Vanity thought #1731. Abusive activism

Continuing from yesterday’s topic of alleged child abuse by Bhakti Vidyāpūrṇa Svāmī and others “disclosed” in this recent video. It’s been produced by an ex-gurukulī on a social justice trip. It’s short of facts but it makes up for it with abundance of emotionally charged language and takes no prisoners.

Last time I talked how it failed to produce evidence for child abuse by HH Bhakti Vidyāpūrṇa Svāmī. Being on the mission, however, overrides everything for the author. There’s a segment of him interrupting a Bhāgavatam class in Bhaktivedanta Manor just to draw attention. He says he wasn’t drawing attention to himself but to the child abuse but he has merged with his mission so thoroughly that it’s impossible to say where his identity stops and that of his mission starts. To me it looks like his entire video was about himself rather than actual abuse that might or might not go on in ISKCON gurukulas at present moment. Eighties is not the subject of this video.

To be honest, I’m not using emotionally neutral language here either and I attribute it to the abuse of my intelligence at the hands of this social justice warrior. The point still stands.

That disruption was well prepared, he had a list to read his complaints from and he had people in the audience with prepared speeches, too. Bhakti Vidyāpūrṇa Svāmī largely kept his cool but he wasn’t going to put up with disrupting Bhāgavatam for anyone’s personal interest so he engaged with a woman in the audience and, predictably, nothing good came out of it. These back and forth exchanges are unwinnable. Those who had their mind set would only strengthen their conviction, like the maker of this video, and those who don’t understand that disrupting Bhāgavatam class is decidedly un-Krishna conscious thing to do are.. Well, I don’t know if such devotees exists at all.

During brief exchange Mahārāja asked what constitutes child abuse and while the woman was reading out the definition he said that it didn’t happen in practice but the female devotee didn’t pause to argue why his interpretation was wrong and simply pressed her with her accusations. Let’s look at exactly what she said: “A child abuser is one who degrades a child.. abuse him by inflicting him physical, mental, or emotional punishment which is undue and unproportionate.” Emphasis is mine. To this Mahārāja replied that by this definition the allegations are not true. The video replayed this response a few times and I don’t know what effect they were expecting to produce. In Mahārāja’s view the punishment was due and proportionate, it was also perfectly legal at the time. What else can be said about that? Either talk about what should be the correct proportion or accept it.

Mahārāja then said another important thing on the spot – it’s not a quest for truth, as his accusers present it, but rather a free expression of people’s feelings, a social thing. He said that if it was a real quest for truth, meaning a quest for connection with Kṛṣṇa, then people wouldn’t be standing there disrupting a class.

Somehow the episode led to banning Mahārāja from speaking at Bhaktivedanta Manor ever again, as well as banning the author of the video who organized it. I can see how management there might want to avoid speakers who attract controversy or that they think that there’s some truth behind these accusations but it sets a dangerous precedent where different ISKCON temples have lists of different ISKCON gurus who can’t speak there. A guru is someone who is capable of delivering one from the cycle of birth and death and bringing him to service to Kṛṣṇa and they don’t want to hear from such person?

We have a due process by which a person might become disqualified from guru service or even disqualified from speaking in ISKCON altogether but by all accounts Bhakti Vidyāpūrṇa Svāmī is a guru in perfectly good standing. He is a regular (and popular) speaker at Māyāpura and devotees in England can always tune in to Mayapur TV broadcasts but he is not allowed to visit Manor? Why? Either authorities there reject spiritual potency that comes from hearing him speak or they are playing local politics. What about Bhakti Vikāśa Svāmī? He is not going to be invited to speak at Manor and some other European temples where he is explicitly banned. He is not a child abuser and has no personal blemishes that would discredit him before any kind of audience. There are no GBC issued guidelines telling us how exactly he deviates from Śrīla Prabhupāda (and he doesn’t – it should be clear to all who hear him speak). What reasons can devotees there offer to refuse hearing from these personalities? Are they selective in what parts of Prabhupāda’s teachings to accept? Are they specifically refusing to hear parts of his teachings that they don’t like?

Whatever it is, it needs a resolution or we will have a splintered society where some devotees would refuse to listen to some gurus while other devotees would avoid visiting temples where their gurus are not welcome. It isn’t quite so bad so far but eventually GBC will have to address this issue or lose its grip on the situation.

There rest of the video is about current management of Vṛndāvana gurukula and it features some angry mātājī telling us how no one would listen to her and how child abusers are being protected by ISKCON management. The only case of child abuse actually mentioned was a female teacher pinching stomach of a boy who misbehaved during a temple program. And for that they demand a revolution? They surely love the sound of their voices but who do they think they are and why should we care?

Their website, krishnachildren.com, has a counter for the visitors and for those who signed their online petition. So far less than one in ten visitors supported their cause, one in twenty if you add youtube count, and that’s the power of their persuasion, and I bet they got people who are really interested in these issues, too.

There was another video that I watched on the same topic. It’s forty minutes long and has overlayed text to tell us what’s going on. I wish there was a way to turn the text off but it’s embedded in the video itself. Without it all one would see is a darśana where parents bring their children to talk to the guru, via an interpreter. What the sick mind of a producer saw was a pedophile grooming children for eventual abuse. This really reflects on the mental state of the producer than on anything else. I see that the article presenting this video has been pulled from Sampradaya Sun so I have no further comments, too, and I don’t think they are necessary.

Thus ends my paying attention to social justice warriors in our society.

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