The Danger of Deranged Devotion
a book by
© 2018 by Henry Doktorski
Cover image: a One Star Model P .45 hand gun, the same type of gun that killed Sulochan.
Killing For Krishna: The Danger of Deranged Devotion, by Henry Doktorski (2018). 652 pages. 6 x 9 inches. Order from the author or Amazon.com.
•105-minute interview with Henry about his books Killing For Krishna and Eleven Naked Emperors with Rev. Jack Davila-Ashcraft on Expedition Truth radio.
• In addition to the positive accolades for Killing For Krishna posted above, please don’t forget to peruse the negative opinions, such as this “enlightening” 3000-word book review, Killing For Krishna—Really? written by Priitaa devi dasi, who claimed (in her review), “I have not read the book, and have zero plans to do so.”
Purchase Killing for Krishna
Henry Doktorski’s landmark 652-page non-fiction book about the 1986 murder of the former New Vrindaban resident and Hare Krishna member Steven Bryant (Sulochan dasa) can be purchased in several ways:
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Killing for Krishna—The Danger of Deranged Devotion by Henry Doktorski is a nuanced, intelligent, and impeccably researched work on events and developments which continue to haunt ISKCON to this very day. The author writes from a unique perspective: he has methodically studied the Keith Gordon Ham/Swami Bhaktipada Archive for fifteen years, and as a former inhabitant of the New Vrindaban Community, he is both personal witness and chronologist of most of the events described in this book. Additionally, and in contrast to former accounts of the decline of the New Vrindaban Community, Doktorski refrains from oversimplifying an inherently complex narrative. Rather, he acknowledges ambiguity where appropriate and clarity where it is possible. The outcome, then, is an extremely well written, and important and timely work—and while it is foreseeable that its publication may not be welcome by everyone within ISKCON, one would hope that it nonetheless will be instrumental in opening an honest and unbiased reflection within a movement which so far has been somewhat reluctant to meet up to its past and responsibility.
—Professor Dr. Alexander Batthyany, the Viktor Frankl Chair for Philosophy and Psychology at the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein
Killing for Krishna—The Danger of Deranged Devotion will go a long way to reconcile ISKCON’s most notorious crime, the murder of Sulochan dasa (Steven Bryant). Henry Doktorski bases his treatise on years of research. In the spirit of the biblical quote, “The truth will set you free,” Killing for Krishna offers ISKCON followers the truth about their organization’s dark history.
—Nori J. Muster (Nandini devi dasi), former disciple of Ramesvara Maharaja, executive secretary to Mukunda Goswami in the ISKCON Public Affairs Office, associate editor for ISKCON World Review, and author of Betrayal of the Spirit (University of Illinois Press)
5 stars. Want the truth about perhaps the most pivotal event in the latter day history of the Hare Krishna movement? Researched to a degree that defies the imagination and painfully objective, as well as completely free from mudslinging and sectarian agenda! This account goes miles beyond Monkey On a Stick in regard to the facts and strenuously avoids its sensationalism. Equally interesting to Krishna devotees and non-devotees. Despite the grisly subject matter, the book presents Krishna consciousness as it is. The book is as independent as anyone could want—it was not filtered through any institutional leadership and represents no one’s vested interest. All my respects to all the devotees who contributed. Srila Prabhupada said that brahmanas adhere to truth. This book cannot, therefore, be displeasing to him.
—Bhakta Eric Johanson (formerly Vrindaban-Chandra Swami), former ISKCON member and former disciple of Hamsadutta Maharaja, Moab, Utah, from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 stars. Primarily Killing for Krishna—The Danger of Deranged Devotion is based upon meticulous observation, research, and reporting. Henry Doktorski has kept his eyes on the evildoers for just what they were (and probably still are), and he exposes them by hitting his targets smack dab on the sweet spot. As formerly an insider within that cult, he knew all of those good fellas. He thus makes such deranged practitioners of pseudo-bhakti uncomfortable in his book, a discomfort they all most fully deserve. The manuscript is cross-referenced and presents different possible explanations for many secondary but related events from different perspectives, but without losing sight of the chief thread, viz., the ruthless assassination of a dissident who was ultimately proven right. This voluminous work is a real page-turner, as there is enough tension created in each sub-header (of each chapter) to keep the reader interested and intrigued. How could it be otherwise? The whole account is loaded with deadly accurate descriptions of a peculiar cult combination of intrigue, treachery, and betrayal—the worse variety of the triad. This great book has multi-episode television series written all over it.
—Kailasa Candra dasa, ACBSP (Mark Goodwin), Vaishnava intellectual, thinker, sidereal astrologer, author and founder of The Vaishnava Foundation (Jasper, Arkansas), from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 stars. The missing years of Radhanath Swami in [his autobiography] The Journey Home exposed. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Superbly researched and well documented sequel to Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas, by Henry Doktorski (Hrishikesh dasa). The involvement of insidious Radhanath Swami, the author of semi-fictional The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami in Sulochan dasa’s murder laid threadbare. Turns out that the Swami is well and truly a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and should prepare for his “Journey to the Penitentiary” (preferably in a cell next to killer Thomas Drescher’s) in this lifetime and to purgatory in the next. Count on Radhanath Swami’s brain-dead bots (not unlike Kirtanananda’s) to swamp this page with 1 stars without even procuring or reading this book.
—G, from a Customer Review at Amazon
(1) Is this book relevant? (2) Should ISKCON devotees read this book? (3) Are the conclusions presented in this book truth or reality?
(1) Although the events described in the book happened thirty years ago, the book is very relevant because it talks about a current leader of ISKCON, one of the most popular gurus in ISKCON. I heard about this murder many years ago. I knew there was a devotee, Sulochan, who was killed. I knew he was killed by Tirtha dasa, who is currently in jail. This information is available on the Internet. What makes this book different? This book describes the whole background, the whole arena, in which this murder happened. It describes the people who were involved. It describes the way of thinking of devotees at that time. It describes the arguments presented by the conspirators of this murder. It’s a very detailed account of one very important event in the history of the Krishna consciousness movement. . . . I think this book is very relevant.
(2) Is this book good to read? Should we read it? Is there anything we can learn from it? Sure. There is one very prominent deviation that is currently still present in ISKCON and that deviation is called [the] “Guru-List” theory. . . . The origins of this “Guru-List” theory—which is currently still present in ISKCON—and the consequences that you can have with this kind of crazy blind following; these consequences are described in this book. . . . The same principles are present even today in ISKCON. So it’s a very good book to read.
(3) Now, let’s talk about the conclusions of the book. Basically, in a subtle way, [the] author of the book claims that Radhanath Swami was actively involved in Sulochan’s murder, and that he’s criminally implicated up to his neck. . . . You should read this book and get yourself educated.
—Hanuman dasa (Hrvoje Marjanovic), Zagreb, Croatia, from Review of book Killing for Krishna by Henry Doktorski on YouTube
5 stars. Excellent, important, timely. This book is an incredibly well researched, nuanced and intelligent treatise on one of the more notorious chapters of ISKCON’s history. In contrast to earlier accounts (such as Monkey on a Stick), this book offers an insider’s view on ISKCON, New Vrindavan and Swami Bhaktipada. Indeed, Doktorski references sources only an insider can have access to (he had access to the Keith Gordon Ham/Swami Bhaktipada Archives), and the story he tells is a story to be heard. All of this, and the lucid style of the author, adds up to a highly recommended book—for both devotees, former devotees, anyone ever touched by, or interested in ISKCON, and, above all, for researchers. A new standard work on ISKCON and its history. Perhaps, just perhaps, this book will ignite the open dialogue the movement so sorely needs. Let’s hope.
—Zinnober, from a Customer Review at Amazon Germany
5 stars. Fair, balanced and very thorough.
You would think this is a screenplay for a murder mystery or mafia movie, but sadly it is all real-life. There is so much on the Internet describing this time in the Hare Krishna movement that it is nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction. This book does the best job so far. All sides are covered; no one is short-changed. Everyone’s story is heard and the reader is left to make up their own mind. As far as criticisms, some aspects should have more details given, such as the murders prior to the main character, but the author did a very good job nonetheless. Really eye-opening stuff about the people who inherited and almost squandered the legacy of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.
—KingSonal, from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 stars. Informative, accurate, well written, and powerful book! Beware of false gurus! And false book reviews too!
Informative, accurate, well written, and powerful book! Many accolades to Henry Doktorski for the courage to do this work. Definitely worth reading, especially if you have anything to do with the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON). Unfortunately one high level Krishna leader will likely spend upwards of $250,000 to slander this book in various ways (on Amazon and Google) as he has thousands of disciples who will leave poor reviews. This same person launched a similar campaign to boost sales of his own book(s) so that they would reach the best sellers lists. That being said, take each single 5 star review to count for about 500, just to level the playing field to some degree.
