Deccan Herald

Deccan Herald
Monday, November 2, 1998

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) is faced with a revolt by its devotees over a series of "sex scandals" involving its high-flying gurus.

Leading the revolt is long-time devotee Vineet Narain who has set up the Iskcon Reform Group (IRG) which has branches in Australia, France, Germany, UK and Canada.

"This revolt is taking place not only in India but also around the world," Mr Narain said today pointing to the recent rejection of Guru Loknath Swami by his former disciples on learning that he had molested a teenaged girl in the US.

Devotees from China rejected Tamal Krishna Goswami for the "lie he spoke about his spiritual position," and for failing to provide the philosophical basis for his assumption of the title of guru.

Earlier several self-proclaimed gurus fell from grace following serious charges of child abuse and homosexuality levelled at them and these included Bhavanand Swamy Nad Swami Kriti Anand who is currently serving a term in a US prison.

Anand Swami, an Italian member of Iskcon recently ran away with the daughter of an Indian diplomat presently living in Noida while Hansduta Swami married his own disciple.

Even more reprehensible is the case of Iskcon Chairman Harikeshaswami who ran away with a sex-worker leaving thousands of his disciples in a state of emotional shock.

"Such acts have completely shaken the faith of disciples in their gurus and the IRG is now demanding an entire review of the guru system," Mr Narain said.

Iskcon which has assets worth billions of dollars in over 500 centres around the world is manned by senior and highly qualified disciples who left their professions to become full-time devotees and follow the path of "spirituality."

Many of these devotees are upset and angry but have become so dependent on Iskcon for their survival that they are afraid to speak up, a member of the IRG said.

In the past, Iskcon was accused of being involved with the US Central Investigative Agency (CIA) and treated with suspicion in India but in recent times they have enjoyed a better profile in this country especially after the opening of multi-million dollar centre here earlier this year by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

According to Mr Adridharan Das, president of the Iskcon in Calcutta, the "bogus gurus" were operating even though its late founder, Prabhupada was against any guru system. Prabhupada said Mr Das had merely initiated some of his disciples to function as priests and not as gurus who in Hinduism have spiritual power over the life and death of their followers.

Mr Narain said a gang of touts now hang around Iskcon temples offering to take newcomers to self- styled gurus.

© Copyright, 1998 The Printers (Mysore) Ltd.

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