Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

Dhanurdhara Swami & the Gurukuli’s Faustian Bargain

Mayesvara's Photo 

“Have our militant Vaishnava youth become so jilted, apathetic or embittered that they just don’t care, can’t understand, or simply don’t believe there will be serious karma induced consequences for the open-throttled full force assault they have declared against Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan movement, regardless of how they go about justifying it?”

Here are two links to an article written by Mayesvara prabhu posted on Dandavats August 22nd, 2006. The first is a link to a preview of the first few paragraphs of the article.  The second is a link to the full article, which is posted in MS Word format. I suggest you read his article before my response (which is also posted below). At the Dandavats site you can also read comments from Kapila and an anonymous gurukuli

As you may notice, I responded a bit more bluntly than my generally concillatory manner. I want to make it clear that this is not because Mayesvara prabhu disagrees with the actions and choices made by some gurukulis. What concerns me is the tone of his article. In my reply, I hold up a mirror and ask Mayesvara to take a long and hard look.  His article is a reminder that the inflammatory, reactionary and angry attitudes towards gurukulis, as I described in A Play-full Plea, still linger and need to be addressed. 

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September 4, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | Leave a comment

The ICOCP’s Official Decision on Dhanurdhara Swami


ISKCON leaders responsible for setting priorities in Srila Prabhupada’s movement grossly neglected the proper care of ISKCON’s children. This neglect did much to bring about the sufferings reported in this case, and therefore all of ISKCON leadership must accept its share of the burden for what happened in the Vrndavan gurukula. Although Dhanurdhara Maharaja is responsible for his misbehavior, he was not singly responsible for the neglect and tyranny in the school. ISKCON leaders demonstrated appalling neglect of social concerns, and this was very apparent in the dearth of resources provided to the Vrndavan gurukula.”

This is a link to a PDF document of the ICOCP official decision by the ISKCON Central Office on Child Protection regarding Dhanurdhara Swami’s case from October 28, 1999.  Over the past few years there has been considerable confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the details of this document. I hope that making a link here will assist in familiarizing people with its content.

NOTE: Please be aware that this link takes you to Dhanurdhara Swami’s blogsite. Once there you can find several other related articles, written by DDS, that may be of interest.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | Leave a comment

Forgiveness Requires Rectification

Nara Narayana prabhu

“With regard to the article “I Beg Your Pardon” by Chaitanya Mangala prabhu, I believe that His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami’s response to Nityananda Rama prabhu mixes several elements of sin and forgiveness.”

A response to “I Beg Your Pardon” entitiled, “Forgiveness Requires Rectification” posted on Chakra by Nara Narayan prabhu August 17, 2006. While I think the “pre and post diksa” part of NNP’s article is a bit heavy on the theoretical/philosophical side, NNP does bring up several interesting points and examples.

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August 28, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | Leave a comment

The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace

 I posted this article on Dandavats August 8th, 2006.

A brief introduction for those of you who may not know me: For 10+ years I attended ISKCON gurukulas in the 70’s and 80’s. I was at the Vrndavan gurukula in the early 80’s when Dhanurdhara Swami was principal. For more than 15 years I have been an advocate for gurukuli concerns. I’ve been through two years of professional therapy to help me work through gurukula related issues. I earned an MBA degree and have been involved in business for several years.

I would like to comment on something I’ve noticed in regards to the ongoing discussions on Dandavats. It seems most are arriving at the same conclusion even though the reasoning they’ve used appears to be drastically different. Here is where most seem to be in agreement:

1. Abuse happened in the ISKCON gurukulas
2. Responsibility for that abuse can be shared at many levels
3. DDS is one who shares the responsibility
4. All want to see a positive resolution to the situation
5. Some inadequate attempts at resolution have been made
6. More can and should be done
7. Redundant focusing on the past may take away from present endeavors
8. Working cooperatively will be more productive

Let’s try to avoid tit for tat rhetoric and instead center our efforts on creating an atmosphere conducive for reconciliation. Focusing exclusively on the past is divisive and ultimately benefits no one. Let’s instead spotlight the areas where we are in agreement. I sincerely believe that the more we engage in open and honest dialog the more we will discover that the points we disagree on are fewer than we think.

Over the years there have been many misunderstandings, miscommunications and missed opportunities when dealing with these issues. What happened in the past can’t be changed. What we can change is how we choose to interact today and in the future. ISKCON, as an institution, as a Society, as well as a collection of concerned individuals, has been trapped in a time warp. Time waits for no one. It marches steadily onward and those who remain ensnared get left behind. My hope is that we can provide a process for those affected to find closure and move forward in positive ways.

