Concerned Brisbane Servants: Dear GBC Members,
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Congratulations on the new website http://gbc.iskcon.org/. I especially like the section that identifies individual members. From its creation, I presume that you would like to get the Vaisnava community to get to know these members better, and that is part of the purpose of the site. That is definitely commendable.
For your benefit and that of the worldwide assembly, I would like to assist you in getting a clearer picture of the service record of one of your most prominent members, Ramai Swami. I am sure this information will assist you in keeping your esteemed body accountable to Srila Prabhupada and the entire GBC Body itself, as well as the constituents whom this Swami oversees. I personally have known Ramai Swami for decades. He probably considers me as one of his supporters. I know he sees me as a ‘godsister’ and probably some sort of ‘friend.’ Sometimes he has confided in me. However, I can no longer remain silent, If you are unsure of who Ramai Swami is, Maharaja can be seen regularly front and centre in your group photos, for example here, http://gbc.iskcon.org/. Whether by his own manipulations or other’s requests, his grinning visage is generally located smack dab in the middle of any GBC photo shoot, smiling widely. He looks happy. He was even GBC Chairman for a number of years. One would therefore surely expect the highest standards and exemplary service record of such a person. That is what we expect from our appointed male (and female) leaders.
On the contrary (and let me state frankly with no offence intended), as the GBC-nominated zonal representative of Australia, Ramai Swami has presided over, and thus been largely responsible for, the most incredible, spectacular degradation and mismanagement of the entire Australian yatra, ever seen in its short history. Ever since being promoted as Bhavananda’s right-hand man in Australia back in the 80’s, and particularly since his ascension to the GBC throne, on all accounts Ramai’s rule has been an unmitigated disaster, at every level, in every state of Australia. It is therefore very surprising that you give him such prominence. As you are maybe still dubious of such claims, please allow me provide to fill you in on the local issues.
Maharaja is a current member of the Australian Zonal Council, a body consisting of Australian temple presidents and GBC members, Prabhavisnu das (ex-Maharaja) and Devamrita Swami among them. Up until recently Tirtharaja das (AKA Anthony Sticha) was also a member (he is still suspected of pulling various strings behind the scenes). Ramai Swami is very close friends with this person of extremely dubious character, who was investigated by the Australian Federal Police for running Columbian drug money through our ISKCON Brisbane accounts. We kid you not. Don’t you know this? We congregational members personally cannot stand the man. Ramai Swami’s role in the whole affair has not been to remove, suspend or distance himself from this person to protect the congregation from being cheated (as you would expect) and to protect the sanctity of Srila Prabhupada’s institution in Australia (as also would be expected), but rather to cover up, promote and support this well-known (now infamous) and suspected criminal for decades, despite loud calls by us to have him removed.
Tirtharaja was the TP of Brisbane temple, which collapsed completely due to his managerial ineptitude, all the while fully supported by Ramai. It is now a shattered and divided community at best, a ‘dead zone.’ Ultimately, Ramai is responsible for the debacle due to his inability to act in a morally upstanding manner from the beginning. Instead, Tirtharaja was ‘promoted’ and now he has a position in South America and also China where the locals there will be unsuspecting of his previous sordid history. Us local Brisbane members, including some wealthy Indians, are considering taking ISKCON and Anthony Sticha to court to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Tirtharaja ‘collected for the new temple,’ and that has now disappeared. Where is our money, Maharaja? Also, the debts he left behind are enormous. Very strange, seeing as we gave him insane amounts of cash. Personally, our family gave him thousands for the new temple over the years. Meanwhile Tirtharaja has plenty of property all over the place, which he states was due to ‘an inheritance.’ We, the local members of ISKCON Brisbane are very suspicious of this claim. We asked for him to show us where the money trail leads, to no avail. No evidence has been produced for this, despite the community calling for it. And who is his main supporter right through the entire scam? Ramai Swami, our local GBC. Who is it that covers the whole thing up and threatens us, the locals from speaking out against such crimes? Ramai Swami, as always. It is solely due to Maharaja’s complete neglect of the locals and support of Tirtharaja that things have deteriorated here so badly. It will take decades to work through the mess.
