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2011 GBC Meeting Minutes FULL

(l to r) Badrinarayan, Praghosh, Lokanath.

 

Appendix G from Panel Report Appendices

October 2011 GBC Midterm Meeting Minutes, pg. 4, 14, 15, and 41

 

LOKANATH SWAMI

Hcd: bcais will introduce, sesa will give ppt. then questions and answers.
Bcais: attention. Read proposal GET DOCS FOR FOLDER

In 1990 unfortunate incident, statement was issued in 1997. Was to inform disciples which went on for some time. Last year she brought forward complaints strongly with help of ritviks. Ec felt the practice of giving initiation candidates giving them info about this, so not a surprise, so they could accept it before initiation. Lok and the ec prepared such a letter based on the letter of 1997. This was prepared, then our legal consultants tightened or sharpened the focus. That letter was presented here last year. The ec’s idea was Maharaja would present the letter and continue to initiate.

But then some members felt more action might be needed. . . . ??

Hung vote in mayapur about this, lok came forward and expressed he would stop initiating of his own volition and that’s how it would be presented. There was no resolution, just coming from him.

Somehow the word got out that we pressured him to stop, which brought a strong reaction from his disciples and indian leaders. He felt perhaps he should continue. To address this he has made a presentation already which you received, a detailed and shorter version.

So Maharaja is now going to present this point and the logic behind it. Some discussion and then a vote. If somehow it is hung it’ll have to wait till mayapur to go on further.

Now we call on Sesa Prabhu to present on his behalf.

The decision was not published but somehow the word got out and it appears it became public.

Badri: good news travels overland, bad news travels air express.

Sesa:

GET PPT FOR FOLDER

He wishes to reveal his mind about what bcais told us, the whole history. He is grateful to have that opportunity and is hoping that it will be taken in the spirit as hh rns writes:

“HH Lokanath Maharaja has approached me with a heavy heart about his need to explain to the body his understandings and realizations regarding the topic discussed last year. Having dedicated his life in Srila Prabhupada’s service for the past 40 years, I feel that it is appropriate for the body to carefully hear him out with due consideration while evaluating the situation.”

Personally, I can say that having gone through the material, my perception of the events has changed, what I understood in mayapur was wrong and now it is clear. ???

Bcais explained how we got here. Lok lead kirtan at nyc ry 2010, girl and family made some complaints about this, came to attention of ec, 3 aspects of their response is what we will discuss here.

  1. Increased publicity.
    But this only took place for a short period of time, after jul 10-20 there was nothing more aobut it. No more such stories.
  2. Disclosure: he admits he didn’t follow perfectly. There were no real guidelines given how he had to inform them, he did that, he established a network of senior disciples who were to distribute this info to prospective disciples. After 7-8 years, things changed, and his error was not consulting the gbc but acted on consideration of disciples’ thinking this being an old an irrelevant matter. Now he promises to recify this.
  3. The third area was perception of severity of incident increasing. Since 1993 he has been consistent in his reporting of the incident. Took place in 1990. . . family contacted gbc in 1993 and a subcommittee was formed. There was no formal report then, it is important to note how they handled it. Gbc committee, this quote is from 1997 but refers to 1993 committee. They were acutely aware that it was likely to be publicized on the net, but they felt it unprincipled to respond to the rabble rousers.
    “provided he recognized his fault and rectified and atoned’ then should not be disqualified. And he did. He followed the recommendations. The impression I had in mayapur was that he had not been forthcoming, had been reluctantly going along, maybe not disclosing facts, but here we see the committee gave him a clean chit.

If we go to 1997, how did this come up in again when it was dealt in 1993? The gbc felt the need, because of publicity in part??, another subcommittee, they came up with a detailed report. This included the psychological evaluation of 1993. They came to certain conclusions and that is important as show his motive.

These were done by gbc and professionals. CAP behavior associates specialize in clergy implicated in child molestation. And they concluded he is not a pedophile and presents no danger to children. Also given the conditions, no reason to expect it to return, he should remain a religious leader.

