Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On Dhanurdhara Swami 2

I wrote yesterday's port about Dhanurdhara Swami in quite an emotional mood yesterday, which is unlike me. But then again, the subject of violating childhood innocence is extremely emotional and heartbreaking.

So I'd just like to clarify my view: if Dhanurdhara Swami has genuinely taken to the spiritual path and weeps for forgiveness for his past actions, then of course there is no real obstacle to his endeavour there.

I just don't think it is correct to enthusiastically open your arms and embrace all and sundry in a world like the one in which we live today. That cartoon is a good pointer of the bias that exists towards the religiously-inclined, and the snootiness that exists in relation to nonbelieving 'good' citizens.

The story of Jagai-Madhai is a good model of forgiveness in the Mahaprabhu story. What is often not mentioned is that, after Jagai-Madhai were forgiven by Mahaprabhu, Madhai was especially repentant and wanted to do something to expiate for his sins. He was told by Nityananda Prabhu to construct a bathing-ghat for the Vaishnavas.

So if this is the sort of thing that Dhanurdhara is doing, all best wishes to him in his attempt at expiating for his sins. Still, just as the former history of Jagai-Madhai is always mentioned when retelling the story, a critical appraisal of Dhanurdhara's (in fact, any child-abuser or "devotee criminal") history should also take place so that people are conscious of it.

Some people may complain that it is unfair to drag up his history at every occasion and shove it in his face. Well, people are still dragging up Jagai-Madhai 500 years later as an example of Mahaprabhu's forgiveness. Who knows, maybe it will all turn out alright in the end for Dhanurdhara.

But who can say such a thing without the memory of his child victims pricking their conscience? They must not be forgotten. They should be compensated adequately.

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  • At 14 February, 2008 23:45, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read an explanation written by D Swami where he explained the ways in which he felt like he had been making prayaschitta to some of his victims. Such as personally he was financing therapy for them.

    If you google it I am sure you will find it.

    However more prayaschitta has to be made, not only by him but by all of the individuals and the entire org that facillitated all of the abuse.

    The settlement that the gurukulis got was not very much money compared to what the Catholic Church abused people got in their lawsuit settlement.

    Also seemed obvious that ISKCON was hiding the funds from the gurukulis and claiming they will go bankrupt if they give the full amount they were asking for. So is more than just D Swami, is an entire sick organization.

    There is a book out there by the name of The Sick Organization or something like that. Basically a sick organization operates like a dysfunctional family.

    And not only ISKCON but many organizations have a toxic culture. And not only many companies but multi-national corporations and many governments and government agencies. So D Swami and ISKCON is like small drop in the bucket: a symptomatic microcosm of a larger societal ill.

    But how things change is one or two people speak up, and then that convinces someone else, and so on.

    There is a book called the Hundredth Monkey that explains how positive change usually begins with one individual, and others begin to copy the new adaptive innovation/ attitude/ response.

    Also, other branches of Hinduism are more prayaschitta based. In other words, has more rites and rituals where victims can clearly see that the perp is truly sorry.

    Their scriptures do not have this "Any heinous act is A-okay with me, bub, as long as they are My devotee" escape clauses for "Yee-haw, anything goes!!!".

    For example, in other Hindu traditions, the perp needs to publicly carry Kavadi [a contraption like a crucifix and you also have hooks and lances piercing your body].

    And you carry it a long long ways to Lord Murugan's shrine on special days of public atonement. So you are clearly showing the entire community your guilt, suffering, and remorse for your sins.

    That must be part of what is so maddening I am sure, that no one gets to see the public humiliation, pain, anguish, and suffering of the perps.
    So there is no catharsis for the victims and their families.

    In other Hindu communities you are shunned until you seek counselling and also pay restitution. They are not given the whole First Class seating on the vyasasana as their prayascitta.

    But that requires a highly ethical community to carry out all of the elements of trial by jury, and shunning until proper restitution is made, involving neutral third parties to make sure that justice has been served, using a criminal justice system that doesn't just let the perps go scot-free or simply administers a slap on the wrist.

    Meanwhile hopefully the demigods have their own criminal justice system to make sure the perps do their perp walk with consecutive life sentences.

  • At 27 February, 2008 04:45, Blogger Vikram Ramsoondur said…

    That's a highly commendable post. Thanks for sharing this.

  • At 19 March, 2008 23:14, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    Apologies for the late approval of your comment Vikramji, I have not logged into my account for a while.


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