Namarasa’s Biased Interview of Lokanath Supporter
October 20, 2021
Please consider these notes on your interview with Sanaka Sanatana:
“Ep. #087 | Lokanath Swami’s Representation Speaks Out | feat. Sanaka Sanatana Das”
In the future, when you do an interview on an active child abuse case, allow someone to speak on behalf of child protection. And if you are not going to include a voice for the victim, please research the topic fully. Educate yourself inside and out, and ask relevant follow-up questions, not allowing blatant lies to go unchecked. Allow commenting so people with evidence to the contrary can share that evidence.
Namarasa said this is the first time Lokanath’s supporters are saying anything publicly. Actually, Basu Ghosh and others have been posting letters, commentary, and even going so far as to make a group dedicated to supporting Lokanath, in which the members spend much of their time calling names to the child protection advocates and threatening them with violence, lawsuits, or death. Namarasa has liked comments/posts in this group, as well as other comments/posts outside of the group in which Lokanath is glorified, which makes him a biased party – not “neutral” as he says in this interview.
Regarding the title of this interview, Chaitanya Lila said, “However I find the sensationalization of the issue in the title very disrespectful to the victim, and all other gurukuli victims of abuse. The title is designed to incite sensationalization and controversy. Degrading this serious issue as if it is some TV show. How disgusting. Behind that eye catching title are hundreds of damaged devotees who are living through the impact of great trauma. Where is the sensitivity namarasa?”
Namarasa deleted comments, blocked comments, and refused to let anyone ask questions during the live interview, giving a distorted/biased picture of the Lokanath case. As this is an active child abuse case, this behavior is highly irresponsible.
Namarasa referred to self-admitted child molester Lokanath as “His Holiness.” Badrinarayan Swami said in 1999, “I would drop the “H.H.” all the way through it. It sets the tone which may not be the one we want.”
Namarasa and Sanaka Sanatana casually refer to the sexual abuse of a child as “situation” and “issue” and “incident” and “that situation.” Call it what it is – child sexual abuse or child molestation.
Namarasa said Sanaka Sanatana is giving “Maharaja’s perspective on this issue” – why can’t Lokanath give his own perspective? He speaks publicly online almost every day. Anything anyone else says about Lokanath is hearsay or gossip.
Sanaka Sanatana said he got initiated in 1996 after 4 years of Lokanath not initiating. Lokanath’s initiations were delayed for 2.5 years, not 4. This was his “punishment” for sexually abusing a child. He was never once removed from being a guru in ISKCON.
“Thus for two and a half years he performed no initiations.” From Brief Account of Incident, 1999.
SS: “I’m working actively with child protection here in Vrindavan. Many times, I help with cases, bring out things. I took the seminar, took the course, read the books. I’m quite acquainted with the whole concept.”
He has never officially worked with the Child Protection Office. He’s taken the training. That’s it. Jaya Dayini witnessed that Sanaka Sanatana “got angry once in a CP training seminar by Kamlesh Krishna pr when prabhuji explained how children could not be left unsupervised on the temple compound… Ss pr got all antsy, saying, but how can I attend mangala-arati, then, if I have to take care of my kids?”
In an ICC meeting which Sanaka Sanatana attended, Pancaratna spoke and wrote into their collective request to the GBC: “The ICC does not accept the ICPO.” (ICPO is the ISKCON International Child Protection Office.) Video cued to that part:
Sanaka Sanatana’s cohort Basu Ghosh said that since the ISKCON Child Protection Office members are not demigods, they have no value and should not be honored. He went further and said, “Anyway, the establishment of the ICPO is to satisfy modern Western morality. Srila Prabhupada did not instruct that we form a ICPO.”
Srila Prabhupada also didn’t instruct us to use email, yet we use it.
Sanaka Sanatana said “Maharaja badly twisted his ankle, was in pain.” Lokanath is not the victim. Spending time talking about how Lokanath was dedicated to his service seems to be justifying his sexual abuse of a child. Child protection is not something that can be compromised.
