Sulacan Prabhu was murdered and killed by sect leaders of ISKCON for exposing their Guru Business

Sulacan Prabhu was murdered and killed by sect leaders of ISKCON for exposing their Guru Busines


The Saga of Sulochan, Part 1

By Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)
One chapter from my forthcoming book
Gold, Guns and God: A History of the Hare Krishnas in West Virginia

Preface by the Author

Dearest Vaishnavas,

As some of you may know, I have been working on a history of the New Vrindaban Community for the last six years. In January 2007 I submitted an article to the Sampradaya Sun: “Sulochan’s Murder: For the Record, Part One,” and promised at that time to continue the installments. It has taken me a year and a half to fulfill that promise. Much has happened in the interim which has made this possible. Most helpful was the opportunity to search through the public records: newspaper clippings, volumes of trial transcripts numbering over two thousand pages, and other sources such as hundreds of pages from Sulochan’s voluminous writings. After poring through this considerable material, I believe I can now present the results of my research for the scrutiny of members of the devotee community who might be interested in this chapter of New Vrindaban history.

I believe the story of Sulochan’s murder is very important because Sulochan, in retrospect, turned out to be an extremely important figure in the history of  the community. In my opinion, he—by his life and death—affected the community more profoundly than nearly anyone else, with the obvious exceptions of such powerful personalities as Srila Prabhupada, Hayagriva and Kirtanananda Swami, and maybe a few others.

These particular chapters were extremely difficult to write, because it was nearly impossible to get completely accurate and unbiased information. While reading through the materials, I discovered that everyone involved had a different slant, a different perspective. It was like the tale of the six blind men and the elephant. The story was so complex that it seemed that no one person could comprehend it in its entirety. And if such persons existed, they were not willing to talk about it.

In addition, another almost insurmountable obstacle I encountered as a researcher was that many of the eyewitness reports were not completely truthful; one devotee’s story contradicted another’s story. This happened frequently, and was especially obvious when reading the trial transcripts. Everyone—and I mean practically everyone—who testified under oath tried to minimize their involvement in any illegal activities. They tried to present themselves in the best possible light. Some appeared desperate to save their own skins. Truth, quite frankly, went right out the window. It was all partial truth, or distorted truth.

I suppose that is just human nature. Any judge in a court of law understands this and sees it all the time. It is very difficult to get anyone to speak the truth, to admit their own guilt, to confess their involvement in criminal activities. They are afraid of punishment. The prosecuting attorney had to practically trick the witnesses into revealing the truth, or somehow try to drag it out of them. Naturally those involved in the plot were worried about potential prison terms and even the death penalty, and did their damned best to make themselves look as good as possible. Sometimes a witness might point the finger of blame at others, and sometimes, as in Tirtha’s case, a witness might attempt to protect others.

I confess I do not know the complete truth about the murder of Sulochan. I was not there. I was not involved. I don’t remember ever meeting or even seeing Sulochan during his years of sporadic service at New Vrindaban. At that time I was always out on the pick, and when I returned for three days each month, I mostly only hung out with my sankirtan brahmachari buddies at Bhaktipada’s house. I did not associate with many of the other NV residents, especially householders or those who might have been less strict about attending the temple functions or following the regulative principles.

Some NV residents called me a “Bliss Boy,” a term which could be used positively with affection or negatively in a mocking spirit, depending on the speaker’s point of view. During those days I just liked to chant, dance and take prasadam. I was for the most part blissfully ignorant of the great dramas at New Vrindaban. I was happy in my service to guru and Krishna. I don’t even remember the morning Sulochan’s death was announced during the japa period before mangal aroti; I was out on the pick. But this ignorance was a good thing. If I had been involved in the plot I most certainly would not be writing about it today. Because I have nothing to hide, I can investigate and report about these things without fear. Krishna protected me then, and I trust he will continue to protect me today.

Regardless of the great difficulties in getting the facts straight amid the conflicting eyewitness reports, we can nonetheless get a very good sense of what happened by hearing the testimony and remembrances of those who were involved. The details about certain events may not be entirely accurate, and there are conflicting stories, as you will discover in the following installments, but I believe we can still put together a fairly complete story which most probably gets as close as we can get to the actual series of events which led to Sulochan’s murder.

Times have changed. Twenty years ago at New Vrindaban, Sulochan was considered a demon. Today, he is considered by some to be a martyr. One thing I can say for sure, he was no saint. In some respects, he might be regarded as a madman. But the same could be said for Kirtanananda Swami. Certainly those two great personalities had some nasty karma between them to work out. They could have been brothers—or mortal enemies—in a previous life.

Whatever Sulochan’s sins, and he had many, Krishna used him as an instrument to uncover many of Kirtanananda’s secret sins, and after he had followed through on his mission against Kirtanananda as far as he could, he was murdered. Of course Krishna could have protected him, but Sulochan appeared to be part of Krishna’s master plan to purify New Vrindaban and begin the long process of ridding the community of serious anomalies. Sulochan’s death was not for naught; for it blew the lid off the pot, so to speak, and heralded the onslaught of Kirtanananda’s eventual destruction. The saga of Sulochan has drama and excitement and political intrigue and espionage and death threats and a manhunt to the bitter end. And it begins with a failed romance and spousal rejection, which generated a hatred which grew into an all-consuming fire which devoured Sulochan from within. He became obsessed with Kirtanananda. “How can I find more about Kirtanananda’s immoral and criminal activities? How can I destroy Kirtanananda?”

The saga of Sulochan reminds me a little of the battle between the sons of Pandu and the sons of Dhrtarastra. Advanced devotees like Bhisma and Drona were forced by fate to fight against Krishna and the Pandavas at Kuruksetre. Similarly, at New Vrindaban, some other—perhaps not so advanced—devotees were bewildered also into fighting for the wrong side, the side of Kirtanananda and the ISKCON zonal acharya system. Their eyes were covered by illusion and they saw (1) a great self-realized pure devotee uttama-adhikari saint where there stood only a pretender-guru [1] with an immense gift of charisma, and (2) a dangerous and blasphemous demon where there stood only a loud-mouth disgruntled devotee who had stumbled upon some well-kept secrets. Yes, Sulochan might have been foolish for advocating violence in his letters and words, but ultimately he did not have the qualities of a ksatriya, such as physical strength, fighting prowess, heroism in the face of death, or determination to kill. He only carried a gun for his own protection, probably as a bluff. I think the danger he posed to Kirtanananda was not through any threatened physical violence, but through his sharp-edged words which cut deep into his adversary’s heart.

After over a year of mostly frustrated attempts, Sulochan gave up his impossible dream to dethrone his arch nemesis. He was no longer a threat to Kirtanananda and the other ISKCON gurus; he had given up his quest and found another woman with whom he wanted to marry and settle down. It was then he was ironically murdered. But in death Sulochan was able to do what he could not do in life: bring down the mighty Kirtanananda. The subsequent prolonged legal battles drained the seemingly all-powerful guru of men and money, the criminal allegations facilitated his speedy expulsion from ISKCON, and then seven years later his house of cards was smashed completely when the last straw was added to the already-heaping haystack of alleged sexual molestations of boys and young men: the Winnebago Incident of September 1993, which split the community in half and soon after effectively ended his 26-year reign as the sole uncontested authority  and “King” of New Vrindaban.

Some well-meaning friends have admonished me: “Why are you writing about stool instead of nectar?” I humbly respond that I am not writing a book of flowery praises. I am writing a book of history. The history of New Vrindaban is not simply one-sided; it is many-sided, and my book will also be many-sided. The nectar is there, but so is the stool. Look at the Vedic histories: they are not simply about the nectarean loving pastimes of Krishna and his devotees. They also tell many stories of deceit and treachery and murder and fallen devotees. The Vedic histories teaches us by positive and also by negative examples. I hope to do the same in my telling of the tale of New Vrindaban.

If anyone wishes to add their own two cents to this monumental literary project, there is still some months before the book finally appears in print. Until that time you may reach me at henrydoktorski at g mail dot com. And if you wish to assist by providing much-needed funding for production work, I will not refuse your generosity.

Yours in the Service of the Truth,
Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)
September 2008

The Saga of Sulochan, Part 1

By Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)

One chapter from my forthcoming book—Gold, Guns and God: A History of the Hare Krishnas in West Virginia

As described previously, the community had been riding a seven-year wave of good fortune since the opening of Prabhupada’s Palace in September 1979. That year Bhaktipada announced plans to build the largest Radha-Krishna temple in the world at New Vrindaban, the Sri Sri Radha-Vrindaban Chandra Temple of Understanding and the adjacent Land of Krishna theme park: a spiritual Disneyland. In 1983, a “temporary” temple was built for the deities which dwarfed most temples in ISKCON in beauty, size and craftsmanship. In 1984 and 1985, Bhaktipada’s first three books were published: Song of God, Christ and Krishna and Eternal Love. Also in 1985 was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Temple of Understanding, which was attended by local and state politicians, and a United States Congressman from West Virginia. These accomplishments propelled the New Vrindaban community into a new and challenging era of rapid growth and expansion. The Hare Krishna Movement in America would never be the same again. The sun of good luck shined on New Vrindaban and residents basked in its glow.

Sulochan: a thorn in Bhaktipada’s side.

Soon however, Bhaktipada’s luck would take a turn for the worse. One New Vrindaban resident had developed irreconcilable marital problems with his wife, who had accepted initiation from Bhaktipada without his knowledge or permission. Sulochan (Steven Bryant) had been initiated by Prabhupada in Detroit during July 1974. He visited New Vrindaban briefly during 1975, and worked at the BBT in Los Angeles for a time indexing Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam. During 1982 at New Vrindaban he worked at the mold shop, and in 1984 became one of the top tour guides at the Palace. [2]

While living in London in 1979, Sulochan met a young and attractive hippy aspiring to become a devotee, Jane Rangeley, who had a two-year-old son from a previous marriage. With the help of a friend, he persuaded Jane that she should marry him. Marriage to him, he insisted, would help her advance in Krishna consciousness. Jane agreed and they were married within two weeks.

Sulochan’s attitude toward marriage was patriarchal; he believed a wife had to be completely subordinate to her husband. The wife’s entire goal of life should be simply to please her husband, who she should worship as a god. His view was supported by the Vedic literature:

A woman should think of her husband as the Supreme Lord. [3]

A husband is the supreme demigod for a woman. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vasudeva, the husband of the goddess of fortune, is situated in everyone’s heart and is worshiped through the various names and forms of the demigods by fruitive workers. Similarly, a husband represents the Lord as the object of worship for a woman. [4]

A chaste woman must dress nicely and decorate herself with golden ornaments for the pleasure of her husband. Always wearing clean and attractive garments, she should sweep and clean the household with water and other liquids so that the entire house is always pure and clean. She should collect the household paraphernalia and keep the house always aromatic with incense and flowers and must be ready to execute the desires of her husband. Being modest and truthful, controlling her senses, and speaking in sweet words, a chaste woman should engage in the service of her husband with love, according to time and circumstances. [5]

Even if a husband had an irritable temperament and always wanted to be in a superior position, Prabhupada insisted that his chaste wife “must try to understand her husband’s temperament and please him.” [6]

This is an indication of the relationship between husband and wife. A great personality like Cyavana Muni has the temperament of always wanting to be in a superior position. Such a person cannot submit to anyone. Therefore, Cyavana Muni had an irritable temperament. His wife, Sukanya, could understand his attitude, and under the circumstances she treated him accordingly. If any wife wants to be happy with her husband, she must try to understand her husband’s temperament and please him. This is victory for a woman. Even in the dealings of Lord Krishna with His different queens, it has been seen that although the queens were the daughters of great kings, they placed themselves before Lord Krishna as His maidservants. However great a woman may be, she must place herself before her husband in this way; that is to say, she must be ready to carry out her husband’s orders and please him in all circumstances. Then her life will be successful. When the wife becomes as irritable as the husband, their life at home is sure to be disturbed or ultimately completely broken. In the modern day, the wife is never submissive, and therefore home life is broken even by slight incidents. . . .