What’s even more interesting is that I’ve heard this man in question lecture and he states, “I have no money.” This is further dishonesty, to add to what is in the book. He has millions but the rationalization of institution gurus alongside him is that the money is Krishna’s (God’s) money. Therefore they can claim that they have no money. Meanwhile some of them have well over a million in the bank, which is against many scriptural injunctions for sannyasis (renounced monks).
Anyway, this is a wonderful book accounting the details of the famous New Vrindavan murder. I hope it will lead to a further level of institutional integrity and honesty among the leaders of ISKCON. When it comes to ‘preaching’ or education, Srila Prabhupada, the guru of the Hare Krishnas once explained that “preaching is like throwing a brick into a pack of dogs. The one who gets hit yelps the loudest.” What this analogy means is that the person whom truth hurts the most is most likely the one to go on a campaign against it.
—Vaishnava Dasa, from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 Stars. Detailed Journey to the Past.
Killing for Krishna tells the story of the most notorious crime in the history of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON): the murder of Steven Bryant, aka Sulochan, on May 22, 1986. The murder conspiracy grew out of a culture of violence in New Vrindaban, the largest ISKCON center in America, located in the back hills of West Virginia. The guru and king of New Vrindaban was Kirtanananda Swami, also known as Bhaktipada, and whose real name was Keith Ham. Over the twenty-six years of Kirtanananda’s reign, none of the ISKCON leaders anywhere in the world could stand up to him.
ISKCON has had a half-dozen murders and other crimes, but the Sulochan murder stands out because it was a carefully planned crime, for which the gunman, the guru Kirtanananda, and others served time in prison. The gunman is still serving a life sentence.
Doktorski traces every thread of the murder conspiracy, beginning when Sulochan joined ISKCON, to when he is murdered, on to how the conspirators fared in court, and ending with the aftermath up to the present day. Much of the later history, as cited in e-mails and other online exchanges, describes the internal bickering over who was the most to blame for the murder.
Doktorski concludes the book with a warning about deranged devotion, citing tape-recorded conversations and published statements, where the ISKCON founder explained why it was okay to kill for Krishna. He never advocated killing anyone, but in his teachings, he compared it to soldiers killing for a country’s military. If killing is authorized, it’s okay. That leaves the question, who can authorize a murder for Krishna? Fundamentalist religious cults often adopt twisted understandings of their own dogma, and given a deranged leader like Kirtanananda, and blindly devoted followers like he had up to the end of his life, the Sulochan murder makes perfect sense.
Doktorski concludes: “the tragic yet heroic saga of Sulochan serves to enlighten us as to why we should not encourage nor participate in those charismatic cults. Instead, to whatever extent possible, we can work to curtail those cults from ever again gaining the momentum they did in the nineteen-eighties.”
Killing for Krishna is just a slice of the ISKCON history Doktorski plans to document. He published this story first, since it answers a lot of questions about ISKCON’s controversial past. Unfortunately, the murder, and the culture behind it, remain taboo subjects within the ISKCON organization. By maintaining silence, they risk their reputation because the truth has its way of coming out. For one thing, books like Doktorski’s will not let ISKCON completely forget.
Killing for Krishna relies on court records, media accounts, interviews, and the author’s own memory, since he lived through that era as a Kirtanananda disciple in New Vrindaban. The book includes a sixteen-page, detailed New Vrindaban timeline that covers the years 1974 to 2018. People who grew up in New Vrindaban or lived there during the seventies and eighties would gain new insights into their own experience from reading this book, and studying the timeline.
—Nori J. Muster, former associate editor of ISKCON World Review and author of Betrayal of the Spirit, from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 Stars. Filled in many gaps!
Well researched, written and better than most fictional crime thrillers. Authenticated testimonies leave no doubts. Filled in many gaps and exposes just how many were aware of, or were actually involved with this and other crimes. The irony is that now many of these criminals are controlling the Hare Krishna society.
—Bala, from a Customer Review at Amazon
5 stars. Thanks for writing this book! I look forward to reading your next books on the Zonal Acharya System and the full biography of Kirtanananda Swami. Actually, despite the difficult truths, Killing For Krishna increased my love for Krishna, ISKCON, Prabhupada, even Sulochan dasa, Tirtha Swami, Radhanath Swami and Kirtanananda Swami.
As Prabhupada said most of his initiates were 3rd & 4th class people, this book glorifies Prabhupada’s ability to take all sorts of people, bring us together and try to make devotees out of us. This process of Bhakti Yoga is the hidden theme all throughout this book.
Much blessings, and certainly there are many people more interested in the other forthcoming books, than the unfortunately events in this book, but possibly by separating these unfortunate events into a separate book, the other two books can focus on more positive aspects, without seeming fake and ignoring the truth, and we can remember Kirtanananda as Prahbupada’s top disciple.
As an American I never believed the “Pure Devotee” theory, but did not let that get in my way from the amazing accomplishments of devotees, and considering the state of consciousness of the world, we should try to objectively look at the facts, the good and bad. For those who believe in the process of Harinam Sankirtan and the teachings of Lord Chaitanya and will still see the overwhelming greatness of these fallen people who committed great crimes, but at the same time were able to accomplish spiritual miracles through the belief in Krishna and the teachings of Lord Chaitanya! Hare Krishna!
—David A. Carlton, Detroit, Michigan, from a review at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
5 Stars. An insider’s view into a strange place and time.
Extremely well researched and well paced, this book offers an insider’s view of one of the more bizarre chapters in the story of the Hare Krishnas. The author maintains a “professional distance,” so this is no lurid hit piece nor common true crime thriller. Rather, it’s a focused, yet engaging history of the Hare Krishna’s New Vrindaban community that tells the full story of what was covered in the more sensational Monkey on a Stick of the late-1980s. Even if your only recollection of the Krishnas is their omnipresence in airports decades back, this book is worth diving into as the story is representative of the fallout of the social and religious commune experimentation that began in the 1960s, flourished in the 1970s, and largely came to an end in the 1980s.
—HonestJoe, from a Customer Review at Amazon
This book reveals some of the personality cult dynamics within the Hare Krishna movement and how these dynamics lead to the murder of the Hare Krishna dissident, Steven Byrant. The book recounts how Byrant’s death leads to the fall of Bhaktipada (Keith Ham) who was a leading superstar and charismatic leader within the Hare Krishna cult. Bhaktipada, a paedophile, is a fascinating and clearly deranged character. However, more fascinating are the descriptions of his followers’ insane devotion to him. The level of fundamentalism described in this book are frightening. Even after it is revealed that the emperor has no clothes, the level of devotion given to Bhaktipada and his associates is staggering.
Bhaktipada’s associate Radhanath Swami, currently a leader within the cult, is possibly the most intriguing character in this story. His Machiavellian ascent to power is remarkable. . . . Bhaktipada clearly uses A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s teaching to con his deluded followers. Bhaktipada’s power and abuse stem from A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s endorsement. . . . I hope the people behind the incredible Netflix series Wild Wild Country, about the Rajaneeshi cult, read this book and make a series about the characters and events in this book. The betrayals, lies, delusion, fundamentalism and cover ups are laid to bear in this book.
—Noddy, from a Customer Review at Amazon.UK
I would seriously recommend everyone to read this book. Packed full of factual references. Mr. Doktorski has put a heck of a lot of research, time and effort. A real eye opener.
—Michael Kieth Powell, from a Customer Review at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
I’m a former devotee myself and couldn’t put this book down. I hope I hear about your next book when it comes out. I would like to preorder it.
—Joshualee Guillim, from a Customer Review at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
The book was well-written and engaging throughout. More than just reporting on the conspiracy to murder Sulocana, this book describes the culture of Kirtanananda’s New Vrindavan during the 1980s. It is eye-opening and clarifying to get a clear account of the dysfunction in that corner of space and time. It is a must-read for ISKCON members who want to learn from the past so there is no repetition of the deranged devotion under Kirtanananda and the Zonal Acharya system.
—Makhana Cora Das, from a Customer Review at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
The somewhat recent publication of the book . . . [Killing For Krishna], has both sides talking. And boy can they talk!
—Priitaa devi dasi, from a review at Bhakti Yoga at Home.
Until I read the book by Henry, I wasn’t sure that Radhanath had a hand in it [the murder of Sulochan]. I trust Henry. I have communicated with Henry. I trust his sincerity. I trust his research. He is a very brave soul. He was a member of the New Vrindaban Community from 1978 to 1993. He gave fifteen years of his life. He has absolutely no interest in lying or deceiving people. As far as I can see, he is telling the truth. And as he mentioned in the Introduction to his book, the most important [factor] is the truth. . . .