After all this, why is Maharaja smiling in the above photo, I wonder? Is it that he has now given assurances to us, the local community, that our money will be returned? He certainly has the power to do so, yet we hear nothing. He simply looks like a cat that licked the cream. With all the suffering devotees here, you would expect him to show some sobriety and genuine concern, not grinning like an idiot! Where is our money, Ramai? For the life of me I can’t work out why he looks so pleased with himself.
Private Life. Ramai Swami lives on the Australian Gold Coast – a mecca for tourists looking for sun and shopping and a just short drive from Brisbane. Bikinis and drunken louts are the norm as association for Maharaja. There, Maharaja lives in a beachside pad paid for by one of his grhastha Aussie mates. He gives a very short class to a few drifters into the local centre there once or twice a week (mainly Indians), and quickly leaves. Many members are asking (and about time), “What exactly does Maharaja do all day?” Surely he must be accountable to someone? Surely he must be fulfilling his duties in overseeing spiritual standards in Australia, but no one actually knows. No one can say. Is he down the beach? Is he shopping? His limited visible ‘service’ consists of collecting donations, giving very short classes, and leading occasional kirtan. Much like Prabhavisnu did. He is renowned as a classic angry controller and ignorer of community concerns. Sometimes he can be seen down the shops in karmi clothes and a hat and sunnies, but beyond that, all we see is what photos you GBC provide on the net. What is he up to 24 hours a day? No one knows. With the recent fall down of Prabhavisnu, I think his closest sannyasa ‘friend’ and associate, Ramai Swami, should be looked at very carefully to make sure he does not go down the same path.
It is well-known that Maharaja always has the latest model car (penchant for top range vehicles), and has lived for years off brahmacaris collecting illegally on his behalf to pay for his expensive music equipment. It is a known fact that Maharaja has been supporting himself fraudulently for many, many years. He cannot and will not deny this fact. We challenge him to publicly deny it. Maharaja was expert in the old ‘Food for Life’ scam where he engaged innocent new young males to collect money to ‘feed the homeless,’ when not one single cent went to Food For Life. Priyavrata prabhu of Food For Life is aware of these types of scams. I am sure you also know of this scam. It is nothing new. Maharaja was so expert however, that even though it was illegal, he never ‘did the pick’ himself, but would get young men and women to do it for him. However all that does is make him the ringleader of the criminal enterprise. I recall at least two of his ‘pickers’ killed themselves. Poor young men disillusioned by promises given by Maharaja for protection, care and attention. Not the behaviour expected of a spiritual ‘father figure.’
GBC Duties. Maharaja certainly doesn’t fulfil his obligations to the Vaisnava community, as he is required to do. He completely neglects his duties of seeing to the spiritual standards of the local temples of Brisbane and also New Govardhana (a half hour drive from his residence), what to speak of any others. From what we hear, the rural ISKCON property of New Govardhana is in a complete mess, simply becoming a filthy backpacker haven that provides opportunity for promiscuity amongst married and unmarried residents, for affairs between married managers, illicit sex between tourists and the married and single residents, and of affairs between managers and backpackers. And that is only what we can hear from outside the place. Those locals can fill you in on all the sordid details, and this news apparently just touches the surface. Maybe they can tell us more. It is no surprise that the Temple President there (John Cozzi , AKA Ajita dasa) worked under Tirtharaja for many years, practicing his management style of absolute autocrat, and has also been trained up to skate around the law to achieve his primary goals for name, fame and adoration, all the while letting the place slide spiritually. He is also suspected of various money scams. As told to me by another TP, Ajita’s primary goal is to ‘compete’ with the other Australia TP’s for material success. He is also known as arrogant, obnoxious and out-of-touch, yet is given free reign to devastate morale amongst the locals now in Brisbane. No surprise that Ramai gave Ajita a new position as Regional Secretary to oversee Brisbane, where he can run our community into the ground as well. We don’t want him here. Why give him a post up here in Brisbane, Maharaja? From the few meetings Ajita has had with some of us, Ajita equates money gained by dodging the law with spiritual success. He has been sent to try and cover up for our lost money. None of us are fooled Ajita prabhuji. We know what you are up to. And Ramai is behind the scenes all the while, silently controlling the zone. If you want to help us Ajita, where is our money? Why has Ramai Swami not ordered Ajita to immediately pay it back to us? Why the cover up, Ajita and Ramai? We know about both of you. Ajita prabhuji, do you think we are stupid to not know why you are up here? Go sort out your own stinking mess at New Govardhana. We are no fools. Go and ‘charm’ some other ladies and bully some other men.