A woman must be trained to be submissive to the will of her husband. Westerners contend that this is a slave mentality for the wife, but factually it is not; it is the tactic by which a woman can conquer the heart of her husband, however irritable or cruel he may be.

Yet the relationship between husband and wife is not one-sided. The husband also has duties to his wife: primarily he must protect her.

It is the duty of husband to protect wife in every way from the onslaught of material nature, and he must act always as her spiritual guide by being perfect example of devotee. [7]

Husband means who takes charge of the girl for life, and wife means the girl who has the resolution to serve the husband throughout life. That is husband and wife. And when the wife is in danger, the husband’s duty is to give protection, at any cost. That is husband-wife relationship. [8]

The husband gives the topmost protection to the wife. This is the example. Just like Lord Ramachandra. Lord Ramachandra is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but Ravana took Sita from His protection. Ramachandra could marry many millions of Sitas, or He could create many millions of Sita, but He’s showing the example that it is the husband’s duty to give protection to the wife at any cost. And He did it. For one woman He killed the whole Ravana’s dynasty. This is husband’s duty. So protection, not slave. It is protection. The husband should give to the wife the topmost protection, and the wife should be so faithful to the husband. [9]

Prabhupada also indicated that if a husband is able to protect his wife, but does not do so, “he is considered already dead, although he is supposedly breathing.”  [10]

If, after growing up, a son does not try to satisfy his parents by his actions or by an endowment of riches, he is surely punished after death by the superintendent of death and made to eat his own flesh. If a person is able to care for or give protection to old parents, a chaste wife, children, the spiritual master, brahmanas and other dependents but does not do so, he is considered already dead, although he is supposedly breathing.

Unfortunately, Sulochan was not a model husband for Jane; she claimed he did not protect her, but daily insulted and slapped her for reasons only known to him: “He would often slap me in the face. He either thought it was fun or it was his way of being affectionate. It caused me a lot of embarrassment, especially if he did it in public. It definitely was humiliating,  and that was probably the intention on his part, supposedly to keep me submissive.” [11]

Sulochan was also abusive toward Jane’s two-year-old son. One source claimed: “He began persecuting her two-year old son, denying him food because he could not enunciate a word properly, and separating him from his mother because he deemed the boy ‘too attached’ to her. Steve forced Yamuna to discontinue breast feeding her child abruptly, although weaning a child is harmful if not done gradually. Needless to say, the poor child was often in total hysterics due to such maltreatment. On one occasion, Steve insisted upon cutting part of the child’s tongue, thinking this a cure for a speech impediment which Steve imagined the child to possess. Fortunately Steve was dissuaded by the boy’s mother and desisted from the heinous act. Today the child speaks normally.” [12]

Sulochan’s conduct only succeeded in alienating himself from his newly-wedded wife. She later indicated that impulsively marrying a man she didn’t know was a great mistake: “We were ill matched. Definitely no attraction on my side of the equation. It is quite possible that with someone else Sulochan could have been happily married.” [13]

Jane moves to New Vrindaban, accepts initiation.

Sulochan manufactured and sold pendants to support himself. During the latter half of 1980, he decided to go to India on business and that Jane should go to live at New Vrindaban; however, she would have to earn the passage money for her and her young son. [14]

In the fall of 1980, as Sulochan prepared to go to India for a second time that year, it was agreed upon that she should go to New Vrindaban to live. Leaving her with £20 and a bag full of pendants to sell, he left for India. Before leaving, he also gave her a letter of introduction which said, in effect, “Here is my wife, she is coming here to live and possibly to take initiation. I shall be coming there in about four or five months.”

Jane was pregnant at the time, and was caring for her three-year-old son Krishna Das. Still, unassisted, she traveled to France where she managed to sell enough pendants to purchase passage to America for herself and her small boy. Finally, in late 1980, Jane arrived in New Vrindaban.

“My first impression of New Vrindaban was that I immediately fell in love with everything. I thought, ‘This is just like Vrindaban.’ I thought that living here was the closest thing to living in Vrindaban.”

Jane arrived at New Vrindaban a few weeks before Christmas 1980. She was at once caught up in the intense engagement of the Christmas marathon. She enjoyed living there, she made many friends, and performed various services. An initiation ceremony was planned for Christmas Day, and Kuladri suggested Jane take initiation from Bhaktipada. This was unusual, as normally a prospective disciple had to wait six months before receiving initiation.

Jane recalled: “I was very surprised when Kuladri suggested that I should take initiation. I was not opposed to the idea, and was quite impressed with Kirtanananda Swami, however I was not expecting to be approached regarding initiation so soon. I had only been at New Vrindaban for three weeks, and I was unsure how Sulochan would respond to the idea. The temple authorities were pressing for the initiation.” [15]

At that fire sacrifice she accepted Bhaktipada formally as her spiritual master and was awarded the name “Yamuna Dasi.” In England, Sulochan had told her that of all the ISKCON gurus, he liked Bhaktipada best, but he never explicitly gave her permission to take initiation.

Yamuna explained: “Sulochan had very traditional views regarding women and really did not believe in women taking initiation, which is the reason that he had always avoided the topic. Now that the issue had come to a head and there was some social pressure he conceded that my being initiated by Kirtanananda would probably be okay as long as Kirtanananda was serving Prabhupada and Sulochan was happy in the service of Kirtanananda. This made sense and worked up until the point that the two had a disagreement.” [16]

Sulochan considered it a personal insult that Kirtanananda had initiated his wife without his knowledge or permission. Kirtanananda was not Sulochan’s spiritual master, he was his godbrother. It was a breach of etiquette for a guru to initiate a godbrother’s wife without even consulting the godbrother husband. But since the deed was already done, he tried to accept it.

Sulochan came to live with his wife at New Vrindaban early in 1981, and appeared to be serious in his attempt to become a faithful Brijabasi. However by early winter he was drinking beer and watching television nightly. He rarely chanted sixteen rounds anymore and his sadhana consisted of going to the temple once a week. [17]

Jane explained: “When were living in London he was chanting his rounds. It was not until we were in NV that he became slack.” [18]

Yamuna, on the other hand, was more serious about following the rules and regulations, and she was disturbed by her husband’s backsliding. She regularly attended the morning program, read from Prabhupada’s books, and chanted her rounds. Sulochan worked in the mold shop; a physically demanding service which was especially difficult for him. When his best friend suggested he move to California, he decided to accept the invitation.

“Sulochan had been working in the mold shop for a year. It was physically grueling work and he was not very well suited to physical labor. Therefore when his best friend suggested a life of ease in California it was not a hard choice.” [19]

Although she loved living at New Vrindaban, her husband told her to pack her bags and move with him to California. She unwillingly complied. [20]

They arrived in Redding, California, in December 1982. . . . Yamuna was extremely upset and cried for days. “I was totally flipped out for two months after we left,” Yamuna recalls. . . .

His association in this locale was with persons who were very much opposed to ISKCON and the new gurus. Also, at this time, he forbade Yamuna from having a picture of Srila Bhaktipada in the house. Yamuna was forced to put her son in a karmi school, and Sulochan’s warped obsessions became even more ingrained. At one point he told her that he would divorce her if she did not adjust her mentality to his. . . .

In Spring of 1983 he began growing a small crop of marijuana in the back of the house. “At first he claimed that he was growing it strictly to sell, but he ended up smoking the whole crop himself,” she recalls. . . .

For the most part, Sulochan would sit around the house watching television, while he made Yamuna work, making pendants for his business, and in whatever balance of time she had left, she had to do all the housework, cooking, and caring for the three children. “I was so miserable that I would plan how to leave without his knowing,” she remembers, “but we were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest bus station, I had three kids, and I couldn’t drive so what could I do?” . . . .

Sulochan’s maltreatment of Yamuna was so atrocious that it sparked a major dissention with a neighboring devotee, Puranjana. Although they were good friends, Puranjana could not tolerate the way Sulochan treated her. . . .

In June 1983, Sulochan . . . decided to build a motor home and travel around the country. He bought an old van, and built a wooden frame to increase the size. In October 1983, the motor home completed, he packed everything into it and headed east. . . .

The family returned to New Vrindaban in December, 1983. Although Sulochan intended only to visit for a short time, Yamuna was fully determined not to leave again. Sulochan left almost at once on another trip to India, and Yamuna again took up residence in New Vrindaban, doing service at the nursery. Sulochan returned in April 1984, but soon began having various disagreements with management, especially concerning his service. He began writing critical letters to Bhaktipada, presenting his own ideas about how New Vrindaban should be run.

It appears that for a time Sulochan had tried to adopt the Brijabasi spirit like his wife: unconditional surrender to Kirtanananda Swami, but he was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt. He had even submitted an offering to Bhaktipada which was published in Sri Vyasa-Puja: The Most Blessed Event (September 3, 1984), in which he honestly admitted that he was unsteady and a “veteran fault finder.”

He also expressed what appeared to be genuine appreciation for the New Vrindaban residents, whom he considered “advanced devotees.” He implied that he was having problems and wanted to leave. He admitted that he hadn’t “sufficient intelligence” to stay at New Vrindaban; but he begged the devotees to preach to him and even tie him up with ropes or put sugar in his gas tank if necessary—anything to make him remain at New Vrindaban and adopt the Brijabasi spirit. [21]

Dear Srila Bhaktipada,

Please accept my most humble obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Ever since I came and left New Vrindaban back in 1975, I haven’t been too steady in my service to Srila Prabhupada. So much has happened within ISKCON over those years that it’s been very easy to rationalize moving from one place to another, even leaving ISKCON. It’s easy to find fault here and there, and use that as an excuse to avoid serving ISKCON, which is, after all, Prabhupada’s body. Even now I find myself complaining about all the mud and holes in the road. . . . Look at me now. My heart is devoid of life, and I’m simply the servant of my tongue, belly and genitals—literally a dead body flapping.

Then, look at the many wonderful devotees here, who have stuck it out with you all these years. They are actually advanced devotees, not just by dint of their hard work, but by their good qualities, especially humility, which I’ve witnessed. Further proof of your potency is that New Vrindaban has blossomed so beautifully, even a veteran fault-finder as myself can no longer find any fault. Therefore, I’m humbly begging you and all the Brijabasis to let me stay here. I haven’t sufficient intelligence on my own to stay, so I need your help. I know I try to look independent, but actually I need to be preached to. Not only preached to, but if you catch me trying to leave, please tie me with ropes. Put sugar in my gas tank—anything, but please just make me stay so I can also see Krishna in this life, and join the rest of you in Goloka Vrindaban, at my death.

