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Thursday, January 14, 2016

GURUKULA NIGHTMARE: ISKCON'S LEGACY OF CHILD ABUSE

A Devastating, Fact-based Critique.

“All That is Necessary for Evil to Triumph is for Good Men to Do Nothing.”
Attributed to Edmund Burke.


Readers might be familiar with the argument that the abuse of children at the ISKCON gurukulas in the 1970’s and 1980’s was due to rogue elements that infiltrated the group and that it had nothing to do with its philosophy and practices.[1]

This view is entirely mistaken. In fact, the cult's founder-guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, firmly and repeatedly stated his beliefs about the innate inferiority of women and the need for the parents marry their pre-pubescent daughters to much older men in order to contain the "lust" of the little girls. He also instituted the practice of arranging marriages between his disciples--often virtual strangers--for the purpose of opening new temples. If he believed that his preaching interests justified it, he would just as callously agree or encourage the husband to abandon his wife and children by entering into the "renounced order" called sannyasa, which functioned as a kind of "spiritual divorce. 

The children born of these loveless marriages were sent to the infamous gurukula schools  (those in Moundsville, West Virginia, Los Angeles, and Dallas, were the most infamous) by age five. In these hellholes these innocents endured harrowing sexual abuse and mental torture while their parents hawked their guru's books to the unsuspecting public. 
STARVING GURUKULA INMATES
It is no small wonder that to date at least 25 of these children have committed suicide as youths: they never had a family, what to speak of any kind of a childhood. No love, no mother, no father, no home of any kind, and a rotten so-called education at the hands of incompetent, violent child molesters and other misfits. Based on the evidence in the guru's own words and writings, there can be no doubt that his views are the primary source of the child abuse that plagued the schools. This might come as a shock to many affiliated with the Hare Krishna sect either as donors or devotees, but the facts speak for themselves.

The best place to start is with a candid look into the personal life of the guru, beginning with his own account of his arranged marriage at age 22 to an eleven year-old girl. What follows are fully documented excerpts from his lectures and recorded conversations. Syamasundara, Tamal Krsna, and Hrdayananda were all early disciples of the swami. My comments are interspersed as necessary.

Formerly marriage, at least in India, at least up to our time, the marriage was taking place not on the liking of the boy and the girl. No. It was decided by the parents. So... Just like I was also married man. I was married when I was a student, and I did not know what will be the... But the parents arranged.
Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.46, Los Angeles, December 24, 1973


Syamasundara: Children should be allowed to have sex life at fourteen years old.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is psychological. They develop... Sex life, sex urge is there as soon as twelve years, thirteen years old, especially women. So therefore early marriage was sanctioned in India. Early marriage. Boy fifteen years, sixteen years, and girl twelve years. Not twelve years, ten years. I was married, my wife was eleven years. I was 22 years. She did not know what is sex, eleven years' girl. Because Indian girls, they have no such opportunity of mixing with others. But after the first menstruation, the husband is ready. This is the system, Indian system.
Syamasundara: So they are not spoiled.
Prabhupada: No. And the psychology is the girl, after first menstruation, she enjoys sex life with a boy, she will never forget that boy. Her love for that boy is fixed up for good. This is woman's psychology. And she is allowed to have many, oh, she will never be chaste woman. These are the psychology. So these rascals, Westerners, they do not know and they are becoming philosopher, scientist, and politician, and spoiling the whole world. They can be saved only by this Krsna consciousness movement. There is no other way.
Room Conversation, London, August 15, 1971.

First of all, why did “Prabhupada,” believe himself an expert in “woman’s psychology”? All he is doing here is repeating the woman-hating trash that men throughout history have used to excuse their abuse of under-age girls. What is more, why did his American and European disciples just sit there and lap up this nonsense without speaking up and stating the obvious? It is one thing to respect the elderly, but altogether another to idly sit by and sacrifice your values and commonsense in accepting the views of a person who is clearly and openly advocating the sexual exploitation of children!