And there haven’t been any recurring incidences in 21 years.

This report came out in 1997. And a letter that the committee posed that he was to hand out to his dsicples. In that letter, there is a decrease in the severity. He disclosed the severity in 1993, the 1997 letter doesn’t have the same degree of candour as Maharaja own statements because the committee felt that the instance should not destroy his life. They said that. (repeats)

Lok himself is not responsible for the decreased severity of the letter, it was the committee’s decision.

Then 2010 again there was publicity. The gbc was informed and had to take action. We had a similar ec, they met lok, decided he should distribute another letter. You have it. It wasn’t presented to the gbc. Said sanctions should be imposed again but not initiations stopped altogether, for some time.

Sent for legal editing. The severity in the legal edit went up dramatically. Loks’ story always remained the same but the severity goes up to D. contextual edits, terms, additions and deletions. Here are some examples.

My perception at least was changed.
Contextual editing:

Inappropriate vs uncomfortable
Background info was taken out in the legal edit, context changed, sounds like he was alone with her.
(harmonium incident)

Deletions:
The professionals felt his background was important. That was in the ec letter but was removed by the legal edit.

Accidental mistakes—was taken out of legal edit.
The 1997 concusion was it was an accidental mistake but that was removed from edited version.

All this creates a perception that he was not forthcoming but that is far from truth. Based on all this, he has requested that we reconsider his voluntary statement about ceasing from initiations.

Sesa reads proposal

Hcd: srs’s letter of support read. Bcs also. Bvs also. Bvg.

Badri: whatever gbc decides, let it be decided on fact. I am very pained to be in this situation. Lok is saintly, it is not pleasant to say this, we have repeatedly been put in this position. I hope I never have to repeat. Here is what happened: lok told me at the time, sesa was not present at the time, many facts have been edited out from both sides, we have danced around the issue. Here is what happened. I hate saying this.

Lok was sitting on the couch with this could, took his hand, felt her vagina, he moved his hand back after she moved it away, and felt her out as they say, he admitted he was overcome by lusty desires, that’s what he told me.

That is the core event.

At every moment there has been haggling, he wasn’t necessarily straightforward, haggling, pressure over every single word, when we asked way back about the letter for initiations, it was pushing, we told him at least you have to tell disciples, not because of pressure on internet or expediency, but it was because we didn’t want disciples who were angry we didn’t tell them. Others were angry too. We said at least write a letter so disciples can have an informed choice so they don’t feel cheated by iskcon and gbc. We haggled. The graph of disparity is not because gbc was ambivalent, but under pressure of him and others, and out of respect for him, that’s one reason you have the fluctuation. That letter, there were agruments, is it just for the west, just for usa, NO, you have to do to all,

It was reluctantly, anemically, and faded out. Embarrassing for him and he let it fade out. But he is
responsible. That is history. There was a quote from the psychological review was that lok cannot envision himself not being a guru, may have a breakdown.

If you strip away the wrangling, you have his burning desire to initiate. Here are gbc members, sannyasis, who don’t intitiate. They are able to give significant shelter for years. I have helped ppl become devotees, trained, who see me as more important than their diksa guru. The idea that if I can’t initiate I can’t preach or initiate is not a fact.

Picture a scale, we want to protect lok, encourage, recognize his years of surrender and dedicated service.
Can’t deny the other side. What about ppls faith in guru system, gbc, etc. because of his burning desire to initiate, this is coming up again and again. Mud thrown on him, gbc, ISKCON, again it will be on sampradaya sun. again giving them tool and again faith is broken of devotees.

If lok had followed the original good advice. The gbc frankly tried to help and protect him by bending over backwards, if he had sustained that agreement we could have protected. If he had followed the advice from mayapur, maybe in 10 years we would have begged him to initiate. He keeps opening the wound and it never heals because he cannot breathe without initiating. He couldn’t take the first good advice or second. Be like Bhisma, be noble. You would be honoured and we would all be relieved.