Thank you, sincerely,
Your fallen servant,
Sulochan Das

But Sulochan did not fit in; he had an independent streak—he liked to do things his way. This was completely opposite to the mood at New Vrindaban: complete submission and surrender to the guru. He became convinced he had better ideas about running the community, and when management ignored his ideas, he became angry, and was not afraid to express his anger to the authorities. There was talk about allowing Sulochan to be in charge of running the guest lodge, but when the position was given to someone else, he became furious.

Bhaktipada recognized his independence and told him on occasion: “Sulochan, you’re just not my man.” Sulochan finally decided that he had had enough; he must leave New Vrindaban for good. He ordered his wife to join him in exile, but she refused.

Yamuna said: “I was really trying to be the ideal ‘Vedic’ wife for a very long time. At a certain point I just snapped and couldn’t take it any more. It was too far removed from who I was.” [22]

She continued: “When I first caught wind that Sulochan was thinking of leaving New Vrindaban I went to Bhaktipada and asked him if I could stay. He gave his permission and actively encouraged me to stay every step along the way. I really appreciated him supporting me in this way. Of course I had no idea what a fiasco it would turn into.” [23]

However not all her friends thought she should stay. Some advised her to be a chaste wife and follow her husband. “There were mixed opinions on this from the devotees. I was being advised both ways.” [24]

Sulochan took all of her belongings and also took his two sons. Leaving on June 24th, 1984, he stopped briefly at a supermarket in Martins Ferry, Ohio, to purchase diapers. When he returned to his van, he discovered that a posse of six armed New Vrindaban enforcers had already taken his children and returned them to their mother, who sat in the community vehicle. He was outnumbered and out-gunned, and had to accept defeat.

Yamuna explained: “I was standing in the hallway holding [my son] Nimai, and Sulochan just took him from my arms and walked to the motor home along with Sarva who was three years old at the time. He sat in the motor home with the children for some time, probably hoping that I would follow him. Then he slowly circled the temple building several times, again, probably hoping that I would run to join him. Finally he drove off. Obviously I did not want to be separated from my children, but I had to make a stand for what I wanted, and I definitely did not want to live in a van traveling around the country with three kids for the rest of my life. I was quite surprised when Bhaktipada arranged for a group of men to ‘retrieve’ the children. I went along in the van and my children were delivered back into my arms. I was very relieved and grateful, although somewhat alarmed at the methodology, not really wanting to fan the spark of an already growing conflict.” [25]

Sulochan talked to Bhaktipada on the phone and tried to get him to send his wife and children to him. Bhaktipada said that he couldn’t do that, she wanted to stay and he wouldn’t force her to leave New Vrindaban. Sulochan said: “Ham directly told me that if I wanted my wife back, I would have to surrender to him.” [26]

“Besides,” Bhaktipada continued, “the relationship of the husband and wife is on the material platform, but the relationship between spiritual master and disciple is on the spiritual platform. My relationship with her is eternal, your relationship is temporary.”

Sulochan explained: “Ham stated to me on several occasions that he has an eternal relationship with my wife and that my relationship with her is temporary. My wife accepted his statement. That statement is absolutely unfounded in sastra. Prabhupada has stated in numerous places that the wife shares everything with her devotee husband and together they go back to Godhead. Prabhupada never said that the wife should worship any man other than her husband and Krishna, at least I have not found any statement to that effect and I have been carefully going through all the books and letters now for several months.” [27]

I had heard this philosophy at New Vrindaban: the relationship between husband and wife (and children)—based on the material body—was temporary, but the relationship between spiritual master and disciple—based on the spirit—was eternal. Therefore the wife’s guru must take precedence over the wife’s husband if there is a conflict or disagreement.

Sulochan called his wife a few days later, and threatened to do everything in his power to destroy New Vrindaban and Kirtanananda Swami. Yamuna later explained: [28]

Because he was continually threatening to kidnap the children, I decided to get legal custody of them by applying for a legal divorce. That divorce was granted in November of 1984, giving me full legal custody of the children. . . .

This man is insane, selfish and violent. He is unbalanced. Srila Bhaktipada, on the other hand, has always been a kind and loving father to me and is worthy of all respect. Steve’s groundless criticism of such a wonderful person is simply another indication of Steve’s insanity. I am sorry that I ever had anything to do with this crazy person.

In one sense, Sulochan was blind: he could not see that he was such a terrible husband. Rather than accept responsibility for the consequences of mistreating his wife and creating an emotionally distant spouse, he blamed Bhaktipada for ruining his marriage. He thought Bhaktipada had captured her heart and now she had abandoned serving her lawful husband to serve her guru: “I had been living a rather disheartened married life. My wife had been devoting her heart to another man, and so, naturally, this killed any chance of our having a meaningful relationship.” [29]

Yamuna was divorced on November 30, 1984 on grounds of irreconcilable differences, and was remarried to one of Bhaktipada’s loyal followers: Raghunath Das. She soon became pregnant with his child. Yamuna explained: “As far as my marriage to Raghu, Bhaktipada tried to discourage Raghu from seeing me, he basically told him to wait. When we did eventually get married Bhaktipada did not actively approve or disapprove.” [30]

Some testimonies suggest that Yamuna reportedly began her relationship with Raghunath while her husband was still living at the community. Apparently Sulochan knew about his wife’s affair and reported it to Bhaktipada, who dismissed his complaints.

One former gurukula boy told me: “One of the gurukulis accidentally observed Raghu and Yamuna together while Sulochan was still at New Vrindaban, and told it to me. Later while I was sitting in Bhaktipada’s blazer, Sulochan walked up to the driver’s window and I heard him complain to Bhaktipada about this, but Bhaktipada was not interested in doing anything about it, in disciplining Yamuna and Raghu. Bhaktipada said something like: ‘Sulochan, you’re just not my man.’ Another time at Bahulaban I saw Sulochan wearing a pistol around his neck and I asked him why he was wearing it. He replied: ‘To kill faggots.’” [31]

Sulochan wrote: “Jane had been secretly associating with this person [Raghunath] for some time.” [32]

Yamuna denied having an affair: “You mentioned that Raghu and I were already having an amorous affair while Sulochan was still living in the community. That is not true. My son, Krishna Das was in Raghu’s ashram and on one occasion I traveled to the dentist with Raghu and all the boys, and that was when I first got to know Raghu. After that we probably spoke on a couple of occasions but there was no relationship or physical contact until months after Sulochan left the community. If the ashram boy saw anything it would have been at a much later time. While I was married to Sulochan I never in my mind ever considered divorce. I just simply liked New Vrindaban and wanted to stay here.” [33]

Searching for dirt on Kirtanananda.

Sulochan decided to learn more about Kirtanananda by searching through the BBT archives. If he found anything suspicious, he would inform his wife and perhaps she would join him in Los Angeles. If he found nothing unusual, he would return to New Vrindaban and try to fit in: [34]

Finally, in June of 1984, with plenty of encouragement from the “guru” she had been devoting herself to, namely one Kirtanananda “Swami,” my wife decided to leave me to devote her life to him, even though I have two baby boys by her. At the time, I knew very little about Kirtanananda, so I was a little cautious about openly criticizing him for his interference in my marriage. The fact that his “disciples” have more weapons than brains also discouraged me from openly challenging him. My wife also knew very little about him, except for the hype that’s drilled into all the gullible guru-pies at his camp, such as, “He’s the oldest and first sannyas disciple of Prabhupada” or, “He built Prabhupada’s Palace, so he must be a pure saint.” That kind of stuff. In effect, neither of us really knew anything about him at all, so she agreed that I would go to Los Angeles and do some research, and if I found out anything suspicious, I would let her know. She said she would then join me if that was the case. I agreed to rejoin her at Kirtanananda’s camp if his slate was clean.

After returning to Los Angeles, Sulochan acquired, with much difficulty, a pirated microfiche set of copies of the complete letters of Prabhupada (the original letters were carefully guarded at the Los Angeles-based Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) from a sympathetic devotee, which gave him the inside story of the history of ISKCON, a revealing perspective which had been hidden from nearly all the rank-and-file devotees by the leaders of ISKCON.

Sulochan’s best friend, Puranjana dasa, remembered: [35]

Sulochan was also very excited because just before he had left Los Angeles he had purchased a “pirated microfiche copy” of all of Srila Prabhupada's letters. He said, “We are going to bring the GBC’s gurus down with these letters.” That is because the letters offer a stark view of how Srila Prabhupada had wanted the GBC to manage; how he distrusted some key GBC members who were now allegedly gurus; how he did not want the GBC to consult with the Gaudiya Matha’s homosexual guru project, and so on and so forth. When we read some of the letters it was very much evident why the GBC had wanted them to be suppressed and hidden.

A few days later Sulochan informed me, “Ramesvara found out where I am staying and he called me to threaten me. He wants me to return the letter's microfiche and not publish any of these letters—or else.” “Or else what?” I asked. “Or else I will be dead meat on the hook,” Sulochan replied. We looked at each other and started to laugh hysterically for five minutes. We knew immediately that these letters must therefore be very, very important and they must contain information that the GBC is trying to hide.

And we also knew that we were going to publish the letters anyway. We just could not stop laughing for quite awhile either. We both agreed, the GBCs must have lost their minds if they thought that they “owned” Srila Prabhupada, and that they could hide his light under their dark cloud. In short, the GBC was making it a law, “It is forbidden to quote from Srila Prabhupada—or else you will be dead meat.” Of course, if you want to quote from the GBC’s homosexual pedophile gurus, that is fine! And the GBC says further that these homosexuals are gurus who are as pure as God. And they have some violent ex-convicts who will beat your head in with an aluminum baseball bat if you disagree with their homosexual worship project. That is what we were going up against and we joked about it.

Sulochan wrote: “As I started to read through Srila Prabhupada’s personal letters to his disciples, I was primarily looking for quotes on marriage. At the time I was desperate to try and save my own marriage. Although that was my main motive, I also knew it was my moral duty to try and save my wife and children from possible danger. In this way, I began my research with the blessings of the Lord of Morality, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Since I was approaching His topmost representative, Srila Prabhupada, for guidance and inspiration, I knew the outcome would be auspicious, whatever it was. I had no idea where my research would lead me. I only knew that something was going to burst, and I didn’t want it to be me. I was not especially concerned with the broader ‘guru-issue’ facing ISKCON’s ‘leaders’ today. Mainly, I wanted to save my own family, hoping that was part of the Lord’s plan.” [36]

Sulochan began meticulously studying the voluminous archive of Prabhupada’s letters to see if he could find anything about Kirtanananda Swami which might convince his wife to lose her faith in him, leave New Vrindaban and return to him. He wrote:

Knowing that Kirtanananda had attacked Srila Prabhupada in the late sixties in his first attempt to take over the movement, I figured that if I could get all the letters dealing with that incident, then I would have something tangible to show my wife about the real character of her new “protector.” . . The letters contained all the secrets I had been hoping for—and more. I knew then that it would be my assigned duty to make the truth in these letters known to all. . . .

