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...you slighted us right from your opening title. It is disheartening to say the least. Once again, those offering to take our cause, do so at our expense.
I also question a couple details raised by those on the show. I’m cautious about this for it can seem uncaring. But I do so because I’m finding some of our peers exaggerating our story, which only goes to undermine the credibility for the rest of us. That is unfair to us all.
Condemned Our Childhoods to "Shame"
From Raghunatha Anudasa to Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed by CHAKRA on request of Raghunatha Anudasa
1) 20/20 Condemned Our Childhoods to “Shame”
Dear Michael Pressman,
Thank you for your concern to both our story and to my reservations expressed in our telephone conversation.
I will briefly summarize those reservations for your reference.
1) 20/20 Condemned Our Childhoods to “Shame”
Introducing us with your opening title as the “Childhood of Shame” was to dismiss the 15 to 20 years of our entire childhood as nothing more then shameful. You may as well have been talking of criminals and druggies. This reasserts the very negatives that hundreds of us have spent decades struggling to overcome by tediously building upon the positives offered in our childhoods of travel, cultural exposure, religious experience, philosophical insight and extraordinary friendships. This is not done because of some religious fervor, but more out of our carefully honed survival skills. We have learned to take our seeming disadvantages and transform them for maximum advantage as young men and women of vast life experience: “ISKCON Youth Veterans.” Most of us consider this to be “our story,” a story that your show missed entirely.
This story was missed because you targeted those with only the worse to say while avoiding those with something positive. As a result, you slighted us right from your opening title. It is disheartening to say the least. Once again, those offering to take our cause, do so at our expense. So many have stone walled and covered up for their “mistakes” made while “helping” us. I hope you can do better in spite of the bureaucratic, legal or face saving considerations that have always complicated people’s efforts in making amends with us.
I say this as much for us as 2nd generation Krishna kids as any “victim” you may cover in the future. See if they want to present themselves as “shame(ful)” victims before stepping in as their spokes person to the world.
2) Exaggeration Undermines Our Story
I also question a couple details raised by those on the show. I’m cautious about this for it can seem uncaring. But I do so because I’m finding some of our peers exaggerating our story, which only goes to undermine the credibility for the rest of us. That is unfair to us all. It’s a shame because our story is more horrific then most of the exaggerations. In fact, your show was an understatement to our hardships and abuse. That surprised me. The following site is a copy of my story written about 11 years ago to demonstrate the point. http://surrealist.org/gurukula/children.html
The first red flag for me was Siddhababa, Ben, saying he was tied to the tree. The tree he refers to was about 4 to 6 feet around meaning that the rope would have had to be 12 to 15 feet long-which was unlikely given that the administration hardly bought toothpaste what to speak of 15 to 20 feet of extra rope. Beating the girl in the temple room naked was also highly unlikely, for nudity was strongly prohibited in the temple room. I’m about 8 years older then those interviewed. I was 9 and 10 while they where 4 and 5. I therefore have clearer recollections on most things. Again, I say this as a word of caution to our peers to be honest in our story. Nothing more, nothing less. Then we have a cause of both justice as well as truth.
3) Jagadish: Stalin of Guru-kula
And now for Jagadish. Let’s say your studio hired a security company to watch over your place. Let’s say the manager of the security service used those guards to steal from you and molest your employees for 20 years. Now imagine seeing that same manager saying the company “didn’t know what (it) was doing” because they had poor security. Jagadish was “the system” Prabhupada put into place to safe guard us. Jagadish instead bullied parents and children into his schools to build his own power base within the society far beyond what Prabhupada intended. We paid the price for his campaign, a campaign that continues to this day, 35 years later, in your show that once again gives his skewed account of “Prabhupada.” Why not ask us for our accounts of Prabhupada and guru-kula? I can send you some of the many essays I ’ve written.
Providing Jagadish a national forum to make excuses and blaming others for his crimes was infuriating. Could you think of a greater insult to Jews then asking Hilter for his opinions on Jewish concentration camps? And then airing it nationally. Jagadish is the only common link to all child abuse throughout the movement and may have the distinction of overseeing more child abuse then anyone else in the Western world of the last 40 years. It was Jagadish who pressed for having children separated from their parents. The best example is in Jagadish’s official handbook on gurukula. There he changes Prabhupada’s quote from saying children can stay with parents to stating children can’t. If Prabhupada was indeed so insistent about separating parents and children, why would Jagadish have to make such changes? I bring this up to answer points raised on the show. Other more gruesome controversies would take many pages to cover whether changing many a “Prabhupada said” or the time he beat me severely or transferred a number of sexual molesters from one school to anther.
4) Neglect This Letter is to Belittle Feelings of Most
Last but not least, please don’t mistake my “feelings” as that of a lone “student” as you referred to twice in our telephone conversation. To do so is to belittle the feelings shared by most guru-kuli’s who watched your show. I hope you can take immediate steps to demonstrate your concern to these issues. A short follow up covering the points referred to-above-would be superb. If you need to hear from more kulis to press the issue with your bosses, please let me know and I will begin putting together a campaign for this purpose. I should be able to make a real ruckus for you. Actually, this letter would make for a sensational article for newspapers, but thought it fair to work with you as you have extended yourself to us.
5) Your 3 Video Clips of Me: Do you have more?
On a more technical note, it raddled me with a lot of different feelings to see myself there. In fact, you showed me 3 times in your clips from Dallas. Just look for the biggest kid from your group shots, spacing out. That’s me. I was also the one bowing down at the desk. It hit me hard to see. You are one of the few in the world with any footage from those days and have the only other footage of me from my childhood. Let me know how I can get copies of the footage you have of me. Thank you for taking the time to film and save this rare piece of history.
I look forward to hearing any suggestions or comments you have and will share your response with all my friends much as I am doing with this letter. Thank you again for your time and concern both today’s as well as that shown many years ago when your studio first jumped into the fray in a way no other station would. It was as bold of you then as it is of you today.
Raghunatha Anudasa John Giuffre
Raghu@ROOPA.org PO Box 1108 Hilo HI 96721 323 969-472 * * * * *
Mr. Pressman said he was going to have a letter of response by next week so will pass that along when I hear from him.
The Prospectus for ROOPA is done as is the first of six ROOPA Charts. The Prospectus outlines the activities, goals, time frame and cost analysis for starting ROOPA as an official organization. We have sent copies to some prospective sponsors and should be hearing from them this month. The Prospectus and Chart are available for $20 for printing and shipping for those who are interested. A laminated color Chart is $11 and black and white copies are $3 for shipping and .50 cents per copy. I send everything priority mail because of the Hawaii mail situation
Please respond to my new address: Raghu@ROOPA.org. Sept. Oct. and much of Nov. mail is yet to be read as I was focusing on the Prospectus and Chart for the last several weeks. Please mind my tardiness. I’ve transferred all AOL correspondence to Outlook which has scrambled some of the letters so if you don’t hear from me within the month, this maybe why. I’m spending the next week working with Outlook and should be in LA , in a weeks. Off to Hawaii by months end. More later. Raghu
© CHAKRA 14-December-2000
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