"Monkey on a Stick"
Bestseller and Novel, describing dishonest gurus,
death threats, abuse and murder in ISKCON
"a must for every devotee who want's to know the truth"
click here to read first chapter of the book  BOOK
Dear Nori, I took your advice and through the internet found some used book stores and a number had a copy of "Monkey on a Stick". Couple of questions-- Do you think that book was an accurate portrayal? Do you know what sentence Bhaktipada got?
Dear B: Monkey on a Stick validated rumors of chauvinism, guns, child abuse, drug use and drug dealing, dishonest gurus, death threats and murder in ISKCON. When I was a member, I ignored these rumors, but in researching Betrayal of the Spirit I learned that most ISKCON rumors are basically true. Betrayal of the Spirit mentions practically every ISKCON rumor, covering some of the same area as "Monkey on a Stick".

Monkey on a Stick


The guru of New Vrindaban, Kirtanananda  aka Bhaktipada, was fined $250,000 and is serving the third year of a twenty-year federal  prison sentence for racketeering and conspiracy in two murders (described in Monkey on a Stick). According to Hinduism Today, he denied complicity in the murders, despite pleading guilty. The only hyped thing about "Monkey" is the writing style, it sounds like a cops & robbers novel.

"They fell upon Jadurani and severely beat her, kicking her in the face and not stopping until she was literally drenched in blood. Then, they attempted to take her bloody sari to hang on a post as a warning to anyone else who would "dare to blaspheme Kirtanananda."

by Charles Carreon

Monkey On A Stick - Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas
by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson, published in 1989, tells the tale of the time period in the mid-to-late eighties, after the death of Prabhupada, when eleven Western "gurus" ruled the International Society for Krishna Consciousness empire, giving them power over hundreds of thousands of individuals.

The book recounts in its first chapter a chilling murder completed at the direction of Kirtanananda, the head of the West Virginia temple called New Vrindaban.

Kirtanananda was a New York homosexual named Keith Ham who dropped out of the Columbia grad school religious department to become an early devotee of Prabhupada. His gay partner Howard Wheeler joined at the same time, and also rose high in the Krishna hierarchy, availing himself of the pedophile pleasures of operating a temple in Ensenada, Mexico near the flesh markets of Tijuana. Kirtanananda shielded a teacher who publicly sodomized many young Krishna children from prosecution, shipping him to India as the police were closing in with an arrest warrant. Kirtanananda collected millions from drug dealing and money laundering, and directed rings of scam-operators who solicited donations in the name of Vietnam veterans, hungry children, etc. -- virtually anyone but Krishna. The official name for the platoons of urban change-scavengers was "sankirtan groups," but they were colloquially referred to as "scam-kirtan." Armies of young women, bullied by cynical pimpish fellows, wrang innumerable dollars from the pocketbooks of tired Americans, meeting a usual quota of $300 a day, or getting a beating to cover the difference. These young women were also often sexual playthings for the heterosexual appetites of the more plebeian devotees who went for that sort of thing.

Kirtanananda, who thought himself very witty, was unquestionably a woman-hater. He counseled men to beat their wives like their prayer drums, to improve them, and despised audiences with women devotees, describing the occasion as "fish night," when extra incense had to be burned to counter the odor of women. According to the authors, the entire Krishna empire became a haven for homosexuals with a lust for power after Prabhupada, disenchanted with the 80% divorce-rate that afflicted the numerous marriages between devotees that he had arranged by edict, decided that only sannyasins, (male) "renunciates," could take leadership positions in the organization. While celibacy was enjoined upon sannyasins, staying in the closet was no problem for these skirt-wearing, chanting, dancing worshippers of Vishnu. Kirtanananda was reportedly inseparable from a young boy called Samba, who sat at his side at all times, and with whom he often slept.

The greed and prissy arrogance of a guy like Kirtanananda is understandable. He's like Leona Helmsley playing the Pope. The little people sometimes get hurt when God goes about His business. So there's a shallow grave here or there on the property. Big deal. The temple roof is leafed with gold and the floors are pure marble. It overawes with splendor, lifting the mind to God. Lots of people have felt very peaceful and divine there. It is a substantial achievement, and he gets a kick out of it.

