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Editorial: A Second Class-action Lawsuit Against ISKCON?

By Pratyatosa Dasa (ACBSP), March 20, 2005


I dedicate this web page to the loving memory of my dear godsister, Yasogami Devi Dasi, born: September 4, 1956, died: March 27, 2005. She and her husband, Ravi, were instrumental in initiating the first class-action lawsuit against ISKCON by providing me with much needed encouragement and physical facility. They did this out of love for truth and justice, out of love for Srila Prabhupada, and out of love for the more than 1000 who were abused/molested/raped, as helpless children, at the hands of members of ISKCON.

The following is my reply to an email which was sent to me and a number of other receivers by Gupta Dasa (Joseph Fedorowsky), one of ISKCON’s lawyers for the first class-action lawsuit:

On 5/2/05, OLF/Joseph Fedorowsky <…@oxfordlaw.com> wrote:

>…Later, when the case was refiled in state court without the
>RICO allegations (which were by that time permanently barred by
>a federal court Order), rather than again litigate to judgment,
>a decision was made to redirect the litigation into bankruptcy
>court where a multi million dollar compensation fund could be
>created to pay all Gurukulis who claimed. Bear in mind that the
>decision to go that route and create a compensation fund was
>made in spite of the fact that many thought a defense in the
>state case would be successful and cost far less than creating a
>compensation fund…
>…I worked on the Chapter 11 case as a way to derail the
>offensive allegations about Srila Prabhupada, and a way to get
>compensation into the hands of as many Gurukulis as possible.

Dear Gupta Prabhu, you try to make it sound like the GBC was very benevolent, but the "facts" that you present don't add up. A jury trial would be a disaster for the GBC/"gurus". During the early 80s, in the Robin George vs. ISKCON case, a jury awarded Robin George $32 million in a California court. In the mid 90s, a Texas state court jury awarded 11 altar boys, who were sexually molested by one priest, $120 million.

The GBC/"gurus" have painted themselves into a corner by kicking out or alienating 95% of Srila Prabhupada's disciples and depending upon Indian congregational members for donations. Whereas Srila Prabhupada's disciples would faithfully donate 50% of their income and faithfully "do the pick" despite many offenses against them, the Indian congregational members are very fickle. Once they are offended, or once they are embarrassed by bad publicity, they are not so quick to forgive and forget.

Therefore, the main reasons for the bankruptcy declarations were as follows:

1. Delaying tactics.

2. To get the case out of Texas state court into a more lenient Federal bankruptcy court.

3. To minimize bad publicity by avoiding a trial, especially a state court jury trial.

The GBC is terrified by the prospect of having to have their "dirty laundry" aired on court TV. They are caught in a web of their own making. Thus the GBC's underhanded/unjust/immoral policy of getting rid of their political "enemies" has left Srila Prabhupada’s beloved ISKCON very vulnerable to lawsuits!

Your servant, Pratyatosa Dasa


Should a second big class-action lawsuit be filed against ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness), the GBC (ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission) and the BBTI (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, a California non-profit corporation masquerading as a trust), this time including the BA (the Bhaktivedanta Archives)?


Unfortunately, the ISKCON leaders have shown, time and time again, that they don’t respond to the cries for truth and justice from the victims of abuse at the hands of members of ISKCON. Until there was a threat of lawsuits, they didn’t do anything except threaten/intimidate the victims and try to make the victims “shut up” by making them feel ashamed/guilty, thus further victimizing the victims. History has proven that the only things that the ISKCON leaders take seriously are lawsuits and bad publicity.

Also, it’s not fair to say that the victims are suing because “All they care about is money.” This is simply another underhanded attempt to victimize the victims. The sad fact is that there are no government agencies who are willing to take responsibility for protecting victims of abuse through legal action. The only alternative is to sue, and unless the suit names a large dollar amount, how will the law firm involved ever hope to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars which they must invest in bringing the case to a successful conclusion? Unless there is a very good chance of winning a large amount of money, no law firm is going to risk getting involved in such a case.

Why include the BA in the suit? For the answer, see plaintiff categories 14 through 17 below.


Who should the plaintiffs be for a class-action lawsuit against ISKCON/GBC/BBTI/BA?


1. Former members of ISKCON (and their families) who gave their house, their car, their bank balance and/or most of their other possessions to ISKCON because they were told or led to believe that they could “stay forever” and that they didn’t have to worry about retirement because there would always be a place for them in ISKCON. But, after 1977, if members of ISKCON did not go along with the duplicitous/illegal activities of the ISKCON leaders, if they were considered a political threat, or if, because of disease and/or old age, they were no longer able to “do the pick” (perform solicitation, often fraudulent/illegal, of funds at airports, shopping malls, city streets, etc.), they were “kicked out,” shunned, excommunicated, beaten, or even murdered! Therefore, part of the suit should be for recovery of retirement funds which ISKCON failed to set aside (Social Security fund payments, etc.) while these persons or their family members were doing full time service for ISKCON.

