Analyzing the GBC-appointed Panel on the Lokanath Swami Case
August 20, 2021
Damodara das of Vedic Inquirer (podcast and online group focused on child protection in ISKCON)
Dhira Govinda das, Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office from 1998-2004
Sanaka Rsi das, produced Cost of Silence documentary about child abuse in ISKCON
Damodara: There are some objections coming from Maharaja’s supporters and sympathisers that the very idea of a CPO is a modern newfangled idea, perhaps coming out of the Neo-liberal thought, brought to you by the same people that brought you free sex and homosexuality and so on, and that it’s just based on mundane humanistic principles. Could you say a little about what is the guiding philosophy of something like child protection?
Dhira Govinda: Well it’s Varnashrama. I am fully in favour of Varnashrama. And in Varnashrama the children are protected, as our elderly, women, and Brahmanas and cows. So it’s Varnashrama. So if someone wants to look at my service, my attempted service during my years establishing and directing the Child Protection Office, and since then, and if someone wants to show how my service and the consciousness behind my service in the different CPO functions, including giving grants, investigations, adjudications, being resource and guidance for anything around Child Protection and education, if someone wants to show how my service was influenced by any sort of deviant, non-Vaishnava philosophies that Prabhupada would not approve then I’m open to hear that. I’m open to hear how I’ve been influenced in a way that’s not Prabhupada Parampara Siddhanta. I’m ready to hear like that.
As far as in principle, “the CPO is apasiddhantic,” well in principle that’s ridiculous. I mean maybe Dhira Govinda’s approach to CPO is completely deviant and… fine, then let’s hear it!
It’s called Yukta Vairagya. So just like Varnashrama and Vaisnavisim, guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati means there’s revealing the heart and mind, there’s communication, but nowhere in the Vedas does it say to use the United States Post Office! So Prabhupada was wrong to use the United States Post Office for communication? Nowhere in the Vedas or Bhagavatam! What to speak of Internet or email! So yeah, that’s called using Krishna’s energy according to time and circumstances to serve the principal. So a Varnashrama function is to protect children. The CPO is an attempt to use modern structures to fulfill that Varnashrama principle and goal. So in principle it’s Yukta Vairagya, it’s completely Sastric.
Sanaka Rsi: What I find concerning about the sense of the devotees, the ICC and Lokanath Swami supporters is that they’re not asking for a fair trial. They’re asking for no trial!
They’re not saying, “okay, how can we have a fair trial so that we are satisfied, that it’s going to be fair and transparent?” They’re not asking for that, they’re saying we don’t want this investigation. Close this…
(Damodara mentions double jeopardy and Sanaka responds)
Double jeopardy is kind of ridiculous because the CPO never looked at it. The GBC has looked at it a couple of times and they kind of covered it up. But there was never a solid investigation of the case.
Damodara: So from their perspective with that kind of argument they’re saying any restriction would be a violation of Krishna’s words. On the other hand the argument is made, even if someone is restored to a Sadhu status in Krishna’s eyes, and possibly even in the eyes of disciples and other well-wishers, a transgression against a child is not something that society can be seen to take lightly. It’s not something we could possibly explain to our modern counterparts, to people outside of the movement, what to speak of community members.
Dhira Govinda: Someone might be truly situated as a Sadhu: I mean that’s for each of us to decide, “oh he’s just faking, yeah whatever” or, “No, he really is, and he’s inspiring people, he’s doing so much service for the Sankirtan Movement.” Someone might be truly situated as a Sadhu. That doesn’t necessarily mean he shouldn’t spend time in prison in order for the healing of the victims and the victims parents, and for the message we send to society about what’s okay and what’s not okay. So whether someone’s a Sadhu or not, and whether there should be some rectification plan, they are related discussions, but they are separate discussions. So if someone is clearly a Sadhu there should be no rectification plan? Not necessarily, because there’s other factors. There is the integrity of Prabhupada’s Movement, there’s the healing of those who were wounded, and there’s the message we are sending to the devotee society and the world at large. There’s many considerations…
Dhira Govinda: If the perpetrator is sincere, and that’s manifested by sincere rectification, then probably the perpetrator isn’t going to be wanting to be in a position. Probably.
