from personal acts of violence against some of the children in my care, especially at New Vrindavan. I was there in 1974 when, as all you readers of Monkey on a Stick will know, there was a very strong militant spirit being instituted by Kirtanananda. My own discriminatory powers were still weak and I participated in giving Kirtanananda an exaggerated amount of respect. I also thought that a strong discipline was needed to help bring the children up, to produce in them the necessary qualities to become a little foot soldier for Krishna and Prabhupad. I enlisted the help of a certain Madhupati Das who was an ex-marine and he turned our Varnashram College into a boot camp. We used to march on the main road from our site (known as Prabhupad's House, I believe) to Madhuban, keeping time with the maha-mantra instead of 'left-right'. Once again, though, the basic lack of understanding of child psychology and inexperience, coupled with fatigue and overwork were the principal causesof sudden fits of temper on my part which on occasion led to spankings of a particularly unpleasant nature. For this I wish to especially beg forgiveness of Tausteya and Jagadananda Pandit as well as Ekendra and Dwarkadish. You may have a hard time believing this, but I really did love you all. In my ignorance, I thought that I was doing the best that I could for you. It took me far too long to realize that I was wrong.
"At Mayapur, the situation became in many ways worse. As some people may already have pointed out on these pages, Bhavananda Maharaja, Nitai Chand, Tapomaya and other members of the Mayapura leadership were actively involved in sexual abuse of some of the children. Nitai Das and Subhadaloy were particular targets of their affections. I was a true ignorant and it took me a long time to become aware of these activities. Some of the children started to accuse the teachers in 1978 and a number of them were reprimanded for sexually molesting the children. We had a worse problem with brahmacharies living in the temple who had fairly easy access to the children. Some of them were true predators and took advantage of them. For the Western kids, the worst case was that of Bhakti Caitanya Maharaj, a Punjabi who later became a sannyasi and president of Chandigarh temple. In 1975 he attempted to sexually abuse several of the American children in the Gurukula. Naturally, these boys were vulnerable and starved for affection as well as material comforts and goodies and were easy prey. The same was true of the Bengali boys who were easily bribed with small gifts of a Western nature, watches, etc., which they, mostly being poor, could never hope to otherwise get. When some of my most trusted teachers started to get involved in such activity, I became so frustrated that I did not know what to do. In a way, I could understand the problem. Living so closely to the children, brahmacaris who had no outlet for sexual activity found themselves tempted by children who were often genuinely affectionate and with whom a certain form of loving relationship was formed. There is, of course, no excuse for such a breach of confidence. But people like Venkat were not pedophiles by nature. The situation in which they found themselves in good faith was compromised by the emotional and sexual fulfilment of which they were themselves deprived when combined with the innocence and affection of the young children with whom they were in contact from early morning to late at night. I find it easier to forgive someone like Venkat than those who like Nitai Chand or Bhavananda were more directly exploiters and pedophiles by nature and predilection.
"Although I was the head of the Mayapur Gurukula, I had little real control over policy. Indeed I kept my distance from the Mayapura leadership, feeling more affinity with the less-empowered Western and Bengali devotees. Bhavananda ran things by bullying and his minions, of whom I was one, all adopted his style to some extent. Education had little place in the Mayapura scheme of things. Bhavananda, Tapomay and Nitai Chand saw the Gurukula children as useful free labour. The Bengali children were considered insufficiently intelligent for academic work, as sudras, and better off doing field work or cleaning toilets. Though this assessment was not entirely without foundation, even those children who had intellectual potential were given little or no time to study on their own, to pursue their intellectual curiosity or to take any academic initiative. Even had they wished to, the facilities were nil and besides there were perks for doing other tasks. According to Prabhupada's instructions, the most important thing was that the children follow the morning programme. This led to the ridiculous situation of teachers monitoring young children of five or six years old in lines in the temple room at mangal arati, forcing them to dance! Walking up and down lines of dozing children chanting japa. I don't think I ever became more frustrated at a useless waste of time. How much better off these children would have been getting a decent night's sleep and then coming to evening arati with genuine enthusiasm!
"Before I left, I had come to the point of thinking that our entire Gurukula policy in Mayapura needed to be changed. First of all, I felt that we needed to hire professional teachers from Nabadwip and elsewhere to offer a complete course of education. (This incidentally is the policy at the Bhaktivinode Institute at the Caitanya Janma Sthan in Mayapur, run by the Caitanya Math.) I felt that if ISKCON wanted to get the most mileage out of its educational system in India, it should make it attractive to life members, etc., who would send their children in order to get a real, professional quality education. This would mean minimizing devotional activities to a few classes in religious instruction and perhaps a few formal ritual activities. The school would be segregated from the non-teaching devotional staff and teachers would be divided into ashram teachers and class teachers whose competences would be carefully monitored. These policies were based greatly on the success that the Ramkrishna Mission has had in using their schools to train people for public life who later support the society. This in turn was based on the example of Christian schools in India which continue to furnish the best education there. I believe that some of these proposals were accepted after I left the movement in 1979, and hopefully the entire movement has become more mature in its approach to education. I can only apologize to those who suffered through those first years, and all those who have continued to suffer abuse at the hands of incompetent educators who though that chanting Hare Krishna was a substitute for real training as a teacher.
