Gurukul Child Abuse

Published on September 13th, 2015 | by


Srila Prabhupada And the Treatment Of Children in Gurukul

I recently came across something which may help illuminates a dark issue that has been widely discussed and still receives coverage in the media. It is the issue of child abuse within Iskcon. It’s a very disturbing subject. Even more disturbing, some have insinuated that Srila Prabhupada himself was indifferent to the suffering of the Gurukuli children. It is to this charge that I ask you to look at the following.

“Spirit” is a magazine produced by Manu dasa of the Youth ministry and other Gurukuli Alumni. It’s pages contain many “raw documents”, consisting of articles and letters written by self-proclaimed “veterans”. And if you think this term overly dramatic, it really isn’t so. Many of the accounts sound like real war stories.

An article in issue #5 entitled “Hell and Happiness” by Nagnajiti devi dasi is a personal testimony of her experiences as a young girl in the Dallas gurukula and in Iskcon from the age of five. Unfortunately, It’s not an entirely rosy account. She describes at times being subject to conditions that “were almost unbearable”, things “I would not even wish to subject my worst enemy too” such as “being locked up all night in the boiler room for wetting your bed … being severely beaten black and blue for not doing what we were told to do” and ” if you were bad the week before your parents got back from sankirtan, you were not allowed to see them even when they were at the temple”.

Forgive me, my dear reader. I don’t mean to open old wounds, but I think it’s important to see this young ladies’ testimony in context. She didn’t just suffer at the hands of her Gurukula teachers. She explains that after her parents divorced, she was moved from temple to temple until being dropped off at New Talavan where she is abandoned by her Mother and Stepfather at the age of 12 along with her 14 year old brother.

A devotee couple adopted her as their own, but had to be sent to the New Orleans temple because of “fist fights” with the temple president’s wife because “he (the temple president) wanted to marry me…I wanted to run away. A couple of times I thought about suicide. But being initiated at age 11, I thought to myself that maybe Krishna was just testing me”.

Once again, gentle reader, please bear with me.

She describes, in an attempt to surrender and be a “good devotee”, she agrees to marry at age 14 someone 12 years her senior.

“I figured that I would rather be told what to do by one person instead of fifty”. She explains that because of regular beatings, her marriage was like “living in a hole deep within hell”. After a year and a half of this, she steals some money from the temple, buys a bus ticket and runs away. “I have not been practicing Krsna consciousness since that time” she says. At this point, you may be asking yourself, the title of Nagnajiti’s article was “Hell and Happiness”, so where is the happiness?

She proceeds to tell her story.

“I remember when I was 5 years old, I had become very ill and was taken to the infirmary. While I was waiting for the nurse, I began to cry. Srila Prabhupada was in his quarters and I guess he heard me crying. When I looked up ,there he was, just standing there with the greatest smile I have ever seen in my life. He then picked me up and told me not to cry. He said that everything was going to be okay. He brought me some warm milk from his room and told me to drink it. I remember eating the Tulsi leaves.

He then played with me until the nurse came in. It must have been a good half-hour or so”. She continues. “Another wonderful memory I have of Dallas Gurukula was when Srila Prabhupada came to visit, and the whole temple was all out in the yard, getting ready to take the picture for the Vyasa-Puja book. I stood right behind Srila Prabhupada. I remember him turning around and looking right at me and smiling. I felt as though I wanted to fall down at his lotus feet and take shelter of them for all eternity. The only humble thing I could endeavor to say about Srila Prabhupada is that I hope he will be able to forgive me for all the terrible maya I have committed in my life. As the years have gone by, I have never once forgot how wonderful it was to have had the opportunity to meet and be in the presence of such a pure soul as His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. And only by his great mercy was I able to serve Sri Krsna for the time I did.”

She also observes “they (the teachers) did not know how to discipline the children according to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions” and adds “I don’t really know who set the standards for discipline in the gurukula ashram, but I do know that Srila Prabhupada said to take care of these children with love and understanding”. She concludes her article by saying, “This story is not meant to offend or hurt anyone, it’s just the memories and recollections I have from when I was a devotee and when I was in gurukula”.

This is a “veteran” story that differs very significantly from many others. It contains sentiments not often heard of in the history of the Gurukulis and of those who were entrusted with their care. It is really an account that speaks for itself.

We are very lucky that this Vaisnavi has chosen to share this treasure with us. It is a precious gem that calls for close inspection, a gem that casts great light on the answer to the question; ” What would Srila Prabhupada have done?”

