June 25, 2000 VNN6045 Comment on this story
Bhagavan das Letter To Plaintiffs
USA, Jun 25 (VNN) To the devotees whom it may concern,
I completed a paper, especially to the devotees in Europe some weeks ago. It was originally written as part of my healing process and later I was asked to present parts of it for further development to be published in the ICJ (ISKCON Communications Journal). I felt in light of my responsibilities to my former students and disciples and to those who served with me in Europe that I would share it with you as is, in this less than scholarly manner, solely for the purpose of healing the past.
It has not been written in response to the gurukula law suit recently filed.
At the same time, in one split moment, the entire world has been put on notice, that serious incidents of abuse have been inflicted upon many children raised in ISKCON. Many of these allegations may be sadly true. There should be no doubt that the truth will set us all free if it is exposed for the genuine healing of these deep and shameful wounds.
Unfortunately, some victims are banking their wounds as collateral for the use of a law firm that will get 45% of all their pain money. Some have no intention other than money, some are truly enraged by violations inflicted upon them. Some don't care if places of worship must be sold to satisfy both their material needs and their need for revenge and some, in spite of abuses also appreciate the lifelong benefits they received from ISKCON. They want to see, and rightly so, a just leadership emerge from this shameful debacle.
This reflection of hate, despise and greed has surfaced because it must.
Denial of any feeling or experience does not make it disappear. It only mutates into its opposite because of lack of love and acceptance. That the matter must now try to find resolve in the hands of lawyers is a sign of weakness and failure on many fronts. Because the bottom line truth of this case is simply financial punishment, there is hardly mention of the men or women who actually did the professed physical abuse because they may not have any money. It seems to me that revenge, laziness to work and support oneself, and a lack of motivation to face off with the actual perpetrators by placing all the blame on a movement, reflects an impotent mentality of these particular gurukulis.
I personally know many former gurukula students that also experienced abuse but who have gone on to make something of themselves besides being welfare cases. What is happening here is that these plaintiffs, consciously or unconsciously, are whoring out their wounds and the law firm is their pimp. Unlike the tobacco industry where there was an outright professional attempt to keep the public in ignorance, how to professionally deal with child abuse 25 years ago was an alien concept to most people and especially devotees who considered drinking coffee and tea an offense.
Since I am also named in this case as a defendant, I would like to hear from those accusing me if they actually want to heal or just cash in.
For your information, I left ISKCON to be with a mother whose children were violently abused in the LA gurukula. However we worked together to put this cretin in jail for 15 years. So if you feel I am somehow responsible for a part of your suffering, tell me personally how I am, and not through a pimp. I will help you by forming a committee whereby you can track down your perpetrators. If you are simply out to try and rape me and my children by going after my hard earned money, you have another thing coming.
Since I have been named as a defendant along with most former or present GBC's, I want to know where you stand now. Do you accept that nothing ultimately happens by chance? If you do, then if you receive good fortune it is because you have done good to others. If you have received pain and abuse you need to accept responsibility that somewhere in your past you have also committed abuse to someone else or even to many others. In that case, you are not totally innocent but are also one of the responsible parties. But perhaps because of your bad experience in ISKCON, you now take it that this life is all in all. Then good and bad, pleasure and pain, are all random occurrences, and so it makes no difference if you perpetrate the crimes committed on you to others. You can laugh guiltlessly all the way to the bank. Are you ready and happy to supply your lawyers and their families with an endless supply of beef in appreciation for their chivalry in your case? And make no mistake, the Turley law firm can certainly sell your case to other blood thirsty investors who will also profit from you and increase this fool's paradise of karma beyond your wildest imagination.
The possibility that you have not suffered by chance doesn't diminish the reality, horror, and injustice of the abuse you experienced. But the question put to you before the court should be, "Do you want to continue the cycle of abuse by destroying and taking from the life and genuine hard work of others?" I am not saying that there should be no financial assistance for those who need therapy and education to get their lives in order. But to become plunderers of others labor so you can retire on your wounded ass, is only going to cause more shit to rain on your face. The sins of the parents will again fall upon your children.
I have been asked on several major issues to mediate between ISKCON and its challengers, and I will offer my services to you to insure that you are heard and that justice is completed. Ultimately, you have drawn in abuse in order to arrive at the most difficult of all spiritual challenges and qualities- that of forgiveness. I am not proposing that forgiveness is anything cheap. Those responsible for the pain of others must fully recognize it, receive some reflection of the pain caused and genuinely beg for forgiveness. Then, if you really want wealth, the forgiveness that you bless your perpetrator with, will be an accomplishment in your spiritual journey that money could never buy. In this regard, I am in no way proposing a rubber stamp process.
