Temple bannings: A human rights hypocrisy  

Winter 2005/6

In BTP 8 we reported on the fact that IRM sympathisers are banned from worshipping at Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON’s UK headquarters, by Temple President Gauri Das simply for “agreeing with the views and publications” of the IRM. Thus one is being punished for simply the THOUGHTS in one’s mind (what one “agrees with”), and not even for what one says or does.
This is as gross a violation of human rights as can be possible.
However, at the same time that ISKCON UK is perpetrating draconian human rights abuses against followers of Srila Prabhupada, it is not at all averse to invoking human rights for its own purposes when it suits them, a position rife with hypocrisy, as we now demonstrate.

Human rights hypocrisy: 1996

A decade ago, Bhaktivedanta Manor made great appeal to the violation of the human rights of the Hindu community as the local council sought to close the temple down for public worship – an appeal which went all the way to the European Commission of Human Rights. The Temple President at the time, Akhandadhi Das, told a local newspaper:

“There are human issues. We are being denied religious rights.”
(Akhandadhi Das, West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p. 7.)

Ironically, after building a case on the violation of the human rights of devotees being denied access to the temple for worship, Akhandadhi himself set in motion a policy of banning from temple worship anyone who believes Srila Prabhupada is the current guru of ISKCON; a policy continued by a successor (voted-in guru Vipramukhya Swami who subsequently left ISKCON with a young lady), and ruthlessly enforced to this day by current President Gauri Das.

Human rights hypocrisy: 2006

In 2006, ISKCON has joined with a number of Hindu organisations under the banner of the “Defend Russian Hindus Campaign” to launch a high-profile international petition highlighting the fact that the Moscow authorities have – at the time of going to press - supposedly reneged on their promise to allocate land for an ISKCON temple to replace the old, demolished temple, thus depriving thousands of ‘Russian Hindus’ the right to worship.
Regarding this they state:

“However, the issue has general significance because it is about freedom and the right to worship.”
(Bhaktivedanta Manor News Bulletin, January 2006).

Meanwhile, hidden behind the glare of publicity on this issue is the hypocritical human rights oppression enacted by the ISKCON UK leadership against the “freedom and the right to worship” of ‘British Hindus’ who simply THINK that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s Guru. Clearly, before trying to lecture the Russian Government regarding the rights of worship of Russian Hindus, ISKCON and the various Hindu organisations backing its cause need to defend the rights of Hindus closer to home.

Child abuse hypocrisy

Last year, ISKCON’s Office of Child Protection issued the following statement about one of its convicted paedophiles:

Vakresvara Pandit das Decision

Clarification by ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection
Posted August 23, 2005

The Appeals Judges’ decision in the case of Vakresvara Pandit das upheld the previous CPO panel finding that he was responsible for sexual abuse of a minor. […]
Life time restriction will remain as follows:

“If the victim of Vakresvara Pandit dasa attends a function at an ISKCON temple Vakresvara Pandit is present, then Vakresvara Pandit dasa must leave the premises, unless the victim gives uncoerced permission for Vakresvara Pandit to remain.”

What is completely unbelievable is the fact that, according to the above statement, someone whom ISKCON considers a convicted paedophile can actually enter any ISKCON temple that he wishes and only face minor restrictions. One would have thought that such criminal activity might be a strong case for banning him entirely from entering an ISKCON temple, especially given the fact that ISKCON is currently paying compensation to child abuse victims in a recently concluded multimillion dollar class action lawsuit.

But apparently not. Much more criminal, according to ISKCON leader Gauri Das, is believing in Srila Prabhupada as your Guru:

“Those who are formally part of or agree with the views and publications (of the IRM) are suspended by the Manor Temple Council from visiting Bhaktivedanta Manor”
(Letter from Gauri Das, 17 February 2005)

Fraud Hypocrisy

The following message was publicly broadcast by the leadership of Bhaktivedanta Manor’s ISKCON Pandava Sena Youth Group:


Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005
Subject: Dhruva Maharaj Dasa

Dear Devotees It is with regret that we have to inform you about the unfortunate behaviour of Dhruva Maharaj Dasa (Dhaval Patel). […]
He spent thousands of pounds of other devotee’s money on a variety of things. […]
Our investigation has found that Dhruva borrowed excessively through fraudulent means e.g. Citing Medical Expenses for His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj (whilst in reality the money was used to pay credit card bills). […]
However, a series of obstructive actions by Dhruva Maharaj Dasa has forced us to go public with the situation, as well as to seriously consider legal proceedings.
We humbly request that Dhruva not be allowed in any way, shape or form to give formal classes at any ISKCON function/ venue, and also that he not be allowed to perform Deity worship at any ISKCON function / venue.

Again, we see that despite engaging in criminal activity, the above devotee is not actually banned from entering Bhaktivedanta Manor, taking darshan of the Deities and Srila Prabhupada there, or participating in all of its functions and festivals.

So we see from the above that according to ISKCON you can still be allowed to participate in temple worship even if you are:

1) A paedophile;
2) A fraudster.

However, if you dare believe that the person who founded ISKCON, whose books are the basis of ISKCON, and who is worshipped every morning in every ISKCON temple, is the bona fide Guru of ISKCON then be prepared to have your right of worship removed.

Further, a movement which vigorously champions the rights of Hindus in Russia to worship is simultaneously denying British Hindus these very same rights.
This, of course, is sheer hypocrisy, and it is no wonder therefore that we are living in the Kali-yuga, or the Age of Hypocrisy.