Krsna Devata’s Report
May 1, 2021
The GBC’s Mad Elephant Offense & How It Has Harmed Everyone
“To blaspheme pure Vaisnavas is an offense, but even blaspheming other jivas is a sin. Vaisnavas have no interest in performing such a sinful act. However, provided one has the right motive, the scriptures have not condemned a careful critique of someone’s faults. Proper motive is of three types: desiring the welfare of the person criticized, desiring the welfare of the world and desiring one’s own welfare. There are three types of proper motive:
- If the intention in analyzing someone’s sins to ensure that he attains his ultimate welfare such reflection is auspicious.
- If the motive behind reflecting on someone’s sins is to benefit the whole world, then this is to be counted as an auspicious act.
- If such reflection is undertaken for one’s own spiritual welfare, then it too, is auspicious. There is no fault in such reflection.”
~ Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur ~
~ How the abuse of one child harms everyone ~
The GBC public statements about Satya’s case have never been the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 1990 Satya was sexually molested by Lokanath Swami in her New Jersey home when she was 11 years old.
A group of 7 Governing Body Commission members: Bir Krishna Goswami, Badrinarayan Prabhu, Mukunda Maharaja, Sridara Swami, Virabahu Prabhu and Ravindra Swarup Prabhu crafted a carefully-worded, Asvattama lie that described some true elements, while surgically omitting the entire truth.
The omission of truth became deceit, and then a lie that was echoed again and again.
This untruth was often quietly uttered into the ears of aspiring disciples just prior to receiving the mantra initiation through those very ears. Each time it was retold, it buried the truth and magnified the lie.
One former disciple, Aakash Chhabra described: “the only time I heard about the molestation case against him was an hour before my initiation when another disciple of his was trying to rubbish the claims and tell everyone to not believe in them. A year and a half later, I started to feel there may be some truth in them. …I used to live in the temple while I attended college. I was helping at the registration desk… and [someone] was asking soon to be disciples if they are sure that they want to do this, if they are aware of this incident on the internet, if they think it was true, would they leave if they learned later…”
“The details will get out; I believe there is already a script read to his aspiring disciples before initiation, and when the details are compared to what we say, we will be accused of a whitewash.” – Badrinarayan dasa
After many documented efforts to minimize the harm done to a child, thereby building lie upon lie, upon misconduct, the GBC lied in the Official Lokanatha Falldown Report that the victim and family were satisfied : “An apology was made by letter and in person to the girl and the family. They were satisfied.” However, in Satya’s 2010 statement, she said “We were promised that Lokanatha would be punished. He was NOT.
His stupid misled followers still blindly followed him, and accused me of lying. I will never forget what I have been through.”
This report from the 1993 GBC Seven may be the first verifiable official misuse of Bhagavad Gita verse 9.30 in connection with child abuse in ISKCON. The institution then designed its policies, interfered with the protection of children, and set precedents and philosophical teachings to empathize with, excuse, and protect harmful leaders, high-profile perpetrators and sannyasis, rather than protecting, believing, and supporting survivors of abuse.
The GBC, in its efforts to cover up this story (and many others) with more and more elaborate lies, excuses, and justifications, have institutionalized empathy for the perpetrator and erasure of the victim. Repeatedly.
“I want to see Lokanath Maharaja off the hook and these sad events buried in the past”… “it will come back to haunt all of us” – Badrinarayan Dasa
Bir Krishna Swami was clearly informed by Yasoda (his disciple at the time) that the Falldown Report is inaccurate in two areas: “His hand did not brush against her thigh while reading Krishna book… [his palm] was on top of her genitals and I think he pressed down. The girl felt so violated because it was her vagina and also because he pulled away when someone entered and resumed when they were gone. This made her feel dirtier.”
Bir Krishna Swami directed the falsification of an apology letter, ghost-written by his disciple, Yasoda on behalf of the offender. “My Guru and I had to ghost write his apology letter” – Yasoda
The GBC had also directed Yasoda, as a mental health professional to interview the victim, establishing trust based on her profession and having the victim retell the trauma. Yet, she was there working on behalf of the institution that did not use her interview to help her, but instead used what Satya said to support the perpetrator. You can see above that she clearly tried to adjust the public record, however, she is no longer involved with ISKCON and will not provide any further information.
The GBC hired a psychotherapy team whose lead mental health professional was later charged with fraud by the NY Attorney General. The organization specialized in working with clergy of all religions. However, the GBC did not release that report, they released a “summary of the findings.” The original report was never made available, only a carefully selective summary of the report is available, containing some of the most damaging rhetoric adultifying Satya, and infantilizing the Swami.