Each case needs to be individually studied to see who the responsible parties are and to what extent they are responsible. This must include the parents, school authorities, ISKCON authorities, and the person(s) who did the abusive act. A board comprised of gurukula students, parents, ISKCON leaders, devotee organizations separate from ISKCON, therapists and ISKCON legal authorities, should decide what the appropriate rectification is. I also propose that the abused children male or female actually put on the boxing gloves. You should let out your rage and shame upon your abusers and at least draw second blood.
The perpetrators should hardly defend themselves so that they can experience what it is like to have pain inflicted upon someone who is defenseless. This would not be against the law.
I am offering to put my skills at your service instead of Mr. Turley's.
I will organize the GBC, presidents, parents, lawyers, therapists and private investigators if needed to find your abusers. You can pay me as you see fit for any compensation you receive and in turn I will, in front of the Deities, pledge the money for any project that the gurukula students decide as a group is righteous.
I am asking nothing less than those involved in this case to withdraw before more disaster is created. Mr. Turley will still be able to pay his mortgage without your donation to his slush fund. I am asking all gurukulis to communicate with those who are part of this case as well as those who want to do something to insure the future, which includes the reorganization of ISKCON itself. I call for a cessation of further violence, and a temporary if not permanent stepping down of anyone in ISKCON holding any position, including gurus, GBC's and presidents who have not yet made amends in the appropriate arena, with those who claim to have suffered under them.
There should be a new ISKCON GBC, small in number as Srila Prabhupada wanted, composed of qualified men and women, at least 5 from the ranks of the gurukula, the rest householders. Sanyassis should travel like Maharaja Parikit and see to it that no abuse exists in ISKCON.
I call for a spiritual and conscious resolution to an abominable material problem. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper I have written follows.
Yours in service, Bhagavandas
Gaura Purnima, 2000
To the wonderful devotees of Radha and Krsna who were disciples and students of mine, and to my guru godbrothers and sisters who I served with to accomplish many good things for God and Guru, and to the international family of Krsna bhaktas, I offer my greetings and respects.
To Srila Prabhupada, who has been the largest, deepest, longest influence upon my life in every way;
To the Supreme Personalities of Godhead, the Origin of my existence, I offer this communication and ask for Your blessings to heal where healing in needed.
It has been fourteen Gaura Purnimas since I removed myself from you.
Doors on every level - physical, emotional, and dharmic that once opened into rooms of tremendous activity and energy suddenly slammed shut. But along with forgetfulness, Krsna is also remembrance and in that territory I have never been separated from you, albeit through reminiscences of bliss we once shared or through recognition of the pain caused my unannounced, callous departure and the feelings of betrayal and deep lost love that still demands to be healed because of it.
Ultimately as God is Mother and Father of all, we remain forever brothers and sisters who can inherit Their divine grace to replace negativity with friendship and good will.
At times I have inspired and strengthened many of you. I have also disappointed, shocked, angered you to the point of rage, shook your faith, confused and abused your love.
At times I have protected and guided you and led you to many victories.
I have also left you weak, vulnerable and defeated.
At times we shared the greater sense of family and at other times that infinite and eternal family has seemed in practice, to be a fantasy or even a myth.
At times we had high minded dreams of each other but many nights and days I tormented you in sleep and waking.
At times both before and after Prabhupada's disappearance I have strengthened and unified his house and at other times I have caused it to scatter.
At times you were my life air and at times I felt my prana going out to so many that I had not the strength to breathe.
At times I have felt so much light coming through me that I thought I had no darkness and at times I felt such darkness I thought I had no light.
The Bhagavat says that a truly compassionate man feels the suffering of others as though it is his own. You have suffered because of me and I have lacked the compassion to own it. To all of you and especially my children, their mother and all those in the Yatras in my charge, I express my regrets at the silence I have maintained until now.
I have in effect exiled myself from you over these fourteen years. I have a responsibility to share my life with you for all that you have done for me and for all we have been through together. The pen has always been near but the understandings, strength, will, honesty, clarity, sensitivity, and humility have been in want to integrate. The times, with the arrival of this new millennium, portend an end to this exile. I pray that we can breathe in the Lotus fragrance of God and become competent to heal.
I have received letters from so many of you. In response to your inquiries, doubts, affection, criticisms, accusations, well wishes and overall desire to understand what happened, I endeavor here to be real in sharing myself with you, repentant to all who have suffered because of me and open to releasing us from the bondage of being frozen in time.
