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Monday, August 24, 2015

RAPE AND INSULTS: WIFE ABUSE, ISKCON STYLE

Some years ago, during a routine purchase at a department store near where I worked, it happened that the clerk handling my purchase was a Bangladeshi Muslim who noticed my last name and asked me where I got it. I told him that I had once been married to an Indian and then noticed him looking intently at my eyes. He became furious and asked me if I had been abused by my husband. I said nothing, but by that time my eyes were full and I couldn't say anything. He said--rather almost shouted--that his people do not believe in maltreating their wives. After thanking him, I left with my purchase and went back to work, but I have never forgotten that chance encounter. What I now share with you, dear readers, is a great deal of the reason why:

Ekayani Devi Dasi, 1970, Montreal 
Photo taken by Gopal Krishna
The following is a faithful chronicle of an event that is part of the autobiography I have been working on for a number of years. It is also a chronicle of faith inasmuch as it marked the end of my enchantment with the Hare Krishna cult. The time is 1978 and my age at the time was 25.  My son and I were staying at my mother’s apartment and I had spent nearly two years working for the minimum wage in a factory. Although the reader will become familiar with all of the sordid details in short order, it concerns one of the final abuses I suffered at the hands of the Hare Krishna “husband” I acquired by way of an arranged marriage at the age of 17. 

He is now known as Gopal Krishna Goswami and today is a Hare Krishna guru with many disciples. It is especially ironic that he was given the honorific title “Goswami”--it is conferred on married men who have abandoned their wives and means “one who controls his senses”--when he took the order of “sannyasa” (an exalted life as a celibate monk) a few years after the events you are about to read. I hope you find this episode instructive and I apologize in advance for the repellent nature of its contents. Here we go:
  
No one expects rational behavior from a zombie or a dreamer. Yet both of these states describe what devotees become after years of indoctrination based on the idea that “you are not the body.” In fact, this artificial dichotomy between body and spirit had been the principal means the Hare Krishna movement used to ensnare us. In place of reason, our sincere but gullible minds had been filled with more Hindu folklore and mythology than I care to remember. Healing meant putting the pieces—body and soul—together again and beginning to think for ourselves. During the years shortly after the death of our guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in 1977, legions of devotees left the movement. Some say that the excesses of the GBC, who had usurped the whole guru business and tolerated widespread corruption, were responsible. However, I firmly believe that the real cause was the end of the cult of personality that Prabhupada’s presence had sustained. Once he died, the bubble burst. The GBC and ISKCON leaders responded to the rebellion that ensued by raising their doomsday fanaticism to a fever pitch.

Had I any idea of what Gopal Krishna had in mind when he unexpectedly told me that he would stay overnight with us en route to the New York temple, I would have told him to go straight to hell. Never in my life have I regretted any decision more and never have I paid for it more dearly.


Gopal Krishna was in full demonic mode when my son and I met him at KennedyAirport, getting off the plane without acknowledging us and looking like an enraged wart hog that had been hastily dressed in a crumpled dhoti. He walked along with his gigantic nostrils flared in disgust, as if suddenly aware of his own stench. What I am about to recount is infinitely more disgusting, however: consider yourself warned! 

It began when we took a cab from the airport to my apartment. Totally unexpectedly and in full view of my son, Gopal Krishna began to grab at me (I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver), with a face blank but for the glittering beady eyes and malicious leer of a sexual pervert. Astonished and repulsed beyond words, I tried to stop him, slapping his hand and telling him to stop, but he continued undaunted until we got out of the taxi. Ignorant of what had just happened, my mother and brother greeted him very decently, but he said next to nothing: he had something else on his mind.

To wit, as soon as my son was asleep in the other twin bed opposite us, he insisted on having sex, answering my protests (I reminded him that he, a GBC member, was openly breaking the regulative principle against illicit sex) by forcing himself on me, claiming that it was his right because “married people can have sex.” I was terrified that my mother and brother might hear us, what to speak of my son. Worse, he treated me as if I were a cheap prostitute by forcing his vile tongue into my mouth and ejaculating onto his soiled dhoti. In the morning, he locked himself into the bedroom alone with me and repeated the night’s performance at least twice. He did the same thing that night.The black-hearted, evil fiend! This room was where I used to play with my brothers and sisters as well as my dolls when I was a little girl. 