Damodara: It’s also worth observing, I mean many people have said this, if there was a breach of child protection, say at school, and it was a janitor involved, the janitor would be written off for the rest of his life at working in such a position. Even more so then if the fact that someone was a priest, a Sannyasi, a holy person staying in someone’s home, and if that was the basis of which the trust was extended, and that trust was therefore abused it seems, you know, very unusual for someone to argue that we should put that person in the same position of trust again. Surely that position would therefore be forfeited?
He may have redeemed himself in the eyes of Krishna. He may have redeemed himself as a Sadhu. But there is the social opportunity, social position, social consequence that needs to be considered.
Sanaka Rsi: Some devotees have put forward the idea that there is no need for a CPO, that if we, the Iskcon society simply follows the Varnashrama principles and separates the men and women, males and females, that will automatically solve, magically solve child protection, the child abuse problem in Iskcon.
Damodara: If we could organise society in such a way where there was never these tragedies, that would of course be preferable to having to have a mechanism for investigating them and ensuring that the perpetrators are caught and various regulations made. The fact is we still have these kind of breaches, and what are we going to say, that they should not be investigated because in an ideal world they would have never happened? It doesn’t seem like a valid way of thinking.
Sanaka Rsi: Also the notion that somehow if you separate men and woman then children are protected is… Brian Marvin just commented what I was going to say. He said, “separating men and woman doesn’t protect children in any way. That’s ludicrous”. Most of the child abuse that’s taken place in Iskcon was male on male.
Damodara: It seems like it’s a strategy to simply deflect and say we are questioning the legitimacy of any CPO investigation, and we’ll use any old desperate argument.
Dhira Govinda: The reason was they already took care of it, they investigated, and they handled it already… they handled it already. Okay, so you got me going on it so I’ll say a little bit more. So the idea is they’ve already handled it, and as I’ve expressed or written in many instances, because people were coming to me, devotees, members of Prabhupada’s Movement coming to me and asking, “What about the Lokanath Swami case?” They were coming to me right there in the initial days, weeks of the CPO, April, May 1998.
So we certainly heard about the Lokanath Swami case and that was, you know, pretty high-profile, so members of the organisation, the members were coming to us, “What about the Lokanath Swami case?”
So I said, “Oh, on that one the GBC have told me they’ve already handled it, and they’ve already written a report on it.”
“Oh, okay where is the report? Where is the official decisions?“
So I would write to the GBC, “People are asking where is the report. People are asking how come someone who is accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour toward an 11-year-old girl is the ISKCON Social Development Minister?” Good question.
So for not months, for years and years I got the runaround. I was never advocating, I’ll say it, I might be praised or criticised I don’t know, I never advocated, “The CPO should deal with this case.“ I just said to the GBC, “okay you don’t want CPO to deal with that, you’ve already dealt with that, okay you’ve already written a report, so give me the report.” And they wouldn’t send me the report. And they would say,
“Oh this one has it.”
“Oh that committee over there.”
“No it’s this one.”
And this went on for years!
Something I wrote I think on Vedic Enquirer or day or a few ago, and I think this is important for listeners to understand. So we say, okay that’s the reason they gave, the GBC already handled it. Now here’s an important point: before the CPO opened in April 1998, GBC had already dealt with dozens of cases of child abuse connected with the ISKCON organisation. Of these dozens and dozens of cases that the GBC already dealt with, how many of those cases did the GBC say, “Don’t touch this CPO”?
The answer is one! The Lokanath Swami case.
As an example there were dozens of cases that happened in Iskcon Mayapur late 70s through to 1991. And those cases were investigated, adjudicated according to the system, there was a team of four, they did an investigation. They had little to no resources. And I read the report soon after I assumed my responsibilities with the Child Protection Office and they did an excellent job. I was impressed. I’m still impressed. And it was dozens of cases. And they gave clear recommendations for restrictions and rectification and healing. It was really nicely done. From my point of view it was done at a much, much higher level than what the GBC did with the Lokanath Swami case.
The GBC said they wanted the CPO to deal again with those dozens of cases in Mayapur! So I’m just saying there’s an inconsistency here. None of those dozens of perpetrators or alleged perpetrators, if we count the number of their disciples, it comes to zero.