For the terribly long time that it has taken to write to you
For the times I interfered with your love, devotion and service to Srila Prabhupada
For the times I minimized your devotion and service
For the times I interfered with your personal relationships as husband and wife or parents to your children
For the times I confused your identity
For disturbing Prabhupada's awesome achievements
For the times I minimized you, thinking my feelings more important than yours
For the times I failed to acknowledge the importance of feelings
For the times I minimized you thinking my intelligence superior to yours
For the times that I judged you or those close to you
For the times I was sarcastic, abrasive or proud towards you
For the times I was arrogant towards you when you needed kindness
For the times I coerced instead of inspired you
For the times I asked you to engage in activities I did not do myself
For the times I was impatient with you
For the times I did not allow you to rest
For the times I lived more comfortably than you
For the times I did not give you my full attention
For leaving you with so much responsibility to hold together giant yatras, full of wounded hearts, without looking back
For imprinting the young children in the yatra, including my own with the shock of my departure
For putting my needs over yours
For not recognizing the ways you were all my teachers
For the times I made you surrender to my will against your own
For arranging marriages not done out of love and full consideration
For creating fear, guilt and uncertainty between women and men
For demanding and expecting worship and service
For expecting you to consider me without faults
For thinking of myself to be without faults
For stressing your dark sides more than your divinity
For seeing only divinity in myself
For not being more conscious protecting the children against abuse
For the times I shamed you into feeling fallen
For the times I talked at you
For the times I wasted, neglected, or lost opportunities, money, facilities and friends
For thinking the blessings went out only from me to you
For laughing at you and not with you
For not seeing where you were hurting
For desiring, demanding and controlling you in ways that led to a disempowering dependence on me
For making you take up space in the temple with exclusive seats
For inhibiting the natural flow of students and preceptors finding each other
For not better examining my own internal spiritual status
For the times I made you feel inadequate or insufficient when you tried your best
All of these transgressions of humility, honor, and position I now bring to conscious awareness. I offer this ocean of faults into the purifying fire of compassion and forgiveness of the high minded devotees, Sri Guru and our Divine Parents-Sri Radha and Sri Krsna.
I can't expect that the following responses to your inquiries will satisfy everyone or anyone. I am only sharing with you how I have processed my life's experiences so far, being as real as I am able.
A brief history with concomitant reflections
When Srila Prabhupada was in fact in his final days, I was 29 years old, the age of my oldest children today, and in full denial mode about the reality of his imminent departure. As devotees tend to see things in terms of lila, I remember being in the Vrndaban guest house and talking with Guru Krpa saying that Prabhupada was giving us an extraordinary opportunity to become closer to him and to train us how to fix the mind at death. However, I was confident and convinced that his energy would miraculously return just as he had recovered from his first heart attack on the Jaladutta and went on to create a world wide movement .
In my mind, this was not the time for our singularly qualified leader to be absent from ISKCON. With the Tenth Canto and Mayapur, the pinnacles of his drive still far from completion, it was inconceivable to me that he would cross the finish line of these projects vicariously.
His departure became somewhat more of a poignant reality when we had the now famous meeting in his room on May 28th, 1977. He began as you all know, by saying that he would name some to act as his officiating acaryas, to perform initiations on his behalf while he was alive and ended the short but highly consequential meeting by stressing the creation of his grand disciples, the disciples of his disciple that would be born in his absence.
I interject here that for me and I am sure for most anyone who came into Prabhupada's presence there was almost always an experience of genuine, blinding and overwhelming awe, especially seeing him so physically different than we had ever seen him before . I must admit that although it was our duty to clarify these very pivotal issues for posterity, to concentrate on asking him these terribly painful questions about what to do if he should no longer be present, was so spiritually borderline, repulsive and bizarre to me, that I found myself in an incredulous state of mind and not fully present. My respects go to Satsvarupa for that burden of responsibility.
What I gleaned from the meeting was as follows. Srila Prabhupada would name some older disciples most likely Satsvarupa and Kirtanananda to act as the officiating gurus to perform initiations on his behalf. In his absence they would take the new initiates as their own disciples.
Prabhupada had fully trained us that there would be no one acarya named but all would work under the Governing Body Commission. That was always a given .
Approximately six weeks later, came the letter of July 9th, 1977, approved and signed by our spiritual master. Based on this July 9th letter, we became, on his order, the officiating gurus who would give the spiritual names and final approval for Prabhupada's new initiates.
Since my first days as a temple president and GBC in Detroit, we were chanting on beads and performing initiations on his behalf. Later we also chanted the gayatri mantra for his new initiates. However, this signed order, officially began the momentum of how initiations would also proceed after his departure: "They are his disciples.....who is initiating..... he is grand-disciple......when I order....he becomes regular guru."