"Speaking in accordance with certain psychological profiles that were done in the 1980's by scholars studying the Krishna consciousness movement ('The Hare Krishna Character Type), a dominant personality type found amongst Krishna conscious devotees is based on a fear of sensuality, of losing control of one's self. Many of the early devotees, like myself, were ex-hippies who were attracted by the structure of temple life, who were excited by the prospect of becoming self- disciplined and purified of material desire. In our vision of school life we thought to instill the spirit of discipline which we ourselves had not attained but were only aiming at. Thus we found ourselves in the silly and tragic situation of expecting things from the children which we ourselves were unable to achieve for the most part. Our frustration with our own failures found its natural outlet on the innocents who surrounded us.
"I learned my lesson in 1977 when the Mayapur Muslims attacked the temple after Nitai Chand beat up on one of theirs. I was badly beaten up in the affair, receiving a broken arm which was improperly set and to this day is crooked. I took it as a sign that Krishna was giving me back something of what I had given to the kids and from that day on stopped hitting the children. There was only one exception: when I tried to slap a boy who refused to immediately obey a command, I broke one of my knuckles on a concrete pillar. It remains a cavity on my right hand which like my crooked left arm, bears permanent testimony to my past sins.
"To conclude, I would like to say one last thing. I am happy to say that in some cases, children who were brought up in Krishna consciousness do look back on their experience in a positive light. I am pleased to say that my own daughter, with whose upbringing, I as a sannyasi had absolutely nothing to do, grew up to be well- educated and good-mannered due to the constant intervention of her mother, who did not allow her to suffer abuse in closed environments, who let her go to public schools when she desired it and who despite personal difficulties managed to provide love and a personal example of dedication to principle. For this I would like to publicly thank her in this space.
"By abandoning my own child, I fit the ISKCON model of an uncaring parent about which I would like to say aword or two, which fits in with what I said above about character type. I notice similar regrets in recent statements which I have seen on the internet about Jagadish Das's abandonment of sannyas and guruship in order to live with a female disciple, citing emotional needs as his reason. In his letters of demission, Jagadish laments his failures as a husband and a father. These are no doubt common sentiments amongst those who like Jagadish and myself, were involved in arranged marriages in the early 70's under pressure from Prabhupada, who seemed to think (and probably with some justification) that any mature male and mature female in Krishna consciousness should be able to live together and raise a family if they had this common objective. Of course, we have seen how many mature individuals there were in Krishna consciousness. Misogyny is a fact in ISKCON and many intelligent ISKCON bloopers have cited it. In particularly, I advise you to get a hold of a statement made by Subhananda when he left ISKCON, in which he details how misogyny has been institutionalized in the movement. This attitude is particularly destructive in the marital situation where it leads to abuse of both physical and sexual kinds. These attitudes have been amply documented in feminist writings and there is no need for me to go into it here. Of interest might be Manisha Ray's 'Bengali Women' in which she details masculine sexual attitudes in Bengal which has some similarities to the ISKCON situation. The ISKCON male personality type, seeking perfect control over his senses, is perpetually frustrated. Sannyas is the only real ideal. Whatever praises of the grihastha ashram might be found in Prabhupad's books, everyone knows that sannyas is really where it's at. This attitude, funnily enough, was started only after Prabhupada returned to India in the early 70's and started making sannyasis. When these sannyasis (and I mention Bali Mardan in particular, but Subala, Gurukripa, Yasodanandana and others also) returned to America, they made it obvious that they were the real devotees and that everyone else had to strive for the same goals. As St. Paul says about householder life in his epistles, 'It is better to marry than to burn [in the fire of hell]' but that is about it. Prabhupada contributed to this with his famous 'licking a leaking vagina' remark which he made to Acyutananda, Bhavananda, Sudama and other homosexual misogynists in Mayapur in 1976. His comments about women's smaller brain size did not help.
"ISKCON reformers who criticize the guru institution should also seriously consider eliminating sannyas as undesirable and even prohibited in the age of Kali. There is a statement to that effect in the Puranas which is quoted in the Caitanya Caritamrita. Hinduism in general never worships a god without his Sakti. This must be telling us something. There are many who will tell you that sannyas is something that only really came into Hinduism as a result of the Buddhist influence. Even in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, though Caitanya took sannyas, the movement was really a householder movement. The six goswamis did not marry, or left their wives, but they were never formally initiated as sannyasis. The real leaders of Caitanya's movement were householders such as Nityananda, Advaita, Srinivas Acharya, etc. Even Narottama, who never married, made householder disciples who carried on the tradition. As an essentially protestant movement, ISKCON reformers should think about Luther and his criticisms of the abuses in which celibate priests and monks were engaged during the high middle ages. This is what the sannyas institution is accomplishing in ISKCON. Sannyas should be a natural development of an individual who has gone through the grihastha life and learned how to live with people of the opposite sex and appreciate their qualities. Celibacy is not a prerequisite for spiritual realization. The body is (acintya-bhedabheda) simultaneously one and different from the supreme truth, so why do we only see the different? It is evident that the truth has been entirely misunderstood. Sannyas is an innovation in Gaudiya Vaisnavism created by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati who was looking for committed monks like those in the Ramkrishna Mission. Vairagya in babaji circles has taken on the character of a formal initiation also, so it too has lost to some extent the true spontaneous spirit of renunciation that was characteristic of Rupa and Raghunath. The Advaita line in Bengal is the only one that truly maintains this tradition, and those interested may consult with Advaita Das in Holland.