One of the most interesting parts of the book Killing For Krishna, is when Henry, in 1993, finally went and asked Kirtanananda if it was true that he was molesting boys at New Vrindaban. Was it true that he was a pedophile? And Kirtanananda said he had never broken any principle of being a monk since he had joined the Krishna movement in 1966. But Henry had done his research, and he knew for sure that his guru was lying. So that was the end of accepting Kirtanananda as his guru.
—Henri Jolicoeur (formerly Hanuman Swami—ACBSP), from a review (part 2) at YouTube.
Do not follow anyone because someone is telling you that this guy, or this lady, is a very spiritually-advanced person. You have to use your heart; you have to use your brain. You have to investigate. You have to ask questions. Otherwise, it is easier than you think to be brainwashed by a cult. . . .
I really recommend people to read the book by Henry, Killing For Krishna. Henry was in the Hare Krishna New Vrindaban Community for fifteen years, and I sincerely believe that writing this book, researching this book, has been a great therapy for him. It might be a deep therapy and a deprogramming process [for others also], if you feel that you are following some sort of spiritual authority, some sort of a guru, that is telling you that you should obey because he knows better than you do.
So pick up the book and get informed. There’s no better way to learn about brainwashing than from someone who admits that he was brainwashed for fifteen years.
—Henri Jolicoeur (formerly Hanuman Swami—ACBSP), from a review (part 4) at YouTube.
Killing For Krishna by Henry Doktorski is scholarly, and extremely well-researched.
March 15, 2019
I just finished reading the book Killing for Krishna, by Henry Doktorski. This in depth book exposes the intricate, yet haphazardly executed assassination of Steve Bryant, a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in 1986. . . . I managed to read this 662 page book in just four days, it was quite honestly that intriguing.
Doktorski himself is a former member of ISKCON, and indeed a former disciple of Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada (Keith Ham), the rebellious and perhaps quite insane ruler over New Vrindaban, an ISKCON farming community/ashrama Kirtanananda helped to found.
Doktorski is able to tell this story in a way that no other author possibly could. Why? Well Doktorski has first hand knowledge of the goings on at the community during the period, and he possessed thousands upon thousands of pages of personal letters, official documents, and even secret materials that were taken from New Vrindaban after its collapse, and subsequently given to the author. These unique conditions put him in a position to give invaluable insight into the group think that prevailed during those years in ISKCON, and may continue even to today.
Kirtanananda Swami was anything but the advanced spiritual master his disciples believed him to be. In fact, as Doktorski proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, he was a child molester and active homosexual who craved cocaine and indulged in gay orgies in his private quarters at the ashram. Steve Bryant, who had a grudge against Kirtanananda regarding his having initiated Bryant’s wife without his permission, as was the custom, and for then marrying off his wife to another man and helping to obstruct his access to his children, began to expose the various rumors he collected regarding Kirtanananda’s very un-guru-like behavior. As Doktorski explains, ISKCON’s theology renders any criticism of a guru as a major offense, as it is viewed as insulting a person who is considered to be “as good as God.” As one might imagine, to those living in such a fanatical cult of personality atmosphere, Bryant’s actions were taken as the gravest of grave offenses. In fact, they launched what became a systematic surveillance of his movements which finally resulted in his murder by Kirtanananda’s “enforcer” at New Vrindaban, Tirtha dasa (Thomas Drescher), who is today serving a life sentence for the murder of Bryant and one other disciple of Kirtanananda who crossed the line.
In reading this book I found several things of interest. First, the cult dynamic that grew around Kirtanananda Swami to such an extent that he could literally do nothing wrong in the eyes of most of his disciples. Doktorski accurately calls this “deranged devotion.” It would be very easy for me, as a Christian, to sit back and point the finger at such groups as ISKCON for being infected with such deranged devotion, but we’ve seen it in Christian circles as well. There are many popular evangelists, etc. who have significant followings which will defend their chosen one with all the fervor of any Hare Krishna devotee. I myself was personally the target of one such charismatic “apologist” who posted lies about my education, my personal life, and even at one point claimed my name was fake. He personally engaged in harassing me online, sending me multiple threatening messages on a daily basis, sometimes four and five times a day. His faithful followers, who obviously believed anything he said to be absolute truth, also harassed me and re-posted his calumny on other websites at his request. I had to literally threaten litigation to get him to stop sending me threatening emails. All of this anger and hate directed at me simply because I dared to disagree with him on a theological topic in a forum. It was revealed upon his death that he had been arrested numerous times for public intoxication and domestic violence. Some of his followers, still loyal to him no matter what, actually claimed he was “taken out” by some secret nefarious forces due to his prophetic insight. No, deranged devotion isn't limited to groups on the fringes of western culture like ISKCON.
Another thing that struck me about the details of the plot to murder Bryant was the lack of clear, definitive connections to Kirtanananda Swami himself. While it is abundantly clear that Kirtanananda was anything but what he professed to be, the murderer, who at first implicated the Swami directly in the plot, later said he really had no firsthand confirmation of any such directive coming from Kirtanananda. One is left with a tiny hint of doubt as to whether Kirtanananda was actually directing it or not, as he is reported by multiple sources as having made statements defiantly against the crime. Whatever the case, the Swami’s closest confidant, and lifetime homosexual lover, made it clear to the members of the murder plot that Kirtanananda wanted Bryant dead. Add to this confusing mix of finger pointing what appears to be an underlying plot-within-a-plot, possibly engineered by local law enforcement officials to take the Swami and the entire community out, and you have a truly intriguing web of lies and conspiracy. Let me be clear though, Doktorski leaves very little doubt that Kirtanananda Swami was aware of the plot and did nothing to stop it, even if he didn’t openly encourage it. He was reportedly a very tricky, manipulative personality who would have been careful to make it seem he wasn’t at all supporting it just to save his own skin if things went wrong.
And they did.
In 1996, though indicted on conspiracy to murder, six counts of mail fraud, and five counts of racketeering, the Swami went to prison with a sentence of only 20 years, but not for conspiracy to murder. You'll have to read the book to find out what sent him there. Almost all of his disciples had by that time finally realized he was not what he seemed and had abandoned him (again, read the book to find out what finally broke the spell. Hint: It wasn't his conviction). A small enclave of the most ardent supporters relocated to New York, starting a tiny center known as the Sanctuary/Interfaith League of Devotees. He was paroled on June 16, 2004, and joined his disciples in New York. Not long after arriving there he was accused of fondling a boy’s genitals and was evicted by his own disciples who had believed in him all this time, but now had finally seen the light. He then flew to India, where he still had a significant following comprised of people far removed and ignorant of his criminal activities in the U.S., where he died several years later.
All in all, this book is a fantastic glimpse into the world of ISKCON, the theology of Gaudiya Vaishavism, and the dangers of deranged devotion. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in comparative religion, psychology, theology, world religion, or just true crime. This book is, in my opinion, a must have in any apologists library.
—J. Davila Ashcraft, from a review at Paleo-Orthodoxy
April 18, 2020
Five Stars: A Most Painful Healing
First, I'm going to warn you: this isn’t a pulp-exposé, filled with tempting drama, to feed one’s literary bloodlust. It is the brilliantly written, incredibly well-researched literary investigation of the terrible events that unfolded in a spiritual community, associated with the Hare Krishna movement: New Vrindaban, in West Virginia. Copious Notes (easily accessed throughout the E-book by links) offer a precious wealth of documentation that add depth and breadth to the story of love and faith that developed into a kind of transcendental madness; indeed, a deranged devotion.
Amazingly, the author—who resided in New Vrindaban for some years—has a real talent for presenting the various people (and there are many) as real, actual human beings, unlike a former book on the subject [Monkey On A Stick], that was hastily written by a couple of hacks many years ago. No one in this book gets off the hook, yet everyone is treated with compassionate respect; yes, even the conspirators and even the murderer himself.
Reading this book has been a most painful, incredibly healing event for me. My gratitude to Henry Doktorski, for composing the entire, admittedly convoluted story in such a well organized manner. My own decades of confusion and unanswered questions about how it all unfolded have been painfully, finally healed.
—Wade Ryan (Damodar dasa, ACBSP—pseudonym: Seth Roberts), from a review at Amazon.
June 14, 2020
I love podcasts. I listen to so many podcasts, and one that I enjoy is called “American Scandal.” I listened to a series of episodes about this book [Killing For Krishna], and I have to tell you: it was fascinating. I went online, and yes there’s a book about this [the Hare Krishna murders], and I wanted to get the author with us [on my radio show]. The book is called Killing For Krishna. . . . For someone [in our radio audience] who’s looking for a true-crime story, this [book] is just an incredible, incredible page-turner. . . . A barn-burner. This book is incredible. It’s incredible what happened there [at New Vrindaban]. . . .
