Jagadananda Das Statement on Child Abuse in Mayapur Gurukula

Jagadananda Das, former headmaster of the Mayapur gurukula, posted the following statement on Facebook, May 23, 2016. The statement was forwarded via the Google Groups Istaghosthi.


The child abuse in ISKCON is once again a subject, with the release of Sanaka Rsi's film. I have been told by Bhakta Demian Martins to my face that I should go to prison for my involvement in the Gurukula when abuses were going on, especially those of the leaders of Mayapur Chandroday Mandir when I was headmaster there, as well as of the teachers who worked under me.

I have publicly admitted that I was abusive. I used corporal punishment, as did nearly every other Gurukula teacher in Dallas or in Mayapur. When I was severely thrashed by the Miapore villagers in 1977, I took it as a direct sign from Mahaprabhu that I had done wrong and stopped.

I claim innocence and ignorance about the sexual abuse. It was beyond my comprehension that anyone could do such a thing. When the veil was uncovered, I saw how widespread the abuse was. I did not feel capable of changing things and felt it more important to pursue authentic bhakti, which I felt was no longer available in the ISKCON institution after Prabhupada left.

I have had the good fortune of meeting some of my students in the 37 years since I left and all of them them have been friendly and forgiving and even appreciative of my efforts as a teacher and headmaster despite the things that I did.

Just now I said, let's blame Prabhupada shall we? Of course, no one wants to blame Prabhupada and neither do I, but the king is responsible for his kingdom. Prabhupada thought it more important to build the movement quickly and to spread it at any cost. He was the one who recognized that in the war against Maya there would be casualties, but he pushed forward anyway, putting incompetent individuals in positions of authority and pushing them to perform at any cost. If they fell away it was sad, but that was the cost of doing things the way he did them.

We were incompetent. Ignorant. Foolish children. What did I know of child sexual abuse? It was outside my realm of experience entirely. Physical abuse in the sense of corporal punishment I had known in my home and in school in Canada. And in India, corporal punishment was socially accepted and approved. Even Prabhupada himself allowed for it on occasion. It took me some time to come to that realization, even with Prabhupada personally admonishing me.

So if I am responsible for Bhavananda, for Tapomoy, for Nitai Chand, for Shatadhanya, for Venkat, for Ananta Rupa, for Srigalim, for Anirdeshya Vapu or any of the other Gurukula people with whom I worked who eventually became known for sometimes unspeakable and horrific acts of abuse, I accept.

I was in touch with them all. I knew them, and I knew nothing of the abuses for which they were accused in later days. When I found out, I washed my hands of the problem rather than fighting to protect the children. That is a dereliction of duty.

I left ISKCON in December 1979. I have never regretted that decision. Prabhupada inspired me to seek out authentic Vaishnavism and authentic spirituality. I am sorry for the students who suffered and I sincerely hope that good outweighs the bad. If they feel that blaming me is helpful to their personal progress, I cannot object. Jai Radhe Shyam.

Facebook comments:

VVD: At least you stand up publicly and immediately to say your piece. In general, there is so much posturing around this issue, for fear that we will all go down in the fray. Independence has its benefits.

Yes, I was there too, in so many Gurukulas starting with Dallas, and didn't see any sexual abuse until I got to Mayapur Gurukula in 1990. Then almost my entire small boys class was involved in one way or another, being preyed upon by older boys. I had actually gone to meet with the sannyasi in charge and he dismissed my concerns. Then the veil came tumbling down...

Funding an independent CPO out of collections for the TOVP is not going to solve the problem, as long as sanctions are not enforceable in the institution. The problem is so much bigger, IMHO.

JGW: There is almost no excuse for your "letting this abuse happen and continue" under your "nose", so to speak as one of the gurukuli managers-supervisors. ALMOST. The exception? You say you were always clueless.

But were you also at any time swayed by the "I am not this body" self-abusive and IMO sociopathic mis-interpretation of SP's teachings which notion has been a key perverse part of the psychologically and spiritually damaging authoritarian doctrine of domination and control enforced by ISKCON's incompetent male leaders for decades? Are you aware if you ignored your revulsions towards capital punishment of the gurukulis, if you ever had any, when you meeted out punishments to them, who's well-being you supervised? Did you ever starve any of them or deny them sufficient sleep? Did you ever in effect "put them in isolation" of FORCE THEM to chant more rounds when some part of you knew what they needed more was comforting?

I notice you neglected to say what punishments you meeted out to the children, how severe were these punishments and how often and why you found such punishments necessary. A more complete confession might include that information and in the writing of it help you find "absolution" for your involvement, thankfully for your sake not including your leadership or promotion of the worst of it.

And besides helping you in achieving absolution, we the ISKCON diaspera and the general public need the details for the public record. also.

My heart aches also.

Jagadananda Das: Of course I was. And to some extent I still am, though hopefully with a little more maturity. I don't think Western society has found the answer. In fact, I think that the residue of Western culture is greatly responsible for these behaviors, which wer...See More

VVD: https://surrealist.org/gurukula/timeline/fromateacher.html

RMK: You received a thrashing from villagers, what did that entail exactly ?

On May 24, 2016, at 11:37 PM, Pratyatosa wrote:

Jagadananda Das says that Srila Prabhupada is partly to blame for the child abuse, but I don't agree. Srila Prabhupada, in 1970 (the DOM) and again in 1977 (the July 9th letter), set up an almost foolproof system of checks and balances within ISKCON. It's not his fault if his former "drug addicted hippie" leaders, with their LSD addled brains, refuse to follow his orders because of their obvious madness.

Even a karmi child can understand that an organization who's leaders are former drug crazed hippies who now think that they are "like Jesus" does not bode well for the sanity of that organization.

This is why women and children are still being abused within ISKCON, and why the ISKCON leaders are powerless to do anything about it. Srila Prabhupada ordered, in the form of a signed, legal document (the DOM), that the GBC men must be voted on/off the GBC by the temple presidents every 3 years. The trouble is, this was never followed. In effect, the ISKCON leaders have cut their own throats by this gross insubordination and resultant lack of accountability!

Your servant, Pratyatosa Dasa

On May 25, 2016, at 11:11 AM, Mario Pineda wrote:

I totally agree. Those that blame Srila Prabhupada for anything bad, show their inability to recognize a truly saintly person.

On May 25, 2016, at 11:38 AM, Nori Muster wrote:

ISKCON child abuse in the India gurukulas, old Dallas, New Vrindaban, and a few other US schools, during the 1970s and 1980s, was the most sadistic and harsh of any I found in my ten years of research leading to my book Child of the Cult.

A couple of other groups were physically abusive, especially polygamous Mormon groups; and 3HO and TM had some of that in the Indian gurukulas.

Other groups were sexually abusive, especially the notorious Children of God.

But ISKCON was the worst.

That's the thing apologist ISKCON people are having trouble accepting.

Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.


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