During Sunday, when we went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens with our son, he tried to grab at me again and was similarly repulsed. He also called me a prostitute because, according to him, I should have been able to save $100 out of the $400 I earned a month.

What this worse-than-rape experience did to my soul is hard to describe. I knew that I was done with Gopal Krishna forever, but still, trapped as I was in circumstances I could not substantially change without tremendous support and counseling, I felt myself more zombie than human. Moreover, he ended his assault on my body by trying to assault my reason, telling me as we took a cab together to the city Monday morning that nuclear bombs were so freely available in New York City that the drugstores secretly carried them. I laughed out loud at this insanity and got a venomous stare in response. As the cab dropped me off near my humble job on 34th Street, Gopal Krishna, his uglier than warthog face distorted with hate, handed me $100 and again called me a prostitute.

If anything good came out of this nightmare, it was my realization once and for all that evil exists and is personified in people like Gopal Krishna, demons in human form who are devoid of all genuine humanity. Like Harpies from Greek myth, they pollute all they touch. This is undeniably what Gopal Krishna intended when he raped me in my childhood home and when he harassed me in the Botanical Gardens, which had been a beloved refuge for much of my life. Monster! 

When I think of the devotees who used to come to visit my sister and I back in 1968-1969 when we were young teenagers and how innocent and sincere we all were, I still feel blank horror at the thought of Gopal’s deliberate pollution of my childhood home. No wonder I felt I had to get out of there and, taking my son and the ever-present suitcases, flew to Los Angeles and into the final stage of my journey out of the Hare Krishna movement.


THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT


Please note: This essay is part of a longer autobiographical excerpt that I published on another website more than eight years ago. If you have any questions about the esteem in which my guru held me, you are welcome to look them up in the vedabase of his letters.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this essay can be reproduced in any medium without the express written consent of the author.

17 comments:

Heather57 said...

Gopal Krishna was simply acting out what he was taught to believe-such as: Women are less intelligent-a lower birth. Women represent the "illusory energy" or "Maya"trying to drag you down to hell. If you have any attraction or attachment for a woman-you will take a lower birth-perhaps(shudder)as a woman or lower. Marriage is just legalized prostitution. There is no love in this world-only lust....etc., etc.we heard it all. And we worshiped a "god" who seduces married women(voluptuous cowherd girls)playing his flute(ever heard of the Pied Piper?)......and you are not your body-if you chant constantly(shutting down your frontal lobe and your very identity as a person-leaving your mind totally open to control) and dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums and cymbals-and do whatever you are told( for many of us women it meant begging for money out on the streets, in airports,etc.day in,day out)..maybe you will make it to the"spiritual world". a twisted and sick belief system-there are innumerable one's out there.
I became involved in Isckon in 1972 at age 16, was initiated by Prabhupada in 1973.

planetaryeyes said...

Very true, Heather. I have to add that, however perverted and sick such a belief system is, those whose actions are influenced by them are still fully responsible for what they have done. Thanks for your insightful comment!

Heather57 said...

Yes, you are very right "planetaryeyes". Unless and until we come to the point of taking responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and actions we cannot be healed or free. Everything depends on the power of choice-to come to the point of taking personal responsibility for our own choices. In a "religion" like the one taught by Prabhupada there is a mixture of truth and error. There only needs to be one drop of poison in a healthy and delicious meal to render it deadly-but the unsuspecting person will suffer the result of partaking.It seems to me that the men in Iskcon-especially the ones who are worshiped and served as "gurus" become blinded by pride(cloaked in a false humility)
This teaching takes one further and further from true love to the true God and our fellow man(woman and child).
If we truly come to the light-we will become conscious of our own condition and seek to ask forgiveness for anyone we have harmed and to forgive others-for what has been done in ignorance, blindness and selfishness. I respect you , Planetaryeyes, for having the courage to tell the truth. It is amazing to me-in the light of all the perversion in the history of Isckon-all the abuse and damaged and destroyed lives that people still cling to these beliefs- and sit around chanting hypnotically and talking nonsense from so-called scriptures-
I had 2 arranged marriages raised 2 children with no child support-the fathers are still in Iskcon-have had other marriages and children whom they also have never supported-after all they are taught women and children are like jackals who will take everything from you. This is one belief system that robs the person of everything good and true and meaningful in life now and forever-unless they wake up to the reality of the cesspool they are in and pray for truth.There is NO love in Iskcon!! God is love-so who are they worshiping? Satan is a liar and the father of lies-there is no truth in him. Everybody worships something/someone.We become like who/what we worship. The word worship means-to what we give the highest worth.The truth never devalues anyone-it uplifts.