As I began my search through the letters, I discovered something higher than my personal marital problems that I knew I should share that with everyone. I discovered that Srila Prabhupada is no ordinary man. . . . I could see in Prabhupada’s letters how a real saint deals with people on a personal day-to-day level. . . . Reading the letters became like an intriguing mystery to me. I took careful notice of little comments Prabhupada would make about the leaders, specifically the Governing Body Commissioners (GBC). For instance, Prabhupada’s whole strategy changed dramatically in July of 1970. He freely started giving sannyas (celibate renounced order) to his male followers instead of encouraging them to marry. He stopped encouraging devotees to open temples and instead encouraged them to distribute books. And he began writing very heavy letters indicating that the character of many of his leading disciples was way below the mark. They clearly show why Prabhupada became disgusted with these “top men” of the Society and ultimately why he decided to leave the planet early. . . .

So, on October 11th, 1984, I mailed a letter to all ISKCON centers openly declaring war against Kirtanananda and the entire Society if my family was not returned to me intact. The Society ignored me. Hardly did I get one response. Since silence automatically means acceptance, I knew that my accusations were correct, and that it was just a matter of time before the truth would triumph. From that point onwards I was doomed to live in constant hiding from Kirtanananda’s worshipers, who would have killed me in an instant if they knew where I was parked in my motor home, typing away. . . .

When Sulochan began showing these letters from Prabhupada to his friends, he discovered that many former New Vrindaban residents had their own horror stories to tell about abuse, child molestation, drug dealing and even murder. “You’ve got to understand, Kirtanananda is considered to be like a God. Infallible. Above reproach. Nobody questions him. People are in awe of his power. But when I started showing this stuff to other devotees I found out everybody had their own story to tell. Everybody had some dirt on Kirtanananda. It’s just that they were either too scared or worshipped him too much to talk about it before. Drugs, people getting killed, kids getting molested.” [37]

Sulochan’s attorney, David Gold, remembered him: “There was definitely something different about him. I had talked with a lot of disgruntled Krishna devotees over the years, all of whom had tossed out various insults and accusations about the Swami. But regardless of how angry or disillusioned they were, they still referred to Kirtanananda in tones of respect, even awe. In contrast, Bryant spoke without fear or reservation.” [38]

David Gold examined the letters from former New Vrindaban devotees which Sulochan had collected: “I picked up the first letter and began reading. It testified to Bryant’s good character, then it went on to say that the writer was aware of numerous women who had been beaten at the commune. The next letter contained similar testaments to Steve’s sound mind and strong moral character, then the author, a woman, told how Kirtanananda had intentionally destroyed a number of families so that he could use the women for the street begging operation. The next letter was from a man whose daughter was molested at the ashram school. Another man said Kirtanananda had encouraged him to beat his wife. Another writer, who remained anonymous, said he was ordered to smuggle heroin from Thailand and turn over the proceeds to Kirtanananda. Someone else reported that they knew who the killer was in an unsolved murder at New Vrindaban.” [39]

“The Kirtanananda Exposé: A Crazy Man.”

Sulochan compiled his research into a book, The Guru Business: How the Leaders of the Hare Krishna Movement Deviated from the Pure Path as Taught and Exemplified by its Founder: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder/Acharya ISKCON. This book, essentially consisting of Sulochan’s candid (and sometimes inaccurate) commentary on excerpts from Prabhupada’s letters, was intended to expose the corrupt activities of the ISKCON gurus, whom, he believed, had usurped their positions of power within ISKCON. It was the first real hard-hitting collection of essays exposing the corruption within the movement. One devotee accurately assessed: “The Guru Business ranged from goofy to manic, from paranoid to deadly accurate.” [40]

Puranjana explained: “Sulochana’s writings were a bit strident, to say the least. He would just blurt out things like: ‘Kirtanananda is not a guru but a demon who needs to be corrected with violence.’ I tried to say that this was not going to be effective writing, could we please use [my own book:] Our Living Guru’s style of commentary? But he always refused. He wanted his hard copy to be as hard as nails, and it was.” [41]

Sulochan wrote about his mortal enemy in chapter ten: “The Kirtanananda Exposé: A Crazy Man.

This chapter is an exposé on one of the new “gurus” in ISKCON. It is the first, but it most likely will not be the only one we will have to compile. Kirtanananda “Swami” deserves first recognition. He was among the first initiated devotees. He was the first to be given “sannyas.” A week later, he was the first to attack Srila Prabhupada trying to usurp the ISKCON movement for himself. Shortly thereafter he was the first to sit on a throne and accept worship of himself even during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence and of course he was the first to jump on a throne right after Srila Prabhupada’s departure. He was the first to begin a drug dealing operation (the KSS: Krishna’s Secret Service) and later to set up a counterfeiting operation. He was the first to organize a women’s sexploitation party and encourage the leader of that party, Dharmatma, to keep the women satisfied as their gigolo. To our knowledge, he is the first “guru” to authorize an abortion of the gigolo’s child in an underage girl. He was the first to be utterly condemned by Srila Prabhupada. To this day, there are more letters of condemnation written about him than all the other bogus gurus combined. He was the first (and hopefully the last) to put a crown on Srila Prabhupada’s murti (marble statue) denoting him as a mere monarch, although Srila Prabhupada was not sent by the Lord for that service. He was the first, and maybe only, “disciple,” to be so envious as to directly challenge his guru’s authority by calling him “a tyrant.” He was the first “disciple” to be incarcerated in a mental institution (Bellevue). He was the first to treat Krishna’s cows in such a way that dozens of them died of starvation, disease, and exposure (the local courts could not even bear these atrocities of Kirtanananda and prosecuted him for cruelty to animals.) These are just a few of his “firsts.” He is number one in many other ways. Besides being the oldest “devotee” physically, he was/is the first full-blown homosexual in the movement and he even bragged of this to Acyutananda Swami in Mayapur, 1971, when he said, “I was sucking (word for male genital) before you were born.” Therefore, in observing his stressed seniority, we believe that he should be given the first chance to try and clear himself of the charges we level against him, and the other bogus gurus as well, which clearly state one thing: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sulochan accurately predicted the eventual downfall of Kirtanananda: his ruse would be exposed and he would lose nearly all his followers:

Kirtanananda is claiming 500 residents at New Vrindaban and some persons consider this an impressive figure. On close analysis however we see differently. That figure includes the 100 hired outside workers on the payroll and the 100 fringe devotees who have little to no sadhana and receive a salary under minimum wage. At least two-thirds of the remaining members are women and children mostly from broken families. There are always at least 30-50 floaters who will stay a few months to a year at most. Most of the steady men who remain there have never studied the philosophy seriously and are there primarily because they get room and board and some work they like doing. Only half a dozen men devotees in the entire community know enough philosophy to give a lecture. Out of 80 men Prabhupada disciples reported for the 1984 Vyasa Puja book, eleven left before the book went to print. Most of the remaining “Prabhupada disciples” were worshipping Kirtanananda even before Prabhupada left the planet. So we can safely say that he does not have “thousands of Americans following him.” But those who do follow, we must admit, see him as “king.” In this connection Prabhupada says, “There is a Bengali saying that a jackal is king in a small forest. The story is that a jackal became king in the forest by fooling the other animals for some time, but he remained always a jackal and his ruse was at last exposed.” (Rupanuga, 11/13/70)

. . . . To the gross materialists, he has kept up a good front and has fooled most of the devotees thus far. But just as Bhavananda was finally caught, so also Kirtanananda will eventually be caught.

Sulochan made some incorrect and vicious accusations.

Although Sulochan had stumbled upon many secrets of abuse and molestation at New Vrindaban, not all his sources were accurate. In The Guru Business he sometimes makes false accusations and draws incorrect conclusions.

(1) His primary thesis—that Bhaktipada had stolen his wife—was incorrect. Bhaktipada may have given his wife shelter when she requested asylum, but he did not steal her affections. Whatever affection Yamuna might have had for her husband had evaporated years earlier.

(2) Sulochan claimed that Prabhupada was not pleased by his Palace, as he could only find one letter in the BBT archives in which Prabhupada mentioned it. However, Prabhupada many times glorified his Palace and even promised to come and live there. He said: “One would have to be a great fool not to like it.” [42]

(3) Sulochan believed that Kirtanananda was rotten to the core, and, although Kirtanananda certainly had a dark side, he also had a noble side: he treated many devotees kindly. He could be a cruel tyrant and sense enjoyer, but he could also be a loving father and sincere spiritual guide. He had an exceedingly complex personality. Even today some New Vrindaban residents and former residents still have affection for him, despite his multitude of sins and history of duplicity.

(4) Sulochan believed Kirtanananda to be unschooled in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, yet Kirtanananda had been one of Prabhupada’s most respected preachers practically from the beginning of the movement. Back to Godhead had published eighteen of his articles and poems between 1966 and 1986, including a series of eight essays on the first eight chapters of the Bhagavad-gita. [43]

In 1984, Bhaktipada’s first book: Song of God: A Summary Study of Bhagavad-gita As It Is was published. It was a transcription of a series of lectures he delivered in Bombay during March 1984. I don’t believe he was ignorant of the philosophy, he always stressed the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita: surrender to Krishna. However some might disagree with his interpretation of the scriptures. Later during the Interfaith era he appeared to deviate, but at this time he was basically still following Prabhupada’s program.

(5) Sulochan heard reports that Kirtanananda may have molested Hayagriva’s son, Samba, but these rumors were denied many times by Samba, including once under oath in a court of law. Kirtanananda had the greatest respect and lofty aspirations for Hayagriva’s son. He treated him like a prince, and personally trained him to become a conscientious devotee; one who followed the principles strictly.

Once around 1979, during the morning program, some of the gurukula boys skipped out of Bhagavatam class and were hiding and hanging out in the guest reception room at Bahulaban. The conversation turned to sex (a frequent topic during Bhagavatam class in those days), and some of the older boys demonstrated how they could get an erection. Samba, who was only about nine years old, happened to be with them. Suddenly and unexpectedly Kuladri walked in and immediately reported their activities to Kirtanananda. Most of the boys received light to medium reprimands, but Samba was very severely punished personally by Kirtanananda, who instructed the youngster to select a whipping switch from the bushes behind the grey house by the Palace, which Kirtanananda used to beat the boy. The chastisement was swift and painful. Kirtanananda obviously had very high aspirations for Samba and he disciplined him strictly. He intended to raise the boy to become a great brahmachari, and to fulfill Prabhupada’s prophesy that Samba would mature into a powerful preacher who would “defeat all the mayavadis.” [44]

Samba said:I lived at the New Vrindaban Community from the age of six until about sixteen. My father and mother were separated when I was five years old [1975]. Bhaktipada was more of a stepfather to me,  took care of me, because my regular father . . . wasn’t there. I didn’t have a father. My father wasn’t around much. Bhaktipada treated me like a father. He never molested me. Nothing close.” [45]

One devotee affirmed: “The relationship between Kirtanananda Swami and Samba was like that of an affectionate father. They slept in the same room. Sometimes in the same sleeping bag.”