Dds was given same opportunity, he couldn’t. bsst made a vow, he stole a mango, said I cannot taken for rest of life. If he took that advice in past, or last year, or now, all he has to say is I made a mistake it was big though long ago, he will be glorified honoured and respected.

The letters we heard from other gbcs are based on inaccuracies, if the body decides he should initiate, if he cannot take the vow himself to not, I will accept it, it will be a relief. I abhor being in this position but let it be based on facts. I am sorry to put him in this position. May I never have to ask you this again, are you changing what you told me or is it factual? Either you are inaccurate now or then?

Lok: what I confessed or disclosed in 93, some are here, bkg and some others, it happened in san diego. I don’t know if you were on the team or privately. I am not going back on what you described. It was not written down in 1993. That was the subcommittees decision. Also to not involve the rest of gbc I was told don’t tell disciples, don’t initiate for some years. Tell them you are busy with centennial. The confidentiality was not maintained by our members, in 1997 there was some propaganda about it, so my name was lumped with that. Virabahu was chairman, bkg of na, they decided to make a statement as the rumour mill was exaggerating. Same subcommittee of 93 wrote a report. Then because that paper of 97 was to be shown to disciples, I was doing some negotiation, but I was standing by what I had stated. Rvsd was the author, he interviewed me, others’ input was there and the subcommittee was released. The facts did not change but on paper it was not mentioned what part was touched, just mentions upper thigh. I was showing that paper to prospective disciples for 7-8 years. Most were indian, when they would read or hear that, they were not so disturbed by the incident but why do we have to hear it from ten years ago. So we phased it out. My mistake.

In 1997 at that time I was given a doc without any such guidelines, I had not undetrstood how long. So I stopped and I apologise for that.

Then last year some publicity on the ritvik site, we attemptd to come up with a draft that described the severity of 93. I am sure I contributed to the 97 watering down, but others gave input. So we wanted to go back to 93. Bcais and I went back and forth. I don’t know who else was in the background, I am sure badri had a say of 2010 draft. That draft does give the details of the part of body, the intention was to prepare an updated version, an apology letter and give it to prospective disciples. Then legal edit, I was asked to come and I hadn’t seen that version. I was told it was slightly changed and I didn’t pa attention and only after agm did I closely look at it.

In mayapur everyone was saying it is more severe and then I realized where it came from. The subcommittee also felt it should be subdued in 1997. The severity came from the legal draft and I wanted to bring it to your attention. That was alarming to the subcommittee of 2010. They had a long session, reviewed the whole case. More sanctions, each time the moratorium on initations was there, then a ban came up. The surcharged atmosphere, I was bewildered, severity I didn’t understand, so I did agree, but was wondering if it was justified.

Hcd: to badri, you were talking about the same incident which is different version??

Badri: I tried to get far away, I didn’t write that letter . about changing severity, rvsd himself it was the caes of the wandering hand. You haggled over every single word. I touched her upper thigh, and that is what everyone thought, severity changed as previous versions were acquiesced to your desire and to protect your reputation. Upper thigh was your word, and you put your hand there, one time it was accidental, but that is not what happened, don’t load the severity on the gbc, that came because of you. It became clear I think only now all are aware of what happened. Another example of your constant pressure the whole way.

Tamo: severity issue, I will say yes, it is not that there is new facts, that is true and consistent. What has changed is knowledge of what happened and reporting, I have all the files I know this case very well. In one version, I hate to say it, but my reaction was it was a whitewash. The 93 or 97 watered it down so much so as to be almost unrecognized. Badri also was saying that from the beginning to get a stronger statement.

The fact is most of gbc most ppl didn’t know the details, even in amaypur 2 gbcs I spoke to were shocked. It isnt’ your fault exactly. We came up with a list of proposals similar to yours. I was in the committee. When we went in the meeting, there was a complete split. Then some of your godbrothers spoke to you, I thought this would be such an embarrassment for you to give this lette, when you came back to step down, we all felt this sigh of relief. This is a solution. We don’t want to come down on you, this was a great relief, an elegant solution.