SS: “Robin Jones case” (It was the “Robin GEORGE case” – which was another child abuse case. The temple management held a minor, did not contact her parents, and shuffled her between temples so her parents would not find her.)
Sanaka Sanatana is talking about Lokanath, a self-admitted child abuser, saving ISKCON from a child abuse case. Hmm…
When the father invited Lokanath to stay at his house, it was because the Philadelphia temple leadership had asked the father. The family had never heard of Lokanath. The mom didn’t even want him to stay there because the dad was working and she didn’t know what Lokanath would do during the day. So the father said “well, my daughter is on break from school this week, perhaps you could share some Indian culture with her.”
Sanaka Sanatana is blaming the father for Lokanath molesting his daughter, saying because the father asked Lokanath to share Vedic culture with his daughter, that it was an invitation to molest her. Sanaka Sanatana is placing the blame on everyone else except Lokanath: the leg, the pain, doing service, the father, his “active nature.” No one asked Lokanath to put his hands in between the legs of a girl, using KRSNA book as a ruse to sit close to her. Using harmonium to sit close to her. Chasing her into a closet and smacking her butt.
Sanaka Sanatana claims Lokanath was only “holding the book” and touched “the lower part of the leg.” However, Badrinarayan said in 1999, “His hand was palm down, it was over her private area, he moved it away when the mother or other family member came in the room and then moved it back when they left. The girl moved his hand and he moved it back.”
Yasoda, a social worker who interviewed Satya, said in 1999: “The report is inaccurate in two areas. If I recall it correctly, when she played the harmonium he caressed her thigh. He moved close to her on the couch when no one was there and pulled away when someone entered. His hand did not brush against her thigh while reading Krishna book…it 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.”
Sanaka Sanatan is saying that the mother and sister “didn’t think anything of it.” Sanaka Sanatana should re-read the documents. In the 1993 interview with the mother, she says, “Maharaja, I had the respect for him, and since I heard from her I lose my respect to him.” and “Oh, I asked her several way, and she gave me the same answer. So I had to believe her. I got really mad, Prabhu. I got very mad on Maharaja” The sister was not interviewed, but she is the one who disclosed the abuse to her new husband when they were living in Delhi.
Sanaka Sanatana said that the abuse was reported by Sunanda and Ram after they had moved to America. Not true. They reported the abuse to Mukunda Maharaja in 1992 at the Mayapur meetings, while they were still living in India.
Namarasa says “What’s this interview?” This shows his lack of research on the topic. This “interview” was the first-hand testimony of Satya and her mother that much of this case is based on, as well as Satya’s public statements in 2010.
Sanaka Sanatana references CAP Behavior Associates who he says has worked with priests who have abused kids in the church. Yes, just like you can find a psychologist to defend a serial killer in court, you can find a psychiatrist to defend a child molester. Even so, CAP Behavior Associates, led by Ken Cullen, said: “These findings do not negate the fact that he acted in a clearly inappropriate manner or that the girl who was a recipient of these acts may have experienced many traumatic sequelae common to victims of sexual abuse.” And, “we strongly suggest that Swami Lokanath not allow himself to be alone with a woman or child.”
Namarasa: “Is [the CAP psychiatric evaluation] documented somewhere?”
The full report is not publicly available. Only a small portion has been shared publicly. The GBC further twisted the report to say that because the 11-year-old was “entering womanhood” that is the reason why Lokanath touched her between the legs. 11 years old is not “entering womanhood” and it is not right to grope a full-grown woman either.
Eight years after examining Lokanath, Ken Cullen, lead mental health professional who evaluated Lokanath and who provided a report to the GBC, was charged with fraud by the NY State Attorney and surrendered his license to practice. https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2001/operator-counseling-program-charged-medicaid-fraud
Sanaka Sanatana said Lokanath apologized to Satya in person. (At this apology, Satya asked him if he would tell his disciples what he did. He refused, saying “The pain I have caused you, I will cause them much more pain. I can not tell them.”)
