Saturday, July 26, 2008

A letter to the Sampradaya Sun



Rocana Das is an old friend of mine from Toronto and other places in Canada, where we were in Iskcon together. Our paths diverged many years ago, but we came into contact a few years ago, in the early days of the Internet, when he first started his Harekrsna.com website and a listserve group called Garuda. We engaged in some fairly civil debates there, but Rocana and I were generally on the opposite sides of issues.

On the whole, Rocana cannot see past the fact that I don't seem to be a true "Prabhupadanuga" and indeed, though he made a pretense of politeness, he always managed to let it be known that he considered me to be a guru-tyagi and all that accompanies such a dreadful epithet.

Anyway, I still visit his Sampradaya Sun website every few days, though to be honest, I am completely bored with Iskcon politics; I have little or no vested interest in that organization and find most of the issues, philosophical or political, to be irrelevant to me personally. Nevertheless, I used to occasionally comment on articles to him in emails since as an old friend I thought he might be interested in my opinions. As he never answered, these letters, which were usually short anyway, became shorter.

Recently, there was an article by Henry Doktorski (Hrishikesh Das), which had the merit of being fairly well-written and had a little more substance than the usual griping and mudslinging. So I wrote a letter to the Sun saying "finally a good article." Rocana for some reason was aroused from his usual silence; the sum and substance of his answer was: "Stop writing these snotty letters. If you don't like the Sun, don't read it. Or start your own newspaper."

Ah Rocana... Here is my answer:

Dear Rocanaji,

Dandavats. I am writing once again because I feel that your last letter shows that you have a complete misunderstanding of where I am coming from. It seems that your frustration goes far deeper than my letter, and I assume that you are feeling some difficulties in accomplishing what you set out to do with the Sun. Such activities can become burdensome, especially if they are not profitable, in whatever sense of the term you want to take it.

But what I really want to say (and I really should keep a letter like this on file, it seems I have written it so many times) is that you are falling into the same kind of trap that VNN did: You publish any damn bit of muckraking that crosses your desk, without any processing whatsoever. You have to take a newspaperman's attitude and vet your info. That means you have to find a way to get real reporters out there.

Someone says Mudha Das, the president of Ougadougou Iskcon, has been caught attending baby-sacrifice rituals to the pagan goddess Omeiwanki and drinking the blood of the sacrificed child. Do you just publish this without trying to reach Mudha Das for comment? Do you not try to find knowledgeable and unbiased people who will speak for or against these rumors?

Every time you just print the raw information by someone with an ax to grind, that lowers the value of the Sun and diminishes everything you are trying to do. The worst thing that can be seen in a newspaper is no attempt to be fair. But if you have no intention to be fair, at least try to have writing of quality.

That is why I condemn you for printing everything that Mahavidya writes, unedited. First of all, who knows what his background and agenda are? Maybe all these guys with a negative attitude to Iskcon are really angels wrapped in divine light who are being persecuted by the forces of evil--but do you really believe it?

Besides, as a manager, you should know that it is far easier to tear down than to build up. If you think I sound snotty, you should think about the way your website sounds sometimes.

So, most important, edit these articles and turn them into stories. If you are going to make a newspaper, act like a newspaperman. Mahavidya's rants sound and look like the typical conspiracy theorists' comments on some "The aliens are coming to take us away" forum. I am not saying he is not perfectly right, but edit his comments and make them prose instead of this weird free verse thing he's got going.

Second, divide your articles more clearly so that you have substantial editorials that are clearly defined and marked as such. Separate op-ed (outside opinion) from editorials (the official opinions of the paper). But try to avoid doing exactly what VNN did, which with the exception of your cultural articles and reprints of Vaishnava literature, you are.

Third, why not start a comments trailer for each article? Dandavats and most other quality newspapers like the Guardian, etc., are doing that. That way, you give people like Mahavidya the chance to say something (in the forum) without it appearing that you approve of it or are abetting his agenda. It will also give you the opportunity to trawl for reporters. You can find people who can write, who have access to information, who are investigative... even those who have an ax to grind and use their talents. In some cases, you could even summarize the information that comes out of such forums and use it for an original article.

And another thing: Don't you think that you should correct articles for spelling and grammar? Once you publish a piece, it becomes your article and reflective of your site. So if it is written in broken English by Harishatru Das of Zagreb, don't you think you should take the time to unbreak it before you post? That is the minimum definition of an editor, is it not?

But my most important point is still that you need to investigate. This requires a little extra effort. It means spending money too, which is a more delicate and difficult matter. But a couple of phone calls to Ougadougou might be more revealing than a scurrilous email from a disgruntled brahmachari who had to leave because he was creating a bad vibe in the temple.

Do more with less. Go for quality rather than quantity. Try to at least appear objective, instead of a clearing house for anti-Iskcon propaganda. Find a few people who will try to act as REPORTERS and not rumormongers. Keep your editorials and your news articles separate. Widen the scope of the paper.

So, I realize that it is almost impossible to do all the above without having to consecrate more time and resources. The most important thing, and I say this to you because you are an experienced manager who knows how to mobilize and inspire, is to find people who will try to be objective and intelligent, neither pro- or con- Iskcon propagandists, but ones who recognize like you that a free press is an essential part of any organization or movement. But there is still a big difference between a true free press and what you are doing.

Yours in service,

Jagadananda Das.

12 comments:

Jagat said...

If you want to reach me personally, try jankbrz at yahoodotcom.

Jagat said...

I think that the model that would be best to follow, if the time and inclination were there, would be Tom Dispatch which provides in-depth, hard-hitting, fact-filled, incontrovertible articles about the militarization, etc., of American government.

What was good about Hrishikesh's article, was it's deconstruction of many of the kinds of mentality within the structure of Iskcon. Rocana is also trying to do this, as did Kundali before them.

As a matter of fact, all of us who are engaged in looking for a more profound understanding of Krishna consciousness are attempting to deepen the level of discourse in some way or another.

There are people out there doing this, and if the Sampradaya Sun was not so narrowly focused on Rocana's personal agenda, he would take notice of it and avail himself of the talent.

I think that originally the VNN site had the most expansive vision, in which all sects and sectors of Gaudiya Vaishnavism were to have a place. But they fell into the trap of laziness--as described in my letter above.

They got into the trap of thinking that we need to have some new stuff on there every day so that we get the requisite number of hits. Why do you need more hits? Are you selling advertising?

Babhru das said...

Bravo, Jagat. Well said. Thanks for sounding off. His site has some nice stuff (the cultural articles), but he has allowed it to become a bulletin board for any disgruntled devotee to post on. Not very useful. He justifies it by calling attention to the number of discrete users who visit the site. So what? How many people visit the show-biz gossip-rag sites? Again, thanks.

shiva said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you Jagat.

I didn't think Hrishikesha's article was very good, nor do I think it was different then many other similar articles complaining about the "good" devotees who are pure and noble, versus the "bad" devotees who are only interested in money and power. That ideology is seen all of the time in different forms on Rocana's website. So I don't see how you can say "finally" a good article.

The viewpoint in that article is not only self serving (the author is a "pure noble" devotee without the power of the people he criticizes who are the "bad ignoble devotees, if only we would accept him as the true spiritual savant) but it is also a very simplistic unsophisticated and ungenerous portrayal of people based upon another person's similar approach.

To that way of thinking there is only black and white, there is no gray. There are the totally selfish, totally materially motivated people, who by hook or by crook gain power in a new religious movement - versus the others who are totally pure hearted and totally unselfish, and whose motivation for joining in with the movement is due to their lack of material and social success.

I don't think that is a very sophisticated portrayal of the group dynamics in a religious movement, especially ISKCON. People get involved with ISKCON for various reasons. Some get involved due to a lack of material success, but many have material success and get involved i.e. the most glaring examples are the large number of very successful Indians involved with ISKCON, and also people from wealthy or successful backgrounds and celebrities.

Secondly it is very unsophisticated to make the claim that there are power hungry personality types who inevitably take over religious movements. Almost everyone seeks power and wealth for a variety of reasons.

It's not accurate to state as an axiom that everyone who seeks power and wealth from a position in a religious movement are only interested in power and wealth for their own aggrandizement, and nothing more then that. People have families to support and children to raise and may see the need to be a leader to pay for that, or people may feel that they are qualified to be leaders and can do good for the religious movement, etc. We shouldn't see everyone as either good or bad, totally selfish or totally unselfish, black or white, based upon their position of leadership or desire for that position.

I would bet anything most ISKCON leaders actually believe that they are trying to do good. People are fallible, they make mistakes, they have selfish and greedy tendencies, they seek comfort and wealth sometimes when it might be better for others if they choose a different path. That doesn't mean we have to accept the cynical axiomatic faux-truisms that Hrishikesh tries to fob off as unbiased scholarship - where you are either purely noble all of the time or you are a demon.

The point I am making is that the article you chose to venerate as an aberration is really just a second rate piece of regurgitated bashing of ISKCON leaders. Look at the title of the article: "Confronting the Demons-in-disguise" He also links to another article http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/07-08/editorials3157.htm which is just more of the "all ISKCON leaders are without any redeeming qualities" type of bashing.

As for the rest of your post, it seems to be unreasonable when seen in the light of the resources at Rocana's disposal. He is not independently wealthy, nor is he making a living off of his site. He is providing a free resource for us, using his time and energy to provide us with something for nothing. Why shouldn't he post articles without fact checking to make sure everything is copacetic? How could he do that with the resources he has? How will a phone call prove anything? How can you prove without spending time and money in an investigation which side is telling the truth? It's not legacy media, it's a wesbite which is dedicated to promoting the views of the owner - like most websites. Even so he allows views contrary to his own. In fact it is the only Gaudiya news site on the web which allows such a wide range of conflicting views which would be censored on other large Gaudiya news sites.

If he were to take up your suggestions then we would get a lot less from the website. Of course untrue things will be published, but everyone should know by now the unreliable nature of Internet news and blogs. That is also it's strength. By not extensively vetting every article we are getting much more, and we, not the editors, are allowed to speak our minds without interference. Also we are getting unedited news that we, not an editor, can decide whether it is true or false, or needs to be researched further. I would rather have my submissions left without editing, and I would rather read unedited submissions. As far as poor grammar, spelling, etc, so what? Do you want to donate your time and energy to do that work?

Also I disagree that there haven't been any articles other then ISKCON bashing, cultural stuff or reprints. Not to toot my own horn but how about these:

http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/12-07/editorials2335.htm


http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/01-08/editorials2378.htm

http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/01-08/editorials2343.htm

http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/10-07/editorials2107.htm

http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/10-07/editorials2090.htm

http://harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/09-07/editorials2014.htm

Jagat said...

Without sounding too much like I am cycling backwards, I did not mean to say that everything except for Hrishikesh's article has been good, nor that his article was unadulteratedly good.

In fact, in some ways, I have to agree, Hrishikesh has recently come across Hoffer's book, which so many of us ready decades ago, and thought it worth repeating for the general benefit of the devotees who are still unaware of it. This is the element that I approved of. I think it is necessary to understand the phenomenology of "the true believer" if one is going to make any progress in advancing the cause of Krishna consciousness--especially since the discourse does not seem to have gone very far.

So this is why I made that knee-jerk reaction of approval.

However, some people have pointed out to me in private correspondence, things like the following:

In his article on the Sampradaya Sun, Hrishikesh Das wrote: Hoffer is correct: it appears that very few devotees have sufficient strength and courage to recognize and stand up against the powerful and corrupt administrators and demand justice. I wonder if Hrishikesh das counts himself in the group of those who lack "sufficient strength and courage to stand up against powerful and corrupt administrators." Would he call Kirtanananda accountable for Kirtanananda's involvement in murder, and in the sexual molestation of two children? Would he, will he...?

I am a little reluctant to get involved in what is basically a IGM issue. And even the psychological aspects of the matter are something we were busy with twenty years ago and are not particularly interested in rehashing at present, at least not in the context of the IGM.

That being said, I am interested in the phenomenon of archetypal possession, which is the way that Jung described the Nazi debacle in the 30s and 40s. It is something that can have both positive and negative aspects. So maybe we will return to this issue later.

On the other hand, with regard to the Sun, I still stand by what I said above.

Jagat said...

Just to add, I think that you have written a very good letter here, Siva, and I accept your criticism in full.

Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski) said...

My dear Vaishnavas,

I am pleased that Jagat appreciated my recent article for the Sun, and I am also pleased to hear criticism of same by the Vaishnavas. By hearing and accepting legitimate criticism and by honest discussion I hope I might improve myself and help make myself a more transparent vehicle for the transmission of truth.

I can tell that Shiva is very intelligent and that he possesses superior realization; he is more experienced and articulate in many ways than I. I agree in principle with almost everything he wrote in his commentary, but I think in categorizing my article as "self serving, simplistic, unsophisticated and ungenerous" he may be falling into the same trap he condemns: "We shouldn't see everyone as either good or bad, totally selfish or totally unselfish, black or white." Why did he not see the good points in my article? Why does he not practice what he preaches?

In my article I was simply presenting one particular viewpoint according to my humble realization, which at the time I felt had great need of presentation considering the recent sordid events at Bhaktivedanta Manor.

Shiva wrote, "I would bet anything most ISKCON leaders actually believe that they are trying to do good."

I do not disagree with that statement. However, let me remind you that during the 1930s and 1940s Adolf Hitler sincerely believed he was doing a great service for the world by attempting to exterminate an inferior (according to his belief) race which he thought was polluting and destroying humanity.

In 1947 the great Chicago gangster Al Capone on his deathbed lamented that American society did not recognize him for his great achievements.

In 1986 New Vrindaban management believed that eliminating the blasphemous demon Sulochan was the best way to serve Krishna. I have heard that ISKCON leaders at other temples who were aware of the plot did not oppose it. When the death of the demon was announced at New Vrindaban on the morning of Nrsihmadeva's appearance day, my godbrother and sankirtan buddy Ramachandra dasa asked Radhanath Swami, “Do you know who killed Sulochan?” Ramachandra told me Radhanath replied, “I don’t know, but whoever it was, he was doing devotional service to Krishna.”

In July 1994 Kirtanananda apparently didn't understand why the New Vrindaban devotees were forcing him to surrender his control over the community. He believed he was doing the greatest service for humanity; he believed he was saving Prabhupada’s movement from damnation. Before signing the paper presented to him which ordered his disciples to discontinue wearing Franciscan-style robes and chanting in English during the morning services, he furiously beat on his desk with his clenched fist and shouted: "I am the world acharya! I am the world acharya! I AM THE WORLD ACHARYA!!!!" as if to say, “Why don’t you appreciate the great things I’ve done?”

And I suspect in 2008 Gauri Das probably wondered why some of the Bhaktivedanta Manor devotees did not appreciate the great things he had done for them.

But what does it matter what a person believes? We are all subject to illusion. Our beliefs matter little. Our beliefs often change throughout our life as we mature and become more experienced. What matters more, in my opinion, is the quality of our words and our actions, taken together as a whole. It is one thing to preach nicely and have bad behavior. It is another to have good behavior and speak nonsense. Best if we have both honest words and honest behavior like His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

Jagat also quoted an anonymous writer who lends suspicion to my character: "I wonder if Hrishikesh das counts himself in the group of those who lack 'sufficient strength and courage to stand up against powerful and corrupt administrators.' Would he call Kirtanananda accountable for Kirtanananda's involvement in murder, and in the sexual molestation of two children? Would he, will he...?"

First, I see no harm if a coward speaks courageous words in an attempt to inspire others to do right. Maybe a person may not have the strength of will to actually enter into battle with an oppressor, but if they believe they can help shed light on an injustice, why can they not be allowed and encouraged to speak their mind? Credit should be given where due, even if the person cannot follow through completely. We all fall short in the eyes of God.

Second, permit me to defend myself based on my past words and actions:

(1) I sign all my articles with my real initiated name, not a pseudonym. In addition, I include my legal name so there can be no confusion to a reader exactly who is writing. It is very easy to contact me by doing an Internet search. I welcome personal correspondence, and I receive a good many letters each month, some positive and some negative. I welcome both.

(2) In October 1993 after I became convinced that Kirtanananda Swami had molested boys at New Vrindaban (and, my anonymous friend, it was much more than two), I spoke to him personally in private at his Silent Mountain Retreat, as a good disciple is instructed to do. He denied any wrongdoing. I did not believe him, in light of the mountain of mounting evidence to the contrary. So I rejected him as my spiritual master then and there. I felt so strongly about his cover up attempt that I penned a 17-page letter about my findings and mailed 50 copies to my godbrothers and friends. The letter must have hit a nerve, for it was copied and shared with many more dozens of other devotees across the globe. I received letters of encouragement from many, including Hansadutta and Brahmananda and I think Ravindra Swarupa, and I also received a death threat from a godbrother in Malaysia for my blasphemy.

However, I continued preaching according to my realization—Brijabasi Spirit (May 1994) and Sri Vrindavana Dhama Newsletter (Janmastami 1994) both published my articles about this subject—and I participated in the grassroots movement which eventually succeeded in removing Kirtanananda from New Vrindaban leadership and returned the temple services and devotee dress to the standard as given by Srila Prabhupada.

(3) In June 2004 I was invited to attend the celebration at the Radha-Muralidhara Temple (Interfaith Sanctuary) in New York City when Kirtanananda was released from prison. During this festival I had some very nice exchanges with my godbrothers and former guru. Factually I still have strong feelings of affection for Bhaktipada. He taught me much about Krishna consciousness. Any advancement I might have made I attribute to his guidance during my formative years at New Vrindaban.

However, I also felt very strongly that Kirtanananda needed to acknowledge and apologize for previous offenses for his own good, so I wrote a candid letter to him dated June 19, 2004. You can read my letter at HREF=”http://henrydoktorski.com/nv/lettertobhaktipada040619.doc.

I believe my letter had some positive effect, for during the morning class of June 25, 2004 in New York, Kirtanananda read portions of my letter to the devotees and asked their forgiveness: "For criticizing unjustly. For not always being truthful. For not always being a completely pure sannyasi." You can read a transcript of his class at http://henrydoktorski.com/nv/Bhaktipadasclass040625a.doc. Eventually he wrote a formal letter of apology which was posted on his website.

(4) I did most of the research for Kirtanananda Swami's Wikipedia page. I invite you to visit it and make your own decision and tell me if it is one-sided or balanced. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtanananda_Swami. You can put your comments on the Talk Page.

(5) I am currently finishing a book about the history of New Vrindaban. I am trying to present both sides of controversial subjects. I know there is more than one side to a story. One chapter is online. I invite you to read it at http://henrydoktorski.com/nv/5_ISKCONs_First_Farm_Community.doc. Your thoughts are always welcome.

In conclusion, I thank you, dear Vaishnavas, for your feedback. Although I know I cannot please everyone all the time, I can only do what I feel is best, whether I am right or wrong, and I believe you believe you would do the same regarding your own good selves.

Sincerely your servant,

Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)

Anonymous said...

So Kirtanananda has made his apologies to some extent. But I don't see in this history by Hrishikesh das, Kirtananand apologizing specifically to the abused children. Child sexual molestation is the one sin that presents an impasse to the human experience: It seems there is no redeeming act for this sin, so its not simply a sin but a transgression of the human status. No matter how "human" one may be, one should not touch children, bas. Kirtanananda says "forgive me for being human, for making mistakes". How can this be enough in the face of the children’s ruined lives? There seems to be a general consensus in society that molesting children is just one of many human weaknesses redeemable by penance. “Why is child abuse any different from any other sin, murder for instance?” Well its worse than murder: Just ask the victims. Many would rather have been murdered, while others do indeed end up killing themselves. If the molester knew what it is like to be a victim of child abuse, he/she would never go public talking about higher human traits or spiritual prospects without a deep sense of non entitlement. If really repenting, really conscious of the proportions of his transgression, he would speak of no other thing than the grave inhuman ‘mistake’ he made. He would, for the remaining of his days, work one pointedly for the eradication of such sub-human behavior in society.

shiva said...

Hrishikesha

I didn't say that you were all bad, I said your article was unsophisticated, simplistic, and ungenerous. I also said you were being self serving by suggesting such a stark dualistic model of a religious movement. In that model which you tried to convince us is axiomatic, there are the all good pure noble unselfishly motivated devotees (like yourself) vs the purely selfish power monger "demons" (inevitably all ISKCON leaders according to the model you presented).

I think there is a big difference between criticizing an article and the author of that article, versus condemning that author as an all bad person. Which is what you imply I wrote when you said:

"I agree in principle with almost everything he wrote in his commentary, but I think in categorizing my article as "self serving, simplistic, unsophisticated and ungenerous" he may be falling into the same trap he condemns: "We shouldn't see everyone as either good or bad, totally selfish or totally unselfish, black or white." Why did he not see the good points in my article? Why does he not practice what he preaches?"

My point was that the model you presented suggested an axiomatic truth about religious movements which wants us to believe that inevitably all the leaders are only in it for the money. I suggested that that model is false, unscholarly, and probably comes from bias. I don't know the history of the author you quoted, but his theory seems to be without much basis in actual reality, and possibly the result of bias. I'm sorry but I didn't see any good points in your article. That doesn't mean that I am saying you are an all bad person.

As for your citation of Hitler or others who believed they were doing good, as if that invalidates my point:

My point was that your article posits a theory of new religious movements which I disagree with. I do not believe Hoffer studied many new religious movements, or that he was not biased in some way. His point about how "men of action" who are only motivated by money and power inevitably take over and essentially ruin new religious movements, is not an axiomatic truth, it is simply Hoffer's opinion. You presented that opinion as some type of scientific proof that ISKCON leaders are all "in it for the money" - and that is why there are problems with ISKCON. In Hoffer's model the leaders don't believe they are doing good, in fact they will actively oppose good if it interferes with their sole pursuit of and or maintenance of power. I disagree with that. I said I think most people in leadership roles in ISKCON probably believe they are motivated by the desire to do good for the society. But I also said that people are not perfect. They can make selfish, greedy, bad choices and decisions. We shouldn't accept Hoffer's stark good vs evil paradigm as some axiomatic prism of scientific truth that we should see ISKCON or other new religious movements through. The reality of new religious movements is much more complex and varied - and unique to every person and situation.

I am not one of those persons who believes that ISKCON went through a golden age when Prabhupada was around and then it all turned to crap when he left. I know that is a popular opinion among many people, but I remember it differently. I think that viewpoint is a romanticized memory of youth which can never compete with the concrete reality of today for many people. Especially if they hold biases or resentment towards others who they see as unqualified to have the positions they have and to make the decisions they make. I see that vision all of the time, it has become a sort of de facto version of "the truth about ISKCON" that has been accepted by countless devotees. It's "the all good pure hearted noble unselfish devotees" who are disgusted with and fighting the good fight against "the purely bad hearted selfish demons" who have "ruined" ISKCON.

I think that is a biased viewpoint and factually delusional. From what I remember of ISKCON when I first started being involved (1977) I think ISKCON is better in a lot of ways today. A lot of bad things were going on under Prabhupada's rule that continued going on after he left. But many of those things have been fixed to a great extent. Does that mean ISKCON is all good and perfect with no faults? Hardly. But I don't believe that it was so much better in the past compared to today as the myth informs me.

Either way, reality being reality, it is under transcendental control. Whatever happens is meant to happen. ISKCON is going on exactly how Radha-Krishna planned it to go on. Our lives and actions are no different in that sense from ISKCON. We can still offer criticism, but we should try to understand how reality functions, for the sake of our own spiritual life and peace of mind.

Hrishikesh (Henry Doktorski) said...

Respected Vaishnavas,

I am grateful for your feedback and I thank you.

Anonymous: I believe you are correct on all counts. I cannot put it better. I suspect true remorse or contrition is a quality which may be difficult or impossible for some people to understand or experience, especially those who may be afflicted with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), defined as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." We should not hold our breaths waiting for a sincere apology from such persons, but I suppose imperfect contrition (attrition without moral repentance, i.e. when it is only motivated by fear for its consequences), as apparently exhibited in the morning class of June 25, 2004 which you quoted, is better than nothing. I personally think we cannot expect anything more from such persons. Some things may actually be impossible.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrition

Shiva: Well put! Thank you for your clarification. I agree, all is not black and white, and I think now after hearing from you I should have presented my points in a more specific light; not necessarily as absolute truths, which they are not. In future, I will try to be more careful about such things.

Factually, I am not anti-ISKCON as some may think. I have long-time friends in positions of leadership within ISKCON at New Vrindaban and I always enjoy their association when I visit or talk on the phone. I am very proud of New Vrindaban and ISKCON and all the wonderful preaching. Granted, as you indicated, all is not perfect; but then what is in this world?

Once again, thank you for your thoughts.

Sincerely your servant,

Hrishikesh (Henry Doktorski)

Anonymous said...

We should not hold our breaths waiting for a sincere apology from such persons, but I suppose imperfect contrition (attrition without moral repentance, i.e. when it is only motivated by fear for its consequences), as apparently exhibited in the morning class of June 25, 2004 which you quoted, is better than nothing. I personally think we cannot expect anything more from such persons. Some things may actually be impossible.

I agree that some degree of apologies are better than no apologies at all. However, precisely because it is impossible for some individuals to reform themselves one hundred per cent, these individuals should not enjoy the same rights as the responsible section of society. Kirtanananda does not see the seriousness of his past acts. Still he picks up where he left off, initiating innocent people as if he were a trustworthy spiritual guide. The fact that he does not truly repent for his past acts proves that he is not fit to be a spiritual guide. Currently and and until he changes. He should be supported proportionally to his submission to those he has harmed. I think those who turn a blind eye to this important detail in the whole Kirtanananda affair are making a grave mistake themselves, however well intentioned they may be in giving a second chance to the offender. We are disappointed. We expected a bit more from senior vaisnavas such as yourselves.

bhattathiri said...

One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita
which is considered to be one of the first revelations from God. The
spiritual philosophy and management lessons in this holy book were
brought in to light of the world by many great Indian saint SRI SRILA PRABHUPADA
and Swamijy call the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of Vedic Literature and a
complete guide to practical life. Through the centuries, the sublime
and ennobling counsel of the Bhagavad Gita has endeared it to
truth-seekers of East & west alike. I am proud to say He has changed the bad life style of may hippies
and given a new and decent life in America we can surely say that he saved many younger generations.
It provides "all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to
the highest possible level" and Self improvement which means self
guided improvement in physical, mental, social,spiritual and emotion.
Its gospel of devotion to duty, without
attachment or desire of reward, has shown the way of life for all men,
rich or poor,
learned or ignorant, who have sought for light in the dark problems of
life.