Sanaka Rsi: I remember you wrote an article many years ago, Favouritism and the Appeal Process, where you describe the challenges that you had dealing with high-profile cases. The Lokanath Swami case has been quite a rollercoaster because at the beginning the GBC said this has to go to the CPO. Then they did a U-turn which I was very surprised that the GBC made that public statement. I was in disbelief if I had to be honest, knowing what I know, seeing what I’ve seen. And then they very shortly after that, they made a U-turn and said, “actually we’re going to create a Panel that’s going to decide whether the CPO needs to look at this.” And on that Panel there is nobody representing the victim! Lokanath Swami supporters have two representatives. Iskcon is very well represented.
But not one person on there advocating for the victim.
The notion that somehow such a Panel would inspire confidence and trust in a very murky case is astonishing to me. That the GBC would think that somehow that would be valuable in restoring confidence in a case that needs so much of it.
Damodara: Are there any particular red flags Dhira Govinda prabhu, when you look at what eventually has come to the surface around the investigation in 1993, the documentation around that, even some of the leaked emails?
Dhira Govinda: There’s a whole festival of red flags from the very beginning clearly indicating that ISKCON leadership is not honouring, in any appreciable way, the principle of, “Justice is Blind.”
(The phrase “justice is blind” means that in a court of law, a person is tried on facts and evidence. Judges, jurors, and law-enforcement professionals aren’t supposed to pick favourites or rule for whomever they like the most.)
Like we could just take this case anywhere, we could pick it up anywhere and it’s like there’s a whole bunch of red flags. I’ve already described a few like, “Okay, CPO shouldn’t touch it” and that was okay with me in 1998, but then let’s be consistent. GBC dealt with other cases better than they dealt with Lokanath, why can’t the CPO touch that one? So there is an inconsistency. Justice is not blind. Now someone can say, “Well that’s a good thing, that’s because so many people are inspired by Lokanath Swami and we don’t want to disrupt their faith, so it’s protecting.”
You know, people can have their arguments, but in terms of the, Justice is Blind principle, practically from beginning to end, consistently there is no honouring of that principle, clearly!
Let’s not pretend there is from Iskcon leadership on this case.
And some could say, “that’s a good thing because there should be special treatment here.” You know, everyone can have their opinion.
Sanaka Rsi: Recently devotees have bought up some quotes from the Mādhurya-kādambinī which I had never seen before which essentially say that the Holy Name can destroy even Vaisnava aparadha, can eradicate Vaisnava aparadha, one simply needs to chant and everything is fine, you don’t need to apologise, you don’t need to do anything, it’s all just chant and be happy and everything is fine.
Damodara: Yes it may be so. Obviously we hear conflicting things like every day there is a particular verse we sing at the beginning of Japa saying if you’re infested with the Ten Offences you could chant for many births and you’d still not get the fruits of love of Godhead.
Krishna has His own sweet will, and I guess if one has a sincere repentance, even let’s say the victim never finds it in their heart to actually forgive, Krishna may change His attitude and may soften and see that the person is repentant and sincere.
I think one of the challenges in this case is it does appear that the repentance is missing.
Not only was there no penned letter of acknowledgement by Maharaja, it had to be penned by others but was still signed by Maharaja, but even now there’s denial. In fact there’s even denial about the authenticity of the ghost-written letter, as if Maharaja was somehow unaware of its contents even though it was signed by him.
It would appear that if one fails to even come to terms with the damage you’ve caused and the trauma you’ve caused in another person’s life, the appeal to directly take shelter of Krishna and bypass any attempt to resolve with the victim, and potentially to re-traumatise the victim by appearing in the holy seat and being honoured in the assembly, these things seem wholly inappropriate.
Dhira Govinda: I think that the truly holy person, like Jagai and Madhai in their transformation, would be like in this heartfelt wanting to rectify, and really, deeply feeling the pain of the victim and her family.
Okay so Mādhurya-kādambinī whatever, okay so yeah, they are philosophically true quotes. And the way to apply them is to cram them down the throat of the girl who is transgressed!?
With those who are transgressed against, I mean that’s the time for understanding and hearing their pain and woundedness. How and when to apply? Because kind of like;
“Look a holy man! He just chants Hare Krishna! He’s completely api cet su-duracaro! So you should just shut up! Just shut up! Do you see how much service he’s doing? And how much service have you done for Prabhupada’s Movement compared to him!? So just shut up. Be a Vaisnava. Be like me.”