Now when I heard when you wanted to reopen it was like a wrench in my heart, etierh you or gbc or ISKCON will be embarrassed. It is a fact. . .i don’t feel you are dangerous to kids, no. the problem is it did happen, however.
One phrase is “sole accidental mistake” that is an interesting thing to call child sexual abuse. You would be jailed in the us. Even if it was time, accidental perhaps. Now we have to defend a guru in our movement who was responsible for child sexual abuse. It is very difficult to defend this position to our devotees.

I told you this before, maybe not so strongly, you said what has really changed, one big change is the cultural change. That maybe not fair to you but we know more aobut hese issues, lawsuits, we’ve gone thorugh bad publicity, losing practically a generation of devotees, so much pain from the way esp. we handled it all. What about our society and the overall effect?

There is an anomaly. We will have to explain, I don’t want to explain. I would so much rather come to you thatcould be dealt with vaisnava way. I will live with the results.

Prag: obeisances. I also spoke in mayapur on this subject. Notwithstanding sesa’s presentation, for me it just doesn’t change anything last year. As long as our movement allows the gurus to be seen in a certain way, which is way above any other religious organization, so elevated, sastric quotes on guru, when something like this happens to such a person, for me it means they cannot servie in that role in this life, it is impossible to defend. Then we make some arrangement to again serve in that position. If we make such mistakes, the role of guru that we shouldn’t want for the sake of the movement. I could never vote in favour. In my experience this is the first time we get letters on a screen from absent members and I object to that procedure.

Badri: it’s a campaign.

Ad: first, I am not clear on the purpose of the presentation, it doesn’t change the facts, I was involved in it, it is a fact that the lawyers stepped up, but it also was sanitized in the beginning. I think that, the issue raised multiple times that to have Maharaja stop initiating is going to destroy his life, no proposal that he cant be a sannyasi, or give shelter, just no further disciples. Even that is a stretch. . . .

What is critical, is not the history of the letters, but as it resurfaced last year, as ic, it forced us to reexamine the situation 1. That Maharaja didn’t fulfill mandate to inform disciples and 2. We had a resolution that cpo resolution was to apply to guru too?? Cpo existed in 93, ?? I remind all last year, and the first cpo director felt gbc was protecting lok to not open his case.

He is far away now but he more than once felt discomfort that he was not allowed to open that case, it had been handled in the past, let sleeping dogs lie. But it came up again then you are forced to make this decision again.
The other day we heard feedback about the gbcs reputation, one or two was that gbc is an old boys’ club and protects its own. We have to at least consider that. To we have to be consistent with the cpo law, someone told bvps about the cpo resolution who agreed before it was passed to conform.

Sad and complex for all of us, because of our respect and affection, the issue is not how the letter changed.
We have to decide on our standards and outside pressure.
We had letters form other leaders in india, but the dog is relatively sleeping, and when he starts pasing out these letters again it is going to be hard to predict the reaction. The disciples who now get the letter who knows what they will say? Torturous. So when it came to body, I think I told him it may come that you may not be able to initiate, and this is the s. . . .

But he has agreed like a gentleman to not initiate. Not sure if I have heard enough to change my decision.
Hcd: we have 15 mins left only. Have to discuss once he leaves and then vote.

Gkg: we have to extend time, requires 2 3rd vote to do that.
ALL IN FAVOUR TO EXTEND DISUSSION TILL 7:
19
Bkg: he is still trying to barge us but maybe we can end it quickly if we talk privately.

Prag: Badri expressed strongly, and interesting they recommend he stays a religious leader, badri articulated that he is addicted to being a guru, the point is that no member of this body don’t lobby for him again. If we bring a decision it won’t come back again.

Pas: I think you should decide first if you want to speak privately.

Jps: I’ll speak slowly so better understood. I want to thank badri for enunciating what actually happened. This is what he also told me, it’s not what is written there are two things, it was dealt in 93 and 97. Then they had decided some things. He said he was not given a written copy of those decisions so after 7-8 years he stopped giving those papers out. Now in 2010 we had discussed the issue? And come out with further restrictions?
Then a wave in the gbc which was to take some?? Some gbcs have changed their thinking. They said they were influenced by the legal edit.