At this time, Lokanath had approximately 400 disciples. Lokanath went on to initiate another 4,000-5,000 disciples after he sexually abused a child. The promise from leadership that Lokanath would never hold a prominent position was broken – every time Lokanath initiated someone, every time he led a public kirtan, every time he gave a public lecture, every time he was featured in an ISKCON publication, and every time he was appointed a GBC Minister role. Not only was the victim lied to, but the worldwide ISKCON body was lied to, and thousands of future disciples were lied to when they took shelter of someone they did not know had sexually assaulted a child.
In the GBC Account of the Incident, it says:
“In 1997, Lokanath Swami’s leading disciples were also informed of the incident, and, in consultation with the GBC, guidelines were established for informing prospective initiates of Lokanath Swami’s transgression and its resolution. These guidelines were applied according to time, place, and circumstance.”
Let’s look at that phrase again – “according to time, place, and circumstance.” This means “tell the prospective initiates, don’t tell them, we don’t care.” Many disciples were never told and are now learning, for the first time, that their guru, their spiritual master of whom they have entrusted their faith, is guilty of sexually assaulting a child many years prior, and that this information was actively concealed from the greater ISKCON body of devotees. Many of Lokanath’s disciples still don’t know what he did.
SS: “Sridara Maharaja from Mumbai, Yasomatinandana, and Narayan from Delhi brought up the Lokanath case in 1998.”
Sanaka Sanatana said Lokanath had a lot of disciples in Delhi so he “suffered a lot from that time.” LOKANATH IS NOT THE VICTIM. He acted on his thoughts to molest a child. His case was never properly dealt with and that’s why it keeps coming up again. ISKCON GBC can remove Lokanath, or Lokanath can resign, and that will solve the problem. Many devotees find it difficult to take inspiration from a leader who has molested a child. Rightfully so. This is a major transgression, a violation of a child, harming a child’s innocence.
Sanaka Sanatana says that in 2017 Lokanath was “cleared” to go to North America and initiate. He skipped over the GBC’s secret 2012 resolution which placed restrictions on Lokanath, banning him from initiating anywhere in the world outside of India.
Namarasa: “Every few years [this case] seems to be coming back.”
SS: “It is double jeopardy.”
It is not “double jeopardy” because that is a legal concept used by court systems, capable of issuing guilty verdicts and enforcing prison terms, and other punishments. ISKCON is a religious institution that has the right and ability to make ecclesiastic decisions about who it allows to hold institutional leadership roles and lead public worship.
SS: “He got punished by the publicity in India.”
Yes, people are going to wonder why ISKCON is endorsing a leader who has committed sexual abuse against a child. Lokanath is not the victim. He caused this. He can step down and live a humble life of service any time he wants. Being worshipped as a guru is not necessary for doing service. If any of his disciples want to seek guidance from him, they can do it outside of the ISKCON institution.
SS: “It was out in the open. It wasn’t hidden anymore.”
No, it absolutely was not “out in the open.” If it was so widely known, why are people finding out about it now, including his own disciples? The case has been actively hidden for 30 years. There are still many people that don’t know what Lokanath has done.
SS: “In 2011, the GBC punished Maharaja. And basically that is the Supreme Court right?”
If you say it’s the Supreme Court, then why aren’t you letting them give the Lokanath case to the Child Protection Office? You are not honoring their “ruling.” Also, the GBC is an ecclesiastic body. It is not a federal court which adjudicates and hears appeals for civil criminal cases.
SS: “Lokanath held the book. It was the ‘downside’ of the hand. It was an accidental touch.”