Now the bantering back and forth about the room conversation of May 28th and the letter July 9th will probably go on until all of Prabhupada's disciples die and have gone to the planet of the munis where souls are born with highly developed debate genes. Not that it matters to some, but for me, I took the appointment of "officiating guru" in the way Prabhupada said, ".... that is formality because in my presence one should not become guru." The argument is that Prabhupada never went beyond the order to become ritvik. And so it goes on and on..............At what point would the ritvik proponents think it appropriate to initiate their "own" disciples as Prabhupada did. Would it require a unanimous vote?
Then the inevitable occurred. In one momentous opening in Time, Srila Prabhupada was physically gone forever. Aside from receiving dreams or experiencing a direct resurrection, no more questions could be directly asked or answered. Now only researching through books, conversations and past history would be used to clarify or cloud the perseverate issues which to this day tear, torment and effect the reality of his dream - an expression of the Vikuntha sky here-a united house under which everyone has a sacred space and feels perfectly at home within our Parent's shelter;
where we are encouraged to know, understand and protect our uniqueness but are happy to share common ground with the whole;
where the community has such spiritual acumen that it is even strengthened by its differences and those differences needing to be resolved for the well being of all, become so;
where differences are accepted as noble challenges to the mind and heart causing us to stretch more and more for the blessings and help of the Goddess and Her Lord
where these differences become so blessed by the Touch of God, that they find resolution in a higher idea than the apparent opposing parts would allow
where a larger whole exists because expulsion is conspicuous by its absence;
where I don't judge someone who is further along than I am but I observe and learn from them
where I don't judge someone as behind me but I take responsibility to God to share wholesome information and celebrate when I am surpassed
where in the summum bonum of a life together, we become more and more capable and empowered to channel our Mother and Father's loving ways and so please Govinda and His Mate. eka bahu syam-The One God became many to expand the pleasure potency of the Supreme
and where the house is populated by countless individuals young and old, woman and man, who can feel both lower than a straw but know the power of being effectively connected to the Source;
where contempt, malice, hatred and fear, being too disgusting to hold on to, are abandoned and those who can not release that noxious energy find a shadow piece of real estate to build a shadow house to express shallow love
where the child can parent and be teacher to its parent
where by the good association of all, as fire brings out fire, the persona of both the guru/student that lies within everyone manifests, making the earth and the movements on her, ISKCON included, a better, safer, higher place to live and serve our Lords as finer friends, parents, lovers, students, teachers, disciples and gurus.
This is what I see Prabhupada, in his own humility, wanted to stand for and what I saw as the Truth in him. This is my vision of the atmosphere he wanted to create with us and within us. Through him, I understood that as parts and parcels, it is the presence of the divine even within the "demon", that is forever longed for by God and furthermore ordered by the guru to manifest and ignite in each of us.
On being a guru
To the degree that light or enlightenment manifests, it must be shared.
This was Prabhupada's great example. The awakening of divinity from one soul to another is the job description of a guru, however s/he might be classified. This light doesn't require to be labeled as kanista, madhyam or otherwise. It doesn't even require as Jesus showed, to be recognized at all. It simply does its natural good works to the degree it is able- sometimes until there is no more resistance to it or sometimes until it becomes covered and overwhelmed by internal or external denial. Even if it manifests for a moment and is struck down like Jatayu, it is of historical importance in the history of the healing of the earth and its progress towards the light of God.
Abuse of power initiates the disempowerment of others for one's own gain, and is the job description of the shadow guru. Shadow gurus are served by shadow adepts. They have an appetite for each other's mundane egos. Together they successfully make the world more toxic.
It is sad to see so much disrespect, negativity, and hatred between those who profess to follow and worship Krsna, the high minded Victor of Kurusketra and the Exciter of the gopis. There have been arsons where temples and books have been burned, beatings, libelous diatribes, court battles where hundreds of thousands of dollars of Prabhupadas funds have been wasted for him, and even murders have gone down amongst the SFK (Shadow Fighters for Krsna) sometimes also referred to as SFP (Shadow Fighters for Prabhupada). The result of confusing self righteousness with righteousness has been a sickening waste of energy.
I do not believe for a moment that Prabhupada ever intended to take on disciples after his disappearance i.e. that the officiating ritvik acaryas would continue to increase the number of names in his "initiated disciple book". I do not believe he expected a guru pageant where ones spirituality got '10' for being an uttama, and could then initiate and have his or her "own" disciples. As a new parent is expected to evolve to be able to liberate the child, as a new husband and wife are expected to evolve to liberate each other, as friends evolve to enlighten each other, so I believe Prabhupada expected the "new" gurus and their disciples to evolve together in Krsna Consciousness. Is having a child is any less of a responsibility than initiating one's own disciples?