Kuladri clarified: “Kirtanananda had a rubber mat on the floor, and he had open sleeping bags as quilts on those mats. They didn’t sleep IN the same sleeping bag. It was a sleeping bag opened up on the mat.” [46]

Kirtanananda would sometimes publicly tickle the boy, even in the crotch: “Kirtanananda had a habit of tickling the boy, and not really making an effort of concealing from people around him that he would tickle him sometimes in the ribs and armpits, sometimes on the bottom of the feet, behind the knees, and it was my observation that more often than not he would end up tickling him in the crotch.” [47]

Some considered this evidence that Kirtanananda molested Samba: (1) they sometimes slept under the same sleeping bag, and (2) sometimes Kirtanananda tickled the boy in the crotch. But the former is hardly proof of child molestation. Many children like to sleep with their parents. When my own son was little he liked to sleep in the same bed with me. He appreciated the security of being close to a loving and protective parent. And tickling in public? I witnessed this tickling at least once and there were certainly no erotic overtones. It was just plain fun in my opinion. Samba certainly enjoyed it, and so did I. Actually I was a little jealous of Samba, getting all that attention from Kirtanananda Swami.

Kirtanananda certainly molested other boys, but I am convinced he did not touch Hayagriva’s son. I am sorry to report that Sulochan’s allegations have caused much distress to Samba, and the resultant stigma from this rumor unfortunately persists even today after more than two decades. However many of Sulochan’s other allegations have been proven in time.

Sulochan concludes Kirtanananda is a “rogue,” “a pseudo-religionist,” and “nothing but a sense gratifier.”

Sulochan concluded his chapter about Kirtanananda:

So the conclusion is that Kirtanananda has not been purified by his career in Krishna consciousness. This is because his motive was not to serve Prabhupada, but to use Prabhupada’s legacy to further his own guru business. One cannot make spiritual advancement by such thinking. Krishna is no fool. He knows everyone’s heart perfectly. Eventually everyone has got to pay. Prabhupada sums up the position of these “gurus” very lucidly as follows:

“By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. (1) In this way they pass as spiritual master (2) and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles (3) have no respect (4) for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. To mislead the people in general, they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas (5).

“These rogues are the most dangerous elements (6) in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment (7) by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in Bhagavad-gita (16.19-20) that envious demons (8) in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell. Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo-religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after completion of their spiritual master business (9), which they conduct simply for sense gratification (10).” (Sri Isopanisad 12)

From reading the early letters about the character of Kirtanananda, and interviewing several dozen devotees who have been burned by him, we can easily see that this above description is actually a description of Kirtanananda. Here are some of the reasons why this is so:

1. Kirtanananda is a drug dealer. He passes women around amongst his workers as though they were all whores. He does not recognize anyone as a Godbrother and has no respect for the rights of others. He directly tries to break up marriages if it furthers his own profit, adoration and distinction. Whether or not he is still engaged in homosexual activities will all come out in due course of time. There is strong indication that he is.

2. He always wanted to be a spiritual master. Even before joining ISKCON he was the guru in his local clique of friends, most of whom were also homosexual. He was into black magic. This combination earned him the title “Weird Keith.” After meeting Prabhupada he only waited one year before trying to usurp Prabhupada’s movement. He actually attempted to legally keep Prabhupada from entering the country. Even after he so-called came back, there are numerous instances where he was exposed as attempting to surpass Prabhupada. Now he is fully engrossed in posing as a spiritual master. Prabhupada directly stated in one letter that “he wants to be a spiritual master by disobeying his spiritual master.”

3. For a sannyasi, the first regulative principle is to not have any connection with women. Kirtanananda violates that principle constantly. He goes so far as to say that all women have an eternal relationship with him, but that their husbands are not important. This preaching is not only a violation, but it is Ravana philosophy. Actually it is worse. At least Ravana wanted to enjoy the women himself. Kirtanananda thinks women smell like fish. He steals women for the money they bring in and to pass around amongst his workers. A sannyasi is supposed to know sastra. Kirtanananda does not know sastra at all which is why he seldom quotes it. It is even rumored that he has not read all of Prabhupada’s books. But he constantly concocts statements and policies such as putting a crown on Prabhupada, authorizing women to have sex with the sankirtana leader, authorizing an abortion in an underage girl (because of the previous policy), etc. (Appendix 12)

4. Prabhupada stated that Kirtanananda thinks guru and sastra are tyranny. That means no respect. Why should we think that he changed?

5. Prabhupada set certain standards of moral behavior, compassion, honesty, etc. Kirtanananda does not follow those standards. For example Prabhupada was very compassionate and thoughtful not to interfere in marriages. He always told the women to be fully devoted to their husbands. Kirtanananda openly tells the women to fully devote themselves to himself, even if it means totally neglecting the husband and children. In this way he controls the women and so naturally the husbands have to stay there also.

6. There are many dangerous elements in society. Thieves, rapists, murderers, etc. But here Prabhupada says that the most dangerous are those who exploit others in the name of religion. They are the most dangerous because they hurt people in the deepest way possible—their souls. This world has only one purpose; to teach people to surrender to God. When society is infested with rogues posing as saints, that stops the progress of human life. Thus most people are not inclined to trust anyone.

7. Since the government is demoniac, the demoniac “gurus” also escape punishment. But even the GBC falls in the category of a Godless government. They have allowed these “rogues” to remain in their positions even after having been exposed. For example the GBC determined that Kirtanananda interfered with, and destroyed the marriage of Sulochan dasa. But because the GBC is essentially a Godless body, the GBC had no potency to rectify Kirtanananda and return Sulochan’s sons to him. Thus he escaped punishment.

8. Here Prabhupada uses terminology that scares the sentimentalists who permeate ISKCON half to death. We have hardly met a devotee who has the guts to call a spade a spade. But the fact is, the current gurus, and especially Kirtanananda are nothing but envious demons as described above. If they were ever sincere, that remains to be seen.

9. The guru business is certainly lucrative. There is no need to go into the details of how the “gurus” have stuffed their pockets with money and luxuries. It is all too well known. Not a single one of them has even the slightest concept of simple living or austerity anymore. They claim they are beyond all that.

10. As of this writing it is unknown what different kinds of sense gratification Kirtanananda enjoys aside from the profit, adoration, and distinction. For some reason, the GBC always waits for the sense gratification to hit the lower levels before they recognize that the “guru” is actually nothing but a sense-gratifier.

Abuses of power by gurus common in ISKCON.

Sulochan was not the only ISKCON devotee who believed that Kirtanananda Swami and the other initiating gurus were unauthorized pretenders. Many hundreds of Prabhupada’s disciples left ISKCON between 1978 and 1985 because they felt that Prabhupada’s pure mission had become corrupted by the eleven new gurus. E. Burke Rochford, Jr., wrote: [48]

An unknown but significant number of Prabhupada devotees left ISKCON because they believed ISKCON’s leaders had forsaken the mission of their spiritual master to preach Krishna Consciousness. . . . The ideological work of the leaders could be understood as no more than self-serving rationalizations. . . . Other devotees began to organize themselves to protest the movement’s reorganizational policies—in particular the guru system. Instead of simply questioning the spiritual and organizational abilities of specific gurus, however, the dissident elements within ISKCON and the growing contingent of ex-members overtly challenged both the legitimacy of the guru system and Prabhupada’s supposed appointment of the gurus to their position. Virtually without exception, those protesting against the guru system were disciples of Srila Prabhupada who felt that Prabhupada’s role as spiritual leader of the movement had been weakened by the policies initiated by the new gurus. . . . Many devotees had been reluctant from the beginning to accept the legitimacy or the claimed spiritual status of the new gurus, because prior to their elevation they had had equal standing with them. Many of Prabhupada’s disciples found it difficult to take seriously the claim that their Godbrothers, whom they often knew rather intimately, were now “realized souls,” pure in their Krishna Consciousness, and capable of teaching others the path to self-realization.

Before Prabhupada passed away, he tried to avoid in ISKCON the mistakes which were committed in the Gaudiya Math, such as having one or two unqualified men attempt to usurp the position of acharya. In the Indian guru system, the acharya represented a prominent and traditional form of religious leadership in which a single, charismatic individual attracts others to him, and by a natural process an institution forms around him, which becomes a personal extension or embodiment of that individual. (Prabhupada often said that ISKCON was “his body.”) Therefore, Prabhupada created the Governing Body Commission in 1970 and specified in his will, dated June 4, 1977: “The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness.” Prabhupada said: “Your love for me will be shown by how much you cooperate to keep this institution together after I am gone.” [49]

Prabhupada recognized, however, that the guru-disciple relationship must continue, so he appointed eleven senior GBC men to initiate new devotees in his absence. However these eleven gurus formed their own coalition within the GBC and attempted to become like Prabhupada by installing their own vyasasans in their respective zonal temples and receiving worship far beyond their due according to their actual spiritual realization. The Gaudiya-Matha may have allowed two men to fight for the position of acharya within the organization, but ISKCON created eleven men who became “acharyas” for their respective zones, with the same relationship Prabhupada had for the whole of ISKCON, and so often alienated their godbrothers and fought amongst themselves for disciples and money.

These senior ISKCON leaders were young and immature; they had been completely dependent on Prabhupada for personal guidance. When Prabhupada passed away in 1977, Ramesvara was only 26 years old, Jayapataka was 28, Harikesh, Hridayananda and Jayatirtha were 29, Tamal Krishna was 31, Hansadutta was 36, Satsvarupa was 38, Kirtanananda—the eldest— was 40.

When Prabhupada departed, there was no senior Vaishnava within ISKCON who could advise them and mediate conflicts between them. The gurus used to visit Prabhupada’s elder godbrother in Mayapur, Sridhara Maharaj (1895-1988) and consult with him, but by 1982 so many ISKCON devotees had taken shelter from Sridhara that the GBC launched a rancorous propaganda program against him [50] and prohibited anyone from associating with him. After this, there was no senior Vaishnava to consult.

One friend of ISKCON described the immaturity of Prabhupada’s senior men and their lack of mature advisors: “Prabhupada had been 81 at the time of his departure, while few of his senior disciples were as old as 40. The gap between Prabhupada’s age and that of his disciples had been a significant factor in the authority he exercised over them and the willingness on their part to accept his authority. When he departed, the leadership role suddenly fell on a group of disciples who were all not only two generations younger but also all more or less the same age. Instead of accepting authority from an experienced devotee who was old enough to be their grandfather, the situation was now more like having one’s brothers in charge—with all of the possibilities for sibling rivalry that that opened up.” [51]

A guru-reform movement began in ISKCON to combat the abuses promulgated by the eleven so-called “acharyas” and to sanction limits on their powers and worship. Ravindra Svarupa was one of the leading spokesmen for this movement.

Bhaktipada: equal to Prabhupada.

Bhaktipada was at loggerheads with the guru-reform movement, as he believed that the worship of guru could not be limited or restricted. Bhaktipada considered the GBC to be merely an advisory board. Hridayananda Das Goswami summarized Bhaktipada’s philosophy of guru: [52]

After studying many relevant documents, I have summarized and will discuss Kirtanananda Swami’s basic thesis, as I perceive it, in four divisions, which are as follows:

(1) Kirtanananda Swami, and other similarly qualified gurus, are equal to and identical with Srila Prabhupada.

