10/18/1998 - 2375 (See Related VNN Stories)
Badrinarayan's Statement Re Ram Parashar
USA (VNN) - by Badrinarayan dasa
Statement from the Chairman of the ISKCON GBC Badrinarayan dasa:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupad.
I am writing to you after the sad news that Ram Parashar's wife has miscarried their baby. I am also writing after reading the distorted versions posted at various e-mail news sites. This is indeed a very sad event, and we all feel grieved and sorry. Both Svavas prabhu (the LA temple president) and I have called Ram to offer our condolences and regrets that this distressing situation has now come to include this event.
At the same time, to be fair and lay out the full picture, we have been informed that while in India (during the second trimester of her pregnancy) or immediately upon returning to the USA, Ram's wife began to lose amniotic fluid and her family doctor recommended that she terminate the pregnancy. This confidential and personal information comes from a very reliable source. I regret having to include it here, but it does indicate that this baby was in a dire condition completely separate from the events in Los Angeles. That Ram and others would slant this family misfortune as leverage against the Los Angeles temple offers a sample of the ethics we have been dealing with here.
While we deeply regret this sad outcome, we also have to ask, "Where in all of this does Ram's share of responsibility come into the equation?" His actions and choices, his refusal to modify his behavior, his refusal to respect ISKCON's rights and duties, his refusal to settle this amicably when we offered the opportunity, all are at the heart of the tension and stress of this situation. (The fact that Ram was away at a rtvic convention in Alachua when his wife miscarried is also a noteworthy feature. It was the devotees in the community who took his wife to the hospital.)
What to do now? The natural and humane course would be to find a way to allow Ram's wife to recuperate and regain her strength before there is any question of moving, or for the LA temple to drop the case altogether.
One question to ask is "Why can't this be settled outside a court?"
We would gratefully have accepted that alternative but the problem has been in working out any reasonable resolution with Ram. From the very beginning we tried to answer his questions and resolve his difficulties, with Svavas, Virabahu prabhu, and myself meeting with him a number of times. When we could not resolve these personally, we tried to convince him to direct his complaints to proper channels and to keep his projects and fund raising separate from ISKCON arenas. When he refused to do that, we pointed out the unavoidable collision course his acts put us all on. Still, his questionable financial dealings and his steady drumbeat of unfair criticism of ISKCON did not stop.
Finally, after exhausting all other alternatives, we were forced to resort to our legal options. The case began early in the year, before the temple was aware that his wife was pregnant. Even during the course of the case we tried to settle it peacefully by offering to pay his legal fees and cover the costs of his moving. Ram Parashar adamantly refused.
As this tension turned to a legal confrontation, Ram Parashar brought in Joe Fedorowsky (Gupta dasa) into the case. Fedorowsky is the same attorney who has tried to deliver the BBT copyrights to Hamsadutta and public domain. Ram and Fedorowsky have tried to use this case as a means to revoke ISKCON's nonprofit status. They have alleged that the LA temple is a commercial enterprise, and therefore not entitled to the constitutional protection that affords religious organizations the right to select who lives and associates with them (which would have meant the temple could be sued for not renting to anyone off the street, including non-devotees eating meat etc.). They have also employed a number of expensive and unrelated tactics meant to harass and embarrass the temple.
Fedorowsky has admitted that their strategy is to generate extensive costs and increased legal complications for ISKCON LA, while fishing for whatever damage they hope they can cause the temple or ISKCON at large. They both have an agenda beyond simply Ram's stated desire to stay in that little apartment. (Fortunately, the judge in the case has firmly rejected all these arguments, but the expense and pressure remain.)
Even now, after their defeat in court, we have received notice Ram and Fedorowsky have requested the City of Los Angeles Housing Department open an investigation into ISKCON's exemption from rent control etc. Again, to a large degree, these attempts are frivolous, but they do cost time and money.
Suspending the judgment of the case, to grant Ram and his family time to recuperate, means that the whole case would have to be started again from the very beginning, once more allowing Ram and Fedorowsky to drain money and resources from the Los Angeles temple for what Fedoworsky has already admitted is a frivolous endeavor that they will eventually lose.
Svavas prabhu and the LA temple have tried to work with Ram. When he first arrived, Svavas arranged for him to have a temple apartment and gave Ram several months' rent for free as well as prasadam meals. The LA temple tried to incorporate Ram into their membership and preaching programs, but all with frustrating results and little or no appreciation from Ram's side. In spite of all good faith efforts, outside of wholesale surrender of our own principles and violating the LA temple's obligation to abide by ISKCON laws and standards, or on the other hand, a firm legal defeat for them, Fedorowsky and Ram will not stop their vendetta.
We will keep you posted.
One more note: Contrary to sensationalized reports, there are not waves of support for Ram from the Indian community. Due to years of strong Nam hatta programs, the greater part of the Indian community knows and respects Svavas and ISKCON. There is a very small minority for whom this situation has fueled already existing complaints about ISKCON etc. Those who have been on the scene and actually know the true history are aware that the LA temple has been extremely tolerant and has bent over backwards to try to work with and accomodate Ram. They know that it is by Ram's inappropriate actions alone that we have come to this position.
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