Jun 04, 2017 UK (SUN)
Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj, in your latest article you wrote:
"I plan one more article on these topics, concerning Indradyumna Swami. Then I'm finished. I am under no obligation to engage with anyone who employs lies and deception to paint me in the worst possible light. That shows very poor character, and our acaryas have warned us to avoid bad association."
While of course I am eager to hear how you plan to defend your endorsement of Indradyumna Swami's unacceptable behaviour, I am puzzled to read that somehow you feel you have felt under some obligation to engage in this exchange. Who has been forcing you?
I was convinced that you were participating of your own volition…
And while I do not wish to contaminate you any further with my very poor character and fallen association, I would be curious to know which lies you are referring to here.
You are free to end your engagement in this discussion at any time, but you are not free from the consequences of such a choice. You have consistently failed to make convincing arguments to support your position.
I don't think there is anything anyone could have said or written that would have painted you in a worse light than what you have done by demonstrating your poor judgment and lack of philosophical understanding in your recent series of articles.
You have exposed yourself more than I ever could have; you repeatedly deflected and avoided key topics of the discussion and misquoted Srila Prabhupada to try and excuse the unacceptable behaviour of a known child abuser, and you confuse common sins with the most egregious Vaisnava-aparada. Now you have resorted to repeating some of your earlier arguments, api ced sudaracharo and appealing to the mitigating factors in Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's circumstances without having addressed my rebuttals of these points.
The comparison of Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj to Valmiki and Jagai and Madai is highly offensive and not relevant. Believe it or not, you are not the first person that tried to use these stories to defend child abusers. A few years ago Jayadvaita Swami made similar arguments to try and defend Dhanurdhara Swami. The quote reported below is from this article written by Chaitanya Mangala das at the time:
"For instance, consider the stories of Jaya, Vijaya, and the four Kumaras; Jagai, Madhai, and Lord Nityananda; as well as Durvasa Muni and Ambarish Maharaja. In all of these situations the Supreme Lord says amnesty is not His to give. That has to come from the offended devotee. While the offenders may still be considered Vaishnavas, they will not have properly atoned or be able to fully revitalize their Krishna consciousness until they have pleased – and are forgiven by – the offended Vaishnava. Who says so? Scriptures say so.
For example, in the purport of SB 4.26.24: "The conclusion is that if Krsna consciousness is covered by material sins, one can eliminate the sins simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, but if one pollutes his Krsna consciousness by offending a brahmana or Vaishnava, one cannot revive it until one properly atones for the sin by pleasing the offended Vaishnava or brahmana." The concluding sentence for this purport is crystal clear: "A vaishnava-aparadha cannot be atoned by any means other than by begging the pardon of the offended Vaishnava.'"
The crux of our disagreement is that while you accept that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj has made severe mistakes, somehow you seem to think that the good he has done buys him an overarching pardon for his mistakes AND a licence to continue teaching, whereas I don't.
Taking into account the fact that the Lord Himself is unable to forgive Durvasa Muni, how on earth is it that you think you can decide that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj ought to be forgiven for the abuse he inflicted on other Vaisnavas???
One of the more ridiculous arguments you have brought forth is that because the abuse took place some 35 years ago it should be disregarded, as if somehow the time factor cancels out his offence or the need for him to seek forgiveness with humility…
Besides, even if ALL his victims decide that they wish to forgive him (which so far has not been the case), that still does not mean that it is advisable to allow a man with a history of child abuse to continue interacting with children. That is not forgiveness, that is insanity. There is an infinity of other services he can perform, without placing the lives of more children at risk.
It is due to the fact that many in leadership see things your way, that he has been allowed to continue teaching despite the abuse he inflicted 35 years ago, and the result has been that he has abused more children since. It is ludicrous to suggest that he should be given more chances. How many children does he need to abuse before you will deem it necessary that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj is removed?
Pleading for his "forgiveness" so that he may be allowed to continue teaching to children is irresponsible, especially when we take into account the fact that he has lied on several occasions about past incidents to diminish his responsibility and the gravity of his wrongdoings.
You have stated your belief that sometimes it is appropriate to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary option for children, but you have not given any specific guidelines on when/where and how this can take place. You have essentially left the specifics to the discretion of your followers, which is irresponsible and potentially very dangerous.
If you can find it in you to engage a little further with my fallen self, this would likely be the most important, out of all the many topics you have avoided addressing in the course of this exchange.
