Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
There have been hundreds of responses to the presentation made in Mayapur Dham on Nrsimha Caturdasi by Jvalamukhi Prabhu and Rasikananda Prabhu. Most of these responses were very positive, acknowledging Jvalamukhi’s courage, applauding the efforts, and expressing deep gratitude for her empowered, heartfelt words. We appreciate the enormous amount of support and encouragement. There have also been other responses, not nearly as many, that voiced some challenges. It is important that these concerns be addressed, and I will now do so. I will paraphrase the questions that were asked in order to remove the emotional “edge” with which some of them were presented.
We were asked why we don’t just forget about the abuse and move on.
Bhagavad-Gita 15.15. Krsna gives knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness. If by His grace, he is asking us to remember certain things, there is no refusing His will. If He grants remembrance for His purposes, and we choose to try to forget, is that not shirking our responsibility? At the very least, trying to forget what we know might be defined as denial.
I could reword the question, “Why don’t we just deny that the abuse happened and move on?”
If we repress, or deny, the things that the body is trying to release, there is always an illness manifestation, physical or mental. That is never conducive to our functioning in this world. If someone is in the thick of a healing process, there is no scope to forget it. It is present all the time. That is the reality of it. Someone can try to forget it, and that usually means self-medication, addictive behaviors, escapism behaviors, or some sort of acting out. It never works. The remembering, the healing, that often must become the devotional service for some time. If a devotee is not creating more karmic reaction in the process, such as by eating sinful foods, then once the healing is underway, it ends the material sojourn. The material experience of repeated births and deaths is finished. However painful (and misunderstood) the healing process is, the blessings that arise from it are unlimited. Why would we want to deprive someone of such powerful blessings by asking them to forget it and move on?
We were advised to set some goals for ourselves for the future and work to achieve them, and not to be so absorbed in this stuff.
Forget the past that sleeps and ne’er
The future dream at all
But act in times that are with thee
And progress thee shall call.
[Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Saragrahi Vaisnava, 16th stanza]
This is the transcendental “Be here now.” If we are fully present, we are situated in a place to better hear Paramatma’s direction. Our creative future arises only from being fully present, not from the mind’s plan making.
If we do not deal with what we are being asked to do in the present, accept our healing process in the mood of SB 10.14.8, we are prolonging the suffering for ourselves.
We were asked why we were staying so absorbed in the negativity.
We don’t see any negativity in this process. It is our heart driven and ecstatic service to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. One cannot be absorbed in negativity and do this healing work. We must deal with the healing process as Krsna gives it. It may be painful, sometimes very difficult, but the result is great joy and spiritual clarity. Unfortunately, it may be regarded as negativity by those who do not understand it or who try to avoid their own internal process. It is not our eternal service, but it is important work to clear the road that leads to that revelation.
We were told that Srila Prabhupada knew there were demons in the guise of devotees in ISKCON and that he chose to ignore them. We were asked why we cannot do the same.
Srila Prabhupada did not ignore those people. He was greatly disturbed, even expressing that everything would be ruined. He continued his traveling and preaching for the sake of the innocent devotees.
In 1974, the Henry Street, Brooklyn temple was experiencing serious managerial difficulty. As that situation came to light and was corrected, Srila Prabhupada expressed that we were like sheep. It was good that we had followed, and it was good that we had kicked them out. But to the more senior members, there was a chastisement. “You are senior. You should have known. Why did you let this go on?”
We were asked in great disbelief, “This stuff doesn’t really happen, does it?”
It’s OK, keep on chanting. Maybe it’s not your service to deal with this. However, you might want to look at some of the resources we have posted on this site. And keep your lovely, little children and adorable grandchildren very safe, just in case. This third generation is very powerful and pure. Protect them like young trees, and they will take this mission to heights never before seen.
We were told that we are in illusion to think our ISKCON leaders would ever do this type stuff to the children.
How many statements, court cases, and wounded individuals does it take? It has not just been the children, however. There have been adult devotees whose lives have been
threatened, who have been raped and tortured, for speaking up about the atrocities.
A lot of them have decided not to stay around. Or been allowed to stay around.
It is true that a qualified ISKCON leader would never do such things. Even our good leaders have not yet been effective in changing the organizational situation, and I do have utmost respect for their individual integrity and preaching empowerment.
I was told by one young man, “Just see! This stuff is the reason I never took to Krsna Consciousness! I knew it!”
Let’s stop making excuses and pointing fingers. The philosophy stands like a clear jewel on its own, the books emanate Srila Prabhupada’s love and spiritual concern and empowerment, the regulative principles can be undertaken, and the Holy Names can be chanted. However, Srila Prabhupada did form the institution for the purpose of association of devotees. Our spiritual strength lies in association, and a more pleasant and transparent mood in the temples would definitely attract the sincere spiritual seekers. Most of us do not have the strength to undertake such a strong spiritual practice without being surrounded by a loving family of devotees. Please note that there is a difference between taking to Krsna Consciousness and joining a temple.
I was again asked about False Memory Syndrome.