Back and forth, I think this was dealt with, there is no use asking someone to take a voluntary vow if it is not voluntary. “a man convinced against his will is ?? still.”
We don’t want our children abused, he went and apologized, bowed down, letter, review, so from his side he has been cooparative? And I don’t think repetition.

I have this doubt, as we all know from cc that kala krsnadas had a falldown, by bhattatharis. They engaged in illicit sex and Lord Caitanya had to personally save him, Lord Caitanya came back to puri and said he cannot be my servant any more and then he was sent to Bengal by Lord Nityananda. In Bengal, after some time, the Lord authorized him to be a diksa guru, there is a saamadhi for him and his disciple. He is also good singer and preacher. Our tendency is that we should give him some sanction and then ?? say we know have it dealt with by the cpo and this was ?? my humble opinion that we should let him resume his preaching.

He said he will stop initiating in north America. . . .

Vira: I was chairman in 93 and appointed the committee, in my point of view the question is more than double jeopardy, that the committee did know all the facts and they made their decision in 93 and 97. The main thing to be discussed is if it does apply, tamo and ad, said there have been cultural changes.

Badri: one reason is he didn’t follow.

Vira: does it have meaning double jeopardy, or more important the other facts. The committee did know all the facts. Why are we doing this again, it should be very clear.

Rps: the double jeopardy issue is important, at the same time we are being called upon to make a decision, this is the first time I hear the details, how can we vote that someone is a guru who did child sexual abuse.
How can vote in favour of that in principle. How can we not follow our own resolutions? And then public opinion, which may go either way. I would rather go to principle than opinion. I can’t vote for that.

Pas: It seems that the vote will go one way, I don’t know if there is a need for me to encourage, that. I am inclined in the same way, whatever happens about issuing subsequent explanations, the paper he handed out doesn’t represent the truth which I just heard.
Unless the paper explains what exactly went on for the disciples, it would be objectionable to water it down, that itself should be enough for him to not initiate.

Gkg: can we propose long term sanctions instead of blanket. The impact in his temples concerns me. They are all not aware of all this to the best of my knowledge.

Bkg: one additional piece of info, that when lok did this thing of putting his hand on the private part, the mother walked in and he took it off and then did again when she left.

Badri: not particularly, but the girl moved his hand away.

Bkg: I don’t remember that.

??

A pretty deliberate act, he took it off when someone else came in the room and did it again. It increases the severity.

Tamo: responding to gkg, that is a consideration, what is the effect, but here are the two scenarios: he will have to give this embarrassing news to everybody, that will be less than he not initiating at all. Dealt with quietly. Best case is he goes to be gving some fairly strong leter which you will all have to explain.

Ad: I thought they were going to display, we didn’t have the psychiatrist report, which wasn’t shown, they said he responded to her as he would an adult woman. It wasn’t pre-pubescent. He responded to her as a woman.
Put that on the table. ??

Prag: 11, at 15.5 I can have some empathy, at 11 I don’t whatever they said. Even 11 has presence of mind to take your hand away, what right do you have to put it back.
But the pragmatic thing, what effect, that has to take second place and we have to work on principle. Some gurus are worshipped as god every year. You cannot then reinstate a person into that role who has done this out of lust. Ignoring sannyasa dharma, or devotee, then she 11, then putting his hand back. Can initiate again and worship as good as god? Major issues and problems.

Rps: straw vote, vote may go in certain direction and some group can visit. Voluntary or involuntary, take the high road or the low road.

Proposal seconded.

STRAW VOTE THAT SAYS HOW MANY IN FAVOUR ARE IN FAVOUR OF HIS PROPOSAL AND HOW MANY NOT.
DIRECTIONAL.

IN PRINCIPLE SHOULD NOT INITIATE: then take that to him, and say this is the will of the body.
Hcd: are we ready for that, or need more direction.