"In summary, then, I would like to say that ISKCON has promoted a negative attitude towards women and children and family life in general. There is absolutely no reason why this should be the case. The Absolute Truth for Gaudiya Vaisnavas is Radha Krishna, the divine syzygy. Look at Radha and Krishna and don't deny what they symbolize. ISKCON people are so eager to say Radha and Krishna are not symbols of mundane sex. This is serious denial, folks. They represent the ideal love and we should think of that when we love, just as we should think of Yasoda and Krishna when we see our child. Your wife and child are Krishna for you. Krishna is everywhere, he is even in the temple, but his presence is most important in the objects of love around us. You want to learn to love Krishna? Love the people who are around you. Love those whom you are supposed to love. Remember Jesus who said, 'As you do to even the least of these, you do to me.' That, my friends, is Krishna consciousness.
"These are a few of the realizations that have come out of my experiences. To my daughter and students whom I failed I sincerely pray daily that they will be able to overcome the sadness and anger that these failings have caused them, that they may find their own path in spiritual life and all satisfactions, material and spiritual."
Your humble servant,
aka. Jagadananda Das, Hiranyagarbha Das.
2.10 Lalita Madhava
Teacher at Vrindavan Gurukula, 1982-1985 (initiated by Kirtanananda). No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
Teacher at Dallas Gurukula. No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
Teacher at Vrindavan. No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
Niragadev was an ashram "teacher" in Dallas. I know this because I was in his ashram. I hated him even then. He was an expert torturer. I remember Niragadev making me go to the programs and to the park to play while wearing dirty underwear on my head. At the time I didn't know which was worse: being seen by the deities or by all the other name-calling kids at the playground. There was other stuff too. When I got to India, he remembered me. He told me that the fun would now begin. He really loved to hurt small weak children and readily admitted it, even bragged about it. I'd just love to see him again. -- from dallas gurukula 1972-1975 (2 Mar/97).
Niragedeva came into ISKCON around the age of sixteen and was put into the Dallas gurukula system as a student then ashram teacher, around 1974. This was strange for him to be a student, because the Dallas gurukula was for predominantly very young children. I was in Dallas at this time and was five years old. Niragedeva was originally from England. His parents, to my knowledge, did not join the movement.
Niragadeva was known to be sexually abusing boys at the Vrindavan gurukula.
In appearance and actions, Niragadeva was a very effeminate man. He would wear long frilly, transparent kurtas, and his mannerisms were feminine. Everyone knew he was gay and wanted to be a woman - he actually appreciated being referred to in that way. He might not openingly admit to being gay, but that was only because being a homosexual was not accepted by the religion.
Niragedeva was a teacher in Vrindavan during the early 1980's, and was in his early twenties. He was not an aggressively abusive teacher, however he did sexually molest many of the young boys in his ashram.
He did associate a lot with Ananta Rupa and his troupe of initiated monitors, all sexual molestors. Niragedeva was having sexual relations with these Bengali monitors, as well as molesting the young boys in his ashram.
Niragedeva was married and some boys told me they were having sex with his wife, and that he knew but didn't care.
Monitor in Ananta Rupa's Ashram, Vrindavan 1981-1985 (initiated by Bhavananda). No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
2.15 Ragunath Swami
Ragunath Swami was another person who was a teacher between 1980 and 1986. He didn't have the reputation of being sexually involved with any of the children. He was a very strict intimidating person. He would hit boys and yell at us with a very loud and commanding voice. He had a very short temper and you never knew what could happen if you said or did the wrong thing. Toward the end of my stay in the school he began to change. He seemed thoughtful of the things he had done. He started to act a little more nicely toward us.
At one time though, he was very scary. He had a personal servant, as did all of the teachers, that would wash his clothes by hand. The boy who was his servant was a boy from Australia who was kind of timid or shy. He didn't say much, and he was a really nice kid. One time, he had dirtied his clothes, he had a bowel accident or urine, just a little bit in his clothes, and he was going to wash them. He had put his clothes and Ragunath Swami's clothes in the same bucket. Ragunath Swami came in and found out what he was doing and right on the verandah, he was just kicking and punching the guy. I was there with a bunch of other boys watching and I thought he was going to die. I don't remember his exact age, be he was around ten or twelve years old.
2.16 Rupa Vilas
Teacher at Dallas Gurukula. No further information available as of April 13, 1997.
One of the teachers that you don't mention from Vrindavan that I remember vividly is Venkata. He taught Sanskrit and Karate. He also knew bengali very well. Do you remember him? As far as I know he never molested anybody which is about the only good thing I can say about him.
On the other hand he had a certain fondness for exotic canes and sticks. I remember that he had at least 8 different sticks. He used to joke that he had one for every day of the week and an extra one for holidays. During class he always had a stick handy. He'd bring at least one in with him to handle the "troublemakers" and sleepers. (In a certain other person's class you'd wake up after being beaned by a wooden eraser, in Venkata's you'd get hit in the head with a stick.)
