Thursday, October 27, 2016

Adelaide ISKCON Temple Meltdown Increases

Dear Readers

Hare Krishna.

I wish the entire Adelaide matter could be dealt with internally. I have had a few people beg me not to make this issue fodder for the media.

But what can i do? I have exhausted all internal methods of complaint.

Earlier this year, i was informed by a friend associated with Adelaide Temple that young women had suffered prolonged and traumatising sexual harrasment by the son of the Temple President. They had informed the Temple President who did nothing to stop it and indeed tried to punish the victims by forbidding them to perform their usual temple service. Abuse of women continued and indeed escalated.

You can't just believe rumours, however, so i travelled over to Adelaide to find out for myself if these stories were true. I spent many hours talking to distressed young women, their angry family members and indeed many members of the community who were extremely disturbed that the higher authorities had apparently decided that it was OK for the Temple President, Adi Purusa Krsna das, to be retained in his position, despite the fact he had not acted to protect women who came to him complaining of being abused. It is worth noting that neither of the GBC men, Ramai Swami or Devamrta Swami, visited Adelaide to speak to the community members. Actually both of them have visited Adelaide for a matter of days only in the last 10 years.

I joined the Hare Krishna Temple in 1973 when i was 17 years old. Within a short time i had experienced sexual harrasment, sexual assault and violent rape. This is pretty well ancient history now and i have spent the last 20 years of my life especially, actively cultivating Radical Forgiveness, Compassion and Love for all beings.

However the journey has not been easy for me or my family members. If at all possible, i would like to be able to prevent other young women who become attracted to the process of Bhakti Yoga, from suffering in these shocking ways.

So i have been involved in an intense email writing campaign to try to convince the decision makers of our organization that a man who fails to protect women from sexual abuse, even after being informed of their distress, is not fit to be the leader of a community of sincere souls who are seeking self realisation. It is clearly against the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, who emphasised the need to protect women, and it is also contrary to the expectations of secular Australian society.

For those who say i should settle this internally, i inform you of the following attempts made by me. I have written repeatedly, and i have the email trail, to the Secretary of the Australian National Council of ISKCON, Aniruddha das. I have written to the Minister of Communications Bhakta das. I have written to the newly appointed Representative for Women on the ISKCON National Council, Krishna Rupa devi. I have written to the Director of the Child Protection Office Damodara Pandit prabhu. I have written to the entire National Council as a whole. I have personally spoken to 2 members of the Executive Council, Ajit and Mathura.

All these people have ignored me or trivialised the complaints at Adelaide Temple or, even if sympathetic, have been unable to bring about a positive outcome.

I have repeatedly asked for professional mediation, through ISKCON Resolve with Ramai Swami , the long term GBC man. (Governing Body Commissioner). He has flatly refused to participate. I have spoken to other members of the National Council who are concerned but feel powerless to act in ways contrary to the decision of Ramai Swami in particular for fear of reprisals.

I should mention that i wrote to the National Secretary requesting the minutes of the AGM or some other documentation that would prove Ramai Swami's claim that the decision to retain Adi Purusa Krsna as Temple President, was unanimously made by the 5 members of the Executive Council. Despite this request, and in line with the secret methods used by sinister organizations, i was denied permission to see the minutes.

Getting nowhere with the Australian managers, i then wrote to members of the International GBC. Once again, i was ignored or fobbed off.

In the meantime, pressure was put on the Director of Govinda Valley to move me on. He had no choice but to comply. In Australia, if you publicly disagree with Ramai Swami, you soon find yourself the victim of bullying, intimidation and character assasination. In addition, you can have all your service taken away from you and be expelled from the very project you established. We have seen this for nearly 40 years. Back in the days of the bogus Zonal Acaryas, Jayadharma prabhu was expelled from his country temple at Colo River for refusing to worship Bhavananda. This pattern has continued.

So I don't see that there are any other options for me but the media and other organisations i have mentioned previously. A godsister recently asked me why the victims don't just go to the police and let abusers be taken care of directly and in this way, save ISKCON as a whole being dragged into disrepute.

The problem is this. Many of these survivors have already told their stories many times and have received little in the way of compassion or empathy from "leaders" in ISKCON, who appear to be cold hearted and have no concern for their spiritual or emotional welfare. These "leaders" seem preoccupied with denying any wrong doing and go straight into protection mode - of the abusers and the organization that is- not those who have been mistreated.

Mainly these survivors want to get on with their lives. There is a lot of healing to do as well as cope with everyday demands of study, work, family and community service. Generally, it is advised that they go for professional counselling to aid in their recovery. In addition, they may need to spend extra time building supportive relationships with those who are often bewildered by the complex and murky interpersonal dynamics that frequently accompany these horrible scenarios.

They also are aware, unfortunately, that if they DO take these matters to court, they will be subject to more trauma as their abuser's lawyers do everything they can to discredit their testimony, question every detail and, in line with what we have seen so many times before, attempt to shift the blame of the sexual misconduct onto the person who experienced the abuse. It is no wonder that many choose NOT to go through the courts. And even if they do, this could take a very long time.

So a video is being prepared for wide circulation. Everything is being triple fact-checked. There is full documentation for all claims made. Nothing is rumour or exaggerated. All the legal and spiritual names of the main players will be stated for the record. (Not the names of the survivors. Their rights to privacy will be respected in the public forum. )The present idea is to release this video to the general public soon after the Disappearance Day of Srila Prabhupada on 4 November.

For those of my acquaintances who would prefer all this is NOT made public, do something yourselves. Talk, write or phone. Implore the "leaders" to immediately remove Adi Purusa Krsna das as Temple President of Adelaide. Let the sincere devotees of Adelaide Temple manage their own temple as per Srila Prabhupada's Directions on Management.

Let disappointment be replaced with hope. Let bewilderment be replaced with clarity. Let those who have come to the Hare Krishna Temple to experience a harmonious and peaceful environment, be relieved of their anxieties. Let Srila Prabhupada's directions be implemented.

Please support this campaign in any way you are able

Your humble servant
Subhalaksmi devi dasi ACBSP Australia.

[PADA: You go girl! ys pd]

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