Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: ISKCON or the International Society for Krsna Consciousness is meant for the propagation of Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. We as a society should represent the absolute truth by setting the highest example of religious practice and standard and be a world leader in the principles of religious life. However this will prove impossible if the leaders of our society cannot, by their personal example, display symptoms of a practitioner of the religious standards set by our parampara and His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
As we are all aware our society has been fraught with many examples of behavior unbecoming of a practitioner of spiritual life with many of our leaders being engaged in amoral or criminal activity which has gone largely unpunished by internal institutional measures or have gone under the radar of the legal justice system. When discussing such matters with a member of the Vṛndāvan Executive Board (VEB) he recently told me that he did not consider that ISKCON was a criminal organization.
Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa: I am not your enemy nor am I critical as you think I simply want the society that I live and serve to be better than a criminal organization which it is at this time.
VEB Member: “Well me too but I don’t agree that it is a criminal society or has ever been one.”
It was obvious that he did not see his actions and inactions as an Executive Board Member representing the GBC as being criminal in any shape or form. It was also obvious that he was thinking that ‘criminal’ narrowly refers to someone who has been arrested, charged and convicted of a crime by the legal justice system.
I have been calling the GBC and Gurus criminals for many years now, however, I am referring to the concept of a criminal in a much broader sense than they understand it to be. To them it means someone who has been charged and convicted of a crime and since they have never reported one of their fellow criminals to the police and have chosen instead to deal with the crime internally by covering it up as much as possible, they do not see themselves as criminals or someone who aids and abets a criminal.
Śrīla Prabhupāda used the term ‘criminal’ to describe the nitya baddha jīvas who are in the material world.
Just as there are different departments in each state in this material world–the civil department and the criminal department–so, in God’s creation, there are two departments of existence. As in the material world we find that the criminal department is far, far smaller than the civil department, so this material world, which is considered the criminal department, is one fourth of the entire creation of the Lord. All living entities who are residents of the material universes are considered to be more or less criminals because they do not wish to abide by the order of the Lord or they are against the harmonious activities of God’s will. [SB.3.15.33]
In the general sense criminal means:
Adjective – Bringing or deserving severe rebuke or censure / Guilty of a crime or serious offence / Involving, being or having the nature of a crime
We are all criminals in the sense that we want to lord it over our bodies and the objects of our senses. However, in doing so we reject and ignore Kṛṣṇa and the truth of His rule and role in our lives and impose our own rule and role as we struggle to gain control of everything that we feel will give us some advantage in our life’s struggle to dominate and in doing so we contravene His laws of nature and are therefore liable to be punished.
Actually everyone is suffering within this material world due to ignorance. Every day we see that a person without knowledge commits some criminal act and is later arrested and punished, despite the fact that he actually may not have been conscious of his sinful activity. Such ignorance prevails throughout the world. People do not consider how they are risking their lives in an attempt to have illicit sex life, kill animals to satisfy their tongue, enjoy intoxication and gamble. It is very regrettable that the leaders of the world do not know of the effects of these sinful activities. They are instead taking things very easily and are succeeding in making the ocean of nescience wider and wider. [SB.4.24.75]
As the kali yuga progresses the ocean of nescience becomes wider and more difficult to cross. ISKCON was established to make this ocean easier to cross for those who desire to cross over and therefore be saved from the bondage of material suffering. The leaders of our society must lead by their personal example and by protecting the innocent in order to decrease the ocean of nescience rather than widen it by engaging in illicit behavior.
A person in the mode of ignorance commits many sinful activities. In the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī explains that a man becomes sinful out of ignorance only. The resultant effect of sinful life is suffering. Those who are not in knowledge, who commit violations of the standard laws, are subject to be punished under criminal laws. Similarly, the laws of nature are very stringent. If a child touches fire without knowing the effect, he must be burned, even though he is only a child. If a child violates the law of nature, there is no compassion. Only through ignorance does a person violate the laws of nature, and when he comes to knowledge he does not commit any more sinful acts.
The King became tired after killing so many animals. When a man comes in contact with a saintly person, he becomes aware of the stringent laws of nature and thus becomes a religious person. Irreligious persons are like animals, but in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement such persons can come to a sense of understanding things as they are and abandon the four principles of prohibited activities–namely illicit sex life, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. This is the beginning of religious life. Those who are so-called religious and indulge in these four principles of prohibited activities are pseudoreligionists. Religious life and sinful activity cannot parallel one another. If one is serious in accepting a religious life, or the path of salvation, he must adhere to the four basic rules and regulations. However sinful a man may be, if he receives knowledge from the proper spiritual master and repents his past activities in his sinful life and stops them, he immediately becomes eligible to return home, back to Godhead. This is made possible just by following the rules and regulations given by the śāstra and following the bona fide spiritual master. [SB.4.26.10]
Religious life and sinful life do not parallel one another and so if the leaders are sinful they cannot lead in religious matters and only create resentment in their followers. The role of a leader in our ISKCON society is to lead our society on the path to righteousness and not to engage in or condone irreligious activities at the expense of the truth and religious life. They have to set the example for following religious principles by strictly following the religious principles set down by Śrīla Prabhupāda for us to follow and if they don’t – then they must be rejected.
“Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD FOR THE TIME BEING ANY DECISION FROM THE GBC MEN UNTIL MY FURTHER INSTRUCTION.”[Letter to: All ISKCON Temple Presidents 72-04-08]
The above edict by Śrīla Prabhupāda was ordered simply because the GBC had appointed Atreya Rsi without Śrīla Prabhupāda’s approval. How much of the GBC’s orders have been inculcated into our ISKCON society that go against not only Śrīla Prabhupāda’s edicts, teachings and instructions but go against the criminal law codes of secular society?? Yet the GBC continues on its way unchecked by guru, sādhu and śāstra and are accepted as our authority by the sheep like rank and file devotee???
The conditioned soul is sometimes attracted to the little happiness derived from sense gratification. Thus he has illicit sex or steals another’s property. At such a time he may be arrested by the government or chastised by the woman’s husband or protector. Thus simply for a little material satisfaction, he falls into a hellish condition and is put into jail for rape, kidnapping, theft and so forth. [SB.5.14.22]
Simply read the situation that is happening in Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham to know that the Temple and MVT authorities are by no means following spiritual standards or even moral standards of human life.
How many of our leaders have engaged in illicit activity or have supported those who are engaging in illicit activity at the expense of the members of our devotional community? If a leader or a follower is engaged in illicit activity then they are to be considered as criminals or those who have contravened the religious, moral, ethical, philosophical and legal laws and codes. The prime example would be Kirtanananda who was the most notorious breaker of the law. How many children did he sexually molest and the GBC knew very well of his crimes and yet he was never investigated or charged with any of those offences as there was no report made to the police. We may cast the finger of accusation against him as a perpetrator of heinous crimes against children but how different are the GBC who were very much aware of his activities and did nothing to protect the children by reporting him to the police?
Mahārāja Parīkṣit said: One may know that sinful activity is injurious for him because he actually sees that a criminal is punished by the government and rebuked by people in general and because he hears from scriptures and learned scholars that one is thrown into hellish conditions in the next life for committing sinful acts. Nevertheless, in spite of such knowledge, one is forced to commit sins again and again, even after performing acts of atonement. Therefore, what is the value of such atonement? [SB.6.1.9]
Any such criminal must be punished by the Government and rebuked by the people in general or they will continue to reoffend and ultimately damage the lives of innocent people. This is the same of our ISKCON society. So long as so called devotees who are acting in positions within our institution are not punished by the government for breaking the law and/or they are punished by the institution and not rebuked by the general devotee, they will continue to engage in sinful activity at the expense of our society and our members. How different would our society be had the GBC reported any criminal activity to the police?
How much child abuse, theft, fraud/embezzlement, tax evasion, charity fraud, misappropriation of donations and visa scams has gone on under the full support of our GBC? How many reports from the general devotees have been squashed and the reporters vilified and kicked out of the Temple for making the report? How much of this has gone on in our glorious ISKCON society?
In one’s memory how many crimes have we heard about which have been “handled” internally that should have been reported to the police and criminal charges brought against the perpetrator? I have yet to hear any. But I have seen Temple Authorities use the police or private security guards against their own people many times.
According to Śrīla Madhvācārya, persons above the age of fourteen are considered capable of distinguishing between good and bad and are thus responsible for their pious and sinful activities. [SB.11.21.16]
According to Śrīla Madhava Ācārya, once a person is fourteen they can tell between right and wrong and so they are from then on absolutely responsible for their actions and inactions. If a fourteen year old can discriminate what does this mean for a adult devotee who has been trained to know the distinction between right and wrong according to the laws of nature as well as for the laws of religious or dharmic principles and who chooses to contravene or break these laws even after taking vows to their spiritual master His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda?
To knowingly break these laws infers criminal intent. To defend the violator at the expense of the truth and the victim is reprehensible. Mahārāja Parīkṣit did not require the testimony of Dharma, the bull, or Mother Bhumi, the cow, who were being beaten to death by Kali yuga Kali to enact punishment. So too the rank and file devotee should be fully protected by the Temple Presidents, GBC’s or Sannyasis and there should be no need to report any abuses or crimes by others or our leaders as these leaders of our society should already be hyper vigilant and aware of the crimes and actively seek to protect the rank and file devotee who are volunteering their lives in the service of our ISKCON society.
