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Bhakti Caru Swami Addresses Controversy Raised by VNN
By
CHAKRA staff

CHAKRA (Bhaktivedanta Manor, England) - 18 June 2001: His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami has submitted the following for printing on CHAKRA after being ignored by the VNN web site. It is in response to an article previously posted on VNN in which a man named Mr. Kay Maharaj complained that he had been cheated by the "Abhaya Charan" administrative office and some "Hare Krishna Devotees."

Bhakti Caru Swami's submission is as follows:

Dear CHAKRA,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. About three weeks ago I was informed that the following letter was published in VNN. Immediately I took action by getting in touch with 'Abhaya Charan' administrative office in South Africa and asked them to contact this person and do whatever is necessary to pacify him. They got back to me and informed, after a thorough search in our data base and in that particular area, that there is no subscriber of 'Abhaya Charan' by that name. I wrote the following reply to VNN to find out about that person. However, for some unknown reason, after repeated requests, they are not responding.

Can you please advise what we should do now? I think at least we should print it in 'CHAKRA' to inform many innocent readers who had been affected by VNN's yellow journalism.

I hope this meets you well.

Your servant, Bhakti Caru Swami.

Videos

BY KAY MAHARAJ

SOUTH AFRICA, May 20 (VNN) Dear Sir

I am writing this letter in an attempt to get some help for hundreds of people in my country myself included who have been cheated by some of your Hare Krishna devotees.

A few years ago some of your devotees from my city in Newcastle, South Africa began to market a video on the life of your leader Swami Prabhupada. The video is titled Abhay Charan. We were told that the producer of the video is one of the present leaders of your movement. His name is recorded on the sleeve of the video as H. H. Bhakti Charu Swami.

We were sold the first video and asked to subscribe for the balance of 25 videos. Many of us did this, consenting our banking details for a debit order. This meant that the money would be automatically withdrawn from our banking account for 26 months. We were promised one video per month. I was coerced by your leader in my area to get my friends and family members to order for this video which I did. I signed the subscription in January 1997. It is now over 4 years and all I have received is 7 videos only. Yet the money for all 26 tapes were taken out of our accounts. Despite our repeated attempts for reasonable answers from this person, all we got were stupid reasons for the delay. This in spite of our numerous complaints regarding the video itself. Some of the videos were posted to us in a different language, some with very poor sound quality or no sound at all.

During the middle of last year I was offered an apology by this person and invited to attend a conference in Newcastle whereby we were told that the producer will be in attendance. He would address the delay of the videos. This turned out to be a farce. All we get is a load of empty promises. This is really a shame and disgrace. We need some definite answers. We are being kept in the dark. What has happened to the hundreds of thousands of rands collected by your movement for this video. If the tapes are not available then at least be conscientious and refund our money.

It would be beneficial for your movement if your members could be truthful and present the correct facts rather than embark on ambitious projects and involve the public by taking our money and then doing a disappearing act. This has happened to us once to many. If we cannot get some answers for this latest round of cheating we will opt for legal aid .

Mr. Kay Maharaj (Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)

Dear Editor,

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

Recently it came to my notice that you published a letter from one Mr. Kay Maharaj from South Africa complaining about our taking money from him in advance for 'Abhaya Charan' video tapes and not supplying them. Upon reading his letter I immediately contacted our office in South Africa and asked them to contact him, find out the cause of his grievance and do whatever is necessary to pacify him. After a thorough search in our database of 'Abhaya Charan' subscribers in South Africa they could not find this 'Kay Maharaj' there. They also contacted our branch in New Castle, but there also no one knew anyone by that name.

Anyway, in a positive note we can consider various possibilities his subscription can be in his wife or children or someone else's name; he may have used a pseudo name in the letter he wrote to you, or there can be so many different possibilities, but what really matters to us is that we contact him and make him understand that we do not have any dishonest intension.

Our office in South Africa replied to his letter, explaining our difficulties and apologizing for our defects. Please print it in your web site as our official response to his letter. If there is anything else we can do to correct any mistake in our endeavor to serve and glorify Srila Prabhupada then please feel free to let us know.

I also want to assure those who have paid money in advance for 'Abhay Charan' video tapes, that if they want their money back, for the delay in delivery, they may let us know and we will refund their money.

