GBC Politics Case Study


IRM

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 70, Vol 3, 2021

In the last issue (back page), we reported that ISKCON's North American Leadership Council ("NAC") had stated that one of their "good as God" GBC voted-in diksa gurus, HH Lokanath Swami ("LOK"), had engaged in "an incident of sexual abuse of a minor that occurred in the Eastern United States in 1990" (NAC statement, 8/5/21).

We will see that the GBC's handling of this incident acts as a case study to illustrate how the GBC operates. All emphases added.

Let us close it

The above statement from the NAC added that in regards to this incident:

"the international GBC body made a good faith effort at the time to investigate and respond to this case of child sexual abuse and placed some restrictions and mandates in place over his [LOK's] activities."

These "restrictions" involved a suspension from initiating whilst this investigation, which began in 1993, was going on. By 1996, the GBC concluded that, despite such behaviour, LOK should still be allowed to continue operating as a "good as God" diksa guru, since they viewed the incident as being "accidental" rather than "sexual abuse"*. Thus, they considered that the incident had been fully and properly dealt with, and the matter was closed.

We will have to open it

The situation officially remained as just described for 25 years. However, the same 8/5/21 NAC statement admitted there had suddenly been "a great deal of recent discussion on the Internet and social media" regarding this "incident of sexual abuse of a minor". And that the GBC suddenly decided to act:

"The NAC requested that the Lokanath Swami case be turned over to the International Child Protection Office [ICPO] [...] The GBC EC has agreed and the case has been turned over to the ICPO."

The ICPO had been in existence since 1998, yet the GBC had never handed the case over to them until now. And, 4 days later, the GBC took further action by suspending LOK from initiating anywhere in the world.*

We would have kept it closed

Thus, as noted:

a) The GBC had not taken any public action regarding this incident for 25 years.
b) The GBC had not referred the case to the ICPO for 23 years.

And, hence, the action appears to have been prompted only by the recent social media campaign mentioned by the NAC statement, as the statement then also went on to describe the ICPO action being taken. It means that, had it not been for this recent social media campaign, there is no reason to presume that the GBC would ever have acted, and the matter would have remained officially closed, as it has for the last 25 years, permanently!

Let us try to close it again

However, within days of the GBC deciding to act, ISKCON's Indian Continental Committee ("ICC"), which consists of ISKCON India's leaders, issued a resolution expressing their "full support to Lokanath Swami" and demanding that "the GBC reverse their unfair decisions", one of which was opening an investigation into LOK again (ICC resolution published 14/5/21). Consequently, on 21/7/21, the GBC Executive Committee announced a capitulation:

"there is heated debate whether or not the Lokanath Swami's case should go to the Child Protection Office [...] The GBC decided that a skilled and experienced Panel must first clarify the broader issues involved [...] and then recommend what the next step will be. [...] ISKCON India leadership has also been invited to nominate two devotees for inclusion in the panel."

Thus, having just turned over the case to the ICPO after 23 years, the GBC took the case back from the ICPO following the ICC's complaint. It has instead formed a "panel" that will recommend to the GBC what should happen next, if anything, after which the GBC can still decide to reject this recommendation and take another, or no, course of action!

Hence, the GBC has already been bounced into reversing its position twice due to outside pressure, and what action it will take next will no doubt depend on whoever manages to bring the most pressure to bear!

Not a diksa guru

In 2010, referring to the incident, LOK signed a letter admitting that he "sexually abused her" and "touched her private part"*. A leading defender of LOK on the ICC, Basu Ghosh Dasa ("BGD"), alleges that LOK only signed this letter because "men on the GBC compelled him to sign" (28/8/21)*. If BGD's allegation is true, then it means that:

a) LOK will sign any untruthful nonsense he is told to sign.
b) In asking LOK to sign the letter, the GBC however appear to believe that LOK did engage in sexual abuse, and indeed the GBC has not opposed the NAC stating this.

If BGD's allegation is not true, then it means that LOK agrees he engaged in sexual abuse of a minor. Thus, LOK is either a liar or a sexual abuser – neither of which is a qualification taught by Srila Prabhupada for being the "good as God" diksa guru LOK claims to be.

Guru hoax parallel

This affair started with the GBC deciding that LOK's behaviour still meant he was a "good as God" diksa guru. And the GBC's conduct since then, as documented above, has simply been flip-flopping based on political considerations. There is a parallel here with the GBC's flip-flopping involving the guru hoax (see the articles on pages 6-7, 13,14 and 15):

a) The GBC first claimed that the diksa gurus in ISKCON had been appointed by Srila Prabhupada (see GBC Resolution 16, 19/3/78).

b) Then, due to pressure from others who wanted to become diksa gurus, the GBC admitted that the original appointed diksa guru system was false and instead invented a voting diksa guru system, whereby anyone who got a majority vote approval could become a diksa guru (see 'An Apology', Back To Godhead #25-01, 1991, and GBC Resolution 3, 30/3/86).

Conclusion

This affair is just a reminder of how, whether it is the guru hoax or any other matter, the GBC operates based on politics rather than Srila Prabhupada's orders.

* To read the documents these statements are based on, please visit: www.iskconirm.com/lok


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