Leadership and Accountability

Here is my response to some discussion going on here:

pranams to all assembled sadhus
_o/__ _o____ _o/__
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I appreciate that Pandu Prabhu is being given the chance for a healthy dialogue here. I think that his warranted indignation needs intelligent venting and sensitive discussion.

This issue of child abuse is hard to seperate from strong emotion. I consider this to be a good thing and symptomatic of a noble disposition. Pandu Prabhu has satisfied me in previous correspondence enough to accept that his heart is well-intentioned here yet tinged by radical emotions that naturally accompany the realization that one has given a decade of their life to serving a society far less utopian than previously hoped for and/or presented by others.

I think we’ve all been through this to some degree yet his personal experience at this very moment is quite intense and, in my humble opinion, deserves utmost Vaisnava sensitivity which your response seems to potentially accomodate.

I’m also in a similar attitude towards Pandu Prabhu in terms of struggling to have faith in leaders who knew about these abuses and didn’t perform their duty to proactively put an end to it. I don’t believe that a $400,000,000 lawsuit was the best solution but I can also empathise with the desperation that can manifest when one feels hopelessly frustrated, ignored and bureaucratically gagged.

I’m also not convinced that we have moved forward socially enough within ISKCON to prevent similar abusive situations from occuring again. So my feelings are that plebeian fathers and mothers such as myself and Pandu need to take some discrimnatory stance on the issue if we wish to support the current state of ISKCON with our energies and efforts. Is this really such a laughable state of insubordination? I think most rational devotees would think otherwise and my experience in serving fellow plebeian mommys and daddys is that such upright thinking is happily accomodated when juxtaposed against the horrifying thought of our children being penetrated by someone trusted enough by our institution to be allowed full access to our nurturing grounds.

Just recently I spent several months in a place in India where the abuse was rampant (my accusation here is not based on sensational media reports but on my long term relationships with the some of the very boys who were hurt there). One of the organizing teachers in this place who barely knew me offered me a position in the gurukula just off the bat! …

“How would you like to take up teaching?”

My blatent and immediate response was, “How do you know I’m not a pervert?!”

I wasn’t satisfied with his answer that tried to downplay past abuses in a very emotionally manipulative way; especially since I’ve known some of these boys (now adults) who grew up in that very gurukula and had no reservations letting me know what it was like. To be honest I would have loved to have a good reason to live in the Dham but I certainly wasn’t going to direct my efforts there given that kind of tender! As I found out later, there was a fear that this particular section of the gurukula was going to close and the organizer there was desperate for support.

As a society it is certainly healthy to admit failure and pray for mercy to continue corrected. I am not satisfied that this attitude has been visibly embraced enough by our leaders for me to have faith that there has been any hopeful change of heart. From the beginning of my becoming aware of this issue it has always been discussed in dismissive brevity. I think that perversion thrives in an such an atmosphere of secrecy and denial – and indeed it does (evidence abounds).

Despite that such a lawsuit was a threat to the wobbly (financially speaking) state of ISKCON at least we should see the obvious good effect of it. My personally view is that Krishna’s hand was 100% in this or else it would have never happened. So let me end here with the sentiment (and logic) that Krishna really really loves these children and expects us to serve them by at least providing for them a safe environment to be brought up in Krishna Consciousness. Otherwise, as Lord Rsabhdeva admonishes, we shouldn’t take the responsibility of guru, father, adminstrator etc …..

your servant,
ekendra das
www.gopala.org


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