Not the way Satya describes it. She has no reason to lie. She has stood by her statements for 30 years. Yasoda who interviewed her and the GBC members who read more of the case file than any of us have, have also confirmed that Lokanath molested her. If the GBC thought it was an accidental touch, why would this be such a contentious issue? No, it was sexual abuse of a child.
SS: “Satya is a victim and she obviously got violated. That is not the point here.”
Um, yes it is actually. That is the whole point. A child was sexually violated by a spiritual authority figure in her life and there were no consequences. Delaying initiations is not consequences. Prison is consequences. Being removed from leadership is consequences (and ISKCON law agrees).
If Lokanath is saying he did not intentionally touch her, why is he only saying this now? Let him give a public comment. One sentence. He speaks publicly every day. He can give one sentence on this. It appears that Lokanath is telling the GBC members what actually happened, and telling his disciples something totally different. This is the problem. There is misinformation being spread and the lies are creating an atmosphere of confusion, uncertainty, and bewilderment.
SS: “[Lokanath] is not a child abuser.”
Lokanath said, “I sexually abused her” in his Admission Letter from 2010.
SS: “There are many changes between Satya’s interview from 1993 and her statements from 2010.”
Our human memory is not perfect. Some victims recall details over periods of time. Satya’s stories are for the most part compellingly similar. Her memory of how she felt is real and honest. We must believe the victim. Anyway, if you are concerned there may have been child abuse, give this case to the Child Protection Office.
SS: “Who is more qualified than CAP and Associates? Is any CPO has that much training that they are professors in child psychology and have dealt with that much abuse cases in the Christian Church? Who is that much qualified? These people are the most qualified.”
Who is more qualified than CAP Behavior Associates to handle child abuse? Well, since CAP Behavior Associates specializes in working with only child abusers, and not victims – not them. The victim is the most important person to consider in abuse and CAP Behavior Associates “specializes in evaluating and treating clergy (from a variety of religious traditions) implicated in child molestation.” CAP deals with clergy, not victims.
However, the ISKCON Child Protection Office has two directors who both have Master’s Degrees in Advanced Child Protection. They look at a child abuse case as a complete whole, perpetrator AND victim – not just the perpetrator. The ISKCON Child Protection Office has been handling child abuse cases since its inception in 1998, 24 years ago.
SS: “Maharaja was punished.”
Delaying initiations for a few years is not punishment. Prison is punishment. Removal from leadership is punishment.
SS: “A vaishnava is judged by how many people he can turn into devotees.”
That’s a strange statement. So basically one’s sexual abuse on a child can be overlooked if they “make a lot of devotees.” Gotcha Sanaka Sanatana.
ISKCON Desire Tree has a different view of who is a Vaishnava:
“In the Vishnu Purana: ‘He who does not abandon his specific varna-dharma, who is equiposed, who is a well-wisher to his enemies, who does not steal, who does not injure anyone, and who is steady in his mind, he is understood as a Vishnu-bhakta.’ Thus a simple definition of being a Vaishnava is presented.”
DOES NOT INJURE ANYONE – that includes not sexually abusing a child
SS: “Yes, Satya and her mother suffered…. There are 5,000 disciples of Lokanath Maharaja.”
How many disciples does one need to have to make it okay to molest a child? Is 5,000 the magic number?
SS: “So the very GBC should have in 1993 decided that this person is not fit to be a guru, and said that’s it. Again they could have decided in 1996, and again in 2011.”
Yes, that is absolutely correct. ISKCON should have stopped endorsing Lokanath as a guru in 1993, when he only had 400 disciples. That would have saved the society and the disciples a lot of grief. However, ISKCON can still do the right thing. As Deva Madhava said in his interview with Namarasa, “It’s always the right time to do the right thing.”
SS: “50% of the disciples are probably mothers and have children. So how much distress are we in now?”