2. Current and former members of ISKCON who are/were chastised, abused, publicly ridiculed, and/or publicly humiliated for simply speaking the truth, even for quoting Srila Prabhupada’s (ISKCON’s founder’s/spiritual master’s) own words, about such subjects as the possible murder by poisoning of Srila Prabhupada by his own GBC/sannyasi (celibate monk) “disciples” and the “ritvik (priest) issue” (similar to the Christian system of having a minister/priest represent Lord Jesus Christ, which the ISKCON GBC says is a “dangerous philosophical deviation”).

3. Those who suffer from mental trauma caused by a) the illegal takeover of ISKCON in 1978 through the agency of lies, deceit, the hiding and/or destroying of taped and printed evidence, and the shunning, the excommunication, the beating, and even the murdering of those who were not “mindless yes-men,” b) giving Srila Prabhupada a “slap in the face,” by putting people that he had “banned from being on the GBC” (such as Adi Kesava and Bhavananda) on the GBC immediately after the death of his physical body, c) the reinstating of an active homosexual (Bhavananda) as a “good as God,” “Jesus like” “guru” masquerading as a celibate monk in 1986, d) the minimizing of Srila Prabhupada’s position within ISKCON, e) the sexual molestation of more than 1000 of ISKCON’s children, f) the changing of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and g) the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s taped lectures.

4. Those who weren’t included in the first class-action lawsuit who were abused/molested/raped as helpless children while under the care of the ISKCON leaders.

5. The parents of children who were abused/molested/raped, who paid thousands of dollars in tuition, and, in some cases, additional thousands of dollars in air fare to India for sending their child to “gurukula” (boarding school), visiting them in India including visits from siblings, etc., and were later heartbroken to find out that their child had been sexually abused/molested/raped in the “gurukula asramas” (boarding school’s student living quarters), and that the truth had been kept from them by the criminally negligent GBC and other ISKCON authorities in order to “keep that tuition money coming in.”

6. Siblings, classmates and friends of abused children who were “victimized by the victims” (who learned in the ISKCON “gurukulas” that “Sex with children is normal behavior.”), all because of the GBC’s criminally negligent policy of keeping the abuse secret from the parents and the law enforcement authorities, and quietly moving the perpetrators to other temples or even to other “gurukulas” where these lowest of criminals sexually abused/molested/raped hundreds of additional children. Thus the sexual molestation of helpless/dependant children spread throughout ISKCON like a cancer.

7. Ex-gurukula students who failed to receive a proper education because of the GBC’s/temple president’s well known policy of making unqualified “gurukula” teachers and headmasters out of devotees who are/were “not good for anything else” or who refuse/refused to “do the pick.”

8. Gurukula teachers and headmasters who were told to use corporal punishment in the “gurukulas,” and who were later used as scapegoats, and were chastised, abused, publicly ridiculed, and publicly humiliated for simply following GBC/“guru” orders.

9. Wives who were told to leave their husbands because “He is in maya (illusion).,” and were told “I will take care of you.,” and were subsequently not “taken care of,” and, in many cases were even sexually exploited by their ISKCON authorities, sometimes even by the very same ISKCON authorities who told them to leave their husbands in the first place!

10. Women who were made to go on “traveling sankirtan,” were made to work long hours “doing the pick,” and then, at the end of the day, were sexually exploited by their GBC approved male “sankirtan leaders” in motel rooms.

11. Former and current members of ISKCON, especially women, who were the victims of the GBC’s illegal polygamy experiments.

12. Former and current members of ISKCON, especially wives and children, who where the victims of ISKCON’s “You gotta be celibate and renounce wife and family in order to climb the ISKCON corporate ladder.” propaganda. (sannyasi-->GBC-->“guru” or sannyasi-->“guru”-->GBC)

13. Followers of Srila Prabhupada whose religious rights are being trampled upon because of the GBC/BBTI censoring of the Lilamrita (Srila Prabhupada’s “GBC/BBTI authorized” biography). This was obviously done in an attempt to lower Srila Prabhupada’s extremely advanced spiritual position so the “GBC approved gurus” do not to look so bad in comparison! (Many miraculous/supernatural experiences which his followers have had with Srila Prabhupada, including some of my own, have been expurgated from the Lilamrita!)

14. Followers of Srila Prabhupada whose religious rights are being trampled upon because the BA/BBTI are disobeying Srila Prabhupada’s direct order (paraphrased): “My books should not be edited except for obvious typographical errors.” (The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International have made hundreds of unauthorized, unnecessary changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books, and the Bhaktivedanta Archives have incorporated these changed versions into their “Vedabase” CD.)