(2) Being equal to Prabhupada, present gurus deserve the same worship as that given to Srila Prabhupada.

(3) The GBC should merely advise the guru, who will follow if he is inspired.

(4) The unity of ISKCON is infinitely less important than purity, as envisioned by the enlightened guru.

I heard with my own ears Bhaktipada say to Panchadravida Swami during a New Vrindaban festival in the summer of 1983: “The GBC? Why should I care for the GBC? GBC means ‘Great Big Cow turd!’”

Bhaktipada considered himself the acharya of New Vrindaban and above the petty resolutions of the GBC. As such, he thought he was following in Prabhupada’s footsteps, for Prabhupada did not submit to the Gaudiya Math when they made demands, such as reserving the title “Prabhupada” only for Bhaktisiddhanta.

Factually, the Gaudiya-Vaishnava acharya has historically not been bound or restricted by an institution. ISKCON under Prabhupada (or the Gaudiya Math under Bhaktisiddhanta) was extremely autocratic, as is the entire discipular succession of Krishna consciousness. Devotees submit to the spiritual master, wives submit to husbands, and so on. An autocracy cannot work if there is more than one autocrat. Two or more will inevitably issue conflicting orders and cause chaos. Prabhupada knew that better than anyone. If he had intended to choose a new acharya to rule ISKCON, he would have chosen one, not eleven gurus.

The meaning of the word acharya in this connection is: “the spiritual head of an institution.” This meaning is very specific. It does not mean just anyone. It means only one who has been specifically declared by the previous acharya to be his successor above all others. He alone, among all of his godbrothers, is given a raised seat and special honor. He alone is the authority in all spiritual and material matters.

Professor J. Stillson Judah, author of Hare Krishna and the Counterculture, explained: “When they [ISKCON] made the gurus gods on earth, they made a tremendous mistake. Each [guru] could do no wrong, so each could do whatever he wanted to do. Each was free to define what was right. That’s called antinomianism. A religious figure believes he is empowered by God, so he believes he is above the law. He cannot be criticized, because he is a representative of God on earth.”

Ravindra Svarupa  explained: “When we got the gurus, we got eleven different ISKCONs. There were some real unfriendly tensions between the gurus right from the start. They [the gurus] propped each other up because if the power of one guru was threatened, they all felt threatened. But when somebody finally fell, they turned on him and destroyed him.”

Bhaktipada was only too glad to see the other ISKCON gurus fall down one by one. Eventually, he hoped, only he would remain as the sole authority and acharya for ISKCON. One Brijabasi remembered: “After Jayatirtha got kicked out [of ISKCON] for LSD and sex, Kirtanananda Swami said: ‘Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians,’ you know, thinking he would be the only one left in the end.” [53]

In 1985, the ISKCON guru reform movement had begun to initiate lasting changes. At the September Prabhupada Disciples’ Meeting at New Vrindaban, the GBC resolved that the individual temples could make changes as they saw fit, such as where the guru sits, the height of his seat, etc. By 1987, six of the original eleven gurus appointed to lead the movement in 1977 had either been expelled or forced to resign under fire from ISKCON reformers.

Ravindra Svarupa summarized his points in an essay titled Under My Order: Reflections on the Guru in ISKCON. He concluded that the zonal guru system was a mistake, the level of worship too high, and the gurus too powerful within the GBC. As a result of the reform meetings, the North American Governing Body commissioners made a list of resolutions to bring to Mayapur; they wanted to end the zonal acharya system as well as make it easier for other men to become official initiating ISKCON gurus.

Blessed Assurance.

Bhaktipada was adamantly opposed to any measures which would limit the absolute relationship between guru and disciple, or limit the amount of worship, such as the ceremony of guru-puja, which the disciple could offer to the spiritual master, and he boycotted the September 1985 New Vrindaban meetings, except only to read his recently drafted paper, On My Order, a retaliation to Ravindra Svarupa’s Under My Order. Bhaktipada’s paper, later published as a book, defended his position as an absolute guru and attempted to prove that he was the only qualified guru of the eleven.

Devamrita Swami was especially appreciative of Bhaktipada’s recognition of the absolute position of guru, and Krishna-ized several hymns to support his position, which the New Vrindaban choir sang at temple functions and recorded on their Blessed Assurance cassette. The title of this cassette was taken from the Krishna-ized hymn by Devamrita Swami of the same name: Blessed Assurance. [54]           

Blessed Assurance: Lyrics by Devamrita Swami

Blessed assurance, Krishna is mine!
I’ve taken shelter—what mercy divine!
Beyond salvation is love of God,
Child of my guru—he’ll lead me on.

Refrain: This is my story, this is my song:
Praising my Master all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song:
Offering guru-puja all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
A real disciple leaves darkness for light;
Knowledge descending, maya subsides,
Cherished instructions will turn the tide.

Determination to pass his test,
I, in my service, am happy and blest;
Hearing and chanting, reading his books,
Filled with his goodness, my head at his foot.

Sulochan files complaint.

Sulochan filed a complaint with the ISKCON Justice Department and a committee, including Rupanuga Das and Mukunda Swami, investigated his allegations leveled against Bhaktipada. The committee concluded that it was an “injudicious mistake” for Bhaktipada to initiate Sulochan’s wife as his disciple without her husband’s knowledge and permission. [55]

It was an injudicious mistake to initiate the wife of Sulochan das without his knowledge or voluntary acceptance. There is no evidence that he agreed with her initiation or actually recommended it to anyone that she be initiated. . . .

It is a matter of honest and judicious relations and good faith between Godbrothers that an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada be consulted before his wife is initiated by another Godbrother. . . . A husband and wife should be treated as one unit by spiritual authorities, not separately, even though either husband or wife may be having spiritual difficulties. . . .

The mistake or failure to do so [consult the husband before initiating a wife] should be acknowledged by Kirtanananda Maharaj.  Sulochan das should at once desist his attack upon Srila Bhaktipada and Srila Bhaktipada should in turn immediately arrange for Sulochan’s association with his two sons. That is our opinion.

Sulochan commented: “The reason they [the GBC] didn’t recommend that Ham return my wife as well is because he’d already allotted her to one of his followers, Raghunath. That was the reason Ham couldn’t heed their advice. He knew Jane would not tolerate losing her sons and at the same time, she was already pregnant by her new paramour. So Ham’s response was to bury his face in the sand and hope I would just go away.” [56]

The committee also noted that Sulochan’s “unsubstantiated allegations” about molesting boys and other crimes against Bhaktipada were “blasphemous” to the highest degree. [57]

The allegations made . . . in letters and papers distributed widely in ISKCON, have merely served to demean, slander and blaspheme the character of Srila Bhaktipada in a manner unprecedented in ISKCON. Such unsubstantiated allegations, especially when accompanied with blasphemy, are clearly Vaishnava aparada [offenses] to the highest degree. . . . Thus any complaint, legitimate or not, becomes distasteful and disgusting to one’s brahminical sense when overshadowed by blasphemy and invective. Sulochan Das should, therefore, seek forgiveness from Srila Bhaktipada for his offenses.

At first, the New Vrindaban community leaders seemed not to take Sulochan’s exposé seriously and neither did ISKCON in general. However, when Sulochan threatened to mail out a 100-page statement of accusations (including testimony from former New Vrindaban parents about sexual child molestation) along with a threat that the entire statement will be released to the press, Bhaktipada became alarmed and requested that the GBC take measures to stop Sulochan’s threats.

Sulochan sent a few pages of his exposé to Bhaktipada and issued a challenge to debate: [58]

From the enclosed first few pages of my exposé and challenge to you [at debate] I would hope that you will start to realize that you stepped on the wrong person when you stepped on me. . . . This book and challenge, totaling approximately one hundred pages, will be mass mailed out on April 8th if the following does not happen first:

1)  You, Kuladri, Dharmatma, Dulal Chandra and anyone who supports you resign and go somewhere else. As Prabhupada said to you on 10/16/67, “anywhere you like, but not within the walls of ISKCON.”

2)  You send a letter of resignation and apology to all the godbrothers you have grievously offended and a general letter of resignation and regret to all ISKCON temples.

3)  Radhanath, if he likes, be made temple president for the time being until a more suitable leader can be found. . . . [59]

4)  You humbly touch the feet of my wife and apologize for polluting her and beg her to leave your contaminated association and rejoin me. If that is unacceptable to her then she must live in California where I will have access to my sons. If that is also unacceptable to her then she must relinquish her relationship to my sons and you must send them out here to me with escort. She will then be free to follow you straight to hell if that’s what she wants.

5)  You send $10,000 for damages to the above address. Make the check payable to Steve Bryant.

I guarantee you will not have an ounce of respect left after this book is mailed out. But you may not care if you have any respect from ISKCON since you are no doubt already thinking of breaking from ISKCON. Therefore if you fail to comply with the above then the next stage is to send copies of this book to all the Indian journals which will destroy your tourist business and make a lot of Indians very mad.

You can’t imagine what this book contains. Keep in mind that during this time you will be losing more and more men since I will circulate the book at NV also. And I will also be finding out more and more about your illegal dealings. Finally in the end you will have only a few followers left and nothing else. But you know all this. Your astrologer told you this would happen many years ago. He even said that it would be caused by a woman (my wife).

Needless to say I am not going to just go away and you will not be able to find me to kill me for I am now working in complete seclusion. No one knows where I am. You had better put a guard on my sons or send my wife away for now. If one hair on the head of my boys is touched by you or your zombies I shudder to think of what you are going to get in return.

Bhaktipada threatens to resign from GBC if Sulochan is not silenced.

Bhaktipada was apparently not satisfied with the result of his request to have the GBC discredit Sulochan, and attempted to speed up the process by threatening to resign from the GBC. He wrote: [60]

My dear GBC Godbrothers. . . .

I am writing this letter of resignation to be effective immediately, because I do not believe anyone should sit on this august body about whose character there is even a shadow of a doubt.

As you are well aware, during the past few months, Sulochan Das has been spreading all manner of rumor and accusations about myself and New Vrindaban. Although I have tried my best to be very strict in my life and to guide the community by example, and, although it is a fact that I have not broken even one of the regulative principles in almost two decades, still there seems to be some question of my qualifications to lead. Nor do I feel any necessity to defend my life prior to coming to Krishna consciousness, as, according to shastra, the former life of a Vaishnava should never be taken into account. Furthermore, a Vaishnava does not want to defend himself, but sees all as Krishna’s special mercy upon him.

Still, as long as this matter is not completely resolved to the satisfaction of all, I think it best for me not to participate in the actions of the GBC. Let there be inquiry and investigation. If I am at fault, I pray to be corrected. If not, the mission of Lord Caitanya should not suffer needlessly due to gossip and envy.

At the March 1985 GBC meetings in Mayapur India, the ISKCON Privilege Committee agreed to hear and dispose of the matter. Tamal Krishna Goswami wrote: “My dear Privilege Committee Members, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. You may recall that in Mayapur we decided to take on, at the request of our esteemed Godbrother Srila Bhaktipada, the allegations against himself and the New Vrindaban community made by Sulochan Das. Balavanta Prabhu has informed me that Srila Bhaktipada has received a 100-page statement of accusations launched against himself from the same person attached with a threat that the entire statement will be released to the press. Balavanta Prabhu is informing Sulochan that the matter is now going to be heard and disposed of by the Privilege Committee. . . . In order to diffuse a possibly volatile matter, your prompt response is highly appreciated.” [61]

Prabhupada disciples’ meeting at New Vrindaban.