Generally, one commits sinful activities due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the reaction–sinful activities. Sinful activities are of two kinds: those which are mature and those which are not mature. The sinful activities for which we are suffering at the present moment are called mature. The many sinful activities stored within us for which we have not yet suffered are considered immature. For example, a man may have committed criminal acts, but not yet been arrested for them. Now, as soon as he is detected, arrest is awaiting him. Similarly, for some of our sinful activities we are awaiting distresses in the future, and for others, which are mature, we are suffering at the present moment. [Nectar of Devotion]
Simply because the GBC or Temple authorities are engaging in either criminal activity or criminal negligence by aiding and abetting known criminals does not mean that they will not escape punishment. Nor do we evade any reactions should we knowingly allow criminal activity to occur and not respond appropriately. Anyone claiming to be an aspiring Brahman or Ksatriya cannot actually claim to be so if they sit back and do nothing when devotees are being abused or criminal activity is being enacted. The Brahman uses the pen and the Ksatriya uses the sword or strength of administrative power by their institutional position and by reporting the criminal to the legal justice system.
But if no one acts to prevent or to punish the miscreants they all will becomes coconspirators of the criminal act.
It is a well known fact that we must act according to law, or we will be punished. If one commits criminal activities, the state will punish him. Sometimes, however, a criminal may escape punishment by the state, but this is not the case with God’s law. One can cheat others, commit theft and hide, thereby saving himself from the punishment of the state, but one cannot save himself from the superior law, the law of nature. It is very difficult because there are many witnesses: the daylight is witness, the moonlight is witness, and Kṛṣṇa is the supreme witness. Thus one cannot say, “I am committing this sin, but no one can see me. [Matchless Gift]
Our suffering is caused by the many dirty things within our heart. We are just like a criminal who has dirty things within his heart. He thinks, “If I get such-and-such thing, I’ll be happy.” And at the risk of his life he commits a crime. A burglar, a thief, knows that if he is captured by the police he’ll be punished, but still he goes and steals. Why? Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ: He has become mad after sense gratification. That’s all. [JSD]
Only Lord Kṛṣṇa can save us from the reactions of our sinful life and we will only be recipients of His mercy if we follow Śrīla Prabhupāda. To follow or support the GBC or Temple Authority or the bogus rubberstamped Guru who is engaging in criminal activity or who is supporting the said criminal is no ‘get out of jail free’ ticket. All of you will be punished.
The Viṣṇudūtas chastised the Yamadūtas for violating the principles of justice. Such corruption of the judicial system is very prominent in Kali-yuga. The judicial system is meant to provide for execution of justice, yet false witnesses and bribery make it difficult. With money, almost anyone can get a favorable judgment in court. If the justice system is corrupt, life becomes extremely troublesome. The government is supposed to offer the citizens protection, as parents do for their children. A small child is completely dependent on his father and mother, thinking with full faith, “My father is here, my mother is here–I am safe.” But if the father and mother are corrupt, where is the protection for the child? Similarly, if the whole government is corrupt, where is the protection for the citizens?
Whatever the heads of society do, people generally follow. The government or king is like a father to the citizens. A father will never tolerate the killing or injuring of his children. He will give up his own life trying to attack the person threatening his children. Yet today crime is rampant. The government spends billions of dollars, but the citizens have no security in their lives. The government is answerable to the citizens because it must protect and provide for them. If the government is incapable or corrupt, then what is the position of the citizens?
… In Kali-yuga, people have no shelter. Due to corrupt government, they are uncertain of their lives and property. The mass of people should always feel secure because of the government’s protection. Therefore, how regrettable it is for the government itself to cause a breach of trust and put the citizens in difficulty for political reasons.[A Second Chance]
How many times has the ISKCON institution acted to use bribery and coercion to ensure that the criminal and their crime are covered up??? This is a very common occurrence here in India I am sorry to say where it is almost impossible to have a Temple authority charged with a crime due to the system of bribery.
I have personal experience of this when a Temple President here in Śrī Vrndvana Dhama had a western woman beaten and put in jail uncharged. It took me two months to have her released. Thanks to the government officials who were the ones who facilitated this inhuman travesty of justice, I was eventually able to have her released. These officials expressed their disgust at our ISKCON society who has such men in charge that would do such a thing to their own members and a woman member at that. These senior officials were very well aware of the situation in our ISKCON society and so I had no difficulty appealing to their better nature to aid me in my quest.
It must be noted that this mataji was a western woman who was an older dedicated member of our society who was thrown into an Indian jail by the then Temple President of ISKCON Vṛndāvan. There was no question of the protection of a woman by this FISKCON leader. Fortunately I was instrumental in having him removed from his post a few months later but unfortunately the GBC had to promote him in order to have him resign. Can you imagine that they had to promote him to get him to resign? What does this say about our society? What does this say about the type of person they appoint as being their Temple Presidents???
To use bribery in India is a common practice for both the guilty and the innocent. It all depends on who pays the most. In the above case even though I had to bribe some officials the main ones who were instrumental in having her in prison took no money from me as they felt so remorseful at their deed. It cost me only twenty thousand rupees to get her out but I would like to know how much was paid by FISKCON to have her beaten and imprisoned???????
It must be said that there was no such mercy from our own GBC and Temple Presidents given to me or this mataji. The GBC and Temple President acted mercilessly and actively impeded her release from prison.
So when I say our GBC and Temple Authorities are CRIMINALS I think it would be impossible to prove to me otherwise!!!