15. Followers of Srila Prabhupada whose religious rights are being trampled upon because the BA/BBTI are disobeying another one of Srila Prabhupada’s direct orders (paraphrased): “Devotees should only make a maximum of 10% profit off of each other.” (The Bhaktivedanta Archives are charging hundreds of dollars for the “Vedabase” CD, which costs pennies to duplicate, in order to feather their own nests.)

16. Followers of Srila Prabhupada whose religious rights are being trampled upon because the BA/BBTI are disobeying yet another one of Srila Prabhupada’s direct orders (paraphrased): “The audio recordings of my lectures should be distributed in their entirety and completely unedited or not at all.” (The Bhaktivedanta Archives have edited most of the published audio versions of Srila Prabhupada’s lectures in the form of cassettes, audio CDs and MP3 CDs, and they refuse to make unedited versions available.) When I was working on distributing Srila Prabhupada’s lectures on cassette tape for “Hare Krsna Studios” in New York in 1971 and for “Golden Avatara Productions” in Los Angeles in 1972 and 1973, the thought of editing or shortening Srila Prabhupada’s lectures never even crossed our minds!

17. Followers of Srila Prabhupada whose religious rights are being trampled upon because the BA/BBTI are not preserving Srila Prabhupada’s original writings, audio recordings and photographs properly. The Bhaktivedanta Archives should be archiving everything in a no-loss digital format, which, as far as I know, they are not doing. Also, if they are really interested in preserving Srila Prabhupada’s legacy, which should be their main mission, then why did they move it to North Carolina, the rust, rot and mildew capitol of the world? The Archives should be moved to a dry climate where, because of the possibility of a national disaster such as a severe energy shortage or a nuclear war, no air conditioning is needed. (Solar/wind power does not provide enough energy to run air conditioners. Using biodiesel/ethanol/hydrogen as replacements for petroleum based fuels are hoaxes. It takes more energy to produce them than the energy that can be gotten out of them.) The Copper Country (Keweenaw Peninsula) region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would be ideal because there are no big cities or military targets nearby, there is unlimited clean, fresh water, there are unlimited trees for wood heat, and the only time that it gets warm is in July and August, and then the air is very dry. (Lawns need to be watered.) Even in July and August it usually gets quite cool at night. The rest of the year, when it is cool or cold, the air is always dry because it is heated. Also, the hills and mountains of the Copper Country are permeated with auspicious metals such as copper, silver and even traces of gold. There are hundreds of abandoned mines bored into granite hard rock, which could provide a perfect shelter for Srila Prabhupada’s precious legacy, during a possible future nuclear war.

Many of the above categories of victimization do not involve an obvious financial loss. Therefore, there will be pressure from the contingency law firm to not include them in the lawsuit. I’m hoping, however, that a majority of the plaintiffs will insist that they be included, and that the law firm will be willing to compromise.

Because of the unusually large number of victims and the grievous nature of the offenses against them, the only reasonable plan, in my humble opinion, is to auction off, under court supervision, the ISKCON properties! If they are not auctioned off, then they are simply going to be the target of additional lawsuits ad-infinitum! This would not be as bad as it sounds, because most of the properties would be purchased by members of the local congregations. Therefore, the Hare Krsna movement would go on despite the upheaval. The main difference would be that these properties would no longer belong to ISKCON, so the criminals would no longer be in charge of them. The new owners would probably not want to put these same people in charge of them again because doing so would make the properties again vulnerable to lawsuits!

As long as there is even one ISKCON asset left anywhere in the world, it is going to be a target. Let’s admit it! We blew it! We let Srila Prabhupada down big time! Let’s “bite the bullet” and get the whole sordid affair behind us once and for all!

IMPORTANT: If you are interested in possibly participating in a class-action lawsuit against ISKCON, please let me know. (Even if you join the lawsuit, you will not be required, at any time, to spend any of your own money. Even if the lawsuit is lost in court, you won’t owe a penny! The contingency law firm will take all of the financial risk.)

Your servant, Pratyatosa Dasa ACBSP ()

PS: Here’s a woman who, as a 22-year-old University of Michigan senior, was told “Forget your career. Forget your education. Not to worry. Move in with me. I will take care of you nicely for the rest of your life.,” but nothing to that effect was ever put in writing. Then, after she surrendered to him body and soul for years and years, he kicked her out. Sound familiar?

So, she sued him, and the jury awarded her $10 million plus a fancy condominium!

(http://www.freep.com/news/latestnews/pm19506_20040423.htm) [The Detroit Free Press article, “Contract or Greed? Jury Set to Decide” (4/23/2004) is no longer there, but here is a less detailed article from the Detroit News: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/3035665/detail.html

Maybe there is still hope that those who were unjustly “kicked out” of one or more ISKCON temples will someday get the justice that they deserve!

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