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More between Ravindra Svarupa dasa
and "a Kuli"
Dear "a Kuli,"
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In a letter sent out to various receivers you stated
Jan 1985 a mother reported to Ravindra, Satsvarupa, and Jagadish that two Gurus were abusing the boys in Vrindavan. Ravindra and Jagadish pass a resolution Feb 1985 the GBC will excommunicate anyone who goes to the police courts, etc., with ISKCON problems. (email me for a copy of the letter)
Thus you allege that I was involved with others in a conspiracy to protect child molesters.
Now you have corrected the mistaken date and provided me with some of the data.
Thank you. Now I have been able to understand what you are referring to, and I have also been able to look up matters in records available to me. I believe I can show you that what you have claimed is mistaken, a product of limited or selective evidence together with some bad logic.
The letter and GBC resolution was posted on VNN awhile back. I found them on google.com
Who knew what when? And who would be banned if they spoke out?
1-26-88 Dear Jagadisha Maharaja,
Please accept my humble obeisance's.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I don't know if you've been told any details about the child molestation here at Gita Nagari. I'd like to report to you in detail what has come out over the last 3 months.
The real horror of all this, though is that (removed), and other boys, who had been in Vrndavana are now admitting to the extent of how they were abused in the holy dhama by teachers, monitors, etc. And even witnessing a Guru doing it to boys. It seems it had been very rampant and "just a part of life there" You were either forced to engage in it or you observed it around you. Either of which would be very mentally and spiritually debilitating.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu has been working with some of the older boys here---finding out details of what they have been through as far as abuse and names of people, also.
(removed) devi dasi (end letter)
I had not seen this letter before, but I know who it is from, and I know some of what it is talking about. The lady's young children had been molested by a youth returned from the Vrindavan gurukula, where, as we came to discover, he had been himself molested.
I had never heard from her about anyone "witnessing a Guru doing it to boys." (In your previous letter you said, mistakenly, that she reported "two gurus.") In any case, I heard nothing about gurus molesting children in Vrindavan. (The reliable reports on Bhavananda given to the "reform movement" in '85 involved sex with adult men.)
As a result of what happened to this lady's children, I began talking to some older boys and thus began to find out what had gone on in Vrindavan. If that weren't awful enough, in the process I discovered, for the first time, that my own son had been molested. One of the boys told me about it; then of course I spoke to my son. These stories were horrific, and I cannot begin to describe how appalled, disgusted, and angry my wife and I were.
I was in no frame of mind to cover anything up for anyone. To claim that I was, is to state just the opposite of the truth.
However, you adduce this as "evidence":
ONE month later what did Ravindra do?
GOVERNING BODY COMMISSION RESOLUTIONS OF 1988
February 20, 1988
1. Election of officers:-
The GBC executive officers for 1988-89 are:
Chairman Ravindra Svarupa dasa
Vice Chairman Jagadish Goswami
Secretary Bhakti Caru Swami
22. When a person becomes a member of ISKCON or assumes an office within ISKCON, he does so on the condition of submission to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of ISKCON; and however much he may dissatisfied with the exercise of that jurisdiction, he shall refrain from invoking the supervisory power of the civil court but shall seek redress of any grievance(s) through the ISKCON judicial process. Otherwise, he may be removed from office and or his membership in ISKCON terminated.
I was indeed elected the chairman for that meeting, but that hardly means that I put forward this or any other proposal. I don't remember if I even voted for it. What the GBC does in a meeting is done by the GBC, not any one member, not even the chairman.
In this case, I do remember that this particular resolution had, in fact, been proposed to the GBC by Mukunda Goswami.
Furthermore, Mukunda Goswami had proposed this in 1987, the previous year. This is in the record.
From the resolutions of 1987:
32. Resolved that "when a person becomes a member of ISKCON or assumes an office within ISKCON, he does so upon the condition of submission to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of ISKCON; and however much he may be dissatisfied with the exercise of that jurisdiction, he shall refrain from invoking the supervisory power of a civil court but shall seek redress of any grievance(s) through the ISKCON judicial process. Otherwise, he may be removed from office and/or his membership in ISKCON terminated," be referred to the Minister of Legal Affairs. (Provisional Order)
So it is recorded in the minutes that the GBC voted in 1987 to refer the proposal to the Minister of Legal Affairs. This makes it clear that this resolution was not devised as a consequence of anything I found out in 1988.
In any case, your argument is fallacious to begin with. The fallacy is called "post hoc ergo propter hoc," that is, the fallacy of arguing that because B comes after A, B is caused by A.
In this case, however, the evidence shows that B came first anyway.
Moreover, if you accept my testimony, I remember who proposed this resolution. Furthermore, if you accept my testimony, neither I, nor Mukunda Goswami nor anyone else who discussed the proposal thought that it had anything to do with child abuse or any other criminal act for that matter. (The resolution itself refers to the "civil courts" rather than "criminal courts.")
There is also recorded evidence for this. In 1989, the very next year--after a year when I used what little power I had as chairman to see that something was done about child abuse--the GBC passed a resolution mandating that all incidents of child molestation be reported to the government by ISKCON authorities:
74.That incidents of child molestation within ISKCON or ISKCON related organizations must be reported by the ISKCON authority to the local governmental agency or agencies for civil or criminal action, as appropriate.
