BY: B. RADHA-GOVINDA
Mar 12, 2011 USA (SUN) [Revised] Thank you Kutamudgara prabhu - whoever you are - for having the guts to write what you did in regards to Bhakti Tirtha Swami's activities and character. (I wish other devotees who have come to me with their Bhakti Tirtha stories, would come forth and write their experiences, rather than telling me, since other than giving some counsel, I can't write your stories.)
And thank you for submitting your pictures of "Srila Krsnapada's" clothing. It never ceases to amaze me that devotees simply accept and even glorified Bhakti Tirtha's wearing such clothing, which made very obvious where his consciousness was really at. It's one thing to wear an appropriate type of non-devotee dress in a country where wearing devotional garb can bring danger to that devotee, but I'm sure Kutamudgara prabhu can assure readers, as I can, that there was no necessity whatsoever for "Srila Krsnapada" to wear this kind of clothing anywhere in Africa. Other than the heavy Islamic countries - where Bhakti Tirtha did not preach - there was no need to give up devotee garb, and in his particular case, the sannyasa dress.
By the way, does anyone have the picture of Bhakti Tirtha wearing the leopard - or was it cheetah? - outfit, in which he looked like "Tarzan"? One devotee years back showed me an issue of ISKCON World Review or Hare Krsna World, in which this picture appeared. I was told the picture was also used on a poster to advertise Bhakti Tirtha's coming to Detroit to lecture.
Before getting on to the main part of this article, since Kutamudgara mentioned, "where he introduced a fondness for third-genderism," I might add that for all the years I served in Africa under Bhakti Tirtha, he was extremely homophobic. Why he presented himself differently was either that he really changed, or because he was the type of person who, in his own insecurity - thus, his subsequent narcissism and desire to control - "had" to get everyone to accept and/or follow him. In such desire, he would "play any (and practically every) side of the fence" that suited his purposes. Thus, when homosexuality became either more accepted or talked about within ISKCON, it became Bhakti Tirtha's necessity of demand upon himself to take (or at least express) a much different stand than what had been his own thinking for years.
Before any Deity, including Salagram-sila, I will say that Bhakti Tirtha had made very negative comments to me while I was serving under his GBC jurisdiction regarding homosexuality in general, certain individual gay ISKCON leaders, and in regards to various gay ISKCON leaders as a group, Bhakti Tirtha referred to them as being, "a bunch of f__king homosexuals." (This included, along with other specific comments made about him, his sannyas guru and "pal", Kirtanananda.)
Although given some "hint" by Ravindra Svarupa in the 1990s, I was not really aware in that decade that besides other things, the GBC did know of at least some of Bhakti Tirtha's sexual and other improprieties. In fact, ask Sivarama Maharaj, who was the GBC Chairman at that particular time - Bhakti Tirtha had put forth a proposal that the GBC make a GBC resolution that ISKCON sannyasis (not grhasthas, but sannyasis), "be allowed to have sex once a month." (I'm not!!! kidding. I found this out in 2005 from a Godbrother who is a very good personal friend of Sivarama Swami's. Sivarama Maharaj had told this to him in conjunction with his trying to find out certain things regarding Bhakti Tirtha, including their speaking about Bhakti Tirtha 's level of sanity and/or lack of it. I will state this before any Deity and Srila Prabhupada, what this Godbrother told me regarding Bhakti Tirtha's asking Sivarama Maharaj that such a resolution be made by the GBC. This was also told to me by some other devotees who I met up with in later years.
Beginning 1991, I sent written evidence to members of the then ISKCON Ministry of Justice, (Avirama, Ganapati Swami, and I can't remember the name of the third person now), regarding Bhakti Tirtha's direct responsibility in the murders of these devotees who were killed on September 13, 1990. NOTHING was addressed at that time, nor was it addressed at a later date, when after my being pressured for some months by Bhakti Vikasa Swami, I wrote to Bhakti Caitanya Swami (the then Chairman of the GBC), asking that an investigation be made in these regards.
From August (or September) 2003, Bhakti Vikasa Swami started emailing me, through to January 2004, putting pressure on me to bring it up again to the GBC, his specifically telling me to "request the GBC CEO to do an investigation into BT Swami regarding Hladini prabhu's murder." No one ever seemed to be too concerned, or concerned at all - maybe devotees didn't know about the fact that other African devotees were also killed. All these devotees were sent to Liberia while a horrific coup was going on, and Bhakti Tirtha was in full knowledge of the coup, which started December 24, 1989, yet he purposefully arranged that these devotees go there. (There are more details, but I'm choosing to not go into them now.)