One time during one of his classes I snickered about something. He came on over to me and asked if anything was funny. I said no. He told me to get up so I did. He then started to hit me with this dried lotus stem cane that he had (I mentioned exotic). This stick was about an inch thick and he beat me over and over again on the legs and back with it. I curled up into a ball to try to protect myself. He stood over me like a lumber-jack and beat down on me with all his might. Each hit hurt so much it took my breath away. I could barely cry. I felt numb and dissembodied. I thought I was about to die. I think I passed out because I never knew how I got out of the classroom.
When I checked the places that hurt the most later I found huge welts some of which were cracked and bleeding. Some of them got infected and turned into sores that festered for weeks. -- from Vrindavan Gurukula 1978-1983 (15 Dec/96)
ACCOUNTS OF CHILD ABUSE IN HARE KRSNA SCHOOLS
remember as you read these testimonies, that this happened to little defenseless children, who were in residential schools, far far far away from our parents. warning content is shocking. We have not included the names of the countless victims and perpetrators, and don't ask us either. This is an emotional journey... if you are a parent and sent your child to gurukula, it could be the life of your child, and the perpetrator could be a friend of yours. many of our abusers are in high and respected positions within iskcon. listen to your child, without defending the religion and the gurus.
Physical abuse is characterized by inflicting physical injury by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, or otherwise harming a child. (Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Knoxville, TN)
This form of child abuse and neglect includes acts or omissions by the parents or other person responsible for the child's care that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. In some cases of emotional/psychological abuse the acts of parents or other caretakers alone, without any harm evident in the child's behavior or condition, are sufficient to warrant Child Protective Services (CPS) intervention. For example, the parents/caretakers use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as torture or confinement of a child in a dark closet. For less severe acts, such as habitual scapegoating, belittling, or rejecting treatment, demonstrable harm to the child is often required for CPS to intervene. (The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)
Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, bribing, threatening or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or activity. Sexual abuse occurs when an older or more knowledgable child or an adult uses a child for sexual pleasure. (Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Knoxville, TN)
Sexual abuse includes fondling a child's
genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and sexual exploitation.
To be considered child abuse these acts have to be committed by a person responsible
for the care of a child (for example, a parent, a baby-sitter, or a day care provider).
If a stranger commits these acts, it would be considered sexual assault and handled
solely by the police and criminal courts. Many experts believe that sexual abuse
is the most under-reported form of child maltreatment because of the secrecy or
"conspiracy of silence" which so often characterizes these cases. (The
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)
Child neglect is characterized by failure
to provide for the child's basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational,
or emotional. The latest national incidence study defines these three types of
neglect as follows.
Physical neglect includes refusal of or delay in seeking health care, abandonment, expulsion from home or not allowing a runaway to return home, and inadequate supervision.
Educational neglect includes permission of chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child of mandatory school age, and inattention to a special educational need.
Emotional neglect includes such actions as chronic or extreme spouse abuse in the child's presence, permission of drug or alcohol use by the child, and refusal of or failure to provide needed psychological care. (The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information)
ADULTS THAT SAW
Child abuser Srutadeva and Muralivadaka
A report from Alachua says that Srutadeva and Muralivadaka cannot hold the post of "diksha guru" (vaishnava parampara acharya) while they are under suspension for child molestation. Is this what the post of "being Srila Prabhupada's direct shaksat hari tvena" representative has come to? You can't be worshipped as the sum total of the demigods --while on suspension for being a child molester? What!
A pure devotee or "diksha guru" has come to the plane of being a "reforming criminal" who is trying to pass his molestation parole? Well, it would thus seem (on this basis) that mass murderer Charles Manson has just about attained the status of Jesus, as he has claimed he is all along, since he has been a model prisoner lately? What kind of idea is this? The pure devotee, diksha guru, the acharya, is perhaps a person who passes two years parole for child molestation? Wake up Alachuans! The pure devotee is a person who is in Vaikuntha, nitya siddha, eternally and NOW! He is an eternal parisad associated of Krishna. He is not some lusty fool who is barely able to restrain himself from attacking children for sex! This is not even tamasa guna (sudra). This is raksasa. The guru is ut-tama and your so-called guru standards are not even tamasa?
NOTICE! The acharya is NOT a person who is just trying to get free of wearing a striped suit that says "Property of San Quentin" a ball and chain and handcuffs! Say it ain't so people! "You can't be Jesus while on suspension parole for incest or child abuse." Please! This means the new idea of "links in the guru chain" are now like rusty paper clips, if not sweater fuzz, instead of the Ocean Liner Queen Mary's multi-ton anchor links. Grabbing a piece of sweater fuzz will not pull you out of the material ocean, nor even, will it pull you out of two inch deep mud puddle.
The fact that known pedophiles are even being considered as "candidates for inclusion in the eternal guru parampara" is totally offensive and ludicrous. The diksha guru is a person who can absorb the sins of his followers, yet these people cannot even absorb their own sins. In sum, people who are fighting to keep their hands out of children's cookie jars are sick perverts, not candidates to be worshipped as pure devotees. ANY NORMAL CHURCH would say that molesters cannot be priests (ritviks), not ever, especially since they are getting sued nowadays. But ISKCON GBC clones say: known molesters can be WORSHIPPED AS GOOD AS GOD AND JESUS after a few years of probation! You become what you worship people, so if you are worshipping the homosexual pedophile anartha..... YIKES!
