Gold, Guns and God: Vol. 4—Deviations in the Dhama

A Biography of Swami Bhaktipada and a History of the West Virginia New Vrindaban Hare Krishna Community in Ten Volumes by Henry Doktorski

Cover photo: Swami Bhaktipada affectionately pets his German shepherd guard dog while devoted gurukula boys massage him in the RVC temple room (c. 1986).

Purchase Gold, Guns and God: Vol. 4

Henry Doktorski’s landmark 612-page non-fiction book about Swami Bhaktipada and the West Virginia Hare Krishna commune called New Vrindaban, can be purchased in several ways:

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ACCLAMATIONS

September 4, 2021: If you’re looking for a book that minimzes or excuses New Vrindaban’s history with women and children, this is not that book. This book tells the true story.

Former female ISKCON devotee


November 25, 2021

Editor’s note: Here is a message and endorsement for Gold, Guns and God, Vol. 4, from Prabhupada disciple, Patita-Pavana dasa (also known as Patita-Uddharana), originally posted on the Facebook page of Saraswati Richardson Jones, who is spearheading a campaign to secure justice regarding the status of long-time ISKCON guru Lokanath Swami. Patita Pavana says:

The fight against the abuse of the most innocent devotees is being spear-headed by Saraswati Mataji on her Facebook page. I have mentioned here in my posts the books of Hare Krishna historian Henry Doktorski, who is dedicating a projected ten volumes to exposing the sordid legacy left behind by Kirtanananda Swami. Doktorski’s latest work (Vol. 4) specifically deals with the tragedy of how women and children were treated in New Vrindaban under K. Swami.

Doktorski’s series about the corruption of admitted child molester Kirtanananda Swami is well-researched, and air tight. In fact, the author Hrishikesh dasa (aka Henry Doktorski) kindly accepted a Foreword from me for Volume 2 of this series. I wrote it because I believe in his work which runs the gamut by dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Originally, Doktorski was a sold-out devotee of K. Swami. Apart from being a skilled writer, Doktorski is a genius musician who conducted the Krishna Chorale at New Vrindaban.

When K. Swami’s perversions came to light, the love many felt for him turned to disgust. Had K. Swami behaved himself as per his duties as a Gaudiya sannyasi, this extensive set of well-researched volumes that Doktorski has written and continues to write would have been brimming with loving praise. But he—and all other devotees who trusted K. Swami—became disheartened with K. Swami’s monstrous abuse of children and his natural disregard for women. So instead of some Kirtanananda Samhita full of glorious praise for the guru of New Vrindaban, the result is what is you see here. The truth is not always pretty, but the time to sweep such deviations under the rug by “leaders” has long past.

Any ISKCON guru who allows himself to fall into deplorable behavior towards the most innocent among us can expect a similar result. Because Doktorski’s well-researched series sticks to the truth of the matter without any deviations or motivations (such as revenge or sensationalism) it is clear that he is simply doing what Prabhupada ordered his followers to do: “speak the truth even when it is socially unpalatable”—just as you have seen here on this page.

Persons in the elevated post of spiritual leadership should see the result of deviations from the sampradaya. Any one with an iota of common sense will consider what sort of literary legacy will arise behind them, once their game is finished. This volume, incidentally is currently NUMBER ONE in Amazon Hot New Releases in History of Hinduism.

Patita-Uddharana dasa Adhikari, ACBSP (Miles Davis)
(Initiated September 1968, Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Photo caption: Patita-Uddharana dasa with a statue of the famous Bulgarian artist Vladimir Dimitrov (1882-1960), Frolosh, Bulgaria (Spring 2021)


October 22, 2021

I just finished Gold, Guns and God, Vol. IV. you did a very thorough job on a very difficult subject and ought to be commended for it.

Matthew D. Flavel (Alsherjargothi)
Asatru Folk Assembly
Brownsville, California


December 18, 2021

Henry Doktorski’s multi-volume work Gold, Guns and God, is one of the most important literary contributions to our understanding of the nature and character of cults, and of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in particular. In his latest volume, Deviations in the Dhama, he presents a detailed history of the horrific abuse of women in the New Vrindaban community under a misogynistic and cruel criminal enterprise headed by Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada.