So it’s like, how are the quotes used? And I’m being deliberately a little dramatic to get across the energy of how quotes are misused.
Sanaka Rsi: Apologising is one of the hardest things ever. An honest apology needs to be self incriminating. And I’ve seen very, very few good apologies in my life.
I can envision a scenario where somebody offers a genuine apology. Somebody really does the best that they can you know, if I’ve offended someone I offer the best apology that I’m capable of right now, and somehow the offended party is not satisfied. And then I’m desperate because I understand that my spiritual life cannot progress until I have resolved this. And in that mood, if I chant in that mood of desperation where I call out to Krishna then yes, in that consciousness I think it may be possible to overcome Vaishnava aparadha without the blessing of the person that has been offended. But if it’s used to say, “you don’t really need to appease the offended“ then I don’t think it’s going to work.
Srila Prabhupada in the Bhagavatam explains that you have to appease. When you’ve committed Vaisnava aparadha you have to appease the Vaisnava that you have offended. It’s not just, “Oh, write an apology and you’re done.” The Vaisnava you offended needs to be appeased. And that’s an important component.
Damodara: Does it make a difference to the victim’s healing if they see genuine remorse and recognition? Or is that incidental, like you know, that’s just an independent process that the victim or survivor will go on?
Dhira Govinda: I have found it often makes substantial difference in the depth and acceleration of healing. Often, not always.
Dhira Govinda (speaking to Sanaka): I really liked your description of the essence. I am not familiar with the Mādhurya-kādambinī verse, but I think I get the idea. I like how you describe the essence, like how it can be misused, and the actual essence is that if someone is really giving their 100% sincere – and okay the one who’s been transgressed maybe understandably is not accepting – alright so then that’s where it applies, not like a legal loophole to avoid giving my earnest, vulnerable, raw expression of remorse.
To avoid that, I have this verse, “I’ll chant extra rounds today, all is good.” It’s not meant to be as a loophole.
Damodara: So some are sort of saying even if they understand in principle that stepping down might be appropriate for a crime like this, what do you tell all the disciples, “you just have to reject”? Of course this is compounded by the fact that there’s probably been 5000 extra disciples added since 1993, many of whom were not told despite that being a regulation that they should be told, and therefore the shock/horror. How do we resolve this conundrum? Are the GBC going to turn around and say, “that’s it, disqualified! All of you take re-initiation.” Or do they say, “no more initiations from you”? Do you have a view as to how to reconcile these things?
Dhira Govinda: If someone is naturally, sincerely inspired by Lokanath Maharaja then I wouldn’t want to interfere with that, like if they’re sincerely inspired. Okay I guess I am seeing at least three components, so it’s a little complex, but I feel pretty clear based on what I understand from Prabhupada.
So like okay, someone did something that revealed some anarthas, either last year or 30 years ago, and someone else is inspired (by them) to chant Hare Krishna and read Prabhupada’s books. So that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful. And I wouldn’t want to try and legislate against that. I’d feel terrible to try and legislate against that if someone is genuinely inspired. Not in a fanatical way.
Whatever someone did, but if someone is truly inspired (by them) in their Krishna Consciousness, I don’t want to get in the way of that. Now from the point of view of someone who has transgressed,… a few minutes ago I talked about it, following up on what Sanaka shared, that the transgressor wouldn’t want a position. And that transgressor who is sincere in their transformation, and in their apology – not just apology in the superficial sense but the Jagai, Madhai sincerity – they wouldn’t want the position. They would be eager to serve Prabhupada’s Movement, and I would think that then that Spirit Soul is going to be so inspiring. I would be inspired! That Spirit Soul is going to be naturally inspiring, not based on position, not based on legislation. So if someone is naturally inspired, let them be inspired, and I would think that the transgressor would naturally, I would think, but what do I know, but I would think the transgressor would give up position, honour, things like that, and that he or she would be an even more inspiring devotee.
If people are genuinely inspired, let 5 million people be inspired, but genuinely inspired, not in like a superficial way, but genuinely inspired to read Bhagavatam, chant Hare Krishna, share Prabhupada’s teachings, distribute prasad.
