Maha Kitavah Dasa – USA: There has been a lot of talk about Abhiram and his alleged involvement in property development in Vrindavan Dham. On one side Abhiram claims to be residing in Vrindavan to do his bhajan and associate with devotees and on the other side there are claims his prime purpose to be in Vrindavan is to make money. It is understandable that Abhiram must earn any trust placed in him by the ISKCON community for his past activities and devotees generally would like to know if he is
remorseful for his past misdeeds and is genuinely interested in changing or he is in a kind of denial where he believes he has done no wrong.
I decided to do my own investigation as he, like anyone, is entitled to live in Vrindavan Dham and do bhajan without being accused of some scandal. So I called some of my contacts in the market in Vrindavan and was not surprised to hear what the inner circle of local property developers otherwise known as the Land Mafia had to say about Abhiram and his activities in Vrindavan. The inside scoop is that Abhiram and Narendra, a notorious property developer, the very same Narendra who is involved with Rupa Raganath of Food For Life Vrindavan, have plans to build an upmarket apartment complex near to the MVT. This new project is to be known as “The MVT Annexe”. It is apparently Narendra’s project but Abhiram arranged for the property, which is behind the MVT complex, and is known to be the ‘builder/manager’ of the project and has already had the Architectural drawings completed.
I shall do some more checking myself but I am concerned that this may turn out to be a joint venture with the Mayapur Vrindavan Trust (MVT) and if anyone is privy to more information please inform the devotees for ISKCON really should not be collaborating with Land Mafia types on
This may be a very lucrative decision by Narendra due to his less than savoury history with ISKCON devotees over the years and by having Abhiram, the President of MVT International, associated with his project he likely thinks he can attract the big bucks from foreign devotees and ISKCON Life Members without having to lift a finger or spend a rupee in advertising. Narendra who has been associated with ISKCON for decades knows if he can get inside ISKCON in any way he
will definitely make a nice fortune from dipping into the ISKCON food chain and Abhiram is his way in.
If this is in fact true and time will tell, then Abhiram has certainly sold his soul to the devil in Vrindavan Dham! So much for Abhiram residing in the Holy Dham doing bhajan. My contacts are very good and I have no doubt Abhiram is in Vrindavan Dham to do business and definitely not to do his bhajan. A leopard never changes his spots!
Maha Kitavah Das
Abhiram Dasa replies to this article by Maha Kitavah Dasa
As to the charge that I am working with ‘the land mafia’ of Vrindaban.
This is a very lose use of words and I do not know exactly how to answer, except to say that every piece of land surrounding MVT and Krishna Balaram Mandhir is to one degree or another controlled by certain land speculators in Vrindaban, who you have herein classified as ‘Land Mafia’. You have referred to Narendra, but so far as I know, he is a shop owner in Loi Bazarr who is friendly with hundreds of ISKCON devotees and his son is actually married to one. He does not carry a gun that I know of, nor does he travel round with hit men or guards; so I do not know how he is any different than all of the other land speculators around Vrindaban, except that he has been exceptionally friendly with ISKCON over the years and yes, does dabble in land deals.
Am I suggesting MVT will work with Narendra? Yes, I am. He has long back obtained an interest in an adjoining piece of land to MVT and has the financial resources and political abilities to develop it. Since he is friendly with ISKCON and yes, we have many rich buyers, he has suggested that MVT should take over management and sales for a profit share of his deal. It is NOT MY DEAL, NOR MVT’s deal, it is his and his alone.
We are considering this relationship, since it costs MVT zero and earns MVT a lot in the long run. If you can explain how this is harmful to Srila Prabhupada’s interest, I would be sincerely keen to hear about that and if convinced would surely cease this course of action.
Failing that, we have many devotees in the west who continue to press me for additional flats adjoining Krishna Balaram Mandhir and I do not see this as an evil desire on their part and do wish to facilitate them, while yes, enriching the MVT. I have a professional background in development, am currently entrusted with being ‘managing trustee’ of MVT and this all seems to be perfectly logical to me. I have already proposed this to the trustees and in the same letter suggested that profits from this be used to buy farm lands for cow seva in Vrindaban.
How the collective wisdom of the trustees will rule on this, I do not yet know, but this should demonstrate my intentions clearly. I am certainly curious how you see this as poor judgement or ill motivated.