Because in our line the siksa guru is held as most significant and because Srila Prabhupada is the siksa guru for all time for the movement he founded, my understanding was that all initiates naturally claimed Prabhupada as their siksa guru and were his "grand disciples" as well.
Just as Prabhupada created temple presidents to manage temples, brahmanas and sanyassis to set spiritual standards, a GBC to honorably govern a world wide movement, treasurers to protect the funds, husbands and wives to protect children etc. he wanted an army of gurus to inspire devotees through the diksa process and continue doing what he did-preach, print books, establish temples and complete his major projects such as Mayapur, while maintaining the present ones. My experience with Prabhupada was that he held high hopes and gave responsibilities, both spiritual and practical that we would have to grow into. When someone stumbled or fell he brushed them off and at times gave them even more responsibility. When even God himself received wounds that Hanuman needed to heal for Him, what to speak of the inevitability of our being wounded?
I believe that after his disappearance Prabhupada wanted and expected as many of his disciples, all if possible, to put their spiritual resources on the line and personally send at least one soul back to Godhead.
How did the idea of zonal acarya develop?
This idea first came from Prabhupada's plan that the those wanting to take initiation from him should contact the officiating, ritvik acarya who was "nearby". (".........you divide, who is nearest.") From there, after his disappearance, the ritviks, who under GBC auspices could accept disciples, began by accepting initiates closest to them. The problem came when there was force and not bhakti that directed who they should take initiation from, much the same as when a devotee was pressured to do a service s/he was not inclined to do.
Where did things go wrong?
I do not believe the problem will be understood or resolved in the dialectic of ritvik and diksa initiators, but in the arena of how to deal with abuse of power. This is the reason why gurus, husbands, GBCs, presidents, wives, treasurers, sankirtana party leaders, teachers, and anyone in a position of authority can create pain, chaos, confusion, disharmony and even death with those close or subordinate to them.
How did abuse of power manifest with the initiating guru's and with the "zonal acarya" system?
By not allowing prospective disciples to chose an initiating guru of their choice pressuring or manipulating them to take initiation from the local or zonal guru.
By insufficient self examination as to how taking on disciples was effecting one's spiritual growth. A more honest and accurate understanding of one's true motivation, i.e. is it out of a genuine sense of responsibility to Srila Prabhupada or was it for prestige, convenience, money, power, etc?.
By waiting too long to expand the numbers who could initiate thereby creating an environment of exclusivity
By starting off too soon with separate daily guru puja's which made many feel uncomfortable having just lost Srila Prabhupada
By insufficient communication with temple or zonal elders as to how to most effectively and sensitively carry out initiations.
By making godbrothers and sisters feel obliged to show an inordinate degree of respect
By expelling godbrothers and sisters who wouldn't cooperate operate with a certain guru-GBC's mood.
By skimming profit (daksina), adoration and distinction that was earmarked for Godhead
By presenting oneself as beyond fault or fall down when even the demigods from Brahman to Indra at times shamed themselves in front of Krsna and their guru
By combining and accumulating positions, like merit badges, and becoming effected by self importance
What would I do differently?
Having gone through many bouts of anger and frustration with myself and even with Prabhupada, the answer is simple and without hesitation. I would be very responsible to ask and receive detailed answers from him as to how initiations and acknowledgment of one's guru best take place so as not to be a cause of contention, disruption and animosity within the society. With the disappearance of Prabhupada, this of course is only a fantasy.
One can always quote that vapu is less important than vani but after two successive movements- the Gaudia Math and ISKCON, lie largely dismembered because of failure to get the words and music right to the "ballad of the guru and disciple", relying on the intellectual prowess of scholars (some of whom have hardly risked anything in their lives in missionary activities), to put the pieces back together, seems quite ludicrous.
Prabhupada in essence was the CEO of a large international corporation from which he was about to permanently retire. All details should have been in place if the CEO was no longer to be present on a day to day basis to clarify and resolve problems. The process of taking initiation is probably the greatest inspiration for an individual in evolving their service efforts within ISKCON. A serious gap in detailed information about how to assume the role of a guru within ISKCON was left which has turned into a full on bible quoting Catholic-Protestant septic schism.
