Did Paramadvaiti Rape His Disciple? – “It’s Quite Possible”

By editor - 12.5 2019

While the Vrinda Mission, the organisation of Paramadvaiti Swami (aka Ulrich Harlan, formerly Alanath Dasa) celebrated Paramadvaiti’s Vyasa-puja on the second weekend of October 2018, their “Founder-Acarya” has been facing allegations of rape and repeated sexual harassment.

A young female disciple with the name Radhakunda devi-dasi has published allegations against him on her blog. These are supported by an audio recording that has been made available online.

The recording contains a phone conversation between a senior disciple of Paramadvaiti, Saranagati devi-dasi, and Paramadvaiti himself. Apparently, Radhakunda is present as well, however Saranagati does not disclose this to Paramadvaiti, nor does she disclose that someone is recording the conversation. Saranagati tells the swami about the allegations, of which Paramadvaiti has no memory. The swami appears shocked but does not deny the accusations. The incident is said to have taken place in 2016.

“It’s probably what happened”

Paramadvaiti repeatedly says that “I just don’t remember it”. He mentions that he received “massages […] by a few women at the same time” at the night of the incident. Furthermore, “…it’s not impossible because as they were giving massages to me, so I was also kind of caressing them a little bit. So, in this way something inappropriate may have been there.” While not admitting the rape, he concedes, “I just don’t remember it, but if she remembers it, it’s probably what happened, right?”

According to the allegations, the swami was alone with the young woman and had her sit next to him. He then allegedly pulled down her pants and penetrated her vagina with his finger, asking her whether she was a virgin. This, if true, would constitute rape according to the legal definition in countries like the USA, France, Switzerland or Germany. According to what Saranagati tells him, he is said to have also harassed other female disciples.

The striking fact: Paramadvaiti does not deny any of the allegations. In regards to Radhakunda’s statement, he says that “if somebody says something like that, it’s hard to imagine that they invent it”, and that “it’s quite possible” it happened. The apparent lack of memory in relation to these incidents leads Saranagati to ask whether memory problems were the reason for Paramadvaiti’s retirement earlier this year.

In July 2018, the founder of the Vrinda Mission announced he would stop initiating disciples. Henceforward, members of his organisation are advised to take shelter of Paramadvaiti’s senior disciples or godbrothers, i.e. fellow disciples of Sridhar Maharaja, such as Atulananda Swami, whom he also recommends to Radhakunda as a new guru.

“Women do a different quality of massage”

Paramadvaiti admits having been massaged by some female disciples on the night of the alleged rape because he had swollen feet. He particularly chose women because “they do a different quality of massage”. He admits that he felt “very attracted” and says that he now wants “to get my own spiritual life more straight”.  Furthermore, “It was not always easy to be like a very strict teacher with the matajis over the years, in many cases it got too close because they were also in this emotional stress”. Loose dealings with women and poor sadhana are also among the things Radhakunda mentions on her blog.

It is unclear whether this amnesia is real or a means to avoid consequences. From the outside, we cannot know if this is an actual mental problem or a strategy to evoke compassion, or even a possible prelude to gaslighting Radhakunda by putting himself in the role of a weak victim that needs protection.

Ex-Hanuman Goswami, Henry Jolicoeur, who is now a vocal critic of Srila Prabhupada and says his specialty as psychologist is “brainwashing by religious cults”, has been picking on Paramadvaiti for some time in the form of YouTube videos. He has released videos in relation to the alleged rape and makes a striking connection to the suicide of Paramadvaiti’s 17-year-old Venezuelan disciple Nathaly Rikeros (Niti devi-dasi) in Lima Peru in the year 2016 (Videos of the jump; TV News report). He speculates that the suicide happened not just because of emotional pressure but due to sexual abuse she might have been subject to.

With all of these allegations and no denial nor any public statement of Paramadvaiti as of now, we can expect turbulent times ahead for the Vrinda Mission. According to unconfirmed statements made on Facebook, critical comments are deleted from the official pages of Paramadvaiti and his disciples. Letters addressed to Radhakunda that she has published on her blog show that the interest is not so much to disclose and elucidate the events but rather to help the swami to take rest and recover from what must be a stressful situation. Many of the statements and the authenticity of the recordings cannot be confirmed independently. We cannot know how much truth there is to the statements and can only get an approximative idea of what has been going on but we can say with certainty that transparency and open communication regarding the severe allegations are the only things that can prevent a total meltdown of Paramadvaiti’s organisation.