And you [Henry] are such an interesting guy, and now you’ve moved on with your life. . . . I think these are positive things; we take something negative that happened [in our lives] and we turn it to a positive. And you’re certainly not just sharing this story [about the Hare Krishna murders] but you’re giving kind of a blueprint for cults that are out there today. [Cults] that could draw people in and terrible things can happen, and you’ve got to know when you’re crossing that line and getting involved with a dangerous group, such as what was happening back in 1986 [in the Hare Krishna movement, like the murder of Steven Bryant].
—James L. Paris, from an interview with Henry at Jim Paris Talk Radio Show.
The 1986 murder of Steven Bryant (Sulochan dasa) was arguably the darkest moment in the fifty-two year history of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness—a new branch of the Chaitanya-Bengali-Vaishnava religion founded in New York City in 1966 by an Indian spiritual teacher and guru, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977). A mere nine years after the disappearance of this beloved spiritual father, one of their own was hunted down and assassinated. This brutal killing was achieved through a cooperative effort by “spiritual” leaders, senior managers and hit men enforcers from West Virginia, Ohio, and Southern California ISKCON temples.
The murdered whistle-blower had discovered many secrets and threatened to reveal to the world the immoral acts and criminal dealings of a set of self-appointed, illegitimate successors to Swami Prabhupada: a corrupt oligarchy of new ISKCON “gurus.” He had also, perhaps foolishly, advocated using violence against the gurus to evict them from their posts. ISKCON leaders took his threats seriously, and they hunted down and assassinated the passionate reformer. How did the peaceful, shaven-headed, saffron-clad Hare Krishna devotees regress from their blissful activities of chanting, dancing, and selling incense in the streets to this?
The author, himself a former ISKCON devotee, probes deeply into the disturbing direction of a new religious movement. In this book, he exposes the danger of philosophical errors and deranged devotion that practically ensured that bloody tragedy would eventually occur. The author has engaged in years of painstaking research by poring over tens of thousands of pages of trial transcripts, newspaper and magazine articles, ISKCON publications, and confidential ISKCON documents, while also interviewing dozens of eyewitnesses. His effort culminates in a thoroughly-engaging and extremely well-documented thesis exposing the hidden inside story of the conspiracy to murder Steven Bryant, including its genesis, development, blunders involved in it, execution, cover up, as well as a stunning aftermath after the deed was done.
The reader may wonder, “Can this happen again in ISKCON?” The answer, unfortunately, must be in the affirmative unless measures are immediately instituted to discourage the abuses and atrocities connected to mindless worship of unworthy, bogus gurus, which often characterizes charismatic cults.
Chapter 1: A Thorn in Bhaktipada’s Side
Chapter 2: The Kirtanananda Exposé
Chapter 3: The Guru Reform Movement
Chapter 4: Preaching from the Protection of a Jail Cell
Chapter 5: An Attack at the Heart of ISKCON
Chapter 6: He Was a Very, Very Different Person
Chapter 7: The Cast of Characters
Chapter 8: Murder Conspiracy
Chapter 9: The Keystone Cops Surveillance Team
Chapter 10: The Demon Jailed
Chapter 11: A Real Pain
Chapter 12: The Murder
Chapter 13: The Cavalry Comes to the Rescue
Chapter 14: The Rats Jump Off the Sinking Ship
Chapter 15: It’s Persecution, Pure and Simple
Chapter 16: Trials and Tribulations
Chapter 17: The Cover Up Continues
Timeline of Important Events
Excerpts from Killing For Krishna
Images from Killing for Krishna
“These rogues [so-called acharyas] are the most dangerous elements in human society. . . . These pseudo-religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe [hell] after completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification.”—His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), the Founder/Acharya of ISKCON. Photo taken during his fourth and final visit to New Vrindaban (June 1976).
Steven Bryant as a young man in Royal Oak, Michigan (early 1970s).
“Since I was approaching Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s topmost representative, Srila Prabhupada, for guidance and inspiration, I knew the outcome would be auspicious, whatever it was.”—Sulochan dasa Brahmacari (Steven Bryant) on the altar offering aroti, perhaps at Detroit ISKCON (late 1970s).
“We just became friends. Everybody liked him [Sulochan]. He was just a very affable kind of guy.”—Puranjana (Tim Lee), long-time critic of the zonal acharyas and Sulochan’s life-long best friend (passport photo, early 1980s).
“Look at me now. My heart is devoid of life, and I’m simply the servant of my tongue, belly and genitals—literally a dead body flapping.”—Sulochan dasa Adhikari with his two sons, Nimai and Sarva (c. 1983)
“We [Sulochan and I] were ill matched. Definitely no attraction on my side of the equation. I had no idea what a fiasco it [our marriage] would turn into.”—Sulochan’s divorced wife, Jamuna dasi (Jane Seward), holding her first child by her new husband, Raghunath (Ralph Seward) (c. 1988).
Cover of Sulochan’s book, The Guru Business. Notice the three images on the cover representing: money bag, official ISKCON guru rubber-stamp, dhoti-clad ksatriya bearing an automatic weapon. Sulochan selected the title The Guru Business from a passage by Prabhupada: “Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo-religionists [so-called acharyas] are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after completion of their spiritual master business.”
“If Tirtha [Thomas Drescher] takes the whole thing, and no other boys get caught, then he’ll go back to Godhead at the end of this lifetime.”—“His Divine Grace” Kirtanananda Swami “Bhaktipada” (Keith Gordon Ham), the ISKCON zonal acharya at New Vrindaban, known as “Number One.” Here on his vyasasana (throne) at the newly-dedicated RVC temple at New Vrindaban. Publicity photo (1983).
Bhaktipada supervises a road-building brick-laying marathon near New Vrindaban’s RVC temple complex (summer 1985).
“I felt I had to either kill myself, kill Bhaktipada, or leave.”—Triyogi (Michael Shockman), the mentally disturbed visiting devotee who tried to kill Bhaktipada on October 27, 1985, by smashing his skull with a three-foot-long steel rod reported to weigh twenty pounds. Here at the Marshall County Jail in Moundsville, West Virginia (undated).
“Every doctor that I talked to said it [the blow on my head] was enough to kill a hundred men. When I was attacked, Krishna absolutely incarnated to protect me. The brain scan, the X-ray, taken just after the accident, showed an unmistakable image of [the half-man/half-lion avatar] Lord Nrsimhadeva [the Great Protector of the devotees]. Krishna incarnated to protect me from the blows of that man.”—Swami Bhaktipada, speaking of the MRI image of a cross section of his brain, which, when turned upside down, resembles a ghastly face.
“The assailant [Triyogi] was a crazy madman . . . who had been influenced by Sulochan.”—Bhaktipada, ambulating with great difficulty using a walker, in the temple room at his home (December 4, 1985). He had been ten days in a coma, three weeks on the critical list, and 26 days in the hospital.
“Mark my words! I’m going to ruin Ham’s reputation, and if that doesn’t work, I'll use a high-powered rifle! And I wouldn’t mind going to prison for it.”—Steven Bryant (Sulochan). Photo taken during a television interview with WTRF Channel 7 (Wheeling, West Virginia) at the Marshall County Jail in Moundsville, West Virginia (September 1985).
“This guy [Sulochan] is getting out of control. It would be nice if someone would silence him once and for all.”—Hayagriva (Howard Wheeler), Keith Ham’s college roomate, lover, best friend, and co-founder of New Vrindaban. Here with his life-long buddy at a Labor Day Festival at New Vrindaban (September 1984).
“We have to finish this thing. As long as that guy [Sulochan] is walking around, he’s a threat to Bhaktipada. He won’t be thinking anyone’s after him out in California. At least no one from New Vrindaban. If something happens out there, there won’t be as much heat on us. In time the whole thing will blow over. If everything runs smoothly, they won’t be able to prove anything.”—Kuladri (Arthur Villa), New Vrindaban’s temple president, known as “Number Two.” Here officiating as a priest at a New Vrindaban fire sacrifice (1984).
When asked if he had been “involved with the killing of Sulochan,” Tapahpunja Swami boasted, “I engineered it. It was completely Vedic. He offended Bhaktipada.”—His Holiness Tapahpunja Swami (Terry Sheldon), the president of Cleveland ISKCON, at New Vrindaban (undated).
“That son of a bitch [Sulochan] is . . . going to have to be killed, and I am the one that is going to do it.”—Tirtha (Thomas A. Drescher), New Vrindaban’s chief “enforcer” and hit man, in court (undated).
“Even if Kirtanananda Swami had . . . full sex with ten thousand children, he’s still the guru of the universe, and if you don’t accept that, you’re going to hell.”—Janmastami (John Sinkowski), Tirtha’s partner in crime, chanting japa on the sidewalk in the front of the RVC temple (September 1991).