planetaryeyes said...

Shame on the ISKCON deadbeat fathers who abandoned your children and congratulations to you for raising them by yourself! That cult, like so many others, survives because it attracts fools and sensation seekers dumb enough to think that chanting a mantra and following a con artist dressed in a saffron skirt will open the gates of paradise for them. For people who love to talk about spiritual matters, they are notable for having lost their own souls.

Reghan Catron said...

That is the exact same thing that happened to me...And I didn't want to leave him at first because in ISKCON, as a woman, you are taught that even if your husband is the lowest person, you should still not leave him. They teach that if you are just humble, submissive and faithful, he will be changed. But that is simply not true and it forces you to put yourself in an extremely dangerous situation.

planetaryeyes said...

Hope you're free of that marriage and ISKCON as well. Teaching people (who have grown up believing that women and men have the same rights) to regard women as lustful, stupid punching bags is just nuts.

Surabhi Dasi said...

Thank you for writing this blog, I too have seriously been considering writing a book and a blog about my experience within ISKCON. For many years Ive kept quiet to protect my husband, thinking it to be my duty to stand by him no matter what. But there comes a time in every women's life when you assess your situation and ask yourself whether these are the kind of morals your parents raised you with, to put aside your own dignity and self respect for a person who abuses your good nature and a society that does not have your best interest at heart. I came to the point where I felt I had to take the risk of speaking out to help protect other ladies that may find themselves in a similar situation and tried everything I could to make a change or at the very least try to show others that we need a change. To stand alone is very difficult, but together we can make an impact, however despite my efforts I was constantly silenced and insulted for having an opinion. It is time the world knew who the Hare Krishnas truly are and what really goes on inside the movement. It is time we spoke out and that these persons are brought to justice. We have been mistreated, abused, raped, thrown out on the street, neglected, shunned, attacked verbally and physically that has left mental scars that are beyond repair. No person should get away with such unbelievable misconduct, it is time the tables are turned. It is time Justice prevails, the meek shall inherit the earth, the time is up for wolves posing in sheep clothing. We are not alone, the world needs to hear our story!

j jones said...

I joined HK thinking it was just about spirituality, but their opinions on women were confusing. The founder said women have half the brain size of men making them less intelligent, which is why there are less women scientists, while forgetting that women in India used to get married at 11 without being able to have an education, and even Marie Curie was refused university places and awards because she was a woman. Then they said that western science has many errors anyway. The Queen Kunti, Iskcon translation and commentary says women are less intelligent, but because she was a Krishna devotee then she was intelligent, and they also say women devotees are classed as intelligent unlike other women. Are they saying women’s brains suddenly grow from half the size when they become a devotee? Or that male non devotees are better than women devotees? Then they say intelligence isn’t about education. They say that intelligence is about Krishna consciousness, and that women are more likely to become devotees than men, so isn’t that contradicting their other statements, as doesn’t that make women more intelligent? Then they say women only get in the way of a man’s spirituality, while worshiping Radha and Krishna, where Radha is the most important thing to Krishna. If that is pointed out, they say Radha isn’t like any woman we know, she’s something else. Then they say men should become devotees, and women should only serve the men, but what about all the women I met whose husbands don’t believe in Krishna consciousness and they go to the groups anyway? It seemed to me as if the groups were mostly going because of the effort many women were putting in, while men were being disrespectful towards them. Iskcon in the USA was bankrupted because of payments to abuse victims by the male gurus. Then they say that we’re more than our body, while trying to make women feel bad for being women, and trying to make them more attached to their body than they say devotees should be. Bhagavad Gita 5.18 says we’re all equal, but just have different bodies. The way they talk about women doesn’t seem as if they want women to see themselves as equal. I could accept if they admitted that the founder had issues with women because of being made to have an arranged marriage to a woman he didn’t like, but they made me feel as if I was supposed to see him as infallible and worship as much as Krishna. I do think he did some good things by translating some Hindu books and encourage vegetarianism, but to not realise he made some mistakes seems more like a cult than encouraging open discussion. As a divorced woman because my husband was abusive, I was starting to feel worthless without a husband to serve, and it went against all my previous ideas that I was an individual spiritual being.