During September 1985, a conference was held at New Vrindaban to discuss relevant issues pertaining to ISKCON, such as the development of a constitution, expanding the number of gurus, discussing the role of the spiritual master within ISKCON, and evaluating the qualifications of current and future gurus. This conference was popularly known as the Prabhupada Disciples’ Meeting.

Sulochan had heard that members of the guru reform movement were coming to New Vrindaban to challenge the zonal acharya system, and he saw this as a positive incentive for change. He hoped the conference would be an “international inquisition,” and he wanted to assist by filing charges against various gurus from around the world, but especially against Bhaktipada.

Sulochan traveled to West Virginia, but as he was afraid to actually attend the conference personally due to legitimate concerns for his safety, he placed himself in protective custody with the Marshall County Sheriff. Sheriff Donald Bordenkircher said he felt it was “his duty to provide Sulochan with protection, as he would for any individual who claims to fear for his life.”

Sulochan’s former wife, Yamuna, countered, saying she was “scared to death that he will come here and try to steal my children and hurt us.” She called Sulochan “a wife beater” and “a child beater,” saying he was continually intoxicated and never regularly employed. “He . . . repeatedly forced me to have illicit sex, which is contrary to my religious vows. . . I think it’s odd that he wants police protection,” she said. “I want police protection if he comes here.” [62]

Yet Sulochan had good reason to fear for his safety; at this early date (even before Triyogi’s surprise assault on Bhaktipada), some New Vrindaban leaders had already discussed silencing him. One California devotee who attended the Prabhupada Disciples’ Meetings stated that when Sulochan’s name came up during conversation and it was mentioned that he had placed himself in protective custody at the Marshall County Jail, one high-ranking New Vrindaban leader boasted: “That guy should be afraid. There are 250 residents here looking to blow his head off.” [63]

Tirtha claimed that Hayagriva suggested to him that “someone should silence him once and for all.” [64]

Before Triyogi attacked and almost killed Bhaktipada . . . I had a conversation with Hayagriva about Sulochan. . . . It took place at Randall Gorby’s house at the behest of Gorby. . . .

They had in their possession one of the latest of Sulochan’s publications, a newsletter that he put out, and it was sort of a rambling dissertation of all of the compilation of rumors, smut, hearsay and whatever else he could get on Kirtanananda. . . . They were discussing it. Hayagriva said, “You know, this is getting serious. This is starting to disturb Bhaktipada and something has to be done about this. This guy is getting out of control. It would be nice if someone would silence him once and for all.”

I asked him, rather beating around the bush, I said, “Well . . . are you so sure that that’s what Kirtanananda wants?”

He said, “He’s very concerned and he’s to the point where he thinks something needs to be done about it, but he doesn’t want to have any direct involvement in it himself.”

The Story of a Cheater—the “real facts” about Sulochan.

Yamuna and her new husband wrote a six-page article titled “The Story of a Cheater: The Real Facts on the Sulochan Story” which was copied and distributed among the visiting devotees. Although most of the allegations in the paper were accurate, some were exaggerated or invented. Why did New Vrindaban authorities feel they needed to exaggerate or invent accusations to discredit Sulochan?

Sulochan claimed that his former wife could not have written the paper; she could not have even seen it, it was so outlandish: “This document is ninety percent false. . . . There is only one point in their paper that I feel ashamed about. That was my failure to love her son as if he were my own. . . . So even though I am not proud that I was unable to love Jane’s son as if he were my own, it is certainly an extreme exaggeration for her to say that I mistreated him.” [65]

Sulochan continued: “I never beat her hard or in anger. I used to slap her bottom one or twice if she didn’t learn a verse out of Bhagavad-gita every day, but she enjoyed that. She liked it. . . . I never hurt her. I got angry and tried to slap her on the face on two occasions years apart but both times I missed her. I never did it. I never wanted to. I just yelled at her. Physical fighting is against my nature. I never hit anyone. . . . I don’t remember once telling her I wanted her to take initiation. I told her lots of times that Kirtanananda was my favorite ISKCON devotee but that’s all I remember telling her.” [66]

Following are selected excerpts from the September 1985 article, and Yamuna’s revealing August 25, 2008 e-mail commentary:

Article: We should begin this story in 1979, in London, England. At that time Steve was living outside the London temple. His Krishna conscious sadhana was almost nil, and he was known to be associating with drug addicts. He was a steady movie-goer and a regular patron of the local pubs.

Yamuna: This is not true to my  knowledge. I don’t know where this came from. At the time that I met him he was attending the temple regularly, chanting his rounds and associating with devotees.

Article: Shortly after the marriage, they moved into an incense warehouse(?!), where she recalls being subjected to an endless series of his warped “trips” such as being physically beaten daily if she did not memorize a certain literary passage of his choosing.

Yamuna: This sounds rather drastic, as if he was beating me to a pulp. In fact he did hit me if I did not memorize the verses correctly, but not enough to cause physical injury.

Article:  “After some time, I became so totally repulsed by the guy,” Yamuna recalls, “that I didn’t want him anywhere near me.” Still, he would regularly force her to have sexual intercourse. In her own words, “He seemed sexually preoccupied, and frustrated.”

Yamuna: I wish this kind of detail had not been included. The fact was that he struggled to follow the strict standard set by Srila Prabhupada and sometimes was unsuccessful.

Article: At this time, Yamuna was going to the morning program practically every day, reading, and chanting her rounds, despite the overload of work that he placed upon her. He, on the other hand, went to mangala arotika only once a week, and HE NEVER READ ANY OF PRABHUPADA’S BOOKS as long as they were married, except when he was being paid to index them.

Yamuna: This would seem to indicate that he had never read Prabhupada’s books. However he was quite well-read and knowledgeable of the books, it was just that during the time of our marriage he was absorbed in business and was less inclined to be scholarly.

Article: In October, 1983, the motor home completed, he packed everything into it and headed east. During the two months that they lived in the motor home, Steve was almost always intoxicated on marijuana.

Yamuna: I don’t remember this.

Yamuna admitted: “This paper . . . appeared rather inflammatory against Sulochan’s character, which of course was the intention. The circumstances at the time need to be understood. Sulochan was threatening Bhaktipada, threatening the community and also threatening to take my children away from the community. This letter was an act of self-defense and an attempt to clarify some issues. In retrospect I think that Sulochan was not a bad person. In fact many people found him quite likeable. As his wife, somehow I got the raw end of things. I think that he was eccentric by nature, somewhat unstable and ungrounded, but had a good heart and was a sincere devotee. It is my opinion that he was very adversely affected by five years of heavy brahmachari training coupled with a father from a military background. These things combined together destroyed his ability to function as a sane husband.” [67]

During the Prabhupada Disciples’ Meetings Sulochan spent his time in protective custody on the telephone with reporters relating stories of New Vrindaban drug dealing, prostitution, and child abuse. He spoke of a GBC “hit list” and claimed he was the most wanted man on that list. From the safety of his jail cell, he called GBC leaders to demand that Kirtanananda be expelled.

Sulochan called Bhaktipada a “bogus swami,” and challenged him to a debate on the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, and the other Vedic scriptures. He said: “I guarantee he will not agree because he is not the least bit knowledgeable on either topic.” [68]

However, Sulochan’s aggressive strategy backfired; he was excommunicated from ISKCON for issuing death threats in “abhorrent, blasphemous language.” Sheriff Bordenkircher spoke with Sulochan for hours during his protective custody and told him he had little solid evidence. “I kept telling him, ‘Steve, you’ve got a beautiful story but no substance.’” [69]

Puranjana intercedes on Sulochan’s behalf.

When Radhanath Swami happened to take a trip to the Berkeley, California, ISKCON temple during October 1985 (during this time there was talk about New Vrindaban taking over the Berkeley temple from ISKCON), Sulochan’s friend Puranjana spoke with Radhanath and interceded on his behalf. A few days later, Puranjana explained to Sulochan: [70]

It seems that Radhanath Swami didn’t really realize how serious the problem was with your wife. But after I talked with him and explained that you were getting the testimonies of many former devotees from New Vrindaban and other ISKCON areas, and that this was going to be exposed soon unless some action was taken, he began to realize the significance of  the situation. . . .

[I spoke with Radhanath Swami for] four or five hours that first session, but I don’t think the impact of it really hit him until he got back to New Vrindaban. We had gone over a lot of the points you were making about New Vrindaban. That there were a lot of off things going on there. His reply was that they were all lies. That everybody was lying. All the disgruntled masses were just liars. I said that’s not so, that there were some very bona fide complaints. I said that if he was prepared to defend himself from all those statements to the media then he had nothing to worry about, but on the other hand if there was some genuineness to any of these complaints and problems, then they were definitely going to be in trouble.

So he phoned me two days after he left and he said, “Yes, I’ve thought about it, and I think this media thing will be a lot of trouble for us. I want to try and negotiate something now to resolve this so it doesn’t become a mass media issue.” He said that I should find out what your minimum demands were. . . .

So I conveyed to him that your minimum demands was just to get your children back, and . . . that you weren’t demanding money, or that Ham had to step down. You just wanted your children back and that’s it. I said that otherwise you would be forced to go to the media. So he said he would try to talk to your wife and see if she would be agreeable to anything at all and what she would be agreeable to. He was also going to talk to Kirtanananda. . . .

Then they called Atreya [71] on Sunday morning, which was just a couple days after I spoke with Radhanath. Atreya told me that Radhanath and Kirtanananda had both spoken extensively with him that morning. According to Atreya, they were going to try to work out some arrangement because Radhanath repeatedly said that you should have some access at least to your children. He agreed that for Jane to have full custody and for you to be totally cut out of the picture was unfair. Radhanath agreed to that when he was talking to me. So he conveyed to Atreya that perhaps we should bend a little bit and Sulochan can bend a little bit and maybe we can work some deal to where his children could be accessible to him.

Atreya told me that one of the things they discussed was having your wife live in California. Atreya wanted the three of us to sit down and discuss it and then make a proposal that was practical so we could convince Radhanath, Kirtanananda, and ultimately Jane that this was practical. . . . Either Radhanath or Kirtanananda Swami had proposed that your wife come and live here in Berkeley and you could live nearby somewhere and perhaps even her husband would come out with her.

Sulochan must have been greatly encouraged by this conversation with Puranjana. Perhaps his dream would materialize: he would be able to see his children again, have a relationship with them, and be part of their lives as they grew to adulthood. This thought undoubtedly was a source of great pleasure for him. However, one fateful event during October 1985 caused great concern for New Vrindaban residents, and forced them to reassess Sulochan’s tactics and carefully reconsider their tentative negotiations with him.

Puranjana concluded his conversation with Sulochan: “The idea was to remove Jane from New Vrindaban and put her and the kids closer to where you were. And then it was that afternoon that we got the call that Kirtanananda Swami had been attacked.” [72]


To be continued….