While I’m certain some would have preferred these inconvenient truths to have remained in the closet, the author, in the name of truth and honesty, as well as justice (a justice denied most of the victims), the author opens that closet and reveals the many skeletons. What he reveals are the many firsthand accounts of women and children who suffered beatings, rape, humiliation, and other atrocities committed in the name of Vedic civilization and encouraged in large part by the barbaric commentaries on Vedic literature produced by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder and Acharya of ISKCON.

I know some will take issue with that, but the author presents direct quotes with sources wherein Prabhupada’s own teachings established the foundation for many of the crimes committed at New Vrindaban. What is made clear in this volume is that everyone shares some degree of responsibility for the crimes committed, from the founder of ISKCON, to Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada and his closest henchmen, to the average devotee who either chastised those who spoke up, or simply turned a blind eye to the black eyes, bruises, and cries of pain of those around them in their deranged devotion.

Rev. Jack Ashcraft
Host of Expedition Truth Radio


February 2, 2022

Five Stars. The lessons here in Henry Doktorski’s Gold, Guns and God, Vol. 4, are impossible to ignore. As soon as I saw the cover for this volume I knew it would probably be the hardest to read. Turns out, this was the most fascinating to read so far out of the available editions of the proposed ten-volume saga about New Vrindaban. Clearly the abuse, deceptions, disregard for truth, and damage we can inflict on each other knows no limits when under the spell of deranged devotion and the guise of a “spiritual community.” However, the history of New Vrindaban shows the reader a new low in lack of humanity—separating parents from children as young as four? A sexual deviant disguised as a religious leader inviting different children to spend the night with him in his private quarters? Collecting money under false pretenses? A complete disregard of the four regulative principles? Legalizing wife beatings?

I appreciate that the author was meticulous in ensuring proper citations for all information presented—an indication of the efforts to put together a balanced portrayal of this history.

I also appreciate that there were plenty of examples where the author ensured that two sides of a story were presented (for instance, the full letter rebuttal by Dharmatma’s wife regarding how he abused the Dharmettes while out on the pick). Although, the evidence of the abuse and crimes has been well documented, presented in court and used to charge some criminally is spectacularly overwhelming. As a matter of fact, most of the atrocities described here were revealed thirty-four years ago in Monkey on a Stick (1988).

Volume 4 is a successful endeavor that documents the dark side of the history of a failed attempt to establish a sustainable spiritual community, but with greater detail than Monkey on a Stick. The author does not shy away from exploring all aspects of this history and that is commendable. Proper healing from these atrocities is not possible until one can fully understand the scope and nature of the why and how this happened.

This is, by far, a great contribution—aside from a history book, this is a healing tool. The only regret in reading this history is the unfortunate absence of accountability that led to even more abuse and atrocities before it all imploded. By the time lawsuits came down and the organization was able to remove rotten elements from the movement, too much preventable damage had been done. Curiously, ISKCON is not alone here—plenty of examples are readily available where lack of accountability proved to have disastrous consequences—Catholic Church, Nxivm, Rajneesh, etc.

This book provides a larger statement about human behavior and attitudes during similar crises. As a former follower of bhakti yoga I can unequivocally state that for any sincere seeker of truth and especially on the bhakti path—this book can be a manual of sorts. The lessons here are impossible to ignore for anyone who wants to learn from the painful lessons of the past in order to avoid an encore. Perhaps this should be required reading for all devotees within ISKCON and those aspiring to become devotees. There is a good reason why so many countries have laws that forbid genocide denial in the post World War II era. You may ignore this book and history at your own risk.