Earlier in the interview Sanaka Sanatana said “Who is more qualified than CAP and Associates?” CAP Behavior Associates said “we strongly suggest that Swami Lokanath not allow himself to be alone with a woman or child.” So if Sanaka Sanatana thinks CAP is so qualified, then he should tell these 50% disciples who are mothers with children what CAP said: Lokanath should not be allowed to be alone with a woman or child.
Namarasa: “No one is thinking about the disciples that you are talking about who are under so much distress regarding what the situation that’s continually happening now, where he’s being put under trial again and again and again.”
When a Catholic priest is punished for sexually abusing a child, the judge doesn’t say “Well, how many parishioners does he have? Maybe we should just let him stay in the church and keep advising people.” NO. They say, “What harm has he done?” Period.
SS: “The devotees in India have a different culture. We have a culture of Vedic thinking. We are more old-fashioned. Conservative. I’m part of the IIAC body.”
Does old-fashioned conservative Indian Vedic culture say it’s okay to molest children? No.
Namarasa: “What is Maharaja’s attitude during these times?”
When does he ask about the victim or her family? Never. Not once in the 1 hour plus interview.
SS: “Maharaja is totally undisturbed. In 1998 Maharaja was very disturbed, then when the issue came in 2010/2011 he couldn’t sleep, he was suffering very great.”
LOKANATH IS NOT THE VICTIM.
SS: “Maharaja did not have anything bad in his mind.”
From the GBC Account of the Incident:
“When questioned, Lokanath Swami could recognize the various individual episodes that had caused her disturbance, and he confessed to the emergence in himself, during the incident of reading together, of shameful feelings.” https://lokanath.net/gbcs-untruthful-account-of-incident-february-1999
SS: “I have always felt something bad had happened. After studying the whole thing, I got my conscience cleared. It was inappropriate, accidental touch. There wasn’t any bad intent in Maharaja’s mind.”
If Sanaka Sanatana had always felt something bad had happened up to this point, why didn’t he ask Maharaja before? By his account, he blindly followed his spiritual master, while thinking he had done something bad.
SS: “Why is a sannyasi interacting with a girl? He felt as a repayment as hospitality for the family that that is what he had to do. That was his service for when he was staying there.”
Hold up. A family graciously invites Lokanath – at the behest of the Philadelphia temple – to stay with them. Lokanath grooms and molests their daughter over a week, and now his disciple is publicly saying that Lokanath interacted with the daughter as “repayment.” This is outrageous.
(50:10) NR: “Now what would you say to those devotees who are continually now bringing this up and pushing very hard that Maharaja do this, Maharaja must do that, Maharaja step down, etc.?”
SS: “Everyone has a right to think whatever he likes and in the West everyone has a right to express that.”
Only in the West can someone express themselves?
SS: “Why are you going for someone who has done a wrong 31 years back? Ultimately Krsna takes care. Nobody escapes.”
Justice never happened in this case. If we as an ISKCON society claim to be spiritually elevated, we must act like it. That means following our own rules and following our child protection mandates, and letting the CPO handle child abuse, without interference from the GBC!
NR: “Their point of view is there needs to be more checks and balances, things were covered up by the GBC because Lokanath was their friend.”
SS: “No, Maharaja is not a GBC member. He is definitely not part of the club.”
Lokanath has held the following GBC-appointed Minister positions since he sexually abused a child in 1990:
ISKCON Padayatra Minister (1991)
ISKCON Global Minister for Centennial Celebration (1992)
ISKCON Minister of Information for Mayapur to promote the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (1996)
ISKCON Minister for Srila Prabhupada Centennial (1996)
ISKCON Minister for Social Development (1998)
ISKCON Harinama Sankirtana Minister (2020)
SS: “He is not from a particular religious community which is prominent among the American GBCs. He is definitely not part of the club and he is definitely not their friend.”
Namarasa has a guest who’s initials are SS, speaking with a German accent, pointing out how many Jews there are in ISKCON, heading a team who is claiming one race is superior to others. One can’t help but think of a certain political party that took a certain symbol from India.