[1] “The pseudo religionists have neither knowledge nor detachment from material affairs, for most of them want to live in the golden shackles of material bondage under the shadow of philanthropic activities disguised as religious principles. By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. In this way they pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. They ignore the Vedic injunction acaryopasana—‘One must worship the acarya—and Krsna’s statement in the Bhagavad-gita (4.2) evam parampara-praptam, ‘This supreme science of God is received through the disciplic succession.’ Instead, to mislead the people in general they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas.

“These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in the Bhagavad-gita that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell (Bg. 16.19-20). Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification.”

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Sri Isopanisad,  mantra 12.

[2] The director of Palace operations and marketing from 1980 to 1985 wrote: “The top tour guides [at the Palace] were: Krishna Katha prabhu, Lajjavati Dasi, Jalakolahari prabhu, Rasavihari Devi Dasi, Damodar Das and Kanka Dasi, Sulocan Das along with Puru prabhu. There were others, but these were the best. They were given training and customer service training as well. Not just thrown out on the floor.”—Mahabuddhi Das, e-mail letter to the author (March 30, 2003).

[3] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam (7.11.29), purport.

[4] Srimad Bhagavatam (6.18.33-34).

[5] Srimad Bhagavatam (7.11.26-27).

[6] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam (9:3:10), purport.

[7] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Letter to Mr. Loy (November 7, 1972).

[8] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.50, Lecture, Los Angeles (December 27, 1973)

[9] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.43, Lecture, Vrindaban, (October 3, 1976).

[10] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Krishna Book 45, “Krishna Recovers the Son of His Teacher.”

[11] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 29, 2008).

[12] Raghunatha Das and Yamuna Dasi, “The Story of a Cheater: The Real Facts on the Sulocan Story,” manuscript (September 1985).

[13] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 29, 2008).

[14] Raghunatha Das and Yamuna Dasi, “The Story of a Cheater: The Real Facts on the Sulocan Story,” manuscript (September 1985).

[15] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[16] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[17] It should be noted that many faithful Brijabasis also did not follow the regulative principles. That in itself was no bar from living at New Vrindaban as a fringe devotee. But all Brijbasis had to surrender to Bhaktipada and his representatives.

[18] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[19] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[20] Raghunatha Das and Yamuna Dasi, “The Story of a Cheater: The Real Facts on the Sulocan Story,” manuscript (September 1985).

[21] Sulocan Das, offering in Sri Vyasa-Puja: The Most Blessed Event (September 3, 1984), 81.

[22] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 27, 2008).

[23] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 29, 2008).

[24] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[25] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (September 4, 2008).

[26] Sulocan Das, “GBC Findings,” 3.

[27] Sulocan Das, undated typewritten letter to “Dear Prabhus” (c. summer 1984).

[28] Yamuna Dasi, The Story of a Cheater—The Real Facts on the Sulocan Story (unpublished manuscript: September 18, 1985), 5.

[29] Sulocan Das, The Guru Business (unpublished manuscript: 1985), 1.

[30] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 29, 2008).

[31] Former gurukula boy, Hariscandra Das, conversation with the author, January 9, 2007.

[32] Sulocan, “Appendix 22, Rebuttal to the GBC Document on the Case: Sulocan verses Kirtanananda, On Women Taking Initiation by a New ‘Guru,’” 2.

[33] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 29, 2008).

[34] Sulocan Das, The Guru Business, 2, 3.

[35] Puranjana dasa, PADA History of ISKCON, “1985 SULOCHAN: David attacks Goliath” (ref: 1985 Sulocana, 04. Apr. 2000), accessed from on October 21, 2008. (

[36] Later Sulocan’s three-year-old son Nimai accidentally drowned in a New Vrindaban lake while playing with other youths on November 23, 1986. Bhaktipada said: “From a philosophical point of view, we could say that there was some bad karma in the family.”

[37] David Gold, After the Absolute: Real Life Adventures With a Backwoods Buddha (Writer’s Club Press: 2002), chapter 17.

[38] David Gold, After the Absolute: Real Life Adventures With a Backwoods Buddha (Writer’s Club Press: 2002), chapter 17.

[39] David Gold, After the Absolute: Real Life Adventures With a Backwoods Buddha (Writer’s Club Press: 2002), chapter 17.

[40] Nori Muster, Betrayal of the Spirit, (University of Illinois Press, Urbana: 1997), 124.

[41] Puranjana dasa, PADA History of ISKCON, “1985 SULOCHAN: David attacks Goliath” (ref: 1985 Sulocana, 04. Apr. 2000), accessed from on October 21, 2008. (

[42] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, cited by Parambrahma Das, “Hawaiian Trip,” Brijabasi Spirit, vol. 2, no. 5 (February 2 and 9, 1975), 18.

[43] Back to Godhead printed the following eighteen poems and articles by, and interviews with Kirtanananda Swami:

1966 Vol 01, No 01, (untitled poem, no. 1)

1966 Vol 01, No 01, (untitled poem, no. 2)

1966 Vol 01, No 01, (untitled poem, no. 3)

1966 Vol 01, No 02, (untitled poem, no. 4)

1969 Vol 01, No 29, “Man’s Link to God”

1969 Vol 01, No 31, “Krishna’s Light vs. Maya’s Night”

1970 Vol 01, No 32, “Prasadam: Food for the Body, Food for the Soul and Food for God”

1970 Vol 01, No 33, “Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Part 1”

1970 Vol 01, No 34, “Contents of the Gita Summarized”

1970 Vol 01, No 35, “Karma-yoga—Perfection through Action, Part 3: Sankirtana”

1970 Vol 01, No 37, “Transcendental Knowledge, Part 4: He Is Transcendental”

1970 Vol 01, No 38, “Karma-yoga—Action in Krishna Consciousness, Part 5: Work in Devotion”

1970-1973 Vol 01, No 40, “Sankhya-yoga: Absorption in the Supreme”

1970-1973 Vol 01, No 41, “Knowledge of the Absolute: It Is Not a Cheap Thing”

1970-1973 Vol 01, No 42, “Attaining the Supreme: What Is Brahman?”

1974 Vol 01, No 66, “Turning Our Love Toward Krishna”

1977 Vol 12, No 12, “The Things Christ Had to Keep Secret”

1986 Vol 21, No 07, “The Heart’s Desire: How can we find happiness that is not purchased with our pain?”

[44] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, letter to Hayagriva (November 8, 1970).

[45] Samba Das, from trial transcript, cited by Halasz & Halasz, court reporters, “United States of America, Plaintiff, v. CR 90-87 Keith Gordon Ham, Terry Sheldon, Steven Fitzpatrick, New Vrindaban Community, Inc., Govardhan, Inc., Cathedral of Healing, Inc., Defendants, Before: Honorable  Robert R. Merhige, Jr., United States District Judge and a Jury, Day II (March 12, 1991), Martinsburg, West Virginia, 225, 226, 229.

[46] Kuladri, from trial transcript, cited by Halasz & Halasz, court reporters, “United States of America, Plaintiff, v. CR 90-87 Keith Gordon Ham, Terry Sheldon, Steven Fitzpatrick, New Vrindaban Community, Inc., Govardhan, Inc., Cathedral of Healing, Inc., Defendants, Before: Honorable  Robert R. Merhige, Jr., United States District Judge and a Jury, Day II (March 12, 1991), Martinsburg, West Virginia, 449.

[47] Vrindapati Das, from trial transcript, cited by Halasz & Halasz, court reporters, “United States of America, Plaintiff, v. CR 90-87 Keith Gordon Ham, Terry Sheldon, Steven Fitzpatrick, New Vrindaban Community, Inc., Govardhan, Inc., Cathedral of Healing, Inc., Defendants, Before: Honorable  Robert R. Merhige, Jr., United States District Judge and a Jury, Day II (March 12, 1991), Martinsburg, West Virginia, 237, 240.

[48] E. Burke Rochford, Jr., Hare Krishna in America (Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey: 1985), 209, 211, 236, 237.

[49] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, from a conversation with Tamal Krishna Goswami cited by Satsvarupa Das Goswami in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita, vol. 6 “Uniting Two Worlds,” 313.

[50] Purity Is the Force, Official GBC Publication (1982).

[51] Thomas J. Hopkins, “ISKCON’s Search for Self-Identity: Reflections by a Historian of Religion,” The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change, Graham Dywer and Richard J. Cole, editors (I. B. Tauris: 2007), 182-183.

[52] Hridayananda Das Goswami, untitled paper presented to the GBC body examining critical arguments directed toward ISKCON and the GBC by Kirtanananda Swami (February 13, 1986).

[53] Jim Vaughn, cited in “Interview with Jim Vaughn, November 7, 1985, Berkeley, California” by Sulocan Das (The Guru Business manuscript), 84.

[54] Music by Phoebe P. Knapp (1839-1908).

[55] Sulocan, “GBC Findings,” 4-5.

[56] Sulocan, “GBC Findings,” 6.

[57] Sulocan, “GBC Findings,” 4.

[58] Sulocan Das, letter to Kirtanananda Swami (May 30, 1985).

[59] Yamuna wrote: “I do know that RS and Sulocana were good friends before this whole thing went down.” Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (September 4, 2008).

[60] Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, letter written at Sri Krishna Balarama International Guest House, Vrindaban, India addressed to “My dear GBC Godbrothers” (February 22, 1985).

[61] Tamal Krishna Goswami, letter to members of the Privilege Committee (April 5, 1985).

[62] Donald Bordenkircher, Sulocan and Yamuna, cited by Kathy Kuskey in “Krishna Officials Claiming ‘Bitter’ Ex-Husband’s Charges Are Untrue,” Sunday News-Register (September 15, 1985), 11.

[63] High-ranking New Vrindaban leader, cited by anonymous California devotee in John Dart’s article “Killing Sparks Federal Probe of Krishna Sect,” Los Angeles Times (July 20, 1986), 3.

[64] Tirtha Swami, cited in Thomas Drescher Before the Federal Grand Jury for the Northern District of West Virginia Investigative Grand Jury, August 11, 1994, Wheeling, West Virginia, 47-49.

[65] Sulocan Das, “A Rebuttal to the smear sheet circulated by Kirtanananda (Keith Ham) about Sulocan Das, Sept. 16, 1985, at New Vrindaban, West Virginia, during a summit conference.”

[66] Sulocan Das, “Conversation with Puranjana and Ishvari regarding the recent smear sheet on Sulocan Das circulated by Keith Ham (Kirtanananda Das)” (September 27, 1985).

[67] Yamuna Dasi, e-mail letter to the author (August 25, 2008).

[68] Sulocan Das, cited in “Devotee Produces Statements to Back Wife Stealing Claim,” Wheeling News-Register (September 17, 1985), 2.

[69] Donald Bordenkircher, cited in The New York Times (August 19, 1986).

[70] Puranjana, cited in “Interview with Puranjana Das” (November 1, 1985), from Sulocan’s The Guru Business manuscript, 135.

[71] At this time Atreya Rishi Das was the GBC representative for northern California.

[72] Puranjana, cited in “Interview with Puranjana Das” (November 1, 1985), from Sulocan’s The Guru Business manuscript, 135.