Pedro Ramos
Former ISKCON devotee
Atlanta, Georgia

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

Introduction

Foreword

Chapter 38: Three Things Improve with a Good Beating

    Women are spiritually equal to men
    A negative perspective?
    Women at New Vrindaban
    Some women were happy at New Vrindaban
    Wife beating at New Vrindaban
    Five things improve with a good beating
    Women are less intelligent
    Women are not to be trusted
    Women are nine times lustier than men
    Women are dangerous
    The “dark well” of married life
    Fish night
    One should spit at the thought of sex with a woman
    Women must understand their position
    Mismatched arranged marriages
    Vedic matchmaking: boy and girl must be similar in “character and taste”
    Marriage is a curse

Chapter 39: Scam Kirtan

    Money is the honey
    Vehicle insurance scam
    The pick
    The Citation Line
    Transcendental trickery
    Bhaktipada preaches in Pakistan
    Bhaktipada arrested, charged with smuggling
    Copyright issues
    Some loved the pick
    Others hated the pick
    Children on the pick

Chapter 40: The Dharmettes, Part One

    Does size matter?
    Two thirteen-year-old girls join the Pittsburgh Sankirtan House
    Sankirtan House moves to New Vrindaban

Chapter 41: The Dharmettes, Part Two

    Prabhupada and polygamy
    Prostitution in Krishna’s service
    Pickers weakened from overwork
    New Vrindaban’s biggest picker
    Dharmatma banned from the Alachua ISKCON temple
    Brijabasis blinded by deranged devotion

Chapter 42: The Secret Inner Sanctum

    Kirtanananda orders a kshatriya to kill Cheryl Wheeler
    Cheryl secures a court order to retrieve her son
    Were Cheryl’s suspicions correct?
    Kirtanananda and Hayagriva backslide
    The inner sanctum
    Kirtanananda Swami bathes naked boys
    Kirtanananda Swami attempts to seduce a godbrother
    Kirtanananda’s boy servants
    Young boys massage Bhaktipada in the temple
    “Just as I love boys, they love me”
    Few suspected
    Bhaktipada’s personal favorite: adolescents
    Parties with the Mexican laborers
    Rumors ignored

Chapter 43: Suffer Little Children

    Dallas gurukula established, abandoned
    New Vrindaban gurukula opens
    1974: Varnashram College at New Vrindaban established; abandoned
    1976: Nandagram School established
    Children isolated
    The notorious nursery
    Cults and mass movements undermine the family
    Suffer, sankirtan mothers and their children
    Gurukula faculty untrained
    Parents are the problem?
    Academics inferior
    Institutionalized brutality
    The girls at New Vrindaban
    I was so long in the gurukula I forgot who were my parents

Chapter 44: He touched me all over. I was nine. He was thirty-eight.

    The penis/lotion incident
    An agitated brahmachari
    1981: New Nandagram
    Children isolated from their parents
    1981: Varnashram College re-established
    Manihar accused by student
    The riot at New Nandagram
    Manihar molests nine-year-old girl
    Unbridled passion reigned supreme
    Vrindaban India gurukula
    Manihar establishes his own orphanage in India
    Manihar apologizes
    The demise of Matthew Norton
    Sukhavak becomes New Vrindaban headmaster
    Gurukula ashrams under new management
    Arranged marriages with child brides
    Bhaktipada’s explanation why the marriages failed

Chapter 45: How much sex have you had?

    The story of SH
    Sex is sex
    Investigation ordered
    New Vrindaban headmaster and teacher’s aide charged with sex crimes
    SOH reunited with her adopted daughter
    Ashram aide arrested; Sri-Galim flees
    Charges against Sri-Galim dropped
    Dharmatma’s estranged wife files custody suit
    Gopinath molests boys
    Gopinath dasa becomes a Swami

Chapter 46: A Lying, Cheating, Cock-Sucking Pedophile

    Head injuries often affect sexual behavior
    Bhaktipada loses control
    Bhaktipada’s boys
    The boys return from India
    Bhaktipada’s “dream house”
    The story of CW
    Bhaktipada molests other teenage boys
    Middle-age brahmachari “seduced” by six-year-old girl?
    The Winnebago Incident
    News of Bhaktipada’s sexual activity spreads throughout the community
    Bhaktipada insists, “None of it is true!”
    “I am completely innocent!”
    Kirtanananda dasa: confirmed pedophile
    Bhaktipada: word juggler
    New Vrindaban boarding school shuttered
    Perverted sex at New Vrindaban: one explanation
    Punishment

Chapter 47: Cleaning House


    RVC evicted from Brooklyn ISKCON by abused gurukula alumnus
    ISKCON pressures New Vrindaban to expel Sri-Galim
    Sri-Galim leaves New Vrindaban
    Sri-Galim moves to Pittsburgh
    Former headmaster asks for forgiveness
    Sri-Galim takes sannyasa

