Friday, January 10, 2014

Hari Vilas Threatens Violence in Phoenix

Problems at ISKCON of Phoenix


When Vamsidasa became too old and infirm, he would have trouble going out to do madhukari (begging food from devotees). Once in such a situation he exclaimed to his servant, "Did you hear what Lord Gauranga was saying? He has told Vamsidasa, 'you do not go begging for three days. Now you are too old, so I will feed you.' This Gauranga wants to feed me!" Saying this Vamsidasa fetched a stick and waved it threateningly at his Gaura Deity. "You do not have to go outside for serving me. If You go outside, I will break Your legs!!" Well in Gauranga lila, that was in past, and was a completely transcendental pastime of the Lord.

In more recent years, on October 12th, 2007, Hari Vilas, who is the present GBC of Seattle Washington and also of ISKCON of Phoenix, called Dr. Prayag Narayan Misra for a conference call. Also on the conference call was the Phoenix Temple President, Prema Dhatri devi dasi, and the temple Vice-President, her husband. During that conference call, Hari Vilas threatened and abused him verbally, saying, '"This Temple is private property, and if you enter, I will break your legs!"

Hari Vilas then accused this old Vaishnava, who has been with ISKCON for four decades, of wrongdoing, concerning some money issue, and continued his accusations without verifying any facts. Hari Vilas continued, "I'll shame you during Sunday Love Feast, as you have stolen Krishna's money". Dr. Misra is a born Vaishnava from Allahabad, and when he heard these words, his reaction: " I have never heard such shocking words from anyone, especially from one who is supposed to be a GBC representative of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. To me, both these telephone calls were horrifying".

Two weeks later, after the conference call, the Phoenix Temple President organized a meeting whereby twelve prominent community members were present. They examined the documents regarding a private money transaction between Dr. Misra and an elderly lady. The unbiased group of 12 totally rejected the claim by the Temple President, that there was any stolen Lakshmi from the Temple. The money given to Dr. Misra was to pay for some goods that Dr. Misra had purchased for her on her request, and she had signed a receipt as proof saying so. Although the truth of this matter was revealed at that meeting, the temple management still sticks to their original claim against Dr. Misra.

Does this kind of offensive dealing with devotees, speaking threats and lies against a Vaishnava, befit one who is an ISKCON devotee or a Temple President, much less a GBC member? The answer is no. Does Hari Vilas think that his words would be approved by Srila Prabhupada, if he were in his Divine presence? The answer would also be a definite no. Hari Vilas is accepted as a senior member of ISKCON, and he carries the responsibility of integrity of being a member of the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON, which requires perfect gentlemanly conduct, truthfulness, accompanied with humility.

Hari Vilas das is now on a waiting list to be approved by the GBC body, as a sannyasi and guru. But is a person who unleashes this kind of anger, arrogance, and violent language, and not compassion, qualified in representing Srila Prabhupada to the public and to those who have full faith in the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada?

Last year, December 27, 2012, on behalf of Life Members and Congregational members, an email was sent to prominent GBCs and Temple Presidents all across the world in hopes of resolving issues of our dissatisfaction with the temple management. Instead of discussing or trying to resolve the issues, we were informed that on the advice of Hari Vilas, the Temple President Prema Dhatri dasi went to the Court and obtained an order of Injunction Against Harassment against Prayag Narayan Misra, who then entered an Appeal. On October 29, 2013, the Superior Court Judge quashed (overturned) the Injunction against him.

A few days later and after the Court overruled in Dr. Misra's favor, he decided to take darshan of Sri Sri Radha Madhava Hari at the ISKCON Phoenix temple on Diwali day. Seeing him inside the Temple, Prema Dhatri dasi called the police to arrest him. However, on the advice of another devotee, she didn't allow policeman to enter inside the temple room. Next day, on November 4, 2013, Dr. Misra again went for darshan, and Prema Dhatri harassed him by videotaping in front of resident Temple devotees, without permission, and said for the record: "This is 'private property'. You are not welcome. If you enter here again, you may be arrested by police or thrown out."