Yours in the service of Krishna, Bhakti Charu Swami.

Dear Mr. Kay Maharaj,

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

We read your complaints in VNN about not receiving 'Abhay Charan' video tapes in spite of paying your debit order. We tried to contact you immediately upon reading that letter. However, to our great disappointment we found that your name as it appeared in VNN 'Kay Maharaj' from Newcastle, does not appear in our subscriber database. Hence we are responding to you through VNN.

In South Africa 'Abhay Charan' videos are being distributed by Veda Foundation Trust, and I am the distribution manager of that trust. Therefore, I considered it to be my solemn responsibility to reply to your complaint and apologize for our inabilities and shortcomings.

I can appreciate your discontentment and grievance. We naturally feel very embarrassed, yet this also gives us a feeling of achievement because this act of yours clearly displays your appreciation for this video production and for Srila Prabhupada, so much so that the delay in receiving the tapes caused you to go to VNN to express your grievance.

I am the person ultimately responsible for getting your tapes to you and I take full responsibility for any difficulties you may have had. We can assure you with all sincerity that any money you may have paid for the tapes in advance is not lost because although the production has taken longer than expected it is most definitely going on. Out of 26 tapes the material for 18 tapes has already been shot. The 11th tape is almost ready to be released and within a couple of weeks we hope to be able to deliver it to you. By the way, you mentioned that you received only 7 tapes, but in South Africa we already distributed up to the 10th tapes of the series. Please let us know where you enrolled as a subscriber and please give us the details of your debit order, so that we can send you the tapes that are already available here as well as the tapes that will come out in future. Just in case you want to discontinue your subscription then also please feel free to let us know. We will refund the balance.

This production is an expression of His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami's love and appreciation for his spiritual master His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I on behalf of numerous other committed members of the production team can assure you that he does not have any intention of dropping this project nor does he have any agenda to swindle anyone of his money.

The project involves shooting in different parts of the world. Extensive shooting has already been done in India, USA, UK, France and Italy. Some of the delays are as a result of having to wait for the right season to do the filming and therefore it has not been possible to finish it in one go. Moreover, during the early part of last year the actor who plays Srila Prabhupada had a heart attack and shooting was postponed for a quite a few months.

We will admit that it was a mistake on our part to make subscription members and make them pay through debit orders. However, at that time we could not foresee the production of this series taking so long.

Although we started the debit order system in South Africa for subscription of the tapes in order to financially help the production, but the amount generated from this source is only a fraction of the actual costs. The purpose of this project is not to make money but to spread the glory of Srila Prabhupada throughout the world. In spite of the fact that this video series is not profitable, this production will go on until it is complete. His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami considers that the real success of this project is in making people from all over the world aware of Srila Prabhupada's greatness.

Unfortunately, prior to your article appearing on VNN, I had no knowledge of the difficulties we were causing you. There are also other subscribers who have had similar problems. In each case brought to our attention we have done everything in our ability to ensure that the subscriber was satisfied. Where faulty tapes were reported to us, we promptly changed them. When tapes were not reaching the subscribers, we simply sent replacement tapes before even trying to locate the original tapes. Where subscribers were uncomfortable with the idea of paying in advance of receiving their tapes, we simply changed the debit order to a cash system where they would pay when the tapes were delivered. Where the amounts paid exceeded the number of tapes produced, we refund the excess paid by the subscriber so that no credit remained with Veda Foundation.

Veda Foundation administration department is run separately from the temples or nama hattas. In South Africa there is a central administration office. Unfortunately, possibly due to some shortcoming on our part, there are still some subscribers that are unaware of this. However, we will resend our contact information to the subscribers with the next tape and we will also try to get it published in the Hare Krishna Newsletter.

Once again I humbly beg for your forgiveness for any incompetence in my service. As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to find your name in our database to contact you personally so I would humbly beg that you or any other subscriber having difficulty please contact me at any one of the following numbers:

(031) 7001630 Home 082 3767 202 Cell (031) 700 6772 Fax ramvijay1@freemail.absa.co.za  rajivs@cashandcarry.co.za

I hope to speak to you soon and fix whatever difficulties you may have to your satisfaction.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada Ramvijay das (Adminstration Department Veda Foundation South Africa)

© CHAKRA 18-June-2001

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