As far as if we study what Srila Prabhupada said and wrote about re-initiation, we’ll find that Prabhupada said… nothing. So that’s an important point. Nothing about re-initiation meaning clearly Prabhupada – and so it’s interesting that in the Institution there have been thousands and thousands of this thing called re-initiation but the fact that Prabhupada, not that he just said… he just never mentioned it, never. Which seems to indicate that he established a system that no one would ever even think about it.
So let Souls be inspired by Lokanath Maharaja, or whoever, I wouldn’t want to try and get in the way of that. If any institution or individual does, I think that’s mistaken. And I would think that the one who did the transgression would be enthusiastic to humbly serve without the trappings of any position, or pranamas, or pictures on the altar when offering bhoga, or things like that.
Damodara: (Reading a comment from the live feed) “Personally I believe that the Holy Name can liberate people from all kinds of sins etc., otherwise what are we all doing, right? But I still think that people have to be accountable and even if repentance is there consequences should still follow… Otherwise we make way for more of the same just allowing by way of Sastra, more abuse.”
(Another comment from the live feed) “Except for Vaishnava aparadha, that has to be resolved by the forgiveness of the offended Vaisnava. In the case of the child abuse, especially decades later, how does one resolve the cumulative trauma that hurt the person’s growth in Krishna Consciousness?”
Damodara: That’s a great point isn’t it, that we might focus so much on the needs and interests of the disciples, the needs and interests of the accused, but if we’re trying to understand what facilitates the healing of victims and survivors, they often seem to get overlooked in our process.
It’s not just by going, “Oh that’s just a Karmic thing that happened to me. Now that you’ve told me that, I’m instantly free from all the trauma!” It can follow a person throughout their life and play havoc in life outcomes: health, career, addictions, all kinds of things.
Dhira Govinda: As the years of the Child Protection Office went on, my service was more and more around healing, transformation. And as I’ve mentioned, we actually developed the Advance Seminar of the Satvatove Institute, and it was originally for the healing and auspicious transformation of the Vaisnava youth who were maltreated when they were children.
And a point I’ll make, that this, api cet su-duracaro or trnad api sunicena, be humbler than… all these verses. So we can think about how adults and people in leadership positions, the teachers, whatever, how they are misusing Sastra. As important, or more important in my experience, the youth who were maltreated as children, they misuse Sastra to stifle themselves and to impede their own healing, and to impede their own empowerment, because they’ve owned the misuse of the principle of Karma.
That’s important. I’ve encountered that a lot, that the Youth, the middle-aged adult who was sexually abused, physically abused, neglected within the organisation, that they have adopted these twisted understandings of api cet su-duracaro, and humility and, “the world stands in no need of any reformer” and so I’ve found it’s often vital to support them to look at that, to look at that to disentangle their misconceptions.
First of all it’s not for me to say to someone, “Oh, what happened when you were six years old, it’s your Karma.” That’s not my role.
An important point about Karma is there’s the principle of Karma, then there’s the principle of what’s my Dharma? So okay, maybe that was my Karma, and again that’s not for Dhira Govinda to tell someone, but maybe that was my Karma. And my Dharma is to put you in prison! No contradiction there.
Dhira Govinda: Just to get a little more nuanced here, it’s true, if someone experienced some Karma from something in a previous life, and there is a mentality for Rajas and Tamas, if there is a mentality of, “I am going to hurt you back” which is different than like Arjuna realised it’s his Dharma to fight this battle from a Sattvic place, a Śuddha-sattvic place. So if someone is like, “I’m gonna destroy the instrument of my Karma“ then if there’s Rajas or Tamas involved then it’s true, then we are perpetuating the cycle of Karma.
And if someone sees, “Okay, this is my Karma, I’ve processed, I’ve come to some realisations, philosophically, emotionally.” And it’s my Dharma, either Sattvic or truly transcendental – I say truly, as opposed to spiritual bypass, artificial transcendental – “Okay, but I’m going to do my Dharma, fight my battle, then I’m not further entangling myself or others in Karma.” So I just want to address the Karma issue because that’s been misused a lot.
Damodara: Just following on from the vilification point that was brought up. It seems to be going beyond that at the moment where victims are actually being threatened, relatives are being threatened, relatives of some of the people even to speak on the Vedic Enquirer have been threatened.