“Gorby was more fired up to destroy Sulochan than any of the devotees.” Russell “Randall” Clark Gorby, retired steel worker, longtime “friend” of New Vrindaban, vocal advocate for the murder of Sulochan, and government informant (undated).
“What was I supposed to do under those circumstances? We were convinced that Bhaktipada was a pure devotee and that Sulochan was determined to murder him, so we thought we were obligated to stop some demon from killing a pure devotee by any means possible.”—His Holiness Radhanath Swami (Richard Slavin), “gentle and humble” sannyasi dearly loved by the Brijabasis (undated).
“Radhanath Swami won’t like all this coming out. Too bad. I had to be responsible for my transgressions [and go to prison]. He should do the same.”—Dharmatma (Dennis Gorrick), Director of New Vrindaban’s multi-million dollar “Scam-Kirtan” panhandling operation. Image from Brijabasi Spirit (January-February 1977).
“He [Sulochan] should be transmigrated to his next body.”—“His Divine Grace” Ramesvara Maharaja (Robert Grant), the ISKCON zonal acharya for Southern California and head of the North American BBT, during a rare visit to New Vrindaban. Photo from Brijabasi Spirit (summer 1985).
“My guru, Ramesvara, said: ‘K. K., if you ever see Sulochan, call New Vrindaban.’ And because I heard that Sulochan may frequent the area, I kept an eye out for his vehicle.”—Krishna-Katha (Jeffrey Breier), head of security at Los Angeles ISKCON and Tirtha’s assistant. Breier helped hunt down Sulochan and was with Tirtha until moments before the murder. Some say he witnessed the murder. (Undated Linkedin photo, c. 2010)
“They are constantly watching me. I know some morning I will go to sleep and not wake up.”—Sulochan (undated)
“Upon my death, that’s when everything will unfold. When I die, then everyone will see.” Sulochan’s lifeless body at the Los Angeles morgue (May 22, 1986).
Hrish, I have finished your remarkable book and I have to say it is a job well done, sir. It appears you have left no stone unturned. For someone such as myself who not only indirectly lived through those times but has heard much of the information before, it really puts the pieces of the puzzle together effectively. I found it to be thorough, objective, and compelling. It was no doubt difficult trying to extract information from persons who had to avoid veracity for various reasons, including maintaining their standing in secular or Vaisnava society. The only term I can think of for your effort to compile 108 chapters of this sort of info in your forthcoming biography of Kirtanananda Swami and history of New Vrindaban is MONUMENTAL. Keep up the good work. I think many people will very much enjoy your book as I did.
New Vrindaban resident and godbrother
Dear Henry, Your book speaks for itself. It is a cleansing mechanism for anyone who has been associated with Srila Prabhupada’s movement. Because you have been so strenuously objective, it is completely non-sectarian. I see this as perhaps its greatest strength. It is very hard to associate it with one camp or another, although I can think of some who will seize on it for their self-interest. Anyway, devotees need to again become cleansed of the misapplications of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that lead them to consider such bare truths as offensive. Many are so blind or ignorantly attached to some misplaced idea of anything hinting of criticism as blasphemy that they will be fearful of the book. Truth thus becomes the enemy of such people. How they can consider themselves fixed up devotees is a great feat of mental gymnastics. Unfortunately deviant leaders of so-called Krishna consciousness have driven many into such a ‘spiritual’ cul-de-sac. Srila Prabhupada used to use the example of the owl being afraid of the sunshine. Those who would fear the book thus practice an owl-like form of something that is only so-called Krishna consciousness.
adharmam dharmam iti ya
sarvarthan viparitams ca
buddhih sa partha tamasi
That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion,
under the spell of illusion and darkness,
and strives always in the wrong direction,
O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gita 18.32)
Bhakta Eric Johanson (formerly Vrindaban-Chandra Swami), former ISKCON member and former disciple of Hamsadutta Maharaja, Moab, Utah
Respected pranams from ex-ISKCON member.
Sir, I received diksa from Bhagavan’s “Prince,” Brian Tibbits (Indradyumna Swami). Was personal secretary to Indradyumna Swami. Left in 2000. I’m half-way through your amazing book, Killing for Krishna. I have to honestly tell you that I’m on page 242; in 10 hours almost straight reading. You sir, do certainly have cojones. I really appreciate your work and already feeling like it’s healing; not only my wounds but many, many more souls across our planet.
Perhaps I could assist with your upcoming work in any way. I can help your mission by distributing your book in Europe. I was very good sankirtan devotee. We need to cover Poland first, Germany since I’m here presently and then Russia. I speak fluent Russian. It’s my great honour to be at your side on this quest. I have no wife or children. Single warrior, on your side. You have awoken your sleeping soldiers, prabhu. Again, I’m by your side. Will recruit more sincere soldiers soon. Already spread message to ex-ISKCON members in Poland. However, on a serious matter, please take care of yourself. You are most welcome to come here to North Germany. I’m surrounded by very few good friends. Deep regards and please kindly keep in touch. Om shanti.
Former disciple of Indradyumna Swami living in Germany
Hello Henry, I just got to Chapter 2 in your book, and it is an interesting read so far. It’s pretty well explained even for people who never were in the Hare Krishna movement, so I don’t have any major questions right now. I keep a bookmark in the back too so I can check each footnote. Anyhow, I like what I’ve read so far, and I’ll eventually get through the whole book and likely have more to discuss with you about it as well.
Pretty well explained, and neither Sulochan nor Kirtanananda really look like the “good guy” here, and even though I can understand why Sulochan was upset and wanted to take down the corrupt Swami Kirtanananda, the violent threats on the Swami’s life seem a bit extreme and over-the-top, though Sulochan obviously knew he would be in danger by making such accusations anyway, though I can also understand why people at New Vrindaban thought their Swami was in peril because of the threats and, not knowing the extent of the Swami’s corruption, they were interested in protecting him and dealing with the threats that Sulochan had made against their Swami.
So far, your book does a good job of highlighting the obvious problems of blind faith and, as you said, “deranged devotion.” I’m looking forward to eventually reading through the rest of your large and detailed book, and when I do, I’m sure I’ll have more to comment on and discuss with you then.
Gene Isner, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
I have not been able to read your entire book yet, but I’m working on it. So far, so gripping and insightful! You have done an amazing job at presenting a complex time and place in all of our lives. You have done such a wonderful job. It’s inspiring.
Former New Vrindaban resident living in Long Beach, California
Hare Krishna! I feel privileged to write to you and hope we can keep in touch. I pray to Lord Krishna to keep you safe, not that I’m a paranoic person but the miscreants within our movement are capable of anything in order to keep and fulfill their crooked agenda. I wish all of us in the movement were sincere and had an affinity towards truthfulness. You are an asset and you are setting the bar quite high. I guess sincere devotees are looking up to you and will follow your example. I am, to a certain extent. I convey my best wishes to you, dear Prabhu. I am your humble servant.
ISKCON devotee in Sweden
I wrote to you years ago when I had just graduated from university and was very puffed up thinking I was some kind of scholar! You sent me your manuscript about New Vrindaban that you were working on at the time and I read it and commented and sent it back to you.
Anyway, many years later I came across your new book Killing for Krishna on Amazon and immediately purchased it for my Kindle. Having recently finished it, I just want to thank you immensely for your hard work in writing and publishing this fantastic book. The style of writing and the balanced approach to the subject is so good and perfect for what you are trying to achieve. It makes me sad that so many of those involved are still high up in ISKCON and unable to admit to their roles in the Sulochan murder (Radhanath in particular) and the other unsavoury activities of New Vrindaban. To think that so much of the place was built with drug money and illegal merchandising is completely mind blowing.
I would love to pass the book on to the devotees of Wellington who are totally under the spell of one Devamrita Swami but I know there would be no point as they would refuse to either read it or discount all the information contained therein, as you are obviously a huge “demon.” (Hahahaha.)
All these so-called “renounced” men, flying around the world in business class, with iPads, apartments around the world, Apple watches, credit cards, property investments and who knows what else are an absolute joke and a complete mockery of what a Sannyasa/Sadhu is meant to be. I can only hope that many read your book before they get sucked into that world.
So once again, thank you so much for writing the book, I really enjoyed it and look forward to the full New Vrindaban history!
Rory Nelson Moores, Wellington, New Zealand
Correspondence with a former New Vrindaban resident:
August 18, 2010: Hare Krishna, Hrishikesh prabhu. Regarding your recent Sampradaya Sun article, Radhanath Swami's Alleged Involvement in Sulochan's Murder, it appears to be 100% on. I was there, on the fringes of management and all the details you so meticulously corroborate fit into my memories like a glove. Ever since the murder happened we all knew Kuladri & Radhanath were involved. I remember the following morning well. I was shocked that they finally did it.