Badri: rps’s vote is to get sense of the body, whichever way, that he shouldn’t initiate, directional, and a group goes to him.

Rps: directionally, he should not, take that to him and then see if we can get something from him.
Ad: even he is saying he won’t initiate for another year.
Call the vote, those in favour of accepting his proposal or some modified version
1 in favour

Second version: we would not like to see him initiate:
13.
Abstentions 7
Badri: dsdd proposed, how many are in favour of encouraging him to sincerely voluntarily. . .
Prag: we did that already in mayapur.

Hcd: It would have to written and unpublished.
Badri: I was hoping he would listen to his better angels. Maybe I’m naïve.

STRAW VOTE HOW MANY IN FAVOUR OF GROUP SITTING WITH HIM AND SEE IF HE CAN SINCERELY AGREE TO NOT INITIATE.

TELL him the results, maybe he will see that his best case didn’t go through, how many in favour of that effort.

In favour of making that effort: 15
Not in favour: 1
Abstain: 5

Bhanu: an alternative, that he should come to usa at all. Or Europe.
Badri: doesn’t mean anything.

Pvs: I agree with prag, I against this practice of putting diksa gurus on such a platform and it becomes an enormous drama when they do something wrong, I am surprised this has never been discussed on the body.

Badri: well taken, given this situation, what do we do now?

Pvs: I think you have seen the will of the body. I don’t have much to add. There is a cultural conflict here, in india, the history here, such thigns would be overlooked 20, she was dressed, in the modern world we have big pressure from the west. Cultural clash here, it is problematic.

Bms: I believe pvs hit on important point, the bigger picture. Every year we have a high profile godbrother who has a state of weakness and then we get into this. They are perceived like a god or demigod and I wish we could spend some time with this. Demuystifying the image of the guru ,the bigger picture, ti seems many of us are intoxicated with initiations, we need to discuss this, we are embarrassing ourselves every year.

Pvs: I don’t feel he is super attached to initiating, in india disciples influence others to take initiation from their guru, that puts him in hard position, we have rules to mitigate that, but that is the way it is. He is being pushed to accept disciples.

Gkg: I was in favour of long term restriction, nothing new to add. Not permanent restriction.

Ad: it is 7, I don’t think we are going to sway the votes in half an hour. Someone should go to explain, let him mull it over, we can’t decide over email. At least a couple of senior members sent letter, he felt pressured, but he had the night to think about it, now way he can do it in ten minutes. Someone should talk to him, anyway he can’t initiate till 1 year, maybe by mayapur he will think it over. Give him the honest vote.

Nrs: I second ad.

Bhanu: what happens if this proposal is defeated. Not formally. Ok so it is formally voted.

Ad: we could take a formal vote on his proposal.

Hcd: number 1 is clear it is on the paper in front of you, all in favour of number 1. If we vote in favour of 1 then we go to the conditions.

If 1 is against then it stops there.

Voting by hand on 1:

In favour: 1
Against: 12 (including rps)
Abstain: 8

This means we don’t need to visit number 2.

Hcd: now what do we tell him? His proposal didn’t pass.

Tamo: who were the volunteers. Bkg.
Bkg: I suggest tamo.
Tamo: I won’t be seen as sympathetic.
Bcais: I abstained. I tried to talk him out of it.
Prag: pas and sesa should join sesa.

Hcd: sounds better.
Sesa: I would talk to him myself.
Pas: I can join.
Ad: so what is the technical situation, can he initiate?
hcd: he is still suspended.
Papers must be gathered up.
Vira: what is to be said to the aspirant disciples.
Badri: talk in mayapur.
Vira: ppl are asking me.
Dsdd: even if accepted he wouldn’t be initiating till 2012.
Vira: so we tell him that. I have ppl in my zone who want to be initiated.
Hcd: his proposal has been rejected, we are in the status quo. That remains. Even that is kept confidential.
Dsdd: we could come to a place that we . . .
Hcd: the meeting is closed, thank you very much.

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