Apparently the 60-day process that was supposed to be kicked off we were notified about on the 21st July, so exactly one month ago, hasn’t even begun, the clock hasn’t even begun ticking yet! It feels like this is being dragged out and dragged out, and in the meantime the tensions are building between Maharaja’s supporters and those who have a view that some kind of justice still needs to be done. Should people just follow, “Discretion is the better part of Valour” and just stay out of the limelight at the risk of being Bulldozed? Or, you know, publish and be damned?
Dhira Govinda: I endeavour that when I communicate, that I’m civil, and respectful, and in a Vaishnava way.
And I’m sure maybe sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not. Yeah, I’ve had my life threatened in scenarios like you’re describing where a particular official ISKCON Guru was under investigation and some of his ‘sincere followers’ made some threats. I saw it as an occupational hazard. My response is to express myself in a way that is truly, sincerely endeavouring to be Sattvic. Sattvic expression means express the truth if not fearlessly, at least courageously.
So to express the truth, and express it in a way that I can say to myself, to Prabhupada, “I’m truly expressing this in a way that’s meant to be beneficial. I’m not intending to harm, or hurt, or belittle, or slander. I’m not taking out my unhealed wounds on someone else, on some unresolved anger issues.” Then I’m expressing my truth without compromise, and in a way that’s truly intended to be beneficial for everyone involved. It might not be pleasant, but its intent is true and it’s beneficial.
I understand that it’s an occupational hazard. That if that’s the stand I take in life, whether it’s Child Protection related to ISKCON organisation, or so many other topics, then some people will admire what I express and how I express it, some might be inspired, some might appreciate and increase their respect for me. Others, if I take a stand, “Here’s the facts, here’s my perspective”, some people might throw rocks or shoot bullets because they want me to sit down and be quiet. I just kind of see it as an occupational hazard. I don’t want to be reckless! I’m not trying to provoke for the sake of provoking. At the same time I know that I’m not fulfilling my highest destiny, purpose and mission if I’m going to withhold out of fear.
Sanaka Rsi: The point of etiquette that has been brought up a lot; “Lokanath Swami is a senior Prabhupada disciple, he’s a Sannyasi, he’s a Guru, he’s senior to most people who are trying to campaign both in age and spiritual standing.” Then they say, “According to Vaisnava etiquette you don’t correct your superiors.” Now we have a problem, as Saraswati mentioned, people who are his equals are not doing anything about it! But not only, they’ve done a lot to cover up the problem! What is the respectful way to address a situation like this?
For me, remaining silent is a bad option. Saying it’s not my service, which is kind of implied that it’s against the etiquette to correct your superiors, so I’m just going to look the other way while we sail off the cliff. So what would be the respectful way to address somebody who is socially in superior standing but has done something which is severe and serious?
Dhira Govinda: My understanding is this “Vaisnava etiquette,” this is another truthful, philosophical principle that is often misused. Without getting into details, the essence of the purpose of the etiquette, my understanding, is to enhance the exchange of Truth, to enhance the quality of relations between Spirit Souls who are sincere about Self-discovery, and Krishna Consciousness, and Divine Consciousness. Vaisnava etiquette is not supposed to be a wall or a barrier to avoid honest communication. It’s supposed to create a container and a structure to enhance honest communication.
To think, “Because we have this Vaisnava etiquette rule here, so then there’s a wall, there’s a barrier.” I think that’s not just missing the point, it’s like 180° wrong.
Sanaka Rsi: The parent is 100% responsible for the protection of their children. Society is also 100% responsible. And the teachers are also 100% responsible. It’s not 30, 30, 30 where the teacher says, “well I did my part but the parent didn’t do theirs, so the child drowned.“
Damodara: We’ve been talking about rectification. Let’s say if someone is looking at it from the perspective of looking into their own hearts and saying, “Have I paid my dues, have I cleansed myself?“ How would we recognise rectification is happening?
Dhira Govinda: I appreciated what Sanaka shared earlier about what a true apology looks like; it includes a genuine acknowledgement of what I did, that we are seeing that there is acknowledgement, and there’s 100% responsibility, there’s no slipping and sliding. So I stand 100% responsible for the transgressions I committed. Then there is an honest, truthful account, sincere apology, and sincere commitment. Not just an offer, but sincere commitment to make amends and rectify.