From the GBC “Summary” of the Psychological Analysis: (KD’s notes in parentheses)
“Although the girl was young, she had begun the transition to womanhood, and Lokanath Swami did not sexually relate to her presence as that of a child.
(Justifying and validating the experience of the perpetrator, infantilizing the abuser while adultifying the child.)
Lokanath Swami had been brought up in a way that kept him entirely innocent of the experience of sexuality. (How is that possible? Between Bollywood, monkeys in the trees or even the Srimad Bhagavatam.)
He had not undergone the normal (or, at any rate, western) adolescent struggle of coming to grips with sexuality and sexual feelings.
(Did he not go through puberty? Infantilizing the grown man.)
Thus, when he found himself put into close association with this young girl, some sexual feelings unexpectedly arose, but these feelings were new to him, and he did not know exactly how to acknowledge them or cope with them.
(Attributing language that would generally describe a victim, to instead describe the perpetrator: unexpectedly, new to him, didn’t know exactly how to cope.
If he cannot cope with unexpected sexual feelings and the result is child molestation, what should the conclusion be?)
The normal, reflexive restraints and inhibitions that experience would have established in him were not in place, and he yielded, momentarily, to impulse, and thus acted in a transgressive manner.
(He yielded… refers to giving way to something more powerful than himself, like a victim again. Momentarily: referring to something that happened for a second, but this is utterly inaccurate. Transgressions happened repeatedly over several days, and the most significant of which was NOT MOMENTARILY.)
Certain circumstances conspired to disassociate Lokanath Swami from his usual sense of himself and his normal behavior and to make him unusually vulnerable.
(The CHILD WAS VULNERABLE. Certain circumstances conspired… leaving Lokanath Swami in the passive, victim role, rather than a 41 year old adult man, fully responsible for his choices and actions.)
First, his leg was broken, a serious disability for one’s whose main service and raison d’être was Padayatra, walking.
(What was the raison d’être of Satya?
Because Lokanath Swami was temporarily away from his main service, AND had a broken leg, he was the poor victim of conspiring circumstances. What about the circumstances that surrounded a CHILD?)
Second, his immobility confined him for a prolonged period to an unfamiliar domestic atmosphere, full with family interactions and emotions.
(Satya’s domestic atmosphere became crowded with a visiting Sannyasi and his servant disciples. Her parents were busy serving all the visiting adults. As a child, she was confined and unable to go elsewhere for prolonged periods.)
Third, the strong desire of the father for Lokanath Swami to administer discipline and instruction to the girl also drove him into closer association with a female than he would ordinarily venture.
(Satya’s father asked Lokanath Swami to teach her about Krishna Consciousness. If Swami can’t conduct himself with a child he should have made the adult decision to decline the request. This statement blames the father, who was also harmed when his daughter was violated. He asked Maharaja to teach her, not touch her.)
The episodes offensive to the girl were therefore anomalous, brought about by a highly “unusual concatenation of circumstances.” They arose fortuitously, and with a minimum of precautions, such occasions should be easy to avoid in the future.
(It was stated above that he can’t cope when his sexual feelings overwhelm him. So will he need supervision, to avoid this in the future?)
Lokanath Swami’s entire identity and sense of self is built upon his role as a religious leader, and it is a role to which his personality is exceptionally well-suited.
(Satya’s entire identity and sense of self is built upon being an 11 year old girl, innocent and eager to learn and please her parents and friends. She is exceptionally well-suited to grow up free from violation by trusted adults.)
Given the unique conditions that prompted the episodes, and given the fact that there is no reason to expect such episodes to occur again, Lokanath Swami should remain in his role as a religious leader. However, this does not negate the girl legitimate feelings of violation and abuse.
Bnd: (Badrinarayan Das) All well and good, but what about someone who asks, “If he did it once, in the same situation (staying with a family for some days, young pubescent girls in the house) he could do it again. Our only guarantee is that he promises to not be in this situation again. Pretty weak assurance actually.”
Satya’s trust and innocence were stolen in the first act of abuse, then the GBC attributed the virtue of innocence to Lokanath Swami, while systematically adultifying, shaming, blaming and burying Satya’s disclosure.
This was the violation done by the institution.