SS: “If he was their friend, they wouldn’t be treating him now as they are treating him. He is not part of the club, at all.”
It appears the GBC members are not treating Lokanath any differently. He was supposed to be investigated by the ISKCON Child Protection Office and the GBC Executive Committee (3 members) shut that down within 5 days. He headlined the multi-day international ISKCON World Holy Name Festival as the main act. He led the Maha Kirtan at the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium’s very first event, welcoming Srila Prabhupada’s murti. And Lokanath is again initiating new disciples. All this is happening while he is being investigated for child sexual abuse. Many devotees, including GBC members, have protested that Lokanath not hold institutional roles within ISKCON, but still this is happening.
NR: “Are there any other details you’d like to talk about that I didn’t ask about?”
SS: “Saraswati can say whatever she wants.”
Thank you. I will.
SS: “I don’t think child abuse is neglected in ISKCON. I can only tell you about two places, Vrindavan and Mayapur. I am here in Vrindavan. I won’t go too deep. My own kids have suffered abuse. My daughter was abused, more than once, and one was kind of severe and that fellow has been thrown out and he has not been seen again, the second fellow has been thrown out and he has not been seen. One of my sons got somewhat abused and he was thrown out and he was never seen again in ISKCON. I am in Vrindavan and there is no question of anyone getting away with anything here.”
Surely the fact that Sanaka Sanatana neglected his own three children to the point where they suffered hellish abuse for years is indicative that he should have nothing to do with children… or speaking on the topic of child abuse.
NR: “It shouldn’t happen in the first place though right?”
SS: “You can’t fully avoid that. If you have a big society with thousands of people. We are trying our level best but it is difficult you know. Your kids are roaming around in the temple. How can you stop that? They are interacting with other members of the temple. You want that. Isn’t it? You don’t want to keep your kids at home. And once they are interacting with so many people. If you have a small temple with only 5 people that maybe won’t happen.”
Actually, anyone can abuse children, whether it’s a community of 5 or 500. It just takes one person to abuse a child.
SS: “But here in ISKCON Vrindavan we have at least 300 full-time devotees and 5 or 600 workers. You can’t 100% control everyone.”
No, but you can watch your children. That is the first step to protecting your children. Watching them. In child protection trainings they say neglect is the worst abuse because it can lead to other people preying upon and abusing your children.
Jaya Dayini said, “mostly, [Sanaka Sanatana’s] kids were left unsupervised in the presence of some very dangerous ‘brahmacaris’ when they were all quite small and living in the goshala buildings… I once found his daughter crying on her own, and held and played with her for like three hours during a program when she was less than a year old… Finally, at the end of the program, the mother walked by, and some mataji told her that her daughter was with me, and she was like, oh, really?”
Another devotee Damana Krishna said: “ I didn’t know there was some abuse with his children, but yes he was letting his children roaming around without any supervision, that I always found strange.”
NR: “I also want to ask, what do you want to say to your god-family in these troubling times, your perspective as being a senior disciple, someone who’s studied this, your conscience has been cleared by it.”
SS: “I would advise anyone – be careful with any information you take from the internet. Anyone can write anything on the internet.”
By Sanaka Sanatana’s logic, we should also not listen to him since he is speaking on the internet.
SS: “There is another important thing, on the internet, there is that letter, Maharaja’s apology letter.”
The apology letter was given to Satya’s family in the early 90’s. This has never been publicly available. What Sanaka Sanatana is referring to is an admission letter that was meant to be distributed to his disciples. It never was.
NR: “What year was that?”
SS: “That was written in 2011. It was never published because Lokanath Maharaja did not write it.”
Lokanath’s admission letter was written October/November 2010, not 2011.
NR: “So you’re saying there is a letter out there that Maharaja did not write?”
NR: “That’s horrible.”