Chapter 48: Children of ISKCON vs. ISKCON

    Gurukula alumni find their voices
    Gurukula alumni speak at the 1996 North American GBC meeting
    ISKCON commissions study on gurukulam
    The Turley lawsuit
    ISKCON pledges $1,000,000
    Federal case filed
    Federal case dismissed
    Case filed in State Courts
    ISKCON temples file for bankruptcy
    Nirmal-Chandra’s story
    A mother’s lament
    Was Prabhupada aware of the abuse to the children?
    Did Prabhupada effectively deal with the abuse?
    Kings, parents and spiritual masters
    Deranged devotion

Conclusion: Children in History

Photo Gallery

Acknowledgments

About the Author

References

End Notes

Images

U. S. Geological Survey topographic map of McCreary Ridge showing location of principle sites of New Vrindaban.

Women in the sewing room.

A woman’s place is in the kitchen.

Citation pad used by New Vrindaban traveling sankirtan “pickers.”

Bumper stickers printed at Palace Press featuring Peanut’s cartoon characters Snoopy and Woodstock.

One of New Vrindaban’s biggest pickers, Bhaktisiddhanta dasa (William Crockett) in his sankirtan van.

Bhaktisiddhanta counts his daily Lakshmi points.

Three women collectors relax after a hard day on the pick.

Bhaktipada’s June 27, 1980 letter to “All the New Vrindaban Sankirtan Men.”

During his September 1972 visit to the Dallas gurukula, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada personally showed nine-year-old Dvarakadhisa dasa how to write Sanskrit letters. Mr. D. D. D. recalled, “Srila Prabhupada called for a volunteer. Everyone froze. I stood up, walked over, and sat to the right of Srila Prabhupada’s desk. Placing a pen in my hand, he guided my hand to form the first letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.” Photo and caption from Back to Godhead, Vol. 21, No. 12 (December 1986), pp. 10-12.

Dvarakadhisa dasa at the age of twenty-three. Photo from Back to Godhead (December 1986), p. 10. He left ISKCON soon after this photo was taken. Today (October 2021) he is 58. He described himself on his Facebook page, “Gurukula survivor. Proud dad of two fantastic kids: a boy and girl. I am glad I broke the pattern of neglect that I received in ISKCON gurukulas.”

Kirtanananda Swami samples his Sunday feast plate at Bahulaban, while his seven-year-old protégé, the first-born son of Hayagriva and Shama dasi, patiently waits for remnants (c. 1977). The shirtless devotee behind Kirtanananda is rendering devotional service by fanning the “pure devotee” with a peacock feather fan.

Two New Vrindaban girls on the cover of Life magazine (April 1980). Photo by Ethan Hoffman.

Former Nandagram headmaster Gopinath dasa (Ronald Nay), who is himself learning Sanskrit, attempts to teach the language to the older boys at the Nandagram school. (c. January 1980). Photo by Ethan Hoffman from Life magazine.

Nandagram ashram moderator Aravinda dasa (Alex Georgiadis) reads the boys a bedtime story from Krishna Book (c. January 1980). Photo by Ethan Hoffman from Life magazine.

Three boys request Swami Bhaktipada to give them a sacred flower during early morning services at the Bahulaban temple (c. January 1980). Only one boy will get the flower. Photo by Ethan Hoffman from Life magazine.

Boy offers Tulsi puja at the Bahulaban temple.

Boys resting on a fallen log in the woods near Old Nandagram.

Boy hangs on grape vine in the woods near Old Nandagram.

Another boy swings on grape vine in the woods near Old Nandagram.

Swami Bhaktipada, teachers—including headmaster Sri-Galim (Gary Gardner)—and students at the gala open house festival at New Nandagram (c. November 1982).

Students at New Nandagram (c. 1982).

Teachers and students pose with a photo of Swami Bhaktipada at New Nandagram (c. 1982).

Nine boys in the New Nandagram temple room.

Four boys sitting on a log outside New Nandagram.

Sleeping boy with baby bottle. It appears that one of the boy’s ashram-mates placed the bottle by his lips as a joke.

Thoughtful boy holding a pencil.