In the GBC’s summary and framing of the debunked* psychological evaluation of Lokanath Swami they wrote: “Although the girl was young, she had begun the transition to womanhood, and Lokanath Swami did not sexually relate to her presence as that of a child.”
By adultifying the child, they are diminishing the harm done by the adult, to reduce the perception of the power differential and to misdiagnose this child abuse, and equate it with an “accidental fall down” with a woman. This was a crafted diversion away from thinking of her as a child, yet adultify a child imposed societal shame and responsibility upon Satya. None of this was Satya’s fault.
Also, the GBC repeatedly frame Lokanath Swami as naively unaware of sexual boundaries, and a victim to his own sexual impulses, attributing him with the qualities of a child. In this way, they stole Satya’s status as a child and decorated the swami with such innocence.
The adultification of girls is often meant to sexualize them or attribute them with adult qualities, while they are still children. It is usually exploitative for labor or sex and another harmful symptom of abuse culture. In this way, these types of descriptions are harmful in misrepresenting the breach of trust represented by an adult in a position of trust and honor, and violates the tender, developing body and mind of a child.
Child Protection values dictate that the victim’s needs are given paramount importance, over the considerations of the institution, or the considerations of the perpetrator. By prioritizing the best interests of the children/victims, the interests of the institution are automatically served!
It is in the best interest of the institution to prioritize child protection.
In Satya’s case it was backwards; first the short-term interests of the institution were considered, then the perpetrator’s, and the victim came last and was never properly attended to. Prioritizing the short term interests of the institution often comes at a staggering long term cost to the entire society. Many, many more people are harmed in the long-term. In the short-term, it seems like a priority to erase the victim by discrediting the story.
The institution used the imagined best interests of these disciples as a shield to justify a lie. “What about the disciples?” is the final burial of what happened, leveraging the happiness of many, against the suffering of one, with the underlying message that they are more important than the value of the child. The disciples’ financial contributions support the institution. Therefore, the institution protects the symbol of a guru, like a prized commodity. The more disciples, the more support for the institution. The more disciples, the more protected is the swami, and the more buried is the truth.
The GBC have gone to great lengths to suppress the truth.
An entire abuse culture has been built on the misappropriation of the Bhagavad Gita description of an accidental fall down (BG 9.30). The report from the 1993 GBC Seven may be the first verifiable official misuse of Bhagavad Gita verse 9.30 in connection with child abuse in ISKCON. Behind this verse, ISKCON leaders have suppressed so many historical past abuses, recent past abuse… what to speak of what is happening presently. These arguments have been the bedrock of misapplied philosophy that has been manipulated to defend the worst offenders in the history of ISKCON.
The appropriate perspective on child abuse or sexual harrassment of any description can be seen through the lense of Bhagavat Dharma. We have seen in the stories of the Lord protecting His devotees, like child Bhakta, Prahlad Maharaja, and the public violation of Princess Draupadi, etc. Krishna came to the assistance of the most vulnerable devotees, and severely punished the offender. Every child of Krishna is a precious devotee. Do we really want to be like the court of the Kauravas, sitting silently on our comfortable seats while a devotee is violated?
Lord Nrisinghadev, when enraged by the violent offences against Prahlad Maharaj, was not appeased by the many voices of hundreds of Demigods. It was only the prayers of the child himself that pacified His anger.
Offenses against children are no ordinary “fall down” that can be chanted away. There is no amount of mangal aratis that can chant away the sanskara or karma of sexual-violation or violence upon a developing child. The abuse of a devotee child is Vaisnava Aparadha of the highest calibre. These offenses create deep sanskaras during tender developmental years. The negative impressions of sexual or violent trauma upon children impacts them for the duration of their lives. These painful and disturbing impressions reverberate through the entire life of the child, and their family, everyone known to the family of origin, and it can also impact their future family, and the next generation. In this way, an offence against a child cannot be easily remedied.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control says: “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. Working together, we can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive.
Learn more about preventing ACEs in your community by assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.”
Harming a child tears the very fabric of society. It may be stitched or patched, but it will never be the same again. If that tear is not attended to, the entire cloth will be torn.
These are not accidents that can be easily remedied, especially not simply with a public statement letter of apology. The GBC has also conducted a bleach, rinse and spin job on this torn cloth, but they still have not attended to the harm against the child.
Even the United Nations recognizes the Rights of Children:
“Life, survival and development. Protection from violence, abuse or neglect. An education that enables children to fulfil their potential. Be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents.”