When I was back at New Vrindaban for those few years around 2004, Tapahpunja cornered me & for some reason chose to recount his involvement in the whole sordid mess in detail. I did not prompt him. His account does not fit the evidence, but it certainly protects Radhanath Swami. I was confused about his account because it didn’t fit in with what I knew (which was all second hand info). I implicitly trust Dharmatma and think Janmastami is probably being honest too. Their accounts line up with each other’s and with what we do know. TP’s account is contradictory, I do not believe him.
And last, not that it really matters, but I remember you & I having a conversation in front of Prabhupada’s Palace some years ago and you asked me why I left New Vrindaban. I answered that I really didn’t know; I just kind of drifted away. Well I can tell you that when the drain got plugged and all the sewage started coming to the surface, I was praying to Krishna to take me away from New Vrindaban. When the accusations of child molestation and other criminal activity started surfacing I just wanted out, but I could not give up my service. Very soon after that (was it in 1989?), Srila Bhaktipada sent me out on the traveling sankirtan “pick” with Rama-Chandra and I ended up at the Minneapolis center with Krishna-Katha (Carl Carlson). I never moved back after that.
Over the years, I have had one lingering, unanswered question that nagged me even when I knew the murder was in the planning stage, and during the stalking of Sulochan. WHAT IF Bhaktipada was really Jagat Guru? You see, I was and am a Prabhupada disciple first, I never bought into the Bhaktipada Jagat-Guru propaganda. But what if? Would the murder then be justifiable? Would Radhanath’s involvement have been justified?
I suppose this talk won’t go away as long as Radhanath is a leader in ISKCON; but personally, I am neutral in the whole finger-pointing, hate-mongering, envy-filled arguing. I am simply trying to chant Hare Krishna. If we just sincerely try to serve Srila Prabhupada, everything will take care of itself. If we can just get back to that simple goal, trying to satisfy Srila Prabhupada, then our lives would be perfect. When death comes our devotional service will be all that matters.
March 27, 2018: Hare Krishna Hrshikesh prabhu, I just downloaded Killing for Krishna for my Kindle Fire and started reading it. It’s OK so far, I’ll let you know as I progress reading it; just wanted to let you know that as long as it is accurate I do not have a problem with it. I heard some negative speech about you and the book while I was visiting New Vrindaban recently, but so far I do not share the opinion.
April 7, 2018: Haribol Hrishikesh! So I’m about halfway through the book. So far I find it brutally honest and accurate (as far as I can tell). I can see why some don’t like it and some are calling it an exposé. To me, if nothing inappropriate happened then there would be nothing to expose. Personally I think it is a wonderful service to tell the entire story. It is sometimes painful and embarrassing to remember that I was there. As I read, scores of forgotten memories and feelings gush from my being. I would like to share some of my feelings with you because I as everybody else, had my own experiences with events. If you are inclined hear them, do you have an email address that I can send some written memories to? I can understand how difficult it was for you to push on with this project. I never really did understand it all, when I first left I was obsessed with finding out what happened but as the years went on, I gave up and put it away in my archival memories. Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Jyotirdhama dasa, ACBSP (Joe Pollock, Jr.)
Former New Vrindaban resident
I just received your book in today’s mail. Your writing is spectacular, erudite, balanced, and above all else: couth! I sat down to glance through it, and found that in a remarkably short period of time I had read almost 100 pages! One thing I like is your narrative which weaves the story together. Your consummately sane and balanced viewpoint further offsets the essential horror that builds as the deluded murder plot develops in the restricted narrow minds of the perpetrators who start off with the incredibly flawed “credo” of the perfection of Kirtanananda Swami.
Naranarayan dasa Visvakarma (Nathan Zakheim) (ACBSP), initiated in San Francisco in 1968
Best book I have ever read from a devotee who lived amongst the fanatics of New Vrindaban. I have been reading the letters to Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and he (Srila Prabhupada) repeated countless times that his devotees must strictly follow all the regulative principles, chant 16 rounds without fail and avoid the ten offenses to the Holy Names. Seems like these fools in the garb of Vaishnavas forgot to adhere to these instructions. Don’t be a fool. Always look deeper, don’t accept the external form of so-called devotees.
Martin Davidson, from a post at Killing For Krishna on YouTube.
Just received your new book, Killing For Krishna, yesterday and have started to read and look through it today. I was a good friend of Chakradhari. I knew him in California in 1972 before moving to New Vrindavana with my family in 1973. . . . Chakradhari and I were friends. He followed me after a year or so from California to New Vrindavana. . . . Then disappeared. He would have said goodbye [if he had left on his own accord]. . . . I moved away from New Vrindavana in 1981. . . . I remember seeing Kirtanananda Swami with his crew of about five men at The Higher Taste restaurant in San Francisco in 198, after I had been gone from New Vrindavana for a [couple] year[s]. I only spoke with them for five minutes. It was awkward and I left. At that time I was working with Atreya Rsi. . . . You’re a fine, talented writer and you’ve successfully put down a parcel of rascals. Good for you. . . . You’ve done a very nice job of exposing the rascals and destroying their credibility.
Janahlada dasa (ACBSP) (Gene Braeger), former New Vrindaban resident (1973-1981)
Thank you for writing this [book: Killing For Krishna]! I’m over halfway done and can’t put it down. I lived in New Vrindaban and the Cincinnati temple when they were outside of ISKCON. This is such a compelling read and the story needs to be told. You avoid the sensationalism of Monkey On a Stick and let the facts speak for themselves. Your endnotes are phenomenal. Again, thank you, Henry. Your years of research has turned out a stellar work for the annals of history. God bless you!
Giuseppe Gingricharoni, from a Visitor Post at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
Killing for Krishna is amazing in its detail and documentation. In my opinion it treats all characters fairly. The 1,300+ endnotes make it a credible history. Paid $7 on Kindle for Smart Phone which makes searches simple.
Hamsagati Das, from a comment at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
I bought Killing for Krishna. Wow. What an eye opener.
John Gennaro, from a comment at Killing For Krishna on Facebook
Hey Henry, I really appreciate your book, Killing for Krishna. The subject matter is simply interesting from my days associating with ISKCON. However, it was very unexpected to read in the Introduction your premise of revisiting this unfortunate incident to help heal. I’ve spent a great deal of time (last 7 years) doing the same thing for my own healing within my own family and related to past events. I’ve often felt alone and misunderstood in my attempts to discover facts surrounding so many facts of my history or family history. It’s plain for me to see that most people want to forget a painful past. But I’ve found so much comfort and peace in knowing the facts, the truth, and the issues surrounding my painful past that I felt an immediate connection to your book. This with no relation whatsoever between the book contents and my story. So, I’m so grateful to have read this premise for the book as confronting these difficulties head on has been so significantly life changing for me. I sincerely hope that it has helped you even more as I believe your pain runs deep after living these experiences in New Vrindavan. Best wishes always.
Pedro Ramos, Atlanta, Georgia, from a Facebook message to the author.
I just finished reading in its entirety your book Killing for Krishna. I do appreciate all your research and as you said in the Introduction, this book for you is also a healing process, having served Keith Ham for so many years and then realizing what a cheat he was, and how much time and energy you had invested in believing that KEITH was your spiritual master: your guide to go back to Godhead. Then finding out that this guy was a sex addict before coming to the Hare Krishna movement (even having sex with strangers in the New York subway), on top of having Howard Wheeler as his primary lover and then having all kinds of hush hush sex even as a sanyasin, with men and boys. He was not only a homosexual, but also a prolific pedophile. This was supposed to be a BHAKTI YOGA path to God: a love path, a heart path, and it was twisted to the maximum by a psychopath full of LUST and hungry for powers and money.
The Hare Krishna movement was until 1977 a ONE MAN SHOW. Swami Bhaktivedanta was the supreme authority; his words were as good as God (he even said so himself) and as you rightly noted he did affirm that KEITH HAM was a pure devotee; that he was pleased when people were serving KEITH HAM. The regular simple devotee had to rely on the words and visions of Swami Bhaktivedanta, and OBVIOUSLY he made a big mistake in assessing the qualifications of KEITH HAM, and he is partly to blame, in my view, for misleading hundreds of devotees to believe that serving KEITH HAM was what he wanted. Your book is very well-researched, but all this knowledge should, in my view, be warning to all the little gurus of now ISKCON and the multitude of Hare Krishna sects that are now working on the planet. If you do not learn by theses experiences, the same mistakes might repeat themselves.