Sanaka Rsi: I don’t want to pick on Lokanath Swami, but his case is in the headlines right now. I think there are things he could do, there’s a lot he could do to show, for example, Lokanath Swami is the one person who could stop the attacks that his followers and supporters and disciples are carrying out on his victim. To me that would suggest rectification, remorse, a genuine concern. The fact that he’s silent and he’s hiding behind these devotees who are behaving like thugs.… they’re behaving like bullies, that’s what they’re doing.
The fact that Lokanath Maharaja is hiding behind these devotees in silence instead of… in my limited understanding and perspective, a Vaisnava would come out and say, “This is completely unacceptable, this is not Vaisnava behaviour! I’ve caused this, I’m the cause of this! I don’t care what I lose, I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure that the person that I traumatised with my bad judgement-calls, bad decisions, and my actions is not going to be further abused because of my silence.”
Certainly to me he is complicit in the perpetuation of abuse, in that circle of abuse. It’s like a downward spiral that expands the abuse. And he is complicit with his silence. He is the one person who could put an end to this very simply, and very quickly. Yes the price would be high. But I think the price that he’s paying, and we will be paying with his continued silence is even greater.
When Dhira Govinda was talking about Karma, and how you don’t tell someone who’s been abused it’s their Karma, it reminded me of my days when I was in Gurukula. One of the teachers, when he was beating us he would tell us, “Oh it’s your Karma.” That was his transmission of Krishna conscious philosophy.
To tell somebody who is suffering that, “this is your Karma”, unless you’re coming from a place of love, trust, concern, where you know that the person is going to benefit from that remark, what you’re doing is diabolical! It’s like you’re adding insult to injury. Even though you’re speaking the philosophy you’re not expressing the vibration of Krishna consciousness. It’s not being transmitted. There is nothing Krishna conscious about it. You’re using the Scriptures to abuse people, and there’s nothing spiritual about that.
I think He (Krishna) has taken a specific interest in this. I see that somehow this Lokanath Swami case has opened a huge window, shining a huge light on a very complex and problematic stumbling block for the Hare Krishna Society.
The perpetrators are the symptom of the problem. The problem is a collective consciousness that supports, enables, protects and defends these abusers. What I see happening with the Lokanath Swami case is Krishna is shining a huge light on this problem and saying this needs to be addressed, we cannot go forward as a society, both individually and collectively unless and until this is addressed.
And the light is getting bigger and bigger, the momentum! A friend of mine was saying, “This is turning into a Movement. It started off as a campaign, it’s turning into a Movement.“ So for me this is, like I feel I don’t know how to express it without sounding hippy, but I feel like there’s some huge Grace that is taking place right now, some incredible Mercy of Krishna that we are living through.
I feel like we are on the cusp of significant change for this Society. A collective raising of consciousness and awareness. Yeah, let’s see what the next chapter brings. I am very hopeful.
Dhira Govinda: I’m inspired by Sanaka’s concluding words so much. I’m moved to more and more fully, and subtly understand the essence of Prabhupada’s Siddhanta and teachings in relation to societal protection, especially of vulnerable members like children.
The application of a Sloka here and there, it cannot just be misapplied, it becomes like really, really dangerous. Like I was very moved Sanaka when you shared a few minutes ago, when you were personally being beaten by the adult and his using Karma… like this is just,… I use the word, diabolical.
I’m moved to fuller devotion to the Sublime, profound teachings, and that my life will be a legacy of these teachings. And I’m more and more conscious, more and more on guard to not misapply them because that creates catastrophe, individually, organisationally.
Yeah, to be an instrument for the actual essence and import which is filled with inspired intelligence and caring heart.
Damodara: I was super encouraged back in May when I heard the case was going to be going to CPO. I thought, “Wow, finally we’re starting to see what needs to be done.” I was shocked that there was a reversal of that because I couldn’t imagine how you could possibly justify a reversal of that, and yet here we are!
Now I’m simply intrigued. I wonder where the GBC will land? I would have preferred it to go to CPO, I hope it still goes to CPO, but I’m truly intrigued to see where they land.
Sanaka Rsi: I’m going to end with a quote:
“A society that doesn’t take a definitive stance for the protection of its children doesn’t stand for much and has no future.”
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