As devotees, ideally, we should be enriching children beyond basic survival, safety, and mundane education. Our communities should be a safe place for children to thrive, and grow up to be dynamic contributors to Sri Chaitanya’s movement. However, an uncountable number of devotee children have been broken, physically, sexually, mentally and spiritually in ISKCON. We have failed the standards of basic civilized society.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to be better than animals. It seems that it would be a basic assumption that real ladies and gentlemen representing Srila Prabhupada and our Parampara, would not be breaking the spirit of vulnerable children. Basic tenets of civilized society (like the United Nations) include the protection of children.
This precious human form of life is not yours to tamper with and forever scar… then call it an accidental fall down, like a trip on the trail, while victims’ lives are devastated.
It must be clearly and emphatically stated that child abuse is not an accidental falldown! An accidental falldown often refers to a breach of the difficult vows of Brahmacharia. However, any kind of harm to a child is a breach of our most basic principal of Ahimsa, expected of any gentleman in civilized society.
A falldown may be a sexual dalliance with another consenting adult. However, sexually assaulting a minor can never be viewed in the same category to a mere falldown. Children cannot give consent, as they rely on trusted adults to grow. Parents, teachers, priests or any other adult in a child’s life are in a position of incredible trust. When this position of power is violated, it harms us all, for a very long time.
The abuse of a Vaishnava child constitutes the most severe form of Vaishnava aparad. The shastra describes Vaisnava Aparadha as the mad elephant offence, which can only be counteracted if the offender begs forgiveness at the feet of the victim.
When men in saffron vesh, sitting on velvet vyasasanas, commit these types of offenses against a child, temporarily removing initiating privileges is not comparable to actual justice. We have to ask ourselves what would punishment be for an average person? Does it satisfy the purpose of rehabilitative punishment, to temporarily remove privileges? How is the victim addressed by the “punishment” of no initiations?
If suspension of status occurs, it should be understood as a time of re-evaluation of their capacity to hold a position of public trust, not as if it is comparable jail-time-served.
The removal of initiation privileges or even saffron vesh, simply require a person to stand in his own identity, responsible as a regular man, without decoration, worship or the divine symbols of the cloth and the throne. There are many, many Vaisnavas with no special robes, who have a dedicated practice, constantly serving Srila Prabhupada daily. When living without worship is considered a punishment, how can actual rehabilitation happen? How can a real, head-to-the-ground apology at the feet of the victim happen while seated on a throne?
Many people demand forgiveness of and mercy for the past mistakes of a sannyasi. However, mercy cannot be shown to offenders who remain upon the throne, hiding behind “the disciples” and mercy and forgiveness cannot be given by anyone other than the victim herself.
We have all been harmed by the burial of truth by the GBC.
Over and over again, the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has gone to great lengths to empathize with, excuse, and elevate those who have violated children, while evading the involvement of local law-enforcement, or even their own internal Child Protection Office.
Why is Lokanath Maharaj fit to again preach from the vyasasana with the approval of ISKCON’s other spiritual leaders?
Why did the GBC circumvent the CPO, take over the investigation, etc?
The GBC interfered in this child abuse case because they thought Lokanath Swami’s preaching mission was more important than the impact on the child. They didn’t have the foresight to anticipate the incalculable costs of their poor judgement. They thought that taking shelter in a lie would somehow be beneficial. They did not value the child’s life as worthy of protecting or as a child of Krishna. Through their elaborate actions to erase the child’s experience, they established values and culture that justifies and excuses child abuse with the calculated, manipulation of misapplied scripture.
The GBC also set a dangerous precedent that they can intervene and usurp an investigation whenever they want, rendering the CPO powerless. In order for this to be avoided in the future, the CPO needs to be given independence, and autonomy.
Our requests to the GBC:
GBC must acknowledge that CHILD ABUSE IS VAISNAVA APARADHA.
Perpetrators of abuse are everywhere, in every group. It is the institution, meant for spreading Krishna Consciousness, that has covered, enabled and protected well-connected and high profile offenders, entrenching and perpetuating child abuse culture, instead of Bhagavat Dharma. Standing against child abuse is called blasphemous. This is the perpetuation of abuse culture.
The case of Lokanath Maharaj simply happens to be another glaringly painful example of this abusive culture.
The CPO needs to be made completely independent and autonomous from the GBC.
North America GBC please finally turn the matter of Lokanath Swami over to the North America Child Protection Office to allow them the opportunity to address it, and apply the current Child Protection Policies, like every other case in ISKCON North America.
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