01/04/98 - 1454

Bhavananda's Involvement Questioned

USA (VNN) - by Amala Bhakta dasa (see also VNN Story #1433, #1449)

Dear Chakra prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your news service. It was long overdue and I think it is serving a useful purpose by providing devotees information that they otherwise might not obtain--answers to questions that might otherwise be left in a cloud of doubt and uncertainty. So I commend you. Please continue in your useful work.

I am writing to you today in regard to the story you printed about Bhavananda prabhu. While I am heartened and happy to learn that he has returned to ISKCON, the Sydney temple in particular, to engage in devotional service, I wish to ask a few questions regarding this. Though it is certainly welcome news to know that Bhavananda prabhu is trying to rectify himself by performing basic devotional activities--chanting Hare Krsna, attending the morning program, and reading Srila Prabhupada's books--I question whether he should be allowed by our GBC authorities at this time to 1) live in the Sydney temple; 2) speak as a representative of ISKCON, even at a "Food For Life" gathering.

For example, if I had committed the many offenses against ISKCON (Srila Prabhupada, the GBC, all devotees) that Bhavananda had, and if, after leaving the movement for sometime, I later wanted to return to it and be accepted as a devotee in good standing, I would first want to do several important things to prove my seriousness and sincerity. Otherwise, it would appear that I regarded my past offenses as unimportant if not trivial and thus not even worthy of addressing. If this were my attitude, what would hinder or stop me from repeating the same offenses again? It is a fact that once a tendency is strongly established in one's mental makeup, unless it is overcome by an even stronger tendency, it may very likely repeat itself when a favorable circumstance arises.

Knowing this, what would I do?

Well, I would first try to understand the enormity of my offenses--how they caused so much distress to so many persons in terms of their loss of faith, hope, trust, and reputation. I would beg Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna to help me to feel the pain and agony that my offensive actions caused so many devotees. For only by deeply feeling their distresses could I hope to never again repeat such offenses. For it is only callous disregard born of thick ignorance that makes us commit them.

If, by Srila Prabhupada's and Lord Krishna's grace I was able to feel even a small amount of the pain I gave, I would then want to perform some kind of penance to atone for my offenses so as to remind myself never to commit them again. For voluntary discomfort pounds a deep impression into the mind and helps one to NOT forget. One might ask, "Isn't performing devotional service--chanting 16 rounds, morning program, etc.--enough "penance?" No, it isn't, for everyone who lives in a temple does that. It is expected of us, so it isn't something extra. But if I've offended many devotees, that requires more austerity than usual, else I will quickly forget my offenses and their ramifications, and I may possibly and unfortunately repeat them. A truly repentant person would rather die a million deaths before committing the same offense again. Junior Haridas, a sannyasi, amply demonstrated this by taking his own life--after Lord Caitanya had rejected him for talking frivolously with a woman.

So as a minimum, I would probably fast completely one day each week for as many years as I had been committing my offenses. I would then go to all the persons I had offended--including the GBC Body--and apologize by word and letter for the distress I had caused them, offer my full obeisances to them, beg for their forgiveness, and then ask them what I could do to make amends or compensate them. For I would owe them--and very much!-- thus I would want to, if possible, satisfy them. Didn't the redeemed Madhai say to someone who had thrown a stone at him, "In my pride of power I trampled everything sacred under foot. Will you now confer an inestimable obligation on me by trampling me under foot?" And didn't the offensive Durvasa Muni throw himself at the feet of Ambarisha Maharaja and beg for his forgiveness?

Only after I had done all of the above, and after I knew that a large majority of my godbrothers and former disciples had forgiven me, accepted me, and blessed me, would I consider moving into an ISKCON temple. And I would do so only after I had asked permission from the GBC body--not just one GBC member--and had received a majority of its blessings. I would want to be sure that they felt I was not a further threat to or burden on either ISKCON'S reputation or to some of the young men or even children in or around the temple. And regarding lecturing--anywhere, anyplace--I would not do so until I was in good standing with the GBC and ISKCON in general--in other words, until after I had LONG proven that I had overcome my tendency to commit base offenses and that there was no reason for anyone to be apprehensive about me anymore.


If he has, then I offer my obeisances to him and beg his forgiveness for even intimating herein that perhaps he had not--for thus far I, and many other devotees, have not heard that he had. But if he has NOT done all of the above, then it would appear that the principle of forgiveness in our society has become a somewhat cheap, insubstantial thing, and that as a result, we may be compromising the safety and well being of the young men in the Sydney temple as well as the reputation of Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON society--as we so carelessly and irresponsibly did some years ago. Shouldn't we learn from our past mistakes?

Yes, let there be forgiveness and forgetfulnes of Bhavananda prabhu's offenses, but only after Bhavananda prabhu has done the needful and demonstated that he is truly worthy of such forgiveness and forgetfulness. Only then can Bhavananda prabhu and ISKCON be benefitted.

But what does Bhavananda prabhu say on this matter? The ISKCON world is waiting to hear from him.

Your servant,

Amala-bhakta dasa



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