Dhanurdhar Swami, In or Out

By Gauranga Prema das, 15.5 2015

Dhanurdhar Swami: In or Out of ISKCON?

If one regularly attends programs at the Bhakti Center here in NYC one will notice that Dhanurdhar Swami gives class and attends programs here. I know that the Bhakti Center is not an "official" ISKCON center and they make their own rules, but has any of their congregation been informed about his past?

We all know the Bhakti Center under the guidance of Radhanath Swami is all about New Age yoga people with big bank accounts. Could it be that Dhanurdhar Swami wants a piece of the pie? Many new devotees who come don't know that Dhanurdhar Swami was the principal of the gurukula in Vrindavan, in which so many children were abused, and he has abused many children himself.

Ramabhadra Prabhu, Temple President of ISKCON Brooklyn wrote a pretty heavy article against Dhanurdhar Swami on Dandavats some years back. I remember one instance spoken of in the article where Dhanurdhar Swami woke a kid up by punching him in the face and breaking his nose. Maharaj was an amateur boxer, so he knew how to deliver a severe blow. Perhaps newer congregation members of the Bhakti Center should be informed of these horrible incidents from Maharaj's past.

At the recent Bhakti Yoga Retreat in North Carolina, Dhanurdhar Swami was also present with all the big ISKCON Gurus: Radhanath Swami, Sacinandana Swami, B.B. Govinda Maharaj, Indradyumna Maharaj, and Jayadvaita Maharaj. Why is it that they still associate with him? When he was still in ISKCON there was a ban against him visiting or speaking in temples. So I guess the way around that ban is to leave ISKCON, and then come give classes at yoga centers and the Bhakti Center to mostly ISKCON devotees.

I write this not as an attack on Maharaj, but because I question the motives of these Maharaj's who still associate with Dhanurdhar Swami. On one hand they claim to sympathize with the Gurukulis who suffered so much abuse, then on the other hand they openly associate with Dhanurdhar Swami, who was one of the biggest abusers, if not the biggest.

I don't claim to know Maharaj's heart, if he is remorseful for his actions or what. Only Krishna knows . He has every right to carry on preaching and take care of his disciples, but he should do so outside the confines of ISKCON's sangas. When a former student that Maharaj abused named Ananda committed suicide, there was a lot of pressure on the GBC to force him out of ISKCON. It was Maharaj himself who decided to leave by stating that if he was a disturbance to some devotees it was best that he left ISKCON. Does this mean that his sentiments were superficial? I don't know, but he still continues to have a presence in the NYC sanga via the Bhakti Center, and also associates with ISKCON Swamis in India. So he does not care if he is a disturbance to some? I am trying to understand this myself.

Another point is, with ISKCON's past, wouldn't the Swamis/Gurus of ISKCON wanna keep a distance from such a personality? It is understandable that Radhanath Swami has no qualms associating with him since he knowingly stayed with the child molesting criminal Keith Ham aka Kirtanananda Swami, convicted of numerous crimes in Federal Court.

If these Swamis had any conscience they would no longer associate with Maharaj. I think many of us know that they are chasing disciples with big bank accounts and New Age yoga yuppie sentimentality. Because without that, no sincere bhakta who is loyal to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and our Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage is falling for their style of preaching.

To Dhanurdhar Swami's merit, he at least knows how to preach straightforward without the 'I love you, you love me, whatever you wanna do is okay' style of preaching. He actually knows the philosophy quite well. However, I think he should do his preaching outside of ISKCON. He should be sincere and back away because I am sure he is disturbing some people's hearts and minds. However, because Radhanath Swami is giving him hugs and every swami seems to love him maybe these devotees are afraid to speak out.

I am sure things will continue as they are at the good old Bhakti Center, where they move Deities around at a whim. They move Srila Prabhupada around the corner to 26 Second Ave because they said he was disturbing to new people. It was only after some outcry by devotees that he was moved back in to the Bhakti Center. This is the same place where if you speak to a newcomer, the brahmacaries will ask you to leave. God forbid you should tell somebody about the four regulative principles, you will be banned for life. They will continue to make their own rules and continue to let Dhanurdhar Swami give classes there. Things continue to deteriorate in post-1977 ISKCON.