Child marriage is child abuse, no matter where and when it has been or is practiced. Every sane and moral man or woman must agree that the proper mate for an adult is another adult. Nor can cultural or historical precedents excuse the practice: a man who engages in sexual intercourse with a child is engaging in criminal activity because no child can give informed consent. Numerous excuses for exploiting children sexually under the guise of promoting chastity and so forth are often proffered, usually by groups that otherwise appear to be models of religious piety. These claims are hypocrisy in one of its most evil forms. Indeed, the practice of marrying off girls before puberty exposes these so-called marital relationships as pedophilia in its pure form—the sexual exploitation of a little girl by a man who should view her as he would his own daughter and save his sexual urges for a grown woman.

Another excuse for abusing a girl when she starts to menstruate is that her first period makes her a sexually mature woman, a patently ridiculous idea since it is self-evident that puberty is a part of childhood and that the developing child is still a child, male or female. Similarly, the swami’s idea that a girl falls in love with any man who happens to rob her of her virginity would be laughable if it were not an obvious excuse for rape. It is worth repeating that all people, regardless of culture or circumstances, own their own bodies and have a right to refuse anyone who wants to use them sexually. In the case of children, who should be protected by their parents and every adult with whom they come in contact, there is an absolute prohibition in all developed countries (and among rational people everywhere) against using them for sexual purposes. The continuing sexual abuse of minors by rapacious adults under the guise of “marriage” is a harrowing crime against humanity that should be stomped out wherever it is practiced.
  
Formerly, when I was married, my wife was eleven years old. So (laughing) an eleven years old girl and I was at the same time twenty-one, twenty-two. One day I captured her hand. She began to cry. A little girl, you see? 
Morning Walk, Bombay, April 12, 1974.

It is obvious that the swami, then known as Abhay Charan De, was fully aware that he was “marrying” a little girl. Furthermore, his relating this incident to his male disciples when he was a sannyasi is disturbing to say the least. Reading it today is like overhearing the conversation of a group of adults who advocate sexual relations with children, which was in fact exactly what occurred in this case. Moreover, this was not the only case where the swami disclosed information about his marital relationship that any man with any sense of decorum would have kept to himself. To call it “inappropriate” is an understatement. However, it is consistent with the kind of emotional stunting that occurs when boys grow to manhood while retaining a view of sexuality consistent with early adolescence. Such men are perpetual 14 year old boys emotionally:  they seem to have retained a young teenager’s view of sexuality, which typically manifests itself in an awkward combination of desire and disgust.

Any parent of a teenage boy or girl knows that teaching your child to respect the opposite sex as a rational being first and as an object of desire a distant second is an essential building block of emotional maturity. Men who fail to mature emotionally are doomed to failure in romance, a sign of which is their deferring to their parents in matters better left to their own guidance. This is the prime reason why children from orthodox religious backgrounds often have the marriages arranged by their parents: they simply never learned the fundamentals of interacting with the opposite sex.



Ideas Have Consequences!

A.C. Bhaktivedanta’s cheerful disclosures are but one instance of the self-serving cruelty at the core of societies that use the cover of religion to perpetuate the abuse of underage girls. However, the psychological and physical toll from these abuses is often more harrowing. Please visit the following websites to learn more:

The misuse of ultrasound technology to abort millions of unwanted female fetuses: “India’s Missing Girls”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-1326430.

Indian girls named “worthless” get new names:


The dangers of child marriage:


Coming shortly: how the swami used his experiences as examples that he applied to the lives of his disciples and eventually to their children. . .







[1]
 For an in-depth expose of the events leading to the 2001 lawsuit filed by former gurukula students, all children of devotees: http://www.salon.com/2001/07/02/krishna. For a recent instance of child abuse at an ISKCON-run gurukula, this time in India, see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/Iskcon-devotee-held-for-assaulting-kids/articleshow/46246724.cms.

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