Gold, Guns and God: Vol. 4—Deviations in the Dhama
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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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)
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
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.
Former ISKCON devotee
July 19, 2022
You asked me a while ago (eight months) to give you a review of GGG4. I finally finished reading it today. Sorry it took so long. It was a difficult read, especially as I am female.
Of course, I love your writing style and that you acknowledge where the information was obtained. You stay neutral in your writings of a difficult subject matter and don’t try and bull shit the reader into one side or the other. One can make their own decisions of right or wrong; hearsay or fact; belief or non-belief based on the information you put forth!
As a female born in the late 1970s; I was blessed. I grew up with a loving family where both parents were happily married and involved in my growth. Education was supported and extremely important to both Mom and Dad. They wanted my younger sister and I to succeed in life intellectually. We both got good grades, went to college, and have decent jobs in our fields of study (mine Biology, Ann’s Chemistry and Mathematics). Throughout our 40+ years together (unfortunately Mom passed in 2015); we are still an extremely close family who care about each other and celebrate our accomplishments!
I found reading GGG4 rather difficult at times; it was a major reason why it took me so long to finish it. I can not imagine being separated from my parents to be raised by members of the community. As a child, I spent so much time learning about everything; from trees and farming to engineering, academics, and science from my Dad and academics and sports from my Mom. Our primary focus was on education and being able to provide for ourselves when it became necessary.
We weren’t trained to be housewives; to cook, clean, raise children, make sure our husbands were happy, etc. Ask my husband; I’m terrible at cooking, cleaning, and keeping house.
I’ve always had a “soft spot” for the underdog. As a child and adolescent; I was bullied and I understand the effects it can have on a person later in life. Fortunately for me; my parents could help and make things better! My experiences with bullying are nowhere near as traumatic as those of the gurukula kids at New Vrindaban.
These “underdogs” did not have the support and guidance needed! They needed someone to believe what was happening and continually act on it. Easy to say for me; I had my support! They didn’t! I feel there was abuse happening at New Vrindaban from the beginning!
The 1960s was all about free love, civil rights, and acceptance of everyone no matter religion, race, or color. The philosophy was everyone was equal; who cares if you’re black, white, or pink with purple polka dots, or if you praise Jesus, Krishna, or the Martian on the Moon. Now throw in Prabhupada, an enigma; he has the answers to the ’60s culture’s questions; information no US citizen has heard; Krishna is loving and forgiving, chant Hare Krishna, follow these four regulative principles: (1) No Intoxication. (2) No Meat Eating. (3) No Gambling. (4) No Illicit Sex. It’s no wonder that so many individuals wanted to join the flock. If I was a teenager during the ’60s; I may have joined (although, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to cook).
Unfortunately child abuse doesn’t just happen in ISKCON, it happens in many religions. I’m a confirmed Catholic as is my Dad, and his siblings, my sister, and my older son, (my youngest has confirmation this upcoming school year.) In 2018, the priest at my church and school my kids attended was accused of inappropriate conduct. Thank God my children weren’t involved, nor was anyone else at the school. It was an internet “liaison” so to speak. The Allentown Diocese has been part of a long investigation of child abuse by clergy. I’m sure other religious communities encounter the same thing.
On the aspect that Keith wasn’t right in the mind; I believe that to an extent. Yes, there is plenty of research that damage to any part of the brain can cause changes in behavior. The frontal lobe (where lobotomies are performed) does cause changes in behavior. Yes, Keith suffered major brain damage when attacked. As a scientist, I have trouble believing this was his turning point to homosexual tendencies. He was a homosexual before the blow to the head, and a homosexual after the blow to the head. His sexuality didn’t change. The only thing that changed was his ability to “turn-off” his proclivities.
Keith’s homosexuality isn’t the problem; it’s his denial that’s the major issue!
I’m not defending or condoning Keith’s behavior or that of other devotees. Any mistreatment of children, whether innocent or not, is deplorable! Children look up to teachers, elders, and those in authority to show them what is right or wrong.
I would like to add that I love visiting New Vrindaban! The dedication and love of the devotees to preserve Prabhupada’s vision is astounding! Since 2015 (when I learned of the familial connection); I’ve tried to visit yearly. Keep chanting Hare Krishna, it helps everyone; even us karmis.
Keith Ham’s second cousin once removed
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
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 Citation Line
Bhaktipada preaches in Pakistan
Bhaktipada arrested, charged with smuggling
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”
Bhaktipada’s personal favorite: adolescents
Parties with the Mexican laborers
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
The notorious nursery
Cults and mass movements undermine the family
Suffer, sankirtan mothers and their children
Gurukula faculty untrained
Parents are the problem?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Conclusion: Children in History
About the Author
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