Sometimes the individuals involved are referred to as the “abuser” and the “abused.” Many of the events we are speaking of happened years ago. Thus it would be more appropriate to refer to them as “former abuser” and “formerly abused.” In an attempt to move things forward I suggest we instead use the terms “offender” and “offended.” This helps to bring our perspective into a current context, use Vaishnava terminology and is less inflammatory. It is not meant to downplay past events, instead it encourages a more solution-oriented attitude.

Both the offender and the offended can be purified through an interactive process of seeking and giving forgiveness. However, expecting these things to happen automatically is unrealistic. There is a need to facilitate this process for it to take place. Both parties require support and encouragement to sort through these complex and unsettled matters.

Obviously these issues are important. Over the years there have been numerous comments regarding what did/didn’t happen, who is/isn’t responsible, who has/hasn’t atoned/forgiven, and so on. I encourage everyone to now put that effort into creating a process for meaningful dialog between those directly involved so this can move towards resolution.

My sincere prayer is that we all work diligently to create within our Society an atmosphere that is conducive for the process of repentance, forgiveness, and salvation to take place.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | 2 Comments

Jayadvaita Swami’s Response

Jayadvaita Swami

“The offender purifies his heart by repentance, the offended by forgiveness.”

Jayadvaita Swami responds to “I Beg Your Pardon” at his blogsite July 16th, 2006.

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August 28, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | Leave a comment

I Beg Your Pardon

Palace Garden Photo

I posted this article at Jayadvaita Swami’s blogsite July 13th, 2006.

Jaya Advaita Swami has been posting on his website a series titled, “Can One Who Has Sinned Be a Saint?” In this series he highlights verses and purports that focus on how people who perform sinful acts can redeem themselves by chanting the Holy Names. The premise is that sincere prayer to the Lord will burn up all negative reactions. These quotes accurately convey what to do if one becomes polluted by sinful activities and wants to become freed from them.

There is ample philosophical support that if in the course of doing their duties Vaishnavas transgress material laws the mercy of the Lord may mitigate their reactions. Some scriptural references imply that under certain circumstances devotees may not be subject to the same laws as non-devotees. However, scriptures also state that devotees would not break these laws anyways because they understand the negative implications of doing so. We have seen many examples in the history of ISKCON where devotees have not been exempt from the reaction of breaking material laws.

I would like to broaden the discussion and consider how to remedy a situation when a Vaishnava commits vaishnava-aparadha. I think this is closer to the heart of what devotees are asking to be addressed. For example, Nityananda Rama’s question to Jaya Advaita Swami asks what the limitations are for forgiveness and at what point it ceases to exonerate and becomes more a pretext used to rationalize the responsibility one devotee has to another.

There is a difference between what one could do in the event of an accidental fall down and what one should do in the case of vaishnava-aparadha. The practice of “chant away sins” and “not subject to the law” are clearly not sufficient in this case. 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.”

August 27, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | 1 Comment

Jiva Jago! (A Humble Request)

Srila Prabhupada with gurukulis in Dallas Texas

I posted a version of this article on Chakra May 25th, 2006 in response to the announcement by Shakuntala of the suicide of Ananda McClure.

To Dhanurdhara Swami: To increase the honor and integrity of ISKCON I humbly request you to voluntarily renounce all honorific titles, disciples and public ministry and retire to a more reserved life of prayer and penitence. Dedicate yourself to repairing the damage in which you played a major role. Help to heal our wounded Society. I am wholeheartedly convinced that this course of action would be the best “preaching” you could do in this lifetime. I pray you find the courage and conviction to do the right thing.

To my fellow Gurukulis: Let us remember to show compassion, even to one who shares responsiblity for so much pain and suffering. Our request should not be that Dhanurdhara be completely ostracized from all congregational activities. According to our beliefs, it is through prayer, association and repentance that even the lowest among us can find redemption. For 15 years, we have been consistently asking that Dhanurdhara no longer be: allowed to speak publicly, ordained with honorific titles, authorized to accept disciples, and designated as one of ISKCON’s most exalted personalities. During this sad time, let’s not become overwhelmed by anger or blinded by revenge and instead remain sober and steadfast in our approach.

To the GBC (and other ISKCON Leaders): Please take Ananda’s suicide as an occasion to reflect on your collective decisions regarding Dhanurdhara Swami. Take a moment to understand what message you send to the rest of the world through such decisions. I appreciate the difficult choices you must often make and sincerely hope you can be strong leaders and shining examples for our Society.

To the greater Vaishnava Society: This is an opportunity for us to understand the importance of offering genuine love and support to those among us who may be struggling in their lives. Encourage them to find the help they need. As we can see, sometimes it does mean the difference between life and (an untimely) death….

August 27, 2006 Posted by | Dhanurdhara Swami, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | 3 Comments


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