As I mentioned, I had not be able to get direct testimony about gurus involved in child molestation. The molestation I heard about involved older boys ("monitors") and some teachers. In '89 these resolutions were also passed:
72.That, due to allegations of child molestation, Ananta Rupa das, shall be prohibited from working directly or indirectly with any ISKCON school or project that involves children, or living in any ISKCON center.
73.That, due to allegations of child molestation, Manihar das, shall be prohibited from working directly or indirectly with any ISKCON school or project that involves children, or living in any ISKCON center.
A number of us were very concerned, and we tried to get as much action as possible from the GBC. I was disappointed that it wasn't more, but many GBC had a hard time accepting and dealing with these allegations. Our movement has for so long thought of itself as totally transcendental and spiritual, as special, that all evidence to the contrary tended to get disowned and repressed, if not surpressed. This tendency can lead to a spooky kind of communal schizophrenia. I observed this most clearly in New Vrindavan, where so many people knew but did not know.
At any rate, some of us pushed very hard (I especially remember Badri Narayana and Sri Rama) to get some acknowledgement and some remedial action. As a result, the next year, 1990, these resolutions were passed:
GBC Resolutions of 1990
119.That the following is adopted as the official ISKCON Board of Education policy on child abuse incidents:
1) The local governing authority of each ISKCON school or community is responsible to appoint two or three devotees to investigate and follow-up on all suspected or confirmed cases of child abuse.
2) Suspected or confirmed cases of child abuse must be reported to local government authorities for investigation and/or prosecution. In India, the ISKCON Board of Education may authorize a waiver of this requirement if the perpetrator is willing to sign a statement authorizing the Board of Education to publicize the incident to all ISKCON-related educational projects and other concerned parties.
3) All suspected or confirmed incidents of child abuse must be reported immediately to the local GBC secretary, and within thirty days, to the ISKCON Board of Education. The ISKCON Board of Education shall review the investigation and give a finding as to the status of the alleged perpetrator as confirmed, suspect, or innocent/not-suspected.
4) The perpetrator or alleged perpetrator must be immediately segregated so that he has no possible contact with the victim or other children. This segregation may take the form of relocating the perpetrator to another part of the project, away from children; banishment from the project (and possibly from other ISKCON projects with children); or in severe cases, banishment from all ISKCON projects. The degree of segregation will be determined by the nature and severity of the offense; the attitude of the perpetrator; the feasibility of protecting the children from further abuse or intimidation; and the sentiments of the local devotees, especially the parents. In no case should a confirmed or suspected perpetrator remain in the local community unless the local ISKCON authorities obtain the written authorization of no less than 3/4 of the parents of children at the project or in the community. The local government authorities and/or the ISKCON Board of Education will make the final determination of the appropriate degree of segregation.
5) Any confirmed child abuser may never again serve in association with children in any ISKCON project. The Board will also make available to all ISKCON educational projects and temples the names of all accused, admitted, confirmed or convicted child abusers.
6) Abused children must get appropriate professional counselling so that the serious ill-effects of the abuse can be minimized.
7) All ISKCON educational projects must have preventative programs which train children how to avoid and report child abuse incidents.
8) The local GBC man (or men) are directly responsible to implement the measures outlined above. Should the GBC Body find a GBC man or other ISKCON manager responsible for suppressing or covering-up complaints of child abuse, or supporting intimidation of those who might complain, the GBC man shall be open to censure or probation, and the ISKCON manager shall be open to appropriate disciplinary action.
I wish a lot more were done sooner and more completely. From my point of view, the GBC was deficient in many ways, but I think you make the GBC, and your servant here, worse than we actually were.
As far as the VNN posting: When it comes to ISKCON, VNN seems to have a strong fault finding policy. I can see why some say the initials stand for Vaisnava Ninda Network.
USA (VNN) - In January 1988 a mother submitted the following letter to ISKCON's Minister of Education. It appears that there was no discussion of any of the subjects raised in this letter in the following GBC meetings that year (1988). The letter was either completely ignored or suppressed. The letter may be seen by some as evidence that ISKCON officials knew about the rampant abuse in many ISKCON schools in early 1988. The complete GBC resolutions of 1988 can be read on the offical GBC site or here.
It is true that I don't remember Jagadish raising the issue in '88. In fact, at the '88 meeting he resigned as the Minister of Education. (He was replaced by a Board of Education). One suspects that he resigned because he had a much better idea than the rest of us of what was coming.
I do not know why VNN stopped looking after 1988. It would have been better of course if something happened in '88, but the GBC had just lost almost half its members, and a whole bunch of brand new members (me included) had been added, and all the surviving old guard did not welcomed us on with open arms. It took some doing to get things moving.
If you look at 89 and 90, however, you can see that the GBC did begin to act.
I hope this meets you well,
Your servant in Prabhupada service,
[See "Response to ‘a Kuli’" Chakra September 12, 2002]
© CHAKRA 16 September 2002
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