This is a biased response. He says in this interview he is a “neutral party” which he clearly isn’t.
SS: “It was done by the GBC with some legal expert; it was put in front of Maharaja and Maharaja clearly objected and said that is not what happened.”
Bhakti Caitanya Swami said in 2011, “The letter Lokanatha Maharaja wrote last year, with input from myself and final editing by Amarendra prabhu, intended to be distributed to his disciples and aspiring disciples, as well as to ISKCON Temple Presidents and other relevant authorities who may deal with initiation recommendations, explaining what he recalls having happened, and apologizing for his transgressions in that regard.”
What motivation would the GBC have to frame Lokanath? None. If they wanted to, they would have done it already. Why would they frame Lokanath for child sexual abuse, then cover up the framing? Repeatedly. Because this case keeps coming up. That doesn’t make any sense. The most logical conclusion is what has been done in ISKCON for decades. When a leader is accused of child abuse, other leaders, friends, allies, rally around the abuser and call the victims liars. This is what Guru Prasad Swami did with his child abuser friend Dhanurdhar. https://seekingtheessence.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/guru-prasad-swami-defending-the-indefenseable/
SS: “The first reference to that letter was in 2017 in a Russian version. Someone in the GBC must have leaked it. Many disciples were reading that letter and losing faith in Maharaja because it looks like Maharaja did serious child sexual abuse. But Maharaja has said that is not what happened.”
The GBC and other investigative members have a big, fat, case file on the Lokanath case. They researched the case and realized there was some terrible abuse that happened. The question is not whether abuse happened or not, that has already been established, the question is to what degree it was mishandled.
NR: “That’s a large detail that many people probably don’t know.”
SS: “I know some of my close friends have lost faith in Maharaja because they have seen that letter.”
NR: “WOW. Hmmm…”
SS: “You can not fully trust what you see on the internet.”
Like this interview?
SS: “Shastra says don’t gossip and don’t offend vaishnavas.”
In 1997 the GBC Resolved that child abuse is Vaishnava Aparadha. Not just Vaishnava Aparadha, but “serious” Vaishnava Aparadha. https://gbc.iskcon.org/1997
SS: “We all have done something wrong in our life. But we shouldn’t be flies. We didn’t look for the stool at the side of the road. We are supposed to be bees, find the flower and take the nectar.”
If we’d like to hear only good news about ISKCON, we have to address the things that give it a bad name.
SS: “You have to have a positive outlook. And always give the person the benefit of the doubt, before you just put him in a bad section and say ‘he’s like this, he’s like that.”
Again, the GBC and others have researched this case. You are the outlier. Also, you don’t have access to all the evidence Sanaka Sanatana.
NR: “Playing devil’s advocate, the same can be said what you’re saying. Sanaka Sanatana is just speaking from his perspective. It could be untrue.”
Maybe not all of it is untrue. He does live in Vrindavan. That is true. But most of what Sanaka Sanatana is saying are unsubstantiated lies, hearsay, or gossip.
SS: “I’m Lokanath Maharaj’s disciple, I have to advocate for him, right?”
Not necessarily. Some of Lokanath’s disciples understand that the truth is he sexually abused a child, and have cut off their relationship with him, or understand he sexually abused a child and continue to maintain a private relationship with him. Does advocating for your child molester guru mean pushing him on everyone else in ISKCON? Regardless of what ISKCON’s resolutions say about dealing with child abuse and child abusers?
NR: (laughing) “Right… right.”
SS: “What else should I do? Obviously.”
SS: “This is the first time you are actually giving me a chance to speak our side of this thing. And who knows, maybe it will backlash on you also.”
Yes, backlash will happen when the interviewee is basing his whole premise on unfounded speculation, and the interviewer nods in agreement the whole way through, appearing to not understand the details of the case, doing little to no research on the topic.
NR: “I mean, I’m just, I’m just interviewing you as a neutral party.”