Number one: to have blind faith in a guru because he just says “HEY, I AM A PURE DEVOTEE!” is extremely dangerous, as we have seen in all the blind followers of the so called 11 Ritviks that took over ISKCON after Swami Bhaktivedanta left the planet. May your book be a warning that absolute demands of blind following should be avoided at all cost. Every guru and all that he says and do must be questioned at all time. Bhakti Yoga must also be Jnana Yoga, as you said in your Introduction. THE TRUTH, THE TRUTH, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, devoid of BULLSHIT, LIES AND DECEITS.
I am looking forward to your next book.
Henri Jolicoeur (ACBSP) (formerly Hanuman Swami), Montreal, Quebec, from an e-mail to the author.
Hare Krishna. Wow, just received your book in the mail today. Started reading it this afternoon and it’s honestly been really hard to put down! The storytelling is so riveting, exciting and palpable. I really appreciate your voice as a writer and your amazing ability to write from a place of such objectivity, which I would imagine took a long time and lots of healing due to your intimate and direct involvement with Kirtanananda & all the other New Vrindaban residents and concomitant dramas. Congrats on this big achievement and I look forward to your subsequent publications.
Hoping to get through all or most of it on my upcoming road trip. I think it’s of utmost importance for devotees to know the factual history of the ISKCON movement in general, including the “dark stuff,” otherwise we’re simply living in a grand lie and completely wasting this ephemeral & precious life on dead end “spirituality.” Unfortunately the majority will not be interested in knowing or hearing about the facts because of the heavy indoctrination into the cult of personality, that Srila Prabhupada’s precious mission has now become. However, there are many others who desire truth and transparency. I have friends and acquaintances on both sides of that spectrum, I will most definitely share this book with the level-headed sincere ones.
Name withheld by request, Southern California.
Hare Krishna, Dear Prabhu! I’ve finished reading Killing For Krishna, your masterpiece. It’s a mind blowing book. I’m not so good with words to express fully my appreciation. I saw the interviews on YouTube as well. I really like that some devotees gathered and had a Sulochan memorial service. I guess things slowly but surely go in the right direction. If you write the other books I would like to order them as well. Thank you kindly!
Best regards & my humble pranams! Your Servant.
Ananta das (Edward Contis), Vällingby, Sweden
Hare Krishna, Hrisikesa Prabhu! All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Dandavats.
Mahatma Prabhu (Mario Pineda) visited me recently and I acquired your recent book. I’m enjoying slowly reading it. I’m amazed at the detail you provide. Surely, you are empowered by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to produce such a masterpiece. Thank you very much. I was thoroughly estranged from ISKCON during 1980s so much of the facts that many devotees probably knew were unknown to me.
My last visit to New Vrindaban was in 1978 when K swami asked me to leave. I had been stealing un-offered honey and asking unmarried women if they wanted “go for a walk.” Seems pretty funny to me now.
Thank again for your truly wonderful book. I am continuously astounded by your attention to detail. I love detail as you obviuosly do. As they say, “The Devil is in the details.” Don’t let the critics bother your mind, even one tiny bit. You are doing a very valuable service. If Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada went through your book and just counted all the various names of Krishna, it would be astounding.
Gadai dasa (David Shenk, ACBSP 1973)
First of all I want to congratulate and thank you for your excellent book, Killing for Krishna. I read it very carefully and today I listened to your interview on YouTube. I’m also a firm believer that the truth shall make us free. . . . I know your book is gonna shake ISKCON and some leaders in particular. The time has come for everyone to face their dark side, both individually and collectively. This purification was much needed since a long time. Thank you again for your hard work.
Your subtitle was very appropriate as it pointed to the big problem of deranged devotion, idolizing an ordinary devotee, considering any guru absolute in everything he says or does, choosing—more or less unconsciously, to be blind to his mistakes, weaknesses, or even abuses in the name that “the guru is absolute” and “don’t criticize and commit offenses.” A lot to say on that topic of absolutism and blind followers, features we can find in all the infamous dictators, Stalin, Mao, etc. Even Prabhupada did not pretend that everything he did was absolute; he asked advice from his disciples for practical matters and if something did not work he tried another strategy. As Hridayananda Goswami says, “Thinking is a sin in ISKCON. Just Serve and Shut up!”
I’m sure that Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya are pleased with you.
Gaurangi dasi (Genevois Josette)
Former disciple of Ramesvara Maharaja, current disciple of Lokanath Swami
I lived there [at New Vrindaban] August 1972 - September 1977 and was there about two weeks in 1979 for the Palace opening. . . . Henry Doktorski has bravely exposed the truth. I hope this will continue.
Ellie Krishna Jaya Singer-Clark (Vajresvari dasi), from a comment on a Facebook post by Chaitanya-Mangala dasa.
Dear Hrishikesa Prabhu,
Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I recently visited a temple where I talked about your book, Killing for Krishna to a few devotees, only the ones I knew well. I got several reactions:
—The majority of devotees: listening attentively to what I said about the book without protesting, but showing no interest to read it
—One Vaisnavi: not wanting to hear about the book at all, so I did not insist
—Another Vaisnavi was more appreciative of the contents (the dangers of deranged devotion), especially of the fact that you were presenting what really happened, even if it is not very pleasant or glorious for some devotees involved. She was the most receptive.
I also asked the devotee in charge of the book stall there if he had read your book. He said he had read some of your articles on Sampradaya Sun some years ago and could imagine those were the basis for your book. He did not want to be selling it at his venue as it might be a bit too much controversial for him, even though he never saw the book. He concluded by saying that those who are interested can always buy it on Amazon, where you are advertising it so he doesn’t need to get involved in it.
Not an easy book to sell, for sure, all the more because of its size. Maybe the subtitle The Danger of Deranged Devotion could have been the main title as Killing For Krishna scares many devotees. Anyway, those who want to read this book might not be numerous, but they can talk positively to others about it. At least they will have a good impression, that it is a serious book, very well researched and documented, meant to make people think and not to attack or destroy ISKCON.
ISKCON devotee currently in India, Name deleted by request, e-mail to the author
Killing For Krishna tells the story of the monumental saga of the killing of Sulochan dasa, which delves deep into each participant’s segment of the story. It has the makings of a movie. With the religious and cult aspect, it would make for a compelling presentation.
Elizabeth Heather Cagle, Los Angeles
Yesterday, I was with someone who bought your book, Killing For Krishna, here in England. It had a powerful effect on him. He was impressed with the amount of research you’d done for it.
ISKCON devotee (ACBSP), England
“By the time Sulochan was murdered, we all knew that Radhanath and Kuladri were involved in the planning. After Bhaktipada was assaulted, the buck stopped with Kuladri and Radhanath. It’s just how it was, no speculation necessary.”
The quote above is from a letter to the author (January 9, 2019) from one of persons who supported the conspiracy to murder Steven Bryant.
Hare Krishna, Hrishikesh prabhu.
Please accept my humble obeisances.
I come to you with a straw between my teeth begging your forgiveness for the abrupt break in communications. [I haven’t responded to your messages in almost a year.] I will tell you why I quit communicating and I think you can feel confident to publish any communications we have and use my name. What I have to tell you is simply: the problem is with me. I got to a point in reading your book, Killing For Krishna, that it became too painful for me to continue. The thing is, I visited Gaura-Shakti [Greg Carlson] prabhu at New Vrindaban in 1993 (I had left New Vrindaban in 1990). He was preparing to go to India and recited to me the history of Kirtanananda Swami’s legal problems since I had left. When I got to 1993 in your book I couldn’t read any further. It was the same exact story Gaura had told me in 1993. Something hit a nerve with me and I became emotionally distraught. I haven’t read another word of your book since. But as I said, it is because of me; not what you wrote. It took me a long time to figure out what upset me so badly.
How to verbalize what I was upset about after reading your book? Was it because I was cheated by my guru? I guess in one sense, but I took first initiation from Srila Prabhupada and don’t think I ever gave my heart to Kirtanananda the same way. I don’t feel that Srila Prabhupada ever cheated me, but Kirtanananda did. Anyway, to me it’s just splitting hairs; the fact is we let ourselves be cheated.
What upsets me most is that I was involved in the murder of a Vaishnava. For years I was in denial about my involvement, but after making it through your book all the way to the year 1993, the weight of what we did came down on me. I didn’t pull a trigger and I wasn’t involved in the conspiracy or stalking Sulochan. I was just the Telecom Manager at New Vrindaban, maintaining the community telephone system and whatever primitive computer network we had back then. But I was a willing participant in aiding and abetting the murder in whatever way I could. I helped coordinate communications between conspirators when they were stalking Sulochan in Ohio and West Virginia in February 1986, and I knew they planned to kill him. That was my most active part. There were no cell phones in those days. So some of the communications went through the main New Vrindaban telephone switchboard of which I was supervisor. Numerous times I had specific instructions from Kuladri where to direct specific incoming calls. Very important, not to be missed.