Having recently reread the Declaration of Will of June 4th, 1977 of which I signed as a witness and the Will codicil of November 5th, 1977, I stand amazed that more space, detail and clarity was given to issues of property and how 1,000 Rs ($75) was to be divided amongst potentially dissident family members than how to perform initiations and have multiple gurus in the face of a potentially large number of dissident members of the ISKCON family. How we allowed these final moments of his personal presence to slip by without milking more detailed answers to quintessential questions needed for the future peace of his spiritual corporation, will always haunt me.
The Guru disciple connection
I believe that an honest and open self analysis between a guru and his/her disciple is essential for all parties to assist each other in growth. It has so far been the way for a disciple to be open and honest about his/her present state of being before his teacher or spiritual master. However, spiritual master in an open expression of humility can also reveal how he/she is focusing on a particular part of themselves that they want to refine for Krsna whether it be an aspect of service, a question about shastra, even a fine line of ego or an unexpected twist of an anartha that needs to be cleared. This would not have to compromise respect or the power of their relationship. A spiritual master is the disciple's leader and hero in the great battle of conquering over resistance to God.
A guru should welcome disciples into his/her life that bring inspiration, and challenge the preceptor to become more aware and closer to Radha Krsna in order to serve that disciple. The disciple can be the guru's hero in the great battle of conquering over resistance to God. A disciple must see in his/her master someone whom they feel is significantly further along the path to Godhead and who holds more keys than others to help regain their spiritual power.
Why I left and what I regret
I never thought I would leave ISKCON or your association. As the universe is composed of many layers, so to understand why, how and when devotees remove themselves, leaving one universe and moving to another is not so simple and should not be rubber stamped and cast into the 'fall down file'. I have found in my personal healing process that whenever I have some enlightenment it is followed by an opportunity to go deeper into wounds that I didn't have the strength or vision to face before. As the BTG logo states "where there is light there is no darkness." At the same time, because light shines in some parts of us it doesn't exclude the reality that darkness can exist somewhere else.
And conversely, because darkness exists in some parts doesn't prohibit light from emanating in other parts.
The question arises, should one initiate disciples and should someone take a guru who is still doing internal work? This is a matter of intelligence and love. It is possible that both teacher and student grow higher and higher together and this I believe is what Prabhupada hoped would take place after his departure.
On one layer or level I left because of a woman. On another layer I left because the internal balance of my female and male energies (yin and yang) was not balanced and needed to be. As qualitative parts and parcels of the Supreme, we possess both the God and Goddess natures.
Being in touch with these energies and knowing how to express their glory is an important part of growth and self realization. To deny an eternal part of ourselves, which is half of who we are keeps us from loving God with all of who we are. The way I have entered relationships, misunderstood women, been unable to give myself to my partners and even my children were some of the manifestations of this imbalance of yin. To establish this balance has been and remains an arduous but necessary process for me.
I deeply regret that my process of coming to wholeness has left so many broken hearts especially amongst those who were disciples, close friends and partners. My lack of ability at the time of my leaving ISKCON to describe what I was about to do or go through and leave you more gracefully, respectfully and nobly has been a great burden to me. I hope this writing will assuage the pain and disruption of the past, and free negative energy that has been stuck for too long.
On the sacredness of sexuality
I would say that the issue/question of guiltless sexual expression at least within a marriage for those practicing bhaktiyoga is as unsettled and unclear as the rtvik/ guru controversy. The amount of guilt, negativity, fear and overall feelings of how low, animalistic and dirty sex is, is somewhat of a trademark of ISKCONites.
For an "initiated" devotee and disciple can sexual expression with their (bhakti)yoga partner (husband/wife), outside of procreation be an act of devotion without being condemned as being sahajya, unfaithful to God and guru, mundane love, sense gratification, or at best a necessary mundane duty? Are the methods of tantra outside the realm of "dovetailing" energies for connection to the Supreme?
Can meaningful prayer and healing with our partner and God be what is conceived during lovemaking? Is marriage only a "legal" arena to scratch the annoying itch of sexual energy? Is it only the woman who is like fire and does the man always have to be the butter? The female should be a man's shakti and initiate him into higher states of holiness and awareness with her sexuality not degrade him. Lovers are not to be judged as sense gratifiers. They are also meant to be servants of the Truth. Why should pictures of God and His Goddess be banned in a place where physical love is being practiced as an act of meditation worship and yoga?
We have regularly heard about the dangers of being lost in the rapids of lust. In this world of duality the coin of every activity has a head and a tail, a safe or dangerous way to be driven and a right or wrong use of wilI. Is the only right use of physical love between a man and woman to either abstain or procreate? I personally don't hold the belief now nor would I teach it to my children that sexual union other than for procreation must always be relegated to the realms of immaturity and tolerated like a fly that needs to be chased away or squashed. Physical love does not by its nature necessitate excluding God. In reality Krsna can never be excluded from anywhere in His creation because of the Lord's omnipotence. What makes sex illicit is lack of love for one's partner and lack of dependence on God .