If Namarasa was neutral he would have opened the interview to someone advocating for the victim as well. He would not have deleted comments. He would not have blocked comments.
NR: “That could happen. I’m ready for that. I’ve already gotten backlash from other different episodes that I’ve done so I’m not new to that. But also, now I’m trying to understand why is your perspective something that is authoritative? You being the representative of Maharaja’s team. Why should they take your perspective into account?”
SS: “Everyone can make their own opinion. I have read everything that has been written and said over the last 31 years.”
Have you? The Lokanath case has a very big file and you do not have access to all the documents. The GBC have and they have based their (mishandled) actions on the founded premise that Lokanath sexually abused a child.
NR: “Is there any authoritative documents that people can read to come to their own conclusion? Or is it that we have to kind of figure out what is the authoritative documentation?”
SS: “We have a lot of research documentation on the issue that would be helpful. This is the first time we have come out on social media. Saraswati can write. Our issue is with the GBC, with the ISKCON society.”
Where is your research documentation? One would think if you have documentation that exonerates Lokanath that you would be posting it publicly. Instead, I get reports that you and your cronies are secretly passing around made-up letters and other unfounded documents, saying “this is only for you, don’t share this with anyone.” You are not publicly sharing this so-called “research documentation” because it can easily be discredited. Just like the content of this interview can be easily discredited.
SS: “I’m worried about the cultural and philosophical break between ISKCON India and ISKCON America. This is one more issue that is putting a straw on the camel’s back, that will eventually lead to a break. There is a big group in India that is hopefully looking forward to that. I hope that ISKCON can come out of this crisis more strongly.”
SS: “I hope that whatever Maharaja has been done wrong can be forgiven by the family, and by other people. And once they have forgiven, they can again focus on something more positive.”
There can be forgiveness for the perpetrator and there can be consequences for the perpetrator. The two do not have to go hand in hand. Forcing forgiveness is tantamount to more abuse. Putting the burden of forced forgiveness on the victim and her family is irresponsible and compounds the abuse. Justice can and should be carried out whether forgiveness is there or not. Forgiveness is NOT a factor in whether the GBC should follow their own child protection policies. Giving preferential treatment to one child abuser sets a terrible precedent for child abuse cases in the future, where the perpetrator may point to the Lokanath case and say “Well what about him? I want to keep being a guru even though I molested a child, because Lokanath did.”
SS: “If you focus on other people’s faults on negativity, I don’t think it is very beneficial for anyone. I hope we can join together and preach without any further disturbance.”
It’s disturbing to one’s Krishna Consciousness to see a child molester being worshipped in one’s society. Many of us are disturbed by Lokanath’s presence and would hope that either he steps down, or ISKCON removes him from leadership. His presence is actually the opposite of inspiring. It is painful, hurtful, and begs the question “why is someone who caused so much harm to an innocent Vaishnava child being worshipped with awe and reverence?”
NR: “Thank you. Thank you for sticking your neck out and coming on and talking about this. I think this will be helpful to hear other perspective from what’s being said. We’re entitled to someone else’s perspectives. It’s not that we have to demonize someone or villainize someone or a group of people for their different perspective that may be different from someone else in North America, or wherever it is.”
Hey Namarasa, the victim is Indian too. By your suggestion, giving a biased interview in defense of the perpetrator, you and Sanaka Sanatana are demonizing and villainizing the victim, who is also Indian. For shame. You are compounding the abuse all over again, questioning whether she is telling the truth or not, refusing to allow any evidence to the contrary. Highly disappointing.
Namarasa asks multiple times about the distress of Lokanath, Sanaka Sanatana, Lokanath’s disciples, but never once mentions the victim, or asks about the victim.
“Both sides” are not the same. Only one reality includes a victim of abuse. Any distress on the other side is called consequences.
If you fight to hide the child abuse and the corruption of the legacy of Srila Prabhupada you are the enemy of ISKCON.
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