Smiling boy.

Boy playing with shaving cream. It seems that he is pretending to be a bearded, long-haired sage with Vaishnava tilak as depicted in paintings in Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Srimad-bhagavatam.

Boy diving into Wheeling Creek (New Yamuna River) at New Nandagram.

“That was fun!”

New Nandagram headmaster Sri-Galim (Gary Gardner) with student.

New Nandagram headmaster Sri-Galim (Gary Gardner) with students.

Two boys and a tricycle.

Swami Bhaktipada, teachers—including New Nandagram headmaster Sukavak dasa (Brian D. Marvin) and former headmaster Sri-Galim dasa (Gary Gardner)—and students (boys and girls) pose for a formal photograph on the front steps of Prabhupada’s Palace (c. 1986).

Ten boys relax after school in their ashram on the first floor of the New Vrindaban Guest Lodge.

Ten boys chant japa at the RVC temple while ashram moderator Raghunath dasa (Ralph Seward) maintains discipline.

Varnashram College student works in the mold shop.

Varnashram College student Chaitanya-Mangala works in the mold shop.

Letter to Jayapataka Swami from Bhaktipada’s housemaid (January 12, 1986), Part 1.

Letter to Jayapataka Swami from Bhaktipada’s housemaid (January 12, 1986), Part 2.

Letter from Jayapataka Swami to Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada (April 23, 1986).

Boy under a table massages Swami Bhaktipada’s feet while the “spiritual master” eats lunch in the RVC temple men’s prasadam room.

Bhaktipada pets his German shepherd guard dog, Gudakesh, while nine-year-old gurukula boys massage the “spiritual master” in the RVC temple room (c. December 1985 or early 1986).

Manihar (Matthew Norton), Vaiyasaki (Per Sinclair) and Haridhama (Haynes Busby) chant with the Varnashram College boys at Prabhupada’s Palace (Autumn 1981).

Manihar with his Indian boys at the SKCV orphanage (undated).

Girls at New Vrindaban (c. mid-1980s).

A girl plays with a balloon during a cart festival as the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lady Subhadra journey along Palace Road (McCreary’s Ridge Road) from Bahulaban to the RVC temple. To the right can be seen New Vrindaban’s stained glass studio and Meghamala’s general store (c. mid-1980s).

Girls and women are “protected” and segregated from the men and boys during worship services by standing behind the balustrade in the rear of the Bahulaban temple (c. January 1980). They must enter and exit the temple by the back door. Photo by Ethan Hoffman from Life magazine (April 1980).

The 14-year-old [above] caught in a reflective moment, was married recently. “She was developing a lot of crushes,” a devotee explained. Her sister, 16, is married and pregnant. “Some children produced here are very special,” the swami says. “The parents’ souls are pure and they attract a pure soul into the womb.” Text by Hillary Johnson; photo by Ethan Hoffman, from Life magazine (April 1980).

What is this pensive girl thinking? Could she be wondering, “I heard the temple authorities have picked a husband for me. Oh crap! Not me! I don't want to marry some gross old coot twice my age. This is horrid!”?

Letter from Kirtanananda Swami in Federal Prison to Hrishikesh dasa (December 22, 2002). This letter was in reference to an earlier phone conversation I had with him when I asked, “After the Winnebago incident of September 1993, when your driver saw you in bed with a teenage male disciple, why did you confess to some at New Vrindaban in private, but denied any wrongdoing in public?”

In his reply, Kirtanananda compared himself to a United States president who was involved in a sex scandal while in office. “Technically (reminiscent of Bill Clinton) I did not lie. I never had sex. I had no orgasm.”

He also noted, “I very much enjoyed speaking with you on the phone. You have always been very dear to me, and always will be. You have been a truly faithful disciple, trying to correct his spiritual master in a time of difficulty. Thank you very much.”

I had mailed him my manuscript of what became known later as Gold, Guns and God. He wrote, “Thank you for the rough copy of the full book. I have read it with both pleasure and sadness. While most of it is pleasurable, the ending is not. While largely factual, who will benefit? Not me. Not my disciples. I think you will have to seek financing from those who will benefit.”

Attendees at the first New Vrindaban Gurukuli Reunion (Summer 1993).

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