Bhaktivikash Maharaj, Why are you Side-stepping the Points Raised?


May 13, 2017 — UK (SUN) —

You have brought up several points such as Indradyumna Swami, your interpretation of Bg 9.30, Srila Prabhupada's quotes on corporal punishment. You also suggested that somehow the CPO's unrelated shortcomings somehow give you licence to arbitrarily dismiss the findings of several investigations on Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj without providing any tangible evidence of procedural flaws in his specific case, etc. In doing so you have undermined the CPO's ability to serve the community and encouraged anarchy.

Over the years Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj has received more than his fair share of support from leaders and senior devotees, who like yourself jumped to his defence with little regard for the facts of the case. I and others have responded to your articles, and instead of addressing the objections raised, you have sidestepped many of the issues and jumped on to new topics. Now we have come full circle and you are starting to repeat some of the arguments you have already made, without having addressed the first responses to them.

I also noted that you were quick to point out the instance when I mis-quoted you, by failing to include the word "little" when I wrote that you advocated that "fear is good". Whereas your exact quote had been "A little fear is good". This shows that you are quite aware of the deleterious consequences of this practice, yet it is precisely what you have done over and over again with the words of your spiritual master. But, somehow this does not seem to concern you nearly as much, for you continue doing it, without having explained yourself.

Your latest article is no exception, instead of addressing the points raised in my prior article you have now gone on a tangent to tell us why you think Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj is a great guy. But all you have provided to counter the volumes of investigation documents and witness statements that constitute his CPO files, is: 'I spoke to him and his friends and everyone assure me that he is innocent and a really nice guy.'

One of the basic principles of Nyaya (method of reasoning and logic, also known as the art of debating of ancient India) explains that when, in the course of a debate your opponent raises a point, and instead of addressing it, you change the topic of conversation, it is understood and accepted that you have been defeated.

In modern day language your actions would be best described as "trolling". Instead of following the thread of the discussion by addressing the points raised and bringing valuable contributions and counterarguments to the exchange, you have been disrupting the flow by consistently avoiding to bring a point of conversation to closure before starting off with a new topic, you have avoided addressing several of the points raised and quoted your spiritual master out of context. One would be excused for thinking that you are not interested in a productive exchange.

I would encourage you to be more straight forward, follow one topic to conclusion before starting with a new one. Diminish the volume of topics you bring up, and improve the quality, consistency and presentation of your arguments. This will give more clarity to the exchange and credibility to yourself.

In this article I will strive to address the points you have raised in your most recent post.

You started off by informing us how you approached Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj himself and not-surprisingly he told you that he is innocent. An important note at this point is that it is well documented that he has lied on more than one occasion to try and deny and minimize his responsibility in the child abuse that he personally inflicted and that took place under his watch.

He explained to you that he is not responsible for his actions, but rather that it is the children's fault. Victim blaming is a psychology text-book common defence used by abusers. Instead of taking responsibility for his misdeeds, as would be expected from a mature human being, Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj attributes his brutal beatings to the fact that the children were "difficult". This reminds me of the English expression "A bad tradesman blames his tools".

The point is that, Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj found himself in a challenging situation, and this may be considered as a mitigating factor. If you speak to the perpetrators of just about every crime in history since Cain and Abel, they will readily list what they consider to be valid mitigating factors and hope that these factors will exonerate them of their responsibility. If you had taken the trouble to read his case files you would know that the mitigating factors you mentioned were taken into account when his case was assessed AND he was nonetheless found personally responsible. Mitigating factors will not take responsibility for Maharaj's incompetence.

Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj assures that these children were SO bad that the only viable option was to resort to the "argumentum ad baculum". Which is a very innocent and almost romantic sounding Latin expression (argument of the stick) to minimize the inhumane beating he inflicted on his students. Translated in current English it is the fallacy committed when an unqualified teacher appeals to the use of brute force to impose his will on children.

You know what would have been far more difficult than being in Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's shoes? Being one of his students! Being at the receiving end of his savage beatings. And you know what would have made it even more difficult? The fact that he has been surrounded by senior devotees, such as yourself, who have been actively protecting Maharaj instead of his victims!

This instance in and of itself is very telling of the character of Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj. What is surprising here is that you don't seem to be able to see through it.

One of the problem with the practice of victim blaming is that it discourages victims from coming forward to report crimes. Essentially this mind-set enables more abuse.

You haven't addressed the concerns raised about the quotes you provided, but you continue quoting them as if you actually believe that they support your position. [See his response, published simultaneous to this article here.]

I encourage you and anyone who is interested in gaining a greater understanding of the exchange between Srila Prabhupada and Jagadish das, to read this analysis made by Chaitanya Mangala das. During that conversation, Srila Prabhupada offered altogether 11 alternative suggestions and acquiesced twice. One of the statements Srila Prabhupada made in that conversations is: "As you think you can do, but I wanted to engage him in farm work, in digging."

This conversation is a testament to the offensive contempt Jagadish das and his cronies had towards Srila Prabhupada. They completely disregarded his wishes. Quoting it out of context to claim that Prabhupada was in favour of corporal punishment is not only dishonest, but also offensive.

I have already made some comments on the support Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj receives from some of his former students, supporters and disciples, and his more recent adventures, which you have avoided addressing, hence I will not cover them again. I will point out though that for years Maharaj actively disregarded some of the sanctions that were imposed on him by the CPO.

Your wrote:
"To those who say, "What about happened thirty years ago?" can be responded "What about what is happening now?"

Maharaj's achievements do not cancel out his shortcomings or make up for the abuse he has inflicted.

Your writings clearly indicate that you are far more concerned with protecting, and excusing Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's actions and his reputation than you are with the protection of his victims. Children, as the most vulnerable members of society, are far more deserving of your protection than Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj. Where is your compassion for them?

To cover two of the points you raised, corporal punishment is illegal in 125 out of 190 countries, including India, hence I don't quite understand your insistence on advocating for its use. I am also not sure I see the relevance of the fact that you found some non-devotees that advocate the use of corporal punishment. I can provide you with thousands of links for non-devotees that advocate every abominable practice imaginable and unimaginable…

You wrote:
"I do not necessarily endorse everything that Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami does or stands for. But I strongly feel that devotees who have performed outstanding service over many years should not be wholesale condemned. Serious anomalies should be addressed but give credit where it is due and don't throw out the baby with the bathwater."

I would argue that you are the one throwing out that baby in favour of protecting your friend. The point I have already made is that unlike most other fields, education cannot be learned through trial and error. Children are not some expendable cannon fodder that is there to help Maharaj perfect his teaching skills. They are not a dispensable object that, if you spoiled 10 while learning, you just bring another 10 until you get it right.

One of the many topics you have consistently avoided addressing is Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's failure to help the students that approached him seeking protection from sexual assaults.

For someone who claimed that he didn't want to be an apologist for Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj, you have done an outstanding job.

My forecast of your next article is that you will avoid responding to the issued raised here and in the previous articles and you will tell us that you spoke to Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj and some of his friends and supporters and they assured you that the findings of 2 more recent CPO investigations are a conspiracy of fabricated lies and that Maharaj is the poor victim. You will also repeat a number of the points you have already made and avoided discussing.

P.S. Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj is not welcome to speak at any of the ISKCON temples in the UK.


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