Bhakti Vikasa and I had various email exchanges in this regard, my explaining why I felt there was no point in my writing as he was pressuring me to do; why I felt it would be "wasted time and effort" on my part, that the GBC would do nothing, and that it would "only cause me extra trouble" - which it did. I also told Bhakti Vikasa that I knew Bhakti Caitanya Swami was himself dishonest, my giving Bhakti Vikasa the details of what I knew in this regard. I told Bhakti Vikasa Swami that I had tried to address the issue to the GBC at the time when it happened, explained that I had presented evidence and that despite this, the whole issue was totally ignored. Thus my feeling and explaining to Bhakti Vikasa Swami that I felt there would be no point in trying to ask for such an address now.
After Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj continued pressuring me, I finally agreed that I would email Bhakti Caitanya Swami (with blind CCs to both Bhakti Vikasa and Braja Bihari, Braja Bihari's being involved at this time, his being ISKCON's "ombudsman" - a useless person, simply placed by the GBC to make devotees think the GBC "would do something to address devotee issues," when in actuality they would not, other than to ignore or obfuscate).
Needless to say, nothing was done, other than my finding out that Bhakti Caitanya Swami was sending my emails to "Srila Krsnapada." I did not know at the time Bhakti Vikasa was writing to me, but found out later that he had his own personal "vendetta"/enmity with Bhakti Tirtha, and due to this, was using me. (Funny B. Vikasa Maharaj, how you pretended in the presence of other devotees that you "didn't know" me when you came to Alachua, our having met in 1999 in Columbus Ohio, and later, the "series" of emails exchanged, which you initiated...)
Continuing with Kutamudgara's words, "An investigation of Bhakti Tirtha should have begun..."
Actually, an investigation of Bhakti Tirtha should have begun in 1991, when the evidence regarding what happened in Liberia was presented...
But going back to your words regarding the picture Bhakti Tirtha chose for his book:
"The title's suggestion is that the book is a quasi-autobiography of someone who sees himself as a spiritual warrior. Mr. Truth campaigns to heal the world. Is not the very heading Spiritual Warrior a tip-off of the author's personal ambition? And Bhakti Tirtha lays it on thick. On the cover is the picture of Arjuna with his bow, which is evidentially how Bhakti Tirtha saw himself. But it is a picture of Arjuna not in battle, but at the swayamvara of Draupadi. Why a sannyasi identifies with this pastime is better understood by reading B. Radha Govinda's illuminating article -- or listening to his rants."
Let me explain:
Bhakti Tirtha (using your word) "identifies" himself with this pastime as opposed to the warrior pastimes of Arjuna, because in actuality, Bhakti Tirtha, in so many ways, was a coward! Besides other examples I can give, on one occasion Bhakti Tirtha called me (in Nairobi) to come to his office to physically "deal with" an Indian gentleman named Shanti, who had come to see Bhakti Tirtha. Shanti (no intention of an oxymoron) in his upset with Bhakti Tirtha, said some words BT "was not appreciative of," so Bhakti Tirtha called for me...
In Nigeria, Bhakti Tirtha would call for me to take out of his room this or that insect, especially the "flying dates" (big cockroaches, the size of dates), because of his being so afraid of such "creepy crawlers." He was totally paranoid of mice and rats as well. Bhakti Tirtha insisted that I put them in my hand (ugh!!!) to take them out, as opposed to my "escorting" them out by foot, because he wanted to make 100% sure that I definitely had them (in hand) and was taking them out!
A spiritual warrior will make all efforts in trying to conquer over their material desires. This includes material lust, envy, anger, greed, pride, desire to control others, desire for name, fame, profit, adoration, distinction and gain. A spiritual warrior understands that s/he is not the body.
"Obviously, this was a man obsessed, just as B. Radha-Govinda alleges from her own observations spanning several years."
Yes, Bhakti Tirtha was very obsessed with himself, and did not appreciate if someone else wasn't obsessed with him. Your assessment of his psychological frame of mind, regarding his wearing the particular style of clothing he did, is also correct, and as you said, "These books would have upset Srila Prabhupada immensely." So would Bhakti Tirtha's clothing, and his "off" mentality that made him wear those clothes, this mentality extending itself in other directions or forms of expression.
"There is an old saying that when the self-motivated do something that is good, they are condemned for it. And when a good person does something that is condemnable, he is praised." Let me end here with something Srila Prabhupada quoted: sach bale tomare lutha jutha jagat mohaye: "When one tells lies, everyone is enchanted, but when one tells the truth, s/he is beaten with sticks." As truthfulness is the last leg of Dharma, being broken more and more as Kali goes on, we can see that in speaking the truth, we are often condemned and sometime even killed for doing so. May I also point readers to Srila Prabhupada's words in His BG 10.4 purport regarding "Asammoha, Ksama, and Satyam."
I have only this one disagreement with your words written in your article, "the late quasi-swami's enormous amounts of self-adoration culminating in illicit sexual affairs." I would have written, "...culminating in murder."
B. Radha- Govinda