The reason I feel that you regarded the Hindi part of the conversation as unrelated to the rest is because of your statement that in the Hindi conversation, Srila Prabhupada had instructed to beat the boy without being prompted by Jagadish. While it is accurate that in the Hindi part of the exchange Jagadish didn't prompt Srila Prabhupada, this only holds true if you take the Hindi conversation out of context, because a few sentences before, Jagadish had indeed requested Prabhupada permission to beat the child.
You also wrote:
"There is no tampered quote, as he claims. I simply cut and pasted that section from the Vedabase and added Hindi translation".
You did not simply cut and paste a section of the discussion!!! I am not sure whether I should be amused or concerned to read your claim that you didn't selectively take bits from that conversation and present a collage that endorsed your agenda, I don't see how you can support such defence. At any rate, I noticed that you forgot to link/reference where exactly on the Vedabase we can find your quote, intact, that you copied and pasted as you presented it. Because I didn't find it.
I have gone to great lengths to explain the reasons why I believe you have indeed misquoted Srila Prabhupada.
Perhaps you actually believe that your presentation of those quotes does not constitute the sort of "quoting out of context" that changes the meaning of the exchange that took place between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. Or perhaps you feel that you have too much to lose by acknowledging the gravity of what you have done.
At any rate, I believe both yourself and I have had sufficient opportunities to explain our respective viewpoints and it is now up to each individual reader to make up their mind.
Many of the parents sending children to Maharaj's gurukula are from Russia and Eastern Europe. I am not convinced that the majority of them are aware of the history, as you suggest.
The argument that Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj should be allowed to continue his involvement in education because he has done some good and because some people like him, is another fallacy.
Many mafia bosses have used proceeds of their crimes for the welfare of needy families in their localities and have thus built a large and loyal fan-base. When eventually they go to trial, their good deeds do not cancel out their crimes. The same goes for Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj. The good he has done needs to be taken into account, but allowing him to continue his involvement with education on account of the fact that some people like him is not a sign of forgiveness; it is reckless.
Your suggestion that I cannot/should not express my concerns about the fact that a known child abuser (Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj) has been deeply involved in the education of children for many years, on account of the fact that I haven't created a better alternative (my own ideal school) is silly. It's like saying that a journalist can't write an article exposing corrupt politicians unless he is also a perfect politician. It's like saying that only a proficient cook can make it known that there is not enough salt in the paneer subji, or that only a fireman can call out a fire.
There is a fire that has been burning the Mayapur gurukula for 35 years. Somebody needs to call it out.
We have a child abuser involved in education who is supported by many ISKCON leaders, including yourself. I don't need to have my own school to express my concern and outrage. These are logical fallacies.
"Incidentally, one of the leaders of the gurukula in Mayapur whom I recently spoke with told me that he had proposed to Sanaka Rsi Prabhu that they work together to make comprehensive guidelines on child protection issues, that could be used by ISKCON schools worldwide. Sanaka Rsi Prabhu declined."
While it is true that Madhava Gauranga offered to work with me on creating comprehensive guidelines for child protection, you forgot to mention the reason why I turned down his offer.
There was a condition attached to Madhava Gauranga's offer. We couldn't talk about the elephant in the room: Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's involvement in education could not be discussed. He specifically requested that we do not address this issue; this was the clause in his offer.
In other words, he wanted to cooperate with me on improving child protection in ISKCON, but he did not want to tackle the fact that the man who is behind the Mayapur gurukula is a known child abuser… Rightly or wrongly I felt that such collaboration would not be the best use of my time.
I am glad to hear that you are planning to publish the Facebook exchanges I had with Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's students, disciples and followers. I hope you will also include my rebuttals to what they wrote, and not just their writings, because that would be…well, more quoting out of context.
The essence of the points brought forward by Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj's disciples and followers in that exchange is that there were no inappropriate behaviours on his part and that the CPO files are inaccurate. So the readers need to decide where to place their faith.
We have 3 CPO investigations conducted and adjudicated by 3 different sets of devotees over a 35-year period. Every one of these investigations found Maharaj responsible for serious misconduct towards the children in his care.
On the other side we have his disciples, followers and supporters, who tell us that the CPO documents are unreliable. But other than their word, they haven't provided any tangible evidence to counter the volumes that constitute Maharaj's investigative case files.
Who do you believe? Who is more likely to offer an impartial account of the events? Who is less invested in presenting a particular version?
The likelihood that the disciples and followers of Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj have a strong incentive to exonerate him is far greater than the possibility that ALL the CPO case files on Bhaktividyapurna Maharaj present a prejudiced, unfair and inaccurate version of events, that they were accidentally or deliberately manipulated to frame an innocent man.
And even if just one of these 3 investigations is accurate, that is sufficient to warrant his removal from education.
But chances are that the majority of the findings of these investigations are indeed accurate.