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9 Responses to Srila Prabhupada And the Treatment Of Children in Gurukul

  1. Narottama dasa says:

    Can you provide a link to the original website or to the magazine “Spirit”? Or where to find that magazine? Thanks in advance.

  2. sandeep says:

    Wowww… it was very good…… hare krishna

  3. gaurav dogra says:

    hare krishna,

    about gurukul child abuse,its about iskon not following sirla prabhupada but rubber stamp gurus in g.b.c who who think they are at the same plateform as sirla prabhupad.they think by their dirty minds and intelligence and result is dirty rules,confusin this one will change rules after rules and result will be again please all g.b.c,s follow and love prabhupada wiht all the heart,automatically everyting will start falling right place.

    2.about Pundit Vedaprakash Upadhyai book about kalki avataar,surely very surely he has written this book to take the emotional following of people because after this everyone in india and in other parts of the world who respects vedas and purans etc,but not reading it regularly will might be amazed and want to look into it might publish and show this because these days everyone is trying to publish himself very humble and learned by presenting himself as so called secular to all religionsbut in heart wants mere publicity.yes respect should be there,yes, we should not fight by only putting the word of a religion.the real thing is follow it seriouly.but interperating vedas which is not known to demigods who are very high in intelligence,what to speak of humans.only pure devotees or bhaktas who are at the top of knowldge knowing themselves soul and not body and realizing it in the same natural way like we are realizing by ignorance that we are body and 2.this is also must, that same person should realize supersoul krishna within his heart knowing him is beloved master,friend,who is source of everything and a divine person with his so natural etrnal body. a soul also has same eternal nature and body as it is part and parcel of krishna but covered by maya and by devotinal service it can be restored. like drop of water of ocean has same nature and has same salt but in very very less qyantitly,but both are water substance,in this same way soul and supersoul is same in nature which is eternal everlasting,but we are always servant of shri krishna,once someone realizes it becomes very joyful for being a humble servant of the puranas there very clearly written about all avataras and also sirla prabhupada has described there is no need of puranas to be interperated by big big scholars as shri veda vayasa who is a pure bahkta and himself a avatar of god had already detailed about everything like kalki avataar who will come later in this kaliyuga.sirla prabhupada has described it in his purports so that purans can be more clear to us but he has maintain the original thing as is it,no changes,this is the real thing.

    we might find some sanskrit texts examples juggling in Pundit Vedaprakash Upadhyai book as he is from a pundit family,generally in pundit family we read purans etc from the childhood.realizing it is different thing because in todays world we generally later on might get attracted to modern world.
    when someone becomes a Professor unless he is a pure devootee becomes very proud and sometimes his ego goes so high that he starts thinking that he can make adjustments in scared texts like veda and purans etc,same this is with Professor Pundit Vedaprakash Upadhyai.he has compleatly given opposite to what had been written already in purans etc.

    sirla prabhupada a pure devotee always presented things as it is. which is needed in this world as today is mr. Pundit Vedaprakash,tommorow will bee another person detailing the same thing with anoher opposite discription.there are already many many authors who have done this already.where is the pure authority,where is the real eternal meaning if interperated by a so called great scholar who might be good in mordern knowldge but not eternal knowldge in bhagavat gita etc.

    we have to decide,if we want to enjoy falsely by reading different unreal commentaries we can but we we are serious to become a devotee and what to know ouself inreal,want to go back to godhead,we should only read unchanged real text of purans etc through a pure devotee like selfless sirla prabhupada.

    what ever i detailed is in fact just a drop of knowldge i got from sirla prabhupad eternal books.

    hari bol hare krishna.

  4. Amit says:

    Just came across this article and ant to know can it be true accordng to Vedas

    Pundit Vedaprakash Upadhyai, a Hindu Professor, in his stunning book claims that the description of the ‘AVATAR” found in the Holy Books of the Hindu religion, matches
    the Holy Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H.).

    Recenty in India, a fact-revealing book has been published.The book has been the topic of discussion and gossip all over the country.

    Amazingly the author of this book, Pundit Vedaprakash Upadhyai, is a learned and famous Hindu Professor. The book is called ‘KALKI AVATAR”. Pundit Vedaprakash
    Upadhyai is a Hindu Brahmin of Bengali origin. He is a research scholar at the Allahabad University in India.

    After years of research, he published this book and no less than eight pundits have endorsed and certified his points of arguments as authentic.