EXPOSING CHILD ABUSERS [Text 2204978 from COM]
Dear devotees, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Since you are responsible for investigating the child abuse case, I beg you to help the members of this conference, by informing us on what has so far been done in regard of exposeing children abusers in gurukula case.
Reading the texts connected to this case, I have got an impressione that the whole thing is a big cover up, because the main blame is put on the parents and even on the abused children (its just their karma).I have also heard that abusers are still somevere in ISKCON may be even holding positions as an authority to someone, or even haveing acces to children.
To avoid various speculations and doubts, I humble beg you to inform us
about the folloving;
1.What are the names of abusers.
2.What positions are they holding in ISKCON.
3.What has been done in the sense of presenting criminal charges against them in in the court of justice.
4.What are the names of persons at the time of incident, who failed to use their authority to stop the abusers before the biger damage was done, and in that way failed to properly protect the children.
5.What positions are they holding now in ISKCON.
Your servant, Janaka das
Babhru replies: These are important--and disturbing--questions. I don't have any good answers. My daughter just received the newsletter form ISKCON's central child protection office, run by Dhira Govinda. In the newsletter, the resolution of two cases was summarized--those of Srutadeva das of San Diego and Muralivadak das of Alachua. I'm not satisfied with their disposition, and my daughters--who were very close friends with the daughter Srutadeva molested -- were rather pee'd off (please pardon my English) because there seems to be some scope, for example, for Srutadeva to attend temple functions (look--we just want to protect our members, our guests, and their children from these people!) and maybe even lead kirtans. Anyway, there was no word about any of the other cases. The person to ask would be Dhira Govinda. I would imagine he may be a member of the c.a.i. conference; his email address is email@example.com.
Perhaps this will bring things to life. With the formation of the central office in Florida, I'm not sure what function this conference is supposed to serve any more.
Your servant, Babhru das
Some Child Abuse News from VNN - see below
Land mines of abused children all over the world: After six months of working with the CPO it is evident that the numbers of victims and perpetrators of child abuse is much greater than the numbers estimated by the Task Force. Thus, while the program to care for victims of child abuse has produced inspiring results, only a small fraction of the task is completed. Most victims have not yet been reached by this program. It is hoped that ISKCON will realize its moral obligation to these persons, and that this realization will continue to manifest in the form of monetary support.
"While the program to care for victims of child abuse has produced inspiring results, only a small fraction of the task is completed."
Murlivadaka and his trail of abuses: These transgressions occurred over a period of several years, ending in 1989. They happened in various locations, including Lake Huntington, New York, Port Royal, Pennsylvania, and Alachua, Florida, where Muralivadaka was headmaster of a school. Muralivadaka dasa has admitted to these inappropriate sexual acts with the four children.
Dhanurdhar's and Other child abuse cases: Currently, the cases of Hunkara dasa (Vrndavana), Kurma Avatara dasa (Kenneth Theodore Capoferri - Los Angeles), and several persons accused of sexual child abuse in Mayapur are being reviewed by panels of judges (Some names of alleged abusers are confidential because they are accused of abusive incidents when they were adolescents). A case file has been prepared in the case of Dhanurdhara Maharaja (Vrndavana Gurukula), and the file has been sent to him so that he can respond to all allegations.
Other cases that are being actively investigated include Anila dasa (Scott Langsdon - Mayapur), Sri Galima dasa (Gary Gardner - New Vrndavana), Satadhanya dasa (Mayapur), Diviratha dasa (Dirk Bnchner - Germany and Vrndavana), Adiraja dasa (Anand Nahadoo - Nepal and Mauritius), Ananta Rupa dasa (Vrndavana), Atmabhavana dasa (Arturo Sanjuan Habiba - Vrndavana), Chakradari dasa (Charles Stevenson - Colorado), Krpa Kara dasa (Keith Foley - Australia), Krsnapada dasa (Krsnapada Mondal - New Zealand), Laxmipati dasa (Joe Luiz Martinez - France), Manihar dasa (Matthew Norton - New Vrindavan and Vrndavana), Murari Gupta dasa (Melville Moncrieff - Mayapur), Niragadeva dasa (Vrndavana), Sastra dasa (Steven Kapitany - Vancouver), Visnuratha dasa (Beat Soldermann - France and Switzerland), and Gobhatta dasa (Lacinio Pichardo - Dominican Republic).
The Office of Child Protection has many other case files that are also waiting
to be investigated.
Ananta das from Montreal Quebec was also abusing children at a Montreal farm comunity. check with nandi keswhar for details if you wish.
Badrinarayana supports child molesters
Badrinarayana das I just read your e-mail concerning child molester Srutadeva now being allowed to attend the temple functions, and possibly led kirtans there in San Diego. You know that myself and Yudhistira prabhu fought very hard to have him removed from the temple. When Srutideva was first arrested for molesting his own child, we confronted Bhadrinarya prabhu with the news. He agreed that this kind of behavior could not be tolerated and that our temple children should be protected from such a criminal. I was told later, that right after Bhadrinaryan prabhu spoke with us, he personally had Srutideva bailed out of jail for his heinous crime. I have not confirmed this to be true or not, ( to do so would only take a check of the bail record at the jail ) however I do know that Bhadrinaryan did gave him a job as his personal account for his tee-shirt business, housed the man with the Bhaktivedanta Institute devotees, and allowed him to come and go at the temple as he pleased. Needless to say, we were outraged.
