Ravindra Svarupa’s Involvement in Lokanath Swami’s Child Molestation Case
January 28, 2022
Ravindra Svarupa said in an open letter on Chakra, “The office of child abuse has not been instructed to not go after anyone… If there is any reliable testimony to the contrary, let me know, and I will follow up on it.” (September 12, 2002)
Dhira Govinda (Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office 1998-2004) said: “When I served as CPO director, the GBC gave specific instructions for the CPO to not address the case of Lokanatha Maharaja. The dealings of ISKCON leadership around the case of Lokanatha Maharaja was filled with concealment, deception, inconsistencies, and lack of accountability.”
Ravindra Svarupa was the Temple President of ISKCON Philadelphia, the local temple for Satya’s family. After Lokanath sexually abused Satya, Ravindra Svarupa regularly met privately with Satya and her family to discuss how to deal with the abuse (1993-1995). Ravindra Svarupa asked for assurances that Satya and her family would not report the abuse to law enforcement, and in exchange Ravindra Svarupa promised that Lokanath would never hold a prominent position in ISKCON again.
“Till this day, Ravindra Swarupa, the head of our nearest temple, acts like nothing happened, and was nonchalant about the whole thing.”
“We trusted him, and he nor the GBC (garbage committee) never followed through.” (July 11, 2010)
In 1992 Lokanath’s child molestation was first reported to Mukunda Maharaja, who was working closely with Lokanath and Ravindra Svarupa on the Robin George case (another child abuse case).
In a GBC statement from that year:
“The GBC Body would also like to thank Mukunda Maharaja and the staff of ISKCON Communications, Naveen Krishna das and his staff, Lokanatha Maharaja and the Padayatris, Hrdayananda Maharaja, Sri Ram das, Ravindra Svarupa das, the temple board and devotees of New Dvaraka, and the many other temples, devotees, and well-wishers who have helped in this effort.” https://gbc.iskcon.org/1992/
Ravindra Svarupa was named as one of the GBC members assigned to investigate Lokanath’s child abuse in 1993. That same year Ravindra Svarupa was appointed as North American Representative to the GBC Executive Committee. https://gbc.iskcon.org/1993/
From Bir Krishna Goswami’s confidential message to GBC Conference (1997):
“It is my duty to inform you of the actions of a special GBC subcommittee that dealt with a confidential investigation of Lokanatha Maharaja. The members of the subcommittee are: myself, Badrinarayana Prabhu, Mukunda Maharaja, Sridara Swami, Virabahu Prabhu, and Ravindra Swarupa Prabhhu.”
Ravindra Svarupa was privy to the results of Lokanath’s mental health assessment (1993).
Ravindra Svarupa arranged for Lokanath Swami to personally apologize to Satya in 1994, having it take place at a disciple’s house in the Philadelphia area. Ravindra Svarupa and his wife Saudamini were witnesses, along with Mukunda Maharaja and Bhakti Tirtha Swami.
At this meeting, Satya asked Lokanath “Will you tell your disciples what you did to me?” Lokanath said he would not, that it would cause too much pain for them. He went on to initiate another 5,000 disciples, and actively resisted disclosing his sexual abuse of a child to his future disciples.
Ravindra Svarupa was appointed as GBC 1st Vice-Chairman in February 1998 but when the GBC Chairman Harikesa Swami left ISKCON a few months later, Ravindra Svarupa moved up to became Chairman of the GBC (highest position). Ravindra Svarupa had the power to give the Lokanath case to the ISKCON Child Protection Office (CPO) which was just established in April 1998, but he chose not to. He actively blocked the CPO from handling Lokanath’s case, by refusing to turn over the GBC Sub-Committee documents to the CPO (1998-1999).
Badrinarayan said, “Seems that there should be a file and a record of the events of the case. That you can get from Ravindra.” (August 18, 1998)
In response to the official documents, Badrinarayan said, “Best to ask Ravindra. I could not find and offical file.” (December 4, 1998)
Ravindra Svarupa and Lokanath co-authored a statement of Lokanath’s sexual abuse of a child. Ravindra Svarupa wrote, “Lokanath Swami and I sat together in Mayapur, we and have agreed on this version of a information release concerning the 1990 incident.” (February 25, 1999)
Yasoda (Diane Priolo) and Badrinarayan disagreed with the sanitized version of details of the sexual abuse in the GBC Committee official report written by Ravindra Svarupa.
Badrinarayan rejected the minimized presentation of the statement co-authored by Ravindra Svarupa and Lokanath, “I do however have a number of concerns. Without changes made along the lines mentioned below I cannot stand behind this statement. Sorry, but I just don’t think it will wash, but rather it will come back to haunt all of us.” (March 5, 1999)
Previous CPO Director Tamohara also rejected the minimized presentation of the statement, “There are at least three specific instances where the wording of report underplays and minimizes the severity of the transgressions.” (2011) Tamohara is the second CPO Director to point out that the GBC’s official report on Lokanath’s sexual abuse of a child was incorrect, downplayed, and trivialized.
Anuttama wrote to Ravindra Svarupa, “If there isn’t time to write something, then perhaps the elements of it SHOULD be handed to the CPO and they can put it together as a official report/statement what was done prior to the CPO’s existance. There have been many exchanges with Dhira on this, something should be completed.” (January 1, 2001)
Ravindra Svarupa was the Acting GBC Chairman (1999), GBC Chairman (2000) and GBC 1st Vice-Chairman (2001), in the years that Dhira Govinda (then-CPO Director) spoke with Lokanath in person at the Mayapur GBC Meetings. Through all the years that Dhira Govinda was CPO Director (1998-2004), he had been trying to handle the Lokanath child abuse case, but was continually blocked by the GBC.
Ravindra Svarupa was a GBC member in 2007 when the GBC passed the resolution that CPO Decisions restrict individuals from all leadership positions, including guru:
“Whenever the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection rules that an offense is such as to restrict a person from serving in ISKCON in positions of leadership (including but not limited to offices of GBC, minister, zonal secretary or temple officer), the restriction must include the position of initiating guru. This restriction shall apply to all previous and future decisions of the Central Office of Child Protection.” https://gbc.iskcon.org/2007
Ravindra Svarupa was a GBC member in 2010 when Satya made her public statements.
Ravindra Svarupa was a GBC member in 2012 when the GBC placed restrictions on Lokanath Swami in a secret GBC Resolution that only a handful of people in the world had seen until 2021. This GBC Resolution should have been made public for the ISKCON body at large.
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