Although I have certainly had my collisions in learning to work with second chakra forces, I have also been rewarded with a deep respect of how this energy opens doors to healing oneself, one's partner and one's wounded relationship with God. Sexuality is a gift that must be respected. Being a part and parcel of the Supreme, it is intrinsic to the soul. The devotional mysticism inherent in sexuality needs to be lifted out of the netherworlds where it has sunk in the waters of shame and guilt pushed down by the demons of greed and separatism.
Like eating, work, sacrifice or any ritual, the common element between a sexual and spiritual experience is consciousness. Tantra can hold a key of how to alter consciousness towards the desirable state of devotional mysticism rather than forgetfulness. Without becoming sahajya the sexual experience can transform the individual partners into divine lovers who have a deeply spiritual, healing and mystical experiences that increases rather than decreases their light.
On women and children
For thousands of years male domination through religion and politics have been the way on earth. Deep distrust of the female needs to be moved and removed. Within ISKCON there has definitely been a patriarchal or yang proclivity to dominate. The female has hardly been recognized as being equally powerful and essential for success and completion either in the process of self realization or practical management. There has been much fear covered by anger and resentment towards women, and I have been party to this maligned thought process.
I offer my deep apologies for the belittling of women, family and the female nature that I have been responsible for.
The one obvious, acceptable opening for sexual union, to have elevated children, unfortunately also has carried the stigma and fear of overattachment. To further purify the sexual act subsequent detachment was introduced through the gurukula system. To better love Krsna, parents and children were thought to be better off if children were raised by surrogate parents in the ashram. Even Prabhupada never went through such separation from his parents. Having ashram teachers many of whom never had children of their own, were sexually out of sync with themselves, never had psychological training nor were educated in counseling, created a formula for disaster. Today one result of this debacle is a hate reflection by some former "gurukulis" to get even for past abuses by going after the assets of the temples.
I suggest that ISKCON take responsibility for these victims of abuse by arranging a full on meeting with qualified mediators, therapists and counselors present. All parties involved- children, parents and the abusers themselves need to confront each other and get out face to face the shame and trauma that does not go away until it is brought to full exposure. The alternative is to arrange meetings between lawyers who get paid to do the work everyone else is supposed to do. To go after temples is nothing less than victims of abuse becoming abusive themselves, most likely because they were never heard or recognized. It is a common understanding amongst child psychologists that an abused child will more than likely perform abuse to others .
On ISKCON management
Good management rests on being fresh and in touch with what is going on in all departments. Inspiration and enthusiasm gets much more accomplished than rules and resolutions which have their place but can never replace an inspired, conscious leader. However, to stay in one position for life can be like a death sentence unless there are new frontiers and projects to challenge a leader's talents, abilities and dependence on God. Too often fear of loss of position can make one reactionary to change, when new blood could better serve the situation.
To be enthusiastic even in major changes in life and position was the great example set by Sri Ramachandra. One of Prabhupada's favorate pleasures was when his disciples went into a new territory, especially one that fully tested ones progress, and established a new community of devotees.
If there is ever a possibility to please Prabhupada by reuniting the disparate and incongruous elements that were once part of a united ISKCON house, the present leadership must be willing to consider re-forming itself for the benefit of the whole. In this regard a more balanced leadership council of women and men is needed. Women by their motherly nature can provide a nurturing element that is antidotal to the combative nature of men. An overall change of the guard might be a bitter pill to consider but perhaps a younger, newer, less charged leadership on every level, from GBC to temple presidents, would anoint the movement with hope and integration. If age and years has actually led to wisdom it would always be welcome by any good and honest leader as an intelligent king would accept counsel from a seasoned minister.
On the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada
That there has actually been a call by some to exhume the body of Srila Prabhupada to test for poison is so antithetical to respect for the sacred it reminds me more of the ghoulish activities of Duryodhana's adepts who presented him with the heads of the Pandava children thinking it would please him. Do these ghouls actually believe Prabhupada wants them to dig up his body? Could they actually bear to face his vapu again after almost of a quarter century being in the womb of the Earth Mother? Who amongst them would be the first to bring him out and look into his face? If these aliens want to begin testing for poison in this grotesque way, they should start by testing what kind of blood runs through their own hearts.
First of all one either believes Prabhupada was always under the direct protection of Radha and Krsna or not. If he thought that there was an attempt on his life he would immediately have called for a meeting of all GBC's. He would have refused the 'medicine'. He was not lying there totally helpless and defenseless. He definitely had his wits about him.