When confronting Bhadrinaryana again about Srutideva's attending the temple,leading kirtans, giving class, and the safety of the children, we were told to take action our selfs. Consequently we did. We circulated a petition amongst the devotee community in San Diego, stating that they did not feel there children were safe in the presence of a pedophile, who had been legally convicted of molesting his own daughter from the ages of 9 to 12. ( the molestation was stooped, only because the perpetrator was caught ) We collected more than 2/3 of the community's householders signatures.
This petition was sent to the GBC. However the clincher was when Bhadrinaryana was informed that we intended to tell the Indian community Badrinarayana dasabout his support of this pedophile. At this point Srutdeva was barred from coming. If you are interested in protecting the devotees there in New Govardana, from this type of criminal, I would suggest that you follow the same procedure.
For some one who may questions the GBC's understanding of how Srila Prabhupada wanted initiations to go on after his departure, they are called a heretic, kicked out, and ban from coming to the temple. But for someone who has molested his own child from the ages 9 to 12, he is given aid and allowed to carry on as if he had been arrested for book distribution, or street sankirtan. These are Saintly leaders?
Comment: Badri is well known to not only support molesters, but also to physically attack and assault other devotees by himself. Badri was mistreating & physically abusive to his ex-wife Navasi. Badrinarayana's ex-wife Navasi, who was separated from Badri at that time, has revealed this story.
Navasi complained that Badrinarayana was physically abusive to her. One instance she related that when she was 9 months pregnant, he forcefully pushed her out of the car, onto an icy road in front of the hospital.
Abuse of Children in Gurukuls [Boarding Schools]
ISKCON--Shattered by Abuse of Children in Gurukuls [Boarding Schools]
In October 2001, 91 plaintiffs in their late 20s and early 30s filed a four hundred million dollar lawsuit in a Texas district court against more than a dozen Hare Krishna temples and organizations and many former leaders of the movement. The suit alleges that horrendous sexual and physical abuse occurred in at least eight of 11 Hare Krishna boarding schools in the 1970s and '80s. Amy Engeler (My Generation Magazine/July 2002) (04-30-03)
The appalled movement elders, who had learned of the abuse five years earlier, did not dispute the claims. But they argued that since the boarding schools were now closed (some because of the abuse, some because they were too costly to run), it would be unfair to force the movement to sell off major assets in order to placate the young people over events that had taken place 20 or 30 years ago. Instead, the Krishnas announced in February that the temples named in the suit would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This would effectively stop the legal proceeding.
Instead of using their limited resources to fight the suit, the Krishnas could establish a fund for the children who'd suffered. The victims of the abuse were undeterred, unwilling to paper over the deep rift that had formed between the generations.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded in New York in 1966 and known as the Hare Krishna movement, once held a powerful appeal for youth disillusioned by American society and the Vietnam War. By the early 1970s, several thousand young people had given up everything to follow Srila Prabhupada, the movement's elderly founder, and build temples and farm ashrams across America and later in Europe and South America. By joining the Hare Krishnas, they became members of a strict Hindu congregation that had originated in India. They shaved their scalps and wore fluttering orange robes, they worshiped Krishna over all other Hindu gods, they followed scriptures written thousands of years before Jesus and aspired to live simply and without material attachment, as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures.
It was so simple then. A 23-year-old from Mississippi named True Dianne Faust felt the same aversion to the American mainstream as the disaffected young devotees. Faust ran into a band of Hare Krishnas in downtown Dallas in 1971. As she stood there, rapt, in her hippie clothes, everything just clicked for her. Other devotees describe that moment as "walking through a wall of water."
At that time, the movement was just 6 years old and its leader had already made a name for himself. Prabhupada's translations of the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts were widely respected and used for college courses. He'd grown close to John Lennon and George Harrison, who donated a 17-acre estate outside London to the movement in the early 1970s. The Krishnas purchased large tracts of land in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, a building in midtown Manhattan and nearly a block of Watseka Avenue in Los Angeles-largely with money from the sales of Prabhupada's translations, which also fueled a successful book publishing business.
By the time Prabhupada blessed a bowing Faust and renamed her Bimala--which means spotlessness in Sanskrit his movement was opening nearly a dozen new temples each year in American cities. (At its height, there were almost 10,000 devotees living in the temples and on the farms.) Bimala initially shared a bedroom in the Dallas temple with her husband and two other young couples. She went to ritual ceremonies at the temple's altar, beginning at 4:30 a.m., attended daily scripture class and chanted for the requisite hour and a half.
Bimala started typesetting and designing little booklets that her "godbrothers" pressed into people's hands at airports. Work was unpaid, in the service of Krishna. She lived and ate at the temples and if she needed anything extra, such as toothpaste or tampons, she'd ask the temple treasurer to add it to his shopping list. The mundane things of life--tax returns, grocery shopping, career, even news from the ongoing war--had ceased to be a concern. Being a full-time monk was far more meaningful, she thought, than her former job teaching junior high school English. This life seemed like bliss.