For years afterward I rationalized that, well I wasn’t really a Bhaktipada disciple and I didn’t have any first hand involvement. But as I read your book I more and more realized that I WAS involved. Factually, how much blame lies with whom? Only Krishna knows for certain.
The interesting thing about my position in the community is that I dealt with everybody there in one way or another. At the time I heard some of the inner workings of the plot. What you write, what Dharmatma, Janmastami, Hari-Venu; what they all say are the same things I remember. As far as Dharmatma, I had frequent personal interactions with him starting in 1976 and I always found him to be honest and straightforward, even brutally so. I doubt very much he suddenly started lying. Besides he had already taken the fall and done jail time by the time the question of who he gave the hush money to became an issue.
By the time Sulochan was murdered, as I said before, we all knew that Radhanath and Kuladri were involved in the planning. I knew of others too, but I didn’t know about all the players and how it went down until I read your book. After Bhaktipada was assaulted, the buck stopped with Kuladri and Radhanath. It’s just how it was, no speculation necessary. Personally, I have no qualification to comment on Radhanath’s position as guru, nor do I have any ax to grind. I only know that you have brought to light the details of the murder; you put the many jigsaw puzzle pieces together which, in your book, reveal the big picture. I had (others too) some of the pieces of the puzzle—we knew some of the story; but you hunted down the missing pieces and put everything together. Thank you for this valuable service.
Jyotirdhama dasa, ACBSP (Joe Pollock, Jr.)
Former Telecom Manager at New Vrindaban
January 5, 2019
Hare Krishna. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga! I just recently saw an interview with you on YouTube. I felt that your responses and explanation on your writing this book were balanced and free from envy. There was no offensive dialogue or vindictiveness in your words. Therefore I felt compelled to order a copy. Apparently you placed much energy and research into this endeavor with no ill will. Enclosed is a money order for your book.
G. B. dasa, Dallas, Texas
January 23, 2019
Dear Hrishikesh—Hare Krishna!
I have finished reading your book Killing For Krishna. Once I started to read it, it was difficult to put down. The book is an exhaustive, comprehensive and very objective analysis of the unfortunate murder of Sulochan. You definitely are a writer and you are a “writer” with a purpose: to shed light on things which are usually “beyond the veil.”
As I read your book, this is what I constantly felt on a more subtle level: your deeply felt disappointment and frustration with the way that things transpired. I did not detect resentment but rather a profound “wound” left by Kirtanananda’s actions.
I do not feel that you are on a “crusade” to pull down anyone or an organization. Your personal feelings about ISKCON have some merit; I just hope that things will be better—for everyone involved.
Once again, thank you for your diligent and resourceful book. Yes, I felt a deep frustration and pain within its pages.
G. B. dasa,
January 26, 2019
Hare Krishna, Hrshikesh prabhu,
So I’m once again struggling emotionally with this entire sordid affair, and having been a part of it. I’m still struggling with the fact that I went to New Vrindaban to serve Srila Prabhupada and ended up involved in criminal activity, including murder. I have unplugged from social media to avoid dealing with it. But I stand by what I said in a previous message to you.
I will just tell you that when Sulochan was being stalked much of the communications went through my telecom systems. At some point I was told directly that “they are going to kill him.” I don’t want to go into any more details, you’ve got all the players right as far as I know and you know more details than I at this point. Besides it was so long ago that details are getting harder for me to remember.
I was surprised to hear that you didn’t know beforehand, about the murder conspiracy; to me it seemed common knowledge at that time, but thinking back, this may be blurred memory. But just like the morning after the murder at mangal-aroti there was like this electricity in the air and a buzz of whisper, “The demon was killed!” This was only hours after the murder. Who told whom?
Anyway, the thing is that you have put it all together, and as I have said numerous times, that the accounts in your book are as I remember them. I haven’t started reading it again but I may soon. And as far as why I am saying this now there is no specific reason. Maybe because I need to get this off my chest before death. Mostly I want to defend my fellow devotees who have spoken the truth about this and have been discredited as liars.
Jyotirdhama dasa, ACBSP (Joe Pollock, Jr.)
Former Telecom Manager at New Vrindaban
February 3, 2019
I’ve just finished your book Killing For Krishna. Having been at the scene of many of the events you depicted I found your book fascinating. Excellent job of research and analysis.
I interviewed Sulochan shortly before he was shot in his van at the end of Watseka Avenue. I was also there at the emergency New Vrindaban GBC meetings, not so much for the meetings but to catch as many Prabhupada disciples as I could and get their remembrances of Prabhupada. Apart from my service in doing interviews for the Lilamrta, I was also production manager for Gita-Nagari Press a number of years and worked closely with Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. I can’t wait for your next book, Eleven Naked Emperors. I’ve read the timeline you have given, that timeline alone is an eye opener.
I’ve no axe to grind. I’m not in any camp one way of the other. I’m just interested in seeing that whatever went down in our history is open for all to see.
I’m looking forward to the next book. You’re on a roll. Keep it up. Hare Krishna.
Vidura dasa (Brendan Greene)
February 16, 2019
Hare Krsna, Henry Prabhu! I have not been able to read your book as of yet, but you are very brave for telling about the dark side of ISKCON. There are many demons in the dress of Vaisnavas in this Hare Krsna movement. By reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and following his instructions we can develop the discriminatory powers to avoid them. You are always welcome to visit our Prabhupada-based community in Spain.
Purujit dasa, Fuengirola, Spain
March 15, 2019
Hello! Just wanted to send word to you about how much I enjoy your book and how much it has helped me on my path to true Krsna Consciousness. I came upon Krsna Consciousness back in 1994, when I’d talked with a devotee on Venice Beach, California. He gave me the Krsna Book and advised me to follow my family’s religion (which was Christianity) until I found I needed more, then seek outside that realm. Little did I realize at the time how important that advice was. I put the book he gave me on the shelf and forgot it was even there. I did exactly as he suggested. My husband and I converted to Catholicism. I got deeply involved with the church until 2002 when I hit the wall in my faith with the revelation of the priest scandal. (Yes, rascals are everywhere!) I floated around for 13 years looking for the true path of faith and explored many paths with nothing really catching my interest. Judaism, New Age, other Christian faiths did nothing for me. I was ready to throw in the towel and declare that God was dead. For me, anyways...
Finally in 2015, while sitting in our home library, gazing at the books there on the shelf, my eyes landed on the Krsna Book. I took it down and opened it. And the rest, as they say, is history. After my experience with other faiths, and closing in on 60 at that time, I was very much aware that there are phonies and pretenders in every faith. Upon discovering what had happened to Srila Prabhupada, you can imagine how heartbroken I was to find out that his own devotees had killed him. But I was not deterred. I believe in Srila Prabhupada and I believe in God, Lord Krsna. I realized that in order to follow Prabhupada's true path, I would have to figure out who were the rascals and who I could trust in the movement as it stands today. It would be an over simplification to say combing though all of the information out there has been as tedious and harrowing as searching for a needle in a haystack! Your book has been invaluable to me and a great boon in helping me to find my way through the labyrinth of information.
I just wanted to let you know how much I value your book, your writing and what you are doing to aid in the healing of not only yourself, but all true followers of Krsna as well as Prabhupada in this modern age. Even though I was not formally initiated by Srila Prabhupada, I have accepted him as my spiritual master and follow only him, not some show bottle person who claims he’s this and that. By sharing your research, your experiences and the truth, I feel you have done a great service for Prabhupada, for Krsna and for all true followers of the movement that Prabhupada has envisioned. For that I wish to thank you and let you know that at least one person appreciates everything you have done. I will continue to sing the praises of your book far and wide! Thank you for writing it! Thank you! God bless you! Hare Krishna!
Leslie Kiang, Daytona Beach, Florida
March 26, 2019
I just wanted to thank to you for writing this book, Killing For Krishna. I read it all. I also think that the topic of deranged devotion has to be addressed in a very urgent way. You did this as a service to Prabhupada’s Movement. Thank you. Your sincerity for Truth touched my heart. Nothing should be hidden.
I also joined more than 30 years ago and served as Bhakta Leader and also as Temple President in ISKCON for many years. After a time, I started to address these kind of dysfunctional dynamics, and then they asked me to leave. (They do not kill anymore).
I spent two years alone in the forest only reflecting and chanting, and then opened a contemplative Vaishnava community in the Swiss mountains. One has to walk 3 hours to get there and there is no street at all to go there. We live very simple there and produce our food ourselves.
I just wanted to give you an echo on your book. Thank you.
Your Krishna Chandra
May 12, 2019
Subject: Iron Law of Oligarchy
Dear Hrishikesh dasa,
Thank you for all of your thorough research. Your book titled, Killing for Krishna: The Danger of Deranged Devotion is a valuable reference. Also, