Sunday, September 04, 2011

Henri Jolicoeur on some old-time ISKCON homosexuals

There are many examples of the kind of Prabhupadanuga closed-mindedness and fanaticism that make me despair for the future of the Krishna consciousness movement. One especially good and consistent source of examples is provided by the Sampradaya Sun website, which never fails to find an opportunity to make a great display of its devotion to Srila Prabhupada at the cost of sensible rational thought. They can spend endless hours and spill countless gallons of ink discussing the flaws of the ISKCON gurus and the doctrine of the "Sampradaya acharya," but the territory no one dares to enter is that where Srila Prabhupada and his teachings are called into question.

In this respect I have two particular examples I would like to bring up; one is recent, the other two years old. I will discuss the recent on first, the second one afterwards, even though in terms of writing, the latter issue came to my attention first and was in the process of inspiring comment when the more recent incident came up.

Recently, a certain Jaya Narayan who is, I think, from Delhi, published a couple of articles on the Sampradaya Sun in which he posted videos by Henri Jolicoeur. Henri Jolicoeur, who is from Quebec, took sannyas from Srila Prabhupada in 1970 and was given the name Hanuman Swami. He was in ISKCON in the earliest days (pre-1970), and opened the Paris temple with Umapati. He was in India with Srila Prabhupada in 1971, but left the movement not long after his return to America. Subsequently, he became interested in psychotherapy, cults and brainwashing techniques, as well as meditation practices and so on. In particular, he has become a fan of the famous south Indian saint Raman Maharshi and is currently making a documentary film about him.

His interest in cult practices, the phenomenon of brainwashing, the cheating practices of gurus, etc., has led him to make several short videos in which he exposes Sathya Sai Baba, Nithyananda Paramahamsa and Kalki Bhagavan, not only for their claims to being avatars, but also for their unethical and sometimes predatory practices.

Little wonder, then, that his eyes should turn to some of the ISKCON gurus. The first was a 15-minute video on Gopal Krishna Goswami, which was greeted with elation on both the Sampradaya Sun and the Bangalore ISKCON website. But the second video, which discussed over three parts, four homosexuals and/or pedophiles was ultimately removed by the Sun, apparently because Mr. Jolicoeur called Prabhupada a "homophobe.".

[I wanted to give a link to the video but it appears that Mr. Jolicoeur has closed that You Tube account ("loveandpeace108"). I have asked him by email to explain what led him to make that decision and am awaiting his response.]

Rocana writes:

We won't repeat Hanuman's comments here, except to say that they are highly offensive, asiddhantic, and 100% wrong. For Jaya Narayana's part, he explained that he heard the term "homophobic", but didn't understand it to mean what it actually does mean today.
We encourage our readers to take great care when listening to the so-called 'preaching' or hypno-psycho teachings of Henri (Henry) Jolicoeur, Hanuman ex-swami, at least until such time as he recants his offensive remarks and offers a philosophical explanation as to how he made such a mistake.

Please note Rocana's approach, "We won't repeat...", we will only call them "offensive, asiddhantic and 100% wrong," He must "recant"! If I were Henri Jolicoeur, I would be highly amused by the typical cult mentality that produces such kind of response. He was beaten up by Nithyananda's followers in Tamil Nadu, so I expect that he knows such responses will be forthcoming.

In his video, of course, Jolicoeur has made his argument and so it is really up to Rocana and his friends to come up with a response to the challenge presented by them.

Mr. Jolicoeur's argument is simple: he knew these four men – Sudama, Kirtanananda, Bhavananda, and Umapati, all swamis – in the earliest days of the movement, between 1969 and 1971, and knew all of them to be homosexuals even then. Over their careers, they either in good faith tried to repress their homosexuality, or in bad faith took advantage of their situation in the movement to indulge it. In each case, he analyzes their sexual careers and comes to the conclusion that repression failed in each case, and that the "cures" of marriage and sannyasa did not help whatsoever.

Jolicoeur further says the philosophy presented by Srila Prabhupada has no place for homosexuality. Like many traditional systems of thought, homosexuality is considered to be "against nature" and the result of excessive and uncontrolled sex appetite. In other words, it is a moral disease that can only be cured by Krishna consciousness.

Here is what Jolicoeur wrote as an introduction to his video series:

As I visited various ISKCON temples over the past few years, I noticed many homosexuals and lesbians in the movement are still suppressing and hiding their sexual identities because being openly homosexual is a big no no in ISKCON.

The strange thing is that though Swami Bhaktivedanta was openly homophobic, at the same time he was surrounded from the very beginning by homosexuals like Kirtanananda, Hayagriva, Umapati, Bhavananda, Sudama, Omkara... on and on. Maybe he was extremely naive like a child, or maybe he wanted to "engage them," with the results that we now know: disaster.

A lusty brahmachary could not get married as a homosexual; the only way out for him was either sannyasa or a sham marriage (as in the cases of Sudama, Hayagriva, Umapati and Omkara), with the resultant suffering that it entailed for the women so sacrificed. In these circumstances, these men were forced to repress their sexual identity even more, creating a disastrous situation for themselves and the people under their charge. Some of them even had sex with their initiated disciples as in the recent case of Umapati.

Hopefully, the tragic stories of these four long time ISKCON homosexuals will help some members of ISKCON and all the Hare Krishna movement offshoots to be truthful to themselves about their sexual identity and not lose years of their lives trying to convince themselves that they are not gay.

The teaching that you are not the body but a soul is the basis of ISKCON's theology. But as long as you identify with this body and are not in a state of samadhi, you have to recognise that you are straight or gay or lesbian or trengender. These are facts recognized by all schools of modern psychology and medicine, and more and more by secular society, especially in the western world. For instance, New York just made marriage of gays and lesbian legal in June 2011.

There is no denying that Swami Bhaktivedanta was highly homophobic. I personally heard him make very negative remarks on the homosexual lifestyle on at least ten occasions. The idea that Swami Bhaktivedanta was perfect and that everything he said was perfect truth is, in my view, incorrect.
Some of his writings contain ideas left over from the dark ages. Moreover, he was also the product of 19th century Bengali society.

Was he so extremely naive that he could not see how so many homosexuals and lesbians were in his service? Or was he so merciful that he wanted to engage everyone in the service of Krishna including homosexuals and could not foresee the disasters of sexual abuse that his policy would create for adults, and especially for the Gurukula children?

The result was that pedophiles were even named among the original eleven successor gurus, with the consequences now known to everyone. At least two lifelong homosexual men, Kirtanananda and Bhavananda, were also pedophiles, which resulted in so many gurukula kids' lives being destroyed, some of them even committing suicide.

Now, though one may argue about what "homophobic" means, generally speaking this fits the accepted and current definition: "unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality."

Now, the question here is this: Is there any evidence that Krishna consciousness has factually "cured" anyone of homosexuality? The fundamentalist Christians in America have been making a big deal of conversion therapy for years and the results are less than impressive and even the most favorable results are recognized as flawed by the one publishing them.

Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder found in "Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumer's Report", a peer-reviewed study of 150 respondents published in 2002, that 88% of participants failed to achieve a sustained change in their sexual behavior and 3% reported changing their orientation to heterosexual. The remainder reported either losing all sexual drive or attempting to remain celibate, with no change in attraction. Some of the participants who failed felt a sense of shame and had gone through conversion therapy programs for many years. Others who failed believed that therapy was worthwhile and valuable. Shidlo and Schroeder also reported that many respondents were harmed by the attempt to change. Of the 8 respondents (out of a sample of 202) who reported a change in sexual orientation, 7 worked as ex-gay counselors or group leaders. (Wikipedia)

Now if ISKCON gurus and leaders like Sudama, Umapati, Bhavananda and Kirtanananda failed to restrain their own sexual impulses even while preaching that Krishna consciousness is a higher taste that cures one of base desires, even the desire for sex itself, then what hope is there for other, lesser mortals?

Prabhupada was against sex itself, what to speak of homosexuality. But even then, Jolicoeur's question to Umapati at the end of his presentation is simply to ask, "Don't you think you should just face the fact that you are gay and live with a partner?"

I have known Umapati for 40 years. I was surprised to see that he has lost his status in ISKCON as a guru after being caught having sex with his male diciples. Umapati has been an active homosexual all his adult life, hiding his sexual identity in a homophobic society for 40 years, while repeating the same old homophobic quotes himself.

What a shame that he married a beautiful devotee in Paris, Ilavati, a wonderful woman that I myself introduced to Krishna consciousness. And then he cheated on her with men. This happened in New Vrindavan, and Kirtanananda's solution was first to give sannyasa to him, and then to his wife also. Umapati in turn gave sannyasa to the man who was to murder Sulochan and is now in jail serving a life sentence. Now that makes for a lot of lying and deceiving.

Umapati, if you read this, please stop playing games with other people's minds and hearts, and even more important, stop playing games with yourself. It won't be long before you are old and impotent, and soon after that you will be standing at death's door Stop the bullshit and seek the light -- listen to your heart.

So my point to Rocana, my dear old friend, is that Hanuman has given you his answer. It is not up to him to defend himself to you, but for you to speak up to the issue at hand. He is saying the homophobic agenda, indeed the anti-sex agenda, in ISKCON has failed. And the source of the anti-sex, anti-love agenda is Prabhupada. And the source of the denial and coverups is ultimately Prabhupada. And the fact that these men such as these continue to find shelter in ISKCON to perpetrate their hypocrisy ultimately has its root in Prabhupada.

That is for you to answer to, Rocana. You cannot get out of it by name calling, saying that Hanuman is "offensive, asiddhantic and 100% wrong" without making reasonable arguments showing how this is so.

But of course, this is nothing unusual for the Sampradaya Sun, as my next article will show.



1 comment:

visvatma said...

Omkara too, eh?

I know his family, and this is puzzling. I heard he died of AIDS, while his wife had no such problems. So we who knew him inferred as it seems here suggested, ie he was 'closet gay'.

But, I just met an old French friend of Omkara from before, and he says Omkara's devotee wife was his partner in a free living spiritual commune before they 'joined up'. 'So where is my old friend Omkara?' Ummm, AIDS death, apparently gay. 'Gay? What are you talking about? Ridiculous'. This from an 'alternative' old hippy, still living the life, if you met him, you would also be puzzled. But of course we live in our cocoons and spout simple formulae and all seems ok.

So it's puzzling, and over 40 years I have had extensive contacts in the Gay Community, a range and variety, family and close friends, yet nowadays I doubt the whole thing more than ever, at least in its simplistic public form, as yet another myth. Humans have problems, but simplistic solutions just make more problems later on. Love solves nothing in the long run. Not a damn thing.

Michel Houllebecq really has our measure, I think.