In that same submissive spirit, Bimala sent her 5-year-old son, Ish, to a Hare Krishna school in 1977. "It hurt to be separated from him," she says, "but it was just what you did in those days." The schools, scattered across the country and in India, combined round-the-clock child care with spiritual training. The idea was to keep the children safe from the influences of the outside world while their parents were freed up to work for the movement.
In Autumn of that year, the movement fell into crisis when Prabhupada died at age 81. In his will, he'd appointed 11 loyal young men to take over for him. Each was to run a zone of the country, in which he would be responsible for the welfare of all devotees. These "zonal gurus" reported to a board of directors, called the Governing Body Commission (GBC). Unfortunately, the personal qualities that attracted devotees to Prabhupada's movement-and his strict daily regimen of rituals and work-were not necessarily leadership assets. His followers, finding themselves without a spiritual guide, had difficulty maintaining the Eastern structure of gurus and disciples that Prabhupada had established. Bill Ogle, 54, a former GBC member, noticed it right away. "You have some guy from Los Angeles who grew up surfing and went to a university," says Ogle, in his smooth, Southern drawl, of one of the successors. "He's thirty years old and he's been a devotee for five or six years and suddenly he's an enlightened guru? It's just farcical."
Ogle, then head of the Atlanta temple where he lived with his wife and young daughter, saw difficulties ahead in raising a family within the ISKCON structure, which was geared to single devotees and led by celibate men who were both zealous and inexperienced. "Economically the society couldn't support everybody anymore. As you got married and had children, your costs increased tremendously. It just wasn't reality," he says. "There was a lot of idealism, and there still is in the minds of many of the devotees, but realistically, people like me needed to find a way to live in the larger society." So Ogle, while remaining a devotee, went off to law school.
In the next few years, tensions rose within many major temples. Some gurus became autocrats, harshly intolerant of any deviation from the rituals; others buckled under the stress of trying to keep their ashrams alive. Families found themselves unwelcome; children were expected to behave within the temples as little adults. One vocal dissident was found dead on the grounds of a West Virginia temple called New Vrindaban and, in 1990, the zonal guru there, Kirtanananda, was charged with using murder, kidnapping and fraud to protect an illegal enterprise (he was selling caps and T-shirts with pirated NFL and "Peanuts" logos).
By the 1990s, people were trickling away. Those who remained realized they had to learn to co-exist with the mainstream. Ogle's friend, David Roberts, had spent most of his 20s and 30s as a Krishna missionary to Brazil. He took a job delivering newspapers at 2 a.m. before he found work running a small manufacturing firm. Roberts was then almost 40 years old; like others in the movement, he had no formal work history and he'd never even owned a credit card. "People returned, thinking, I gave my life to the mission and I don't have anything now. What am I going to do?" Roberts says.
Some devotees hung on in the temples, selling books, but most moved on with their lives--returning to the degrees they'd abandoned, training as nurses and teachers. Bimala ran a computer store in Pennsylvania, then began designing silver jewelry. Ogle set up a successful law practice in Ormond Beach, Florida. Many of those who pulled away kept a connection to the movement, building shrines in their homes, donating money, chanting at the temples on Sundays or major Hindu holidays.
Their hard-won maturity actually advanced the movement. In Philadelphia, David Dobson took the local Hare Krishnas away from bookselling and missionary work and into Food for Life, the Krishna's global social service organization. Dobson, 48, a slight, frizzy-haired man with boundless energy, was a member of a small group that set up a soup kitchen in a storefront near Philadelphia's city hall. He also drove to deserted areas of the city with his portable stove to cook for the homeless. In the mid-1980s he won city contracts to open homeless shelters, and in 1991, he persuaded the state to fund a halfway house where he and other Krishnas helped ex-convicts ease back into society.
Dobson's chapter of Food for Life, incorporated in 1983, has grown into a full-fledged agency that receives several million dollars in funding a year from the government. Dobson has proven so adept a manager that city officials treat his group no differently from Catholic Charities or Volunteers of America.
"We had to go from being a missionary movement to an institution," Dobson explains. "There's been internal soul-searching about how to do this and to keep the integrity and purity of the religious tradition and not water it down to attract new members or revenue."
The movement's new stability began to waver in 1996, when some grown members of the "second generation"-as the children of devotee baby boomers call themselves-asked to speak before a meeting of the GBC in Alachua, Florida, the largest Hare Krishna community in the U.S. Several hundred families live in and around Alachua, reintegrated into regular society around a modified temple (leaders are elected, not appointed; there is no ashram). Real estate is cheap; most of the families were able to buy modest ranch homes in the neighborhoods that have sprung up among the old horse and cattle ranches. They work regular jobs and shop at Food Lion like everyone else.
Standing on the temple's marble floor, these young adults told stories of their school days. They described the emotional devastation of being separated from their parents at age 5, as well as being regularly beaten, terrorized and preyed upon sexually by teachers night after night. The teachers, untrained and uncertified, lived with them 24 hours a day. Both girls and boys were raped and forced into sexual situations; girls as young as 12 or 13 were "given" to older men in the movement; one boy was raped by at least 10 different men. If they wet their beds, their faces were rubbed in the dirty bedding; if they soiled their underwear, they had to wear it on their heads.