    According to the Hindu belief, the Hindu world awaits “the guide and leader” named “Kalki
    Avatar”. However, the description as given in the Holy scriptures of the Hindus points only to Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H.) of Arabia. Therefore, the Hindus of the world should not wait any longer for the arrival of “Kalki Avatar” (the spirit) and should readily accept Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H.) as “Kalki Avatar”.

    These are his facts verified and supported by eight other prominent pundits.

    What the author says is that Hindus, who are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of Kalki Avatar are simply subjecting themselves to never ending pain. Because, such a great Messenger has already arrived and departed from this world fourteen centuries years ago.

    The author produces sound evidences from the Vedas and other Holy books of the Hindu religion in support of his claim:-

    1. In the Puranas (Hindu Scriptures), it is stated that
    Kalki Avatar would be the last messenger of God in this
    world. He would be for the guidance of the whole world and
    all human beings;

    2. According to the Hindu religion prediction the birth of
    Kalki Avatar would take place in an isle, which again
    according to Hindu religion is Arab region;

    3. In the books of the Hindus, the names of the father and
    the mother of Kalki Avatar are given as VISHNUBHAGAT and
    SUMAANI respectively. If we examine the meaning of
    these names we shall come to some very interesting

    VISHNU (Meaning GOD) + BHAGAT (Meaning SLAVE) = SLAVE of
    GOD = ABDULLAH (In Arabic) is the name of
    Prophet’s Muhammed’s (P.B.U.H.) father.

    (Meaning PEACE in Arabic) is the name of the Prophet
    Muhammed’s (P.B.U.H.) mother.

    4. In the religious books of the Hindus, it is mentioned
    that the staple food of Kalki Avatar would be dates
    and olives and he would be the most honest and trustful
    person in the region. Without any doubt, Prophet
    Muhammed is acclaimed to possess these qualities;

    5. It is stated in the Vedas (Holy Boook of the Hindu
    religion) that the birth of Kalki Avatar would take place in
    an Honourable clan.

    6. God would teach Kalki Avatar through His Messenger
    (Angel) in a cave. Allah taught Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H.)
    through His Messenger (Angel Gabriel) in a cave known as

    7. God would provide Kalki Avatar with Divine Help. This was particularly proved in the “Battle of Uhud”.

    8. Another dazzling account given about Kalki Avatar
    was that he would be born on the 12th of a month. Prophet
    Muhammed was born on the 12th of Rabbi-Ul -Awwal
    (Hijra Calendar;

    9.Kalki Avatar would be an excellent horse rider and
    swordsman. The author here draws the attention of the
    Hindus that the real days of the horses and swords have gone
    and the present time of guns and missiles. So it would
    be foolish on the part of those who still expect Kalki
    Avatar, who should be an excellent rider and swordsman to come. In fact, the
    Divine Book, the Holy Quran, contains qualities and signs
    attributed to Kalki Avatar reflecting on the Prophet
    Muhammed (P.B.U.H.). The Author has given numerous
    arguments in favour of his claim that Kalki Avatar is in
    fact Prophet Muhammed
    (P.B.U.H.) and those who still await the arrival of Kalki
    Avatar should not waste time.

    please comment on it according to the Vedas.

    • Dr Vrinda Baxi says:

      I have not read that, but if some Hindu professor has said that, he is just trying to get publicity by saying this – cheap trick. Many people try this from cinema actors to ‘cerebral’ researchers. I am well aware of the general mind of the researchers. Just in order to grab the eyeballs they say something very scandalous and flagrant in order to be ‘different’ and try to prove it. This is the whole ‘research’ about. One research keeps leading to another and there is no dearth of other fools who endorse and condone with the intention of basking in the sunlight — make hay as long as the sun shines.
      In Srimad Bhagavatam, the Hindu scripture, every thing has been very clearly mentioned and is not debatable. There is a clear mention of the time when the Lord Kalki would appear, that time has not come – still many many centuries to go for that.

    • Lon says:

      I have read that when the last animal ceases to exist and the last river has dried up… That’s when Kalki will appear.

  5. KIM says:

    This is such a heart rendering story!

    I was abused by my father when I was young and 30 years on, I still cannot forgive my father for what he did – I never told anyone. I have never married and I think it was because of the abuse I faced.

    I hope Krishna will forgive my father and hope that Krishna will also forgive me for the hatred I sometimes feel for my father.

    Life is so short and all these problems created by humans.

    May Krishna be kind to everyone.

    Hare Krishna

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