Sunday, August 30, 2015

Peeping Toms Incident at ISKCON Kolkata Uncovered

A devotee sent me an incident happened at ISKCON Kolkata.

I was always under impression that there is a group that is creating and spreading unnecessary rumors about ISKCON until I was personally subjected to an incident that shattered by beliefs.

During the end of April 2015, our family in the company of our neighbor family decided to organize a spiritual trip to Puri and Mayapur.  After our darshan and trip in Puri, it was time to go to Mayapur. We had a old mataji who was travelling with us who was frail enough and needed frequent rest before we proceeded further.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
When we reached Kolkata, it was a complete city bundh and we tried to check into some hotels, but did not like the place much and myself being a Life Patron Member of ISKCON "SJM 0051" we checked in to ISKCON Kolkata where the rooms were alloted in a flat instead of temple premises. This is a triple bedroom flat converted into 4 bedrooms with one common toilet.

Next day, we had to travel to Navadwip Dham, we had a whole day of time to rest and organise ourselves.  The neighbor family mataji who was given common toilet to use was washing loads of clothes of her family in the bathroom.  Of note, she was without clothes on herself.

Suddenly she screamed out for help and husband rushed to see what had happened.  Our family members also who was in adjacent rooms went out to see what had happened.  I was taking my bath in my room, hence I was not the witness of whole episode.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
Upon inquiry, the mataji alerted the husband from inside that there is someone peeping over her from the gap below the exhaust fan ventilator.  The husband called upon the attendant and informed him about the incident.  The attendant's attitude and response looked very suspicious to him and he asked him to open the adjacent room to see who was inside.  All of them were surprised to see who came out of the adjacent bathroom.  A devotee whom they all saw a while ago with the robes of chanting bag, white dhoti and kurta, kanti mala, walked out of the bathroom and as you can see from the photos the arrangement is so hidden and smart that one can never imagine that such a thing can take place in ISKCON.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
When I came out after my bath, I was narrated what had happened.  I called the reception to inform them such a thing had taken place.  To my shock of life, I was told that

"We are devotees of Krishna and practising Bhakti yoga for more than 15 years, so we will not do such cheap things, if you wish to vacate, you may leave now"

It didn't take much time for me to understand that ISKCON what I had understood over these years is totally different from what I was hearing and seeing there.  I came to associate with ISKCON devotees in 2009 and liked and cherished every moment.  In between, came across many news articles that was not in favor of ISKCON and when I discussed the matter with other devotees, I was being convinced that it was a mere rumor spread by MPD team and I should concentrate on my devotional service.  Somewhere in Russia, something good happens to some devotee of ISKCON, everyone shares the moment of joy, but when a female is treated as an object of sense enjoyment by a devotee ISKCON, no one is ready to answer or take responsibility of what happened.

What kind of ISKCON is this ? A bunch of hypocrites are better than these people in the robes of devotees.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
The name of the peeping tom was Gauranga Das I was told.  The matter was discussed with Temple Manager, I don't remember the name, who apprehended the devotee in front of us.  He initially gave different versions of the story which was not convincing to any of us present there. He finally fell to mataji's feet to apologize, we thought, for what had happened.  He maintains that it was our misunderstanding about the episode and the manager also could help much on this as he said more evidence and proof was required, which we felt was nonsense.  The mataji anyway forgave the devotee, so do we.

Before we left, we took some snaps and wrote the message on walls and doors to alert other matajis about peeping toms.  We paid our room charges and left to Mayapur the next day.  The devotee in question was promoted to main reception area from the maintenance he was doing in the flat.  A different story was spread in the temple already among the devotees that some third person who was not part of the temple was peeping into mataji's bathroom.  The husband of the mataji for ISKCON's unfortunate / fortunate timing is that he belongs to TV and Media who works with many news channels in Karnataka, but out of respect for Srila Prabhupada, we all decided to conceal this matter without making it public, but keeping quiet is a biggest crime than committed.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
What happened after this incident is something that I have to think about and alert the neophytes who flock to ISKCON without any knowledge of the rascals in there.  The information was passed onto many top personalities of ISKCON viz., Jayapataka Swami, Doyaram Das, and Bhakti Purushottam Swami, who never cared to reply to the mails.  I informed the incident to Jagannath Mandir, Bangalore with whom I usually associate.  I spoke to some devotees in Mayapur who all looked at me as if I had done a big crime against ISKCON by posting the incident on FB and Whatsapp.  My admin rights to temple FB page that I created was removed and I am looked at as a rebel of ISKCON now.

After all this, it was time to say goodbye to ISKCON.  Though my faith on Srila Prabhupad continues.  I continue to distribute Gita to people and tell them to chant Hare Krishna and be happy.

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