Larry Shinn, president of Berea College in Kentucky, has studied the Hare Krishnas for 20 years, and he attributes what happened in their schools to the fact that the teachers were "young celibate men with an overabundance of enthusiasm about religious teachings and much less knowledge of child psychology or the emotional needs of children." The cruel behavior that resulted has similarities to that in the Catholic Church; in both situations, Shinn says, "monastic males took advantage of their position of authority to abuse young boys." As he sees it, this particular kind of abuse occurs "throughout the world." In the ensuing two years, hundreds came forward to testify, and the newly formed child protection office found itself with a list of almost 250 suspected sex offenders. Dhira Govinda, the office's director, soon learned that many perpetrators had fled the movement and that the statute of limitations prevented prosecution in most cases. Still, he was instrumental in getting several separate convictions of abuse. In 1996, another organization, Children of Krishna, began doling out grants for therapy and college tuition to the second generation and educating temple presidents on ways to prevent child abuse.
The elders feel strongly that they worked to heal the children as soon as they found out what had happened. There was no cover-up. But the members of the second generation were unappeased and filed the civil lawsuit that is now pending.
The depth of their bitterness has something to do with the fact that many are only now beginning to deal with the events of the past. Just like the abused Catholic children, they were too self-doubting and guilt-ridden, too scared to speak out against the authority figures who'd molested them. Jahnavi, 30, the director of Children of Krishna, explains: "When you don't know anything about the world, it's hard to recognize you've been abused," she says. "Then at 30, you finally understand that your childhood was robbed and you get angry that you also spent most of your twenties trying to deal with your pain. And you've got this voice inside your head screaming at you all the time."
As their pain surfaced, it took the form of fury at the adults for failing to protect them. "I blame them for setting up the structure that allowed the abuse," says Jahnavi. "Parents were naive and trusted people, who on the surface, spiritually, were doing all the right things," says Sad Krueger, 27, a fellow devotee and friend of Bimala's son, Ish.
In the living room of Ish's yellow ranch house on one of Alachua's new cul-de-sacs, Ish and his mother talk over everything that happened. Bimala flips through a photo album to find a snapshot of Ish in 1983, the "zealous days." There he is-a 10-year-old boy, freckled and grinning in a white robe with a shaved head. That year, Ish's teacher-someone Bimala knew and respected-sexually abused him on many occasions. As soon as Bimala found out about it, in 1986, she put him in a public school and arranged for therapy for her son and herself.
Unlike many of the baby boomers, Bimala says she understands the anger that led to the lawsuit and acknowledges her own guilt. "I've cried for years and years over what happened," Bimala says. "But at least I can talk about it now. There are other women around here who can't." Women's "inferior role" in the Krishna movement, Shinn points out, had a harmful effect. As in other male-dominated religions, the women had to accept the movement's practices unquestioningly, making the children's disclosures even harder to handle.
Pranada, 44, has a 24-year-old son who lost his front teeth as a child after being slammed to the floor by a teacher. Like many other mothers, Pranada chose to ignore the signs of abuse. Faced with the revelations, "we were in tears," she says, "and just dumbfounded that these things had happened." She feels desperately guilty, she says, for sending her little boy away but is deeply opposed to the lawsuit, insisting it's wrong to hold the system liable for the actions of individuals. That position disturbs the younger generation. Over 6 feet tall, with a trim beard and thoughtful manner, Ish is 28 and a lab technician at the University of Florida. He and many of his peers remain committed but casual Hare Krishnas. Being close to his mother, he says, helps him deal with mistakes made by her generation. "I went through some intense feelings as a kid--loneliness, really intense isolation," says Ish. "But now I have an appreciation that all these things wrapped up together make you who you are. Sure, I wish that things didn't happen the way they did, but I am happy with who I am now. I like to consider myself lucky. Other people had it far worse."
Ish knows of former classmates who committed suicide and others who are emotionally crippled, so he supports those who filed the lawsuit, though he didn't join them. He and his friends attribute the abuse to the older generation's "hard-core philosophy." They don't want to destroy the movement, but they do want to clear out the cliche-spouting devotees, those "still on their trip." "We've already had one set of victims come through-the kids," he says, "and now it's almost like irony that a lot of people are looking to create a whole new set of victims-those [baby boomers] who gave up their lives for the Hare Krishnas," he says. "Some in my generation are saying, `Let them be. They're not our responsibility. They didn't stick up for us.'"
As of April, the lawsuit was still pending. The older generation, complaining about the "unfocused anger" of the children, has tried to avoid selling temple assets. They dissolved the Alachua foundation, and ISKCON's press office sent word to newspapers to expect bankruptcy filings. But the far-reaching apology the younger generation craves seems unlikely to come from this court action.
"The way it's being fought is really unfair," says Dobson, who sees the bankruptcy strategy as a necessary act of self-defense. "The serious allegations should go through the criminal justice system. The society can't be responsible for everything that goes on."
Ogle, a defendant in the lawsuit because he was on the GBC board when the Krishna schools operated, says the victim's rage is justified but misdirected. "I don't think that the society as a whole was at fault, even though some of them see it that way. As some of them mature, they will see that it wasn't."
Maybe, maybe not. Ish almost never visits the lovely marble temple in Alachua that sits on a small rise shaded by live oak trees, where you can hear the rhythmic beat of drums and a harmonium throughout the day. In the faces of some of the older generation who worship there Ish does not see peaceful spirituality. He sees harshness and disapproval, and he can't stay long before the bad memories return.