None of us escaped being abused...
Taken from the "VOICE"
Childrens witness account:
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 has sex with children
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 - child abuser
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)
MORE ACCOUNTS OF CHILD ABUSE IN HARE KRSNA SCHOOLS