What's hard to understand is his followers. The horrifying murder of Chuck St. Denis that's described in the first chapter was carried out under Kirtanananda's express direction, in order to make an example of him, like impaling "a monkey on a stick" to frighten other monkeys. This last was apparently a reference to one of Prabhupada's quaint little Indian sayings. The frightening thing is that it worked. Everyone in New Vrindaban knew that St. Denis had been killed, by whom, and that Kirtanananda approved it. No one dared to speak out because the murderer lived right there in New Vrindaban, and was under the express protection of Kirtanananda. The local West Virginia police had been undermined by Kirtanananda's financial influence and the murderer wasn't prosecuted until he murdered a second young man, Steve Bryant, in LA, again at Kirtanananda's direction. The ensuing flap resulted in a prosecution for the murder of St. Denis, and the killer, Tom Drescher, was convicted and is serving a life sentence in prison. Even in his cell, however, Drescher has been elevated by his service to Krishna as a destroyer of unbelievers. In a special ceremony conducted by Kirtanananda, he was given authority to initiate prisoners in the Hare Krishna path. He has followers already.

Kirtanananda got his reaction when a deranged devotee bashed in his skull with a three-foot steel rod. He lived, but barely and ever after walked with a cane, suffering headaches and double vision. Even in his debilitated state, however, he was still able to direct the murder of Steve Bryant, the New Vrindaban exile who considered it his mission from Krishna to expose Kirtanananda's abuses, and had been publishing the embarrassing truth.

Chuck St. Denis, as you can read in the chapter below, did not die easy. Two gunmen pumped twelve .22 caliber rounds into him. He was stabbed repeatedly in the chest with a kitchen knife and a screwdriver. As the life fled from him he howled like a dog. His cranium was fractured with a hammer. He opened his eyes and spoke to his killers after they were sure he was finally dead. His killers buried him under a stream, which is probably a good way to make a spirit unquiet, if such a thing can be done. His cries, which vanished into the West Virginia night, unheard by anyone who chose to care or help, were never silenced. They kept people up at night, caused rage to burn in the hearts of the injured, and destroyed the sleep of the idiot mice-like devotees who hid themselves in the warm darkness of oblivion, chanting and surrendering their souls to Krishna.

Chuck St. Denis screamed and screamed and screamed until finally the cops found his body, dug it up, and put the horror to rest.

Or so they say ...

Go to Chapter 1:  The Planting Party


Book Reviews: Booknews, Inc. , August 1, 1989

The history of the movement in America based on taped interviews with present and former devotees, newspaper stories, magazine articles, and trial transcripts. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

pearljam@deathsdoor.com from India , September 24, 1998 Comments:
Monkey on a Stick is a classic...... It's an acknowledgement of the hard work done by the authors. It thoroughly exposes the crime & politics in the ISKCON Movement in the most sensational way....aaah crime in the name of Lord Krishna.....he oughta punish all such creatures....

A reader from Madison, Wisconsin , December 6, 1998 Comments:
True story of the dark side of saffron in WV hills.
About 1981, I stumbled onto to grounds of the emerging palace the Krishnas were building in the West Virginia hills to honor Swami Prahupada. The Swami developed his following while living on 2nd Avenue in New York. Monkey on a Stick tells the utterly fascinating story of the Swami and his followers and how, after his death, the devotees built the grandiose and goldleafed palace that grew above the tree tops east of Moundsville, WV. Hubner and Gruson capture the power trips and plays that becomes a first rate murder mystery. My guess is that the book's grotesque title may have cost it some readers. Too bad. Highly recommended.

A reader from Chicago , October 15, 1998 Comments:
Rarely circulated expose. I am surprised just how rare this material is! The Book describes a lot of the evil things that happend to ISKCON after the death of Prabhupada. Men raised to the rank of gods, while still seeking the pleasures of this world. Seems to be very carefully researched, but rarely reviewed.

ESCAPED WITH HIS LIFE? An ex-devotee from New Vrindavana says that in the mid-1980s he came across a scene in the woods where "a big temple authority" was smoking pot with a group of young (gurukuli?) boys, and the leader had the children open their robes to expose their genitals. When the devotee was found out by the leader he said "I did not see anything" --fearing for his safety.

Yet, that night he heard a number of men in the grass outside his window. He jumped out of the window and ran, hearing several people chasing him. He ran through brambles, bushes, branches, he ran up ravines, fell down ravines, and got cuts all over his body. He ran until the next morning. He finally got to a highway and flagged down a car and escaped. This is why many of the molesters went on, it was perhaps, deadly to object. This devotee said there was a rumor, "there are bodies buried on the property." God only knows what they would have done to him if he had been caught....

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