I have heard of people consciously making false accusations of sexual abuse in order to vent anger or get some revenge for something. This is not what is being addressed here. In over twenty years of working with “survivors” of sexual/ritual abuse who are having recovered memories, I have never seen the body produce a falsehood. It is simply releasing what has been stored for a long time. The results of releasing this old baggage, these energetic “anarthas,” so to speak, are astounding on all levels- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The proponents of FMS within our organization, however, are doing a great disservice. Some are professionals in the mental health fields. At least one, of whom I am aware, has a questionable history concerning dealings with young boys.
We were asked why the situation has not yet been addressed, and why it is still happening.
My question is rather why it was ever allowed to take root. What follows is an excerpt from an article by Bhagavat Prabhu, as it appears on Chakra.org.
“I was in Allahabad in 1977 when Srila Prabhupada was at the Kumbha Mela. During that time one of the first known child molesters was caught in Vrindaban and brought to Allahabad to be judged by Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada curled his lips in disgust and shook his head in great disbelief as he was told how this disciple of his sexually molested practically every child in the Gurukula. Srila Prabhupada was so disgusted that he told the GBC and others who were in the room that this boy, on his order should never for any reason be allowed in any of our temples ever again. When questioned about the severity of the sentence Srila Prabhupada said on occasion the boy could come to a temple for the Sunday feast and eat prasadam. Unfortunately, after Srila Prabhupada left this child molester found his way back into our temples.”
We did not honor Srila Prabhupada’s zero tolerance policy, and allowed an invasive weed to propagate.
That being said, there have been many attempts to expose and correct the situation, but not necessarily by those in ISKCON management positions. In a mood of compassion for everyone involved, this cleansing process can now take place. Krsna is the Supreme Time Factor. It is all in His time. There is now an urgency that is being fueled by the Lord Himself.
We were asked if there was fear involved by addressing this issue in such a straightforward manner.
There was a lot of fear on the part of the devotees who came to know of Jvalamukhi’s presentation before the fact. Devotees had great trepidation about allowing her and her brother to stay at their residences because of the mission at hand. There was fear on their part of being attacked politically or physically by the ISKCON management in Mayapur. There was also a mood on the parts of several residents of the Dhama that it was better to “keep your head down and keep walking”, and then they would be left alone.
For Jvalamukhi and Rasikananda, the subject of the necessity of bodyguards came up several times. It was only Lord Nrsmhadeva Himself who kept Jvalamukhi centered and focused during her presentation, and relieved the shaking of her legs and the quivering of her voice. Brother and sister were both fixed in their faith in Lord Nrsimhadeva.
There was similarly fear on the part of the citizens who lived under Kamsa’s rule and the residents of the material universes, from the lowest to the highest, when Hiranykasipu held power, because something was not in order. That there is so much fear of honest expression, of calling things the way they are, is a symptom of its own accord that something is amiss. Is control by fear what Srila Prabhupada envisioned for his mission?
The brahmanas and demigods, in the Vedic histories of powerful demoniac presences, approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead for shelter. That is our position, all of us.
We were told that these things should not be spoken in front of the Deities, or in the Holy Dhama.
These topics are of utmost importance and are the very real everyday concern of sincere dedicated devotees, who pray about them before the Lord in His Deity form regularly.
The presentation in Sridhama Mayapur was simply an outward expression of those internal prayers.
The subject had been brought before authorities from temple management, to GBC, escalating into court cases and community action, yet none of these attempts to address the needs of the society have been effective. Who else could rectify the situation but the Lord Himself?
And where else could the entire society be reached but from it’s spiritual headquarters?
Sometimes an inconvenience is required to rectify a severe malady. It certainly wasn’t palace etiquette for Lord Nrsimhadeva to burst from a pillar, but the Lord saw fit to meet the circumstances as the need required.
We were told that we had cheated and were untrustworthy.
In preparation to our offering, we made arrangements with as many managerial authorities as possible, informing them to the fullest degree they were able to handle, of our sincere intentions.
We did offer a global prayer, we spoke only the glories of the Lord, which are in relationship to His pastimes defeating the demons and protecting His devotees.
We expected that we wouldn’t be readily understood, and therefore we prepared this website for further understanding and dialogue.
Lord Vamanadeva was as straightforward with Bali Maharaja as was possible, and He was also called a cheater by some, but the devotees could understand how the Lord is absolute in His dealings, and cheats the cheaters out of their cheating propensities for the good of everyone for all time. We are simply aspiring to serve, following in His footsteps.
Our ultimate authority is Srila Prabhupada and the Lord Himself. They inspired us to act in the ways we did, and so we take shelter of their Supreme judgement.
We were told that we are being offensive.
There is a world of difference between being offensive and standing up for principle and righteousness. To anyone who has ever pleased Srila Prabhupada in any way, I offer my most humble obeisances. From my heart, in deepest prayer, I want the greatest spiritual blessings, healings, and opportunities for everyone involved, or not involved, whether in this lifetime they have acted roles as victim, perpetrator, or aware or unaware bystanders.
This does not negate that there needs to be recognition of, and a bringing to accountability for, all the acts of violence that have been committed, and are still being committed, to our devotee family. These are the heinous offenses to which we have become so blinded as an organization that we are ready to attack the speakers of truth.
I hope that his has answered some concerns for our dear readers.
Kamra devi dasi