Regarding Confidentiality Agreement
BY: PUSTA KRISHNA DAS
Oct 02, 2011 USA (SUN) Hare Krishna. I did a search of Sampradaya Sun and found a Bhaktivedanta Manor Confidentiality Agreement. I read it. First, and in a general way, many businesses have confidentiality agreements to protect their business and creative material. That is of course intended to preserve the successful competitive impact of a business. As a doctor, I am sworn to confidentiality as it relates to a patient's health care and health history. It is a legal as well as ethical matter. Now, let us consider the Confidentiality Agreement as it relates to the workings of the Bhaktivedanta Manor, or ISKCON in general.
Mahavidya Prabhu prefaces his question to me, regarding what I think about the Confidentiality Agreement, by listing a number of illegal activities that have occurred in ISKCON. He warns that such activities may not only be of historical interest, but may be going on at present. Not at all surprising given the fact that human nature is what it is. In fact, and I may have written the same in an email to Rocana das Prabhu, when it became apparent that Kirtanananda was dying, I did some searches and came upon many things including "Monkey on a Stick". I read some of this. It is astonishingly horrible to hear about the cruelty that took place as outlined in that book. It may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to such illegal activities as related to the abuse and murder of others.
If one did not already have faith in Krishna and Srila Prabhupad, they would run, not walk, to the exit of anything Krishna conscious related. Fortunately, for me, I cannot leave Krishna. I know that He is the one and only Supreme Lord. But, the activities necessarily shake the foundations of ISKCON. And, I must say that, in my opinion, it is not the presence of the GBC, but rather the impotence of the GBC that permitted and permits illegal and horrific activities from taking place. So, now, this is my heartfelt impression of any Confidentiality Agreement.
The association of bhaktas is purely voluntary, and must be based upon love and trust. If association is based upon fear and suspicion, it is not worthy to be considered as Vaishnava association. That is the first principle. Secondly, the administrators or kshatriyas, must perform their duty. By definition, a kshatriya protects his dependents from harm. If they do not do this, they are not fit to be administrators. Those under the protection of the good kshatriyas should not fear from harm. On the other hand, if kshatriyas are giving protection to those who are doing harm, and neglecting those who are being harmed, it is an untenable situation. This has been a pattern in the past in ISKCON, in the church, and elsewhere.
Srila Prabhupad naturally did not want that the outside legal authorities should legislate the workings of ISKCON. However, illegal activities cannot be swept under the carpet without a horrific reaction to the ISKCON society. We have seen this in the past, and we cannot think that the outcome will not be the same if history repeats itself. The hope is that the GBC will both guide the society of devotees, and uphold the highest standards of human character.
So, the precedent for signing a Confidentiality Agreement has no precedence in the Vaishnava tradition to my understanding. Love and trust must be the basis of the association of devotees. And, if discord arises due to illegal activities, the temple administration should not need to be coerced to make things right.
If the temple were producing a product for marketing, there might be a place for confidentiality, obviously. However, this is not the intent here. If the intent is to "keep dirty laundry" from becoming public knowledge, a confidentiality agreement would truly not protect the information from coming to light, in the end. Rather, in my opinion, based on Srila Prabhupada's Will, the GBC collectively must be certain that there is ethical leadership in ISKCON at the local and other levels. I believe in Srila Prabhupada's wisdom. I realize that there are some who are already disgusted with the GBC. I would say, I also am disappointed by how uncaring the GBC may have been with past and current scandals of illegal activity. The GBC must realize its collective responsibility. The form is correct! The substance must be there in order to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's vision.