There are many other items to discuss and place on Maharaja’s portfolio – Melbourne temple’s million dollar debts, court cases in Adelaide and other cities, insurance fraud at New Gokula by managers, centralisation of temples to put the entire zone at risk of financial collapse should the banks try to recoup their losses, devotee suicides, divided congregations, intimidation and threats by TP’s to silence the truth coming out, public rip offs and scams, covering up for Prabhavisnu indiscretions and Tirthraja’s improper dealings and so on and so forth. It is endless. The stories could fill a book.
This brief letter may assist others who live in and around Brisbane and other parts of Australia to come out and tell their story and speak out on the Australia disaster. I am sure more will come to light. I hope more seniors will tell their stories about this clearly unqualified Australian leadership. It is high time they were all removed and morally, spiritually, legally upstanding ISKCON citizens put in their place. Without coming across as pro-female, these (always) men have been extremely reckless. The leadership in Australia is very unbalanced towards men. In short, the zone is run like a male-dominated criminal mafia, with Ramai as the controlling head, and Ajita as the mafia prince. Don’t take my word for it, ask around. Real questions need to be asked, and real investigations, both by ISKCON management and various Australian governmental agencies, to clean out this entire corrupted zone. The ‘heads’ in Australia are stinking and rotting, contaminating everything they touch. Knowing the character and history of Ramai Swami, why do you GBC still promote him as the GBC poster boy, if you are apparently trying to clean house and reform your organisation? He has been the sole orchestrator of the entire tragedy here down under. Nothing has changed and things are getting worse. Surely you know this, though? Or have you not done any background checks on your GBCs?
If you are serious about reform beyond a grinning photo shoot, then please request Ramai Swami to start fulfilling his duties and responsibilities to the congregation. It is a crying shame that it is up to a female-bodied person to report such matters to this male-dominated GBC body, who proclaim to be our protectors. I am forced to remain anonymous due to fear of retribution from the above mentioned persons. Maybe one day there will be a safe place for us to speak publicly here in Oz. You cannot bring these things up in front of Ramai in public, as he gets very angry. To make my name public will also cause my hard-working husband to bear the brunt of these de facto gundas, and he has already been unfairly silenced and threatened. This is despite us serving as dedicated practicing Brisbane devotees for many, many years, contributing large amounts of laksmi and service along with many other sincere Gaura Nitai servants. Even now we have no rights. In 2012! A few men here have had pressure brought on them by their own guru, Indradyumna Swami (a Ramai mate) to shut up and obey authority. Indradyumna is party to all of this. He knows what is going on. We told him everything.
However, if you need to confirm any of the information in this letter, conduct your own thorough investigation for yourself to verify. Unfortunately, you will undoubtedly find the truth is more than you can probably bear. Meanwhile, we remain as a group crying into our saris at the sacrifices we and our families have made and the faith we stupidly placed in the idiotic Australian managers. We would have been better off keeping that money for our own preaching and supporting our Vaisnava families. However, it is not too late for Ramai to make things right, but the question is, will he? Apparently not, as now we have his fellow grinning fool and local puppet, Ajita running the show. Thanks a lot, Maharaja.
For our children’s sake at least, start clearing this Aussie house once and for all, and try and get our money back for us. Tell your dodgy puppet mate Ajita to bugger off, stop trying to cheat and lie to us, and leave us in peace. We are sick to death of both of you and your combined arrogance.
As a GBC group, if you have any decency left, get Ramai Swami to give us our money back. Maybe then, Maharaja will have a real reason to smile, as he would have done the right thing.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON,
Just one of many, many concerned Brisbane servants.