Finally, effective November 4, 2013 there exists an official "ban" by GBC member Hari Vilas and the Temple President Prema Dhatri, not only on Dr. Misra, but against five Indian families who have supported his rights for proper treatment as a Vaishnava. Havi Vilas and the Temple President are claiming that an ISKCON temple, which is open to the public and open to supporters who give donations for its operation, is "private property", and, they have even threatened to have us arrested if we try to enter the temple for darshan of the Lord.

All the so-called banned Indian families are Life Members of ISKCON, follow the regulative principles, do japa mala, and have been serving the ISKCON Phoenix temple for many years, some since its beginning in 1996. One of the accused families is also very close friends with another GBC member, Guru Prasad Swami, and has humbly hosted him in their house whenever Maharaj would visit Phoenix. These devotees consider Maharaj their siksha guru.

Guru Prasad Swami was the GBC of Arizona since 1986, before Hari Vilas was installed as the GBC representative by improper GBC procedures, whereby some members of the North American GBC lied to the temple Board of Directors and the serving Phoenix GBC member at the time, Hridayananda Maharaj. There remains proof of emailed correspondence between some of North American GBC members, exposing the fact that they did not properly follow standard GBC rules in the matter of resigning the GBC and Temple President persons. Although there were extensive appeals made at the time to the "higher-ups" of ISKCON, members of the International GBC Executive Committee, there has to date been no correction or chastisement of these North American GBC members that we are aware of, nor has there been any recall in the new management members, who were put in charge by deception and tricks.

Romapada Swami, who we later learned "pulled the strings" for this unorthodox takeover of the Phoenix temple by Hari Vilas, and who is also a North American GBC member, then arranged the present lady temple president, who was at the time neither initiated or trained at all in Krishna consciousness, to become one of the official Directors in 2007. It t is strictly against GBC law for an "uninitiated person", such as Pratibha Somaiya (now Prema Dhatri), to hold any official office in any ISKCON temple. Her husband Ramesh Somaiya ( aka Radha Madhava das), also uninitiated at the time, was made the Vice President. Some years later the Somaiyas were initiated as disciples by Romapada Swami, and as a result, Romapada Swami now visits some Phoenix congregational members' homes and accepts their donations, for himself.

The members of the North American GBC who sidestepped ISKCON law and GBC resolutions and procedures in order to inappropriately install the new GBC, Hari Vilas and Temple President Prema Dhatri in ISKCON Phoenix did so under the supervision of Tamohar das, who was then the Chairman of the North American GBC, and who is now Chairman of the International GBC body. A good question is, why have not any of these individuals, starting with the NA GBC Chairman Tamohar das, and others such as Hari Vilas, been held accountable for not representing properly Srila Prabhupada's rules governing ISKCON and the change of officers and GBC personalities? And to keep the status quo and divert attention from this important issue of negligence of GBC duty, the GBC of North America sanctions to ban anyone who disagrees with the present management of the Phoenix temple, and anyone who especially disagrees with the ISKCON Phoenix GBC Hari Vilas, who lives in Seattle and rules over the ISKCON temple there. What would the Indian community and patrons of the Seattle ISKCON think of Hari Vilas' dealings over here in Phoenix?

Is it therefore any wonder why, since Hari Vilas took over the Phoenix temple, there has been so much politics for years, and devotee abuse, as it was originally through wrongful politics that Hari Vilas has come to his power over the ISKCON Phoenix temple?

My humble appeal and hope in writing this article is that some truthful and concerned members of the International GBC body would intervene and make the proper corrections, and chastise the ones that are truly worthy of it. We do not need politics, or arrogant GBCs, or banning devotees from participating in Lord Caitanya's Movement.

Srila Prabhupada built a house where the whole world can live. That is his eternal legacy. What will the legacy of Hari Vilas be?

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