Mukunda M R B said...

I hope you find true peace of mind and heart. Such a sad state of affairs in ISKCON. My heart goes out to you and may you find healing and peace. Thank you for sharing your story. My eyes are wide open now.

planetaryeyes said...

Many thanks for your kind words and insights. It is always comforting to know that recounting my experiences in ISKCON has helped people to avoid that cult.

AKK said...

The way ISKCON has treated its members, especially women and children is shameful. If the organization has any integrity, it should pay for all the damages it has caused to the gurukul children and families such as yours even if it bankrupts them. I am really ashamed of having been a part of the organization for the time I was (2011-2013 though pretty much stopped active membership in 2012). Funnily enough, I was aspiring for Gopal Krishna "Maharaj" for initiation. I stopped aspiring for him when I saw that his disciples were a bunch of nutjobs.

Another funny thing. When I asked his disciples about his activities, they denied that he was doing anything criminal in India. They never addressed the abuse he committed on you and your son. I came upon your website during research conducted after I left the organization. All I can do now is apologize that I ever aspired to initiation from him.

I could wax poetic on all the negatives of ISKCON if given the chance. This discussion can take up many blog posts. Once again, I am sorry that this abuse happened to you and hope that you are healing from it.

planetaryeyes said...

Thanks for your kind comments and good wishes. It is unusual for any ex-devotee to take responsibility for having been gullible enough to participate in the ISKCON scam and I really appreciate your candor in this regard. Yes, the disciples of Gopal Krishna are known for their willful ignorance of his past wrongdoing, whether it concerns what he did to me or others. They are self-deluded fools and will suffer the consequences after they leave the cult and find it next to impossible to adjust to life as a citizen of their respective countries. Many of them will no doubt take up a life of crime and become a menace to society. Regarding compensating the students and families ruined by this vicious cult, an attempt was already made more than a decade ago: ISKCON claimed bankruptcy and gave a mere pittance to a few of the victims. Meanwhile, they are building massive temples in India and duping the Hindu population into thinking that they are exemplars of religious piety. As you can see on my recent postings, I am trying to raise funds so I can continue my work, but I have never received even one penny from any of my readers. It appears that people who are curious about ISKCON would rather give their money to them instead of the courageous few who are working so hard to stop this madness.

Best of luck to you in your career and personal life!

dhaval said...

Yes iskcon is truly a cult

dhaval said...

This is really nice blog. It will help many innocent people to awake who have became there slaves.

Ayantika Maity said...

Hare Krishna, i feel very sad about whatever happened with you and many many thanks to you for your blog. As it will help many to be aware of the cults. I don`t think all of them will be cults, no body is perfect. There may be some who are true but still it is safer to stay away from them. Why did they call women to be so inferior , what i feel is , so that they don`t get attached to women. But for this reason they can`t abuse anyone. In Indian mythology, women not disrespected anywhere and they are given equal respect as men. For eg: Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati are known to be equal. It is said there is no value of the Purush without Prakriti. Here, Purush is Lord Shiva and Prakriti is Parvati. It`s their mind who feel women to be inferioir.

Tanith said...

Hi.I was very sad to hear your story, the abuses suffered at the hands of gopal Krishna goswami.can u please upload a photo of him. When i went to vrindavan last year and visited iskcon temple there, there was someone with same name as him. I wanna know if that is the same person?

1008gl said...

After reading all above story all what I will say Krishna is real but those who are claiming to be Guru are misguiding holy books and beliefs having their personal agenda of pleasure in the name of Krishana .