“No children matter to ISKCON, until the voice of one girl matters” | KD
September 23, 2021
Dear Members of the GBC,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In May 2021, you publicly announced that you would give the Lokanath child abuse case to the International Child Protection Office, after the GBC has repeatedly mishandled the case over the last 30 years.
Now, in spite of your own public declaration, you are breaking your word, as well as decades of ISKCON child protection policies to INTERVENE ONCE AGAIN in a case of child abuse perpetrated by a Sannyasi Guru. With no public comment or explanation, you have arbitrarily redirected this case to a “PANEL” which has no basis in any previous or existing policies or resolutions.
This ad hoc “PANEL” is made up of representatives of the GBC (Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) and ICC (India Continental Committee), who are representing the perpetrator and/or his institutional position. However, how can this be a legitimate process if all parties are not represented?
The victim and her advocates are not represented on the panel. This panel looks like another closed-door political process which will exonerate the guru and silence those advocating for Child Protection.
The “PANEL” is like Sakuni’s Gambling Match. Neither the game, nor the manipulation, nor the outcome was virtuous. This illegitimate process will not bring peace to our society, only demise. It will exacerbate an already difficult situation.
In 1997 the GBC RESOLVED:
“[LAW] 501. THAT the GBC Body hereby declares that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness does not condone abuse of any kind, especially that which is directed towards dependents such as women, children, aged and cows. Battery, verbal and emotional abuse are destructive to the devotional creeper and thus considered serious Vaisnava aparadha. Any attempt to justify this type of abusive mentality on the basis of sastra is misconstrued and is firmly rejected by all practicing Vaisnavas.” https://gbc.iskcon.org/1997
Child abuse is Vaisnava Aparadha.Child sexual abuse (and enabling sexual abusers) breaks ALL 4 regulative principles:
Ahimsa (causing life-long harm to another living entity)
Brahmacharya (breaks sexual integrity)
Asteya (steals the innocence of a child!)
Saucha (how can anyone be clean who has broken the above?)
From then until now, the GBC has disregarded and broken their own principles of Dharma, Sannyas Ashram, and Vedic virtues like protecting women, children, cows, and elders. Please demonstrate that you can uphold the expectations of a moral and civilized society to protect children (see The Rights of the Child by the United Nations). ISKCON has FAILED its responsibilities as a United States Religious Organization in a position of public trust, when IT FAILED TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE! Your panel is in place not only to divert blame from one of your institutional figure heads, but also to exonerate the institution itself, since many of your GBC members were part of the original concealment of this crime. Your representatives took testimony from the victim and the perpetrator, but did not report it to the police, as your own current policies direct ISKCON members to do (Resolutions in 1989, 1990, and 1992). The Governing Body Commission itself BLOCKED this case from going to LAW ENFORCEMENT. Justice delayed is justice denied! In lieu of justice, there has been an elaborate web woven by ISKCON leadership to ensure the victim was never heard, her character was maligned, even as a child, and her immigrant Indian family was directly intimidated and threatened by GBC members and devotees.
The GBC has shown repeatedly that they will gather a “PANEL” (now) or a secret 7 GBC committee (in the past), or any other such political wrangling in order to PROTECT THE SWAMI and themselves.This recent panel appears very similar both in intent and appearance to the previous panels that the GBC instituted to cover up this very problem and protect this very swami. Neither the panel members, nor the GBC members have offered any concrete assurance that things will be different this time.How many committees, panels, closed-door meetings, and secret memos must happen before clear and concise action happens?
ISKCON appears to have a de facto Guru/Sannyas exemption from all the Rules, Regulations, Resolutions, Principles, and Policies. Gurus seem to be exempt from facing the accountability that is enforced on rank and file devotees. Their punishments are often a mere slap on the wrist in the form of a suspension of initiation privileges, but these guru sanctions are like a slap in the face of victims, and bears no resemblance to accountability, reconciliation, or reparations to the victim and society.
Instead of following YOUR OWN POLICY AND RESOLUTIONS to have the Child Protection Office handle ALL child abuse cases in ISKCON, you are choosing to once again, disregard the voice of THE CHILD in order to protect one of your colleagues.
By diverting this case from your own Child Protection Office, you have gone back on your public promise. We hope that your actions henceforth will demonstrate that the GBC body can lead with basic ethics, integrity, and transparency.
I hear a lot of noise about how many thousands of disciples the swami has, and how many more want to be his disciples, how many miles of padayatra he has walked or how many kirtans there have been… but counting all of these things as justifications to disregard the crime against a child, only makes the Hare Krishna movement look more like a cult. Without giving proper weight to the karmic impact of a child abuse offense, you are prioritizing the importance of external appearance and numbers over the integrity of Srila Prabhupada’s legacy.
ISKCON declared themselves bankrupt, rather than pay reasonable reparations to the hundreds of victims of child abuse. Gurukula Veterans have been discarded and almost completely erased from ISKCON history, sealed in confidential documents, and talked about in forgotten terms. ISKCON’s meager attempt to rectify the systemic, international epidemic of child abuse throughout their temples and schools was to establish the International Child Protection Office. By disregarding and bypassing the Child Protection policies of your own organization, you are putting the entire society back to square one, and making all the decades of efforts for change and betterment in this area NULL AND VOID!
No children matter to ISKCON, until the voice of one girl matters.
No number of disciples or any amount of reparations will matter until her voice matters. Every single step the GBC has taken has been an effort to silence the victim, so that her voice and truth is never heard, believed, or healed.
It doesn’t matter how many disciples there are or how many devotees you make or how many years go by… none of those things can be weighed against the value of a single child. Every child under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON deserves to have her case reviewed by the International Child Protection Office trained professionals.
The International Child Protection Office is in place to PROTECT ALL CHILDREN IN ISKCON.
GBC interventions in child abuse cases demonstrate that the GBC has not learned from the past, and needs to develop trauma-informed empathy, and basic standards of professional conduct, what to speak of spiritual conduct.
The “PANEL” is without title, comes across as a covert effort to activate the de facto Guru Exemption and qualified immunity that allows gurus to avoid scrutiny or accountability. This weaponizes “forgiveness” to silence the victims and exonerate the perpetrators.
There is no hope of integrity, accountability, transparency, or resolution in our international community without the Child Protection Office. If you want to demonstrate that your years and years of resolutions regarding Child Protection mean something, you have to follow your own rules!
Your “Guru Protection Panel” is illegitimate. This case must go to the International Child Protection Office.
Krsna Devata d.d.
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