Prabhupada was a skilled pharmacist. He knew the effects of arsenic. From what I have heard there is arsenic even in most of the well water of Bengal. Prabhupada was also extremely sensitive to everything he ate and said one time that the food his sister prepared was so heavy it was killing him. Supposedly he could also understand psychic movements without the need of reverse speech analysis .
But if you think that everything in his life was lila and his life ended as did Pariksit Maharaja's by a poisonous bite, then what would be the meaning of this ghastly rasa? Was he so inconceivably generous that he allowed some to love him and some very special associates, who happened to have a problem with him, to poison him? He had sufficient ability and assistance to stop any apparent death attempt and to stop or send anyone away that he wanted to.
If he was poisoned it wasn't because we couldn't come to his rescue fast enough, because Krsna would certainly intervene even as He did in the womb of Uttara. It would be because he accepted the poison. In any case, the poison, speculative or otherwise, is the arsenic of hate that runs through the veins and brains of shape shifters that take the form of cowherd boys and devotees. In the end they most always die in a way that their pain outdoes their hatred. Have faith that the Eyes of Truth never close for a moment.
There is a problem when instead of growing closer in love there is a growing apart due to a loss of love and dedication to each other's well being. When severe alienation sets in without resolve, new movements arise and conscious or unconscious thoughts of death to the heretics and offenders sets in. Jesus put it quite succinctly when he said "How can you love the God you can't see if you can't love your brother and sister that you can?" There is so much accusation, cynicism, disrespect and despise that goes on in the name of love, dedication, and protection of guru and his message. The problem gets more "gnarly" and convoluted when people are seen as being offensive to the guru and wield their clubs of proof, each one thinking they are the Pandavas and the others the Kurus. I can't imagine that the vociferous diatribes raging across cyberspace these days and which are professed to be genuine devotion for Prabhupada, are being felt by him as a pleasant massage or heard as music to his ears. It seems that forgiveness, clemency and dedication to resolution are not contained in the arsenal of virtues of too many.
A key to resolution of opposites is to practice the art of becoming intimate or confidential with another when negativity begins to incubate in the heart. The key to unlocking the heart chakra is to hear, be compassionate and empathize with the pain of another, take responsibility for specific pain caused, ask for forgiveness and be able to forgive. By becoming successful at this trial of spiritual potency, we develop the power to have more intimacy with God's heart and have Them enter deeper into ours. Prabhupada stressed, to try and enter into the confidential movements of Godhead but be unconfidential and unloving with each other is kanistha, sahajya, sentimental and unfruitful. We are on Earth to practice becoming fire so that we can enter fire at the time of death. The birth and rebirth process happens many times to a spiritual warrior throughout life.
In connection with the problems created by those of us who in the position of initating guru were unloving in any way to anyone, I again ask for forgiveness. I ask forgiveness to Prabhupada and the devotees for not taking enough responsibility as a long time manager in ISKCON to ask the obvious questions and get at least as much clarity as was shown in the will and codicil as to how initiating gurus should carry out their responsibilities. At the same time I feel the gurus are too often a convenient scapegoat as the only one's needing to beg forgiveness for offenses. Gurus should be leaders but the domino effect should also be set in motion: husbands, managers, teachers, and parents need to ask forgiveness from wives, subordinates, students, and children for being neglectful, inconsiderate or abusive, as the shoe fits.
I am writing this address specifically because I do recognize that I have displayed such a lack of love and dedication to my sisters and brothers by not bringing to closure that pain which I am responsible for. At the same time I do not and will not take the responsibility that my service to God, Guru and devotees after Srila Prabhupada's departure is the principle reason why there is so much alienation amongst devotees today and was done out of a lust to usurp Prabhupada's position.
Conclusions and beginnings
I have tried my best in this communication to begin to mend wounds from the past that I have been responsible for. I genuinely ask for your forgiveness and well wishes so that I may regain my full spiritual presence and one day perfectly love my Lords. I also offer forgiveness to those who would see me stay down and whose intent is that ill come to me. When I was in one of the darkest periods of my life I saw how Divine Grace came in the densest of times and circumstances to bring miracles and freedom. If we actually want to please the higher personalities we must learn to embrace one another. This requires us to move out of the quarrelsomeness that this Age so generously bestows upon all, and use that energy to honor the God and Godliness in all. Then, as surely as the sun shines equally upon everyone's head, Govinda can perform miracles of enlightenment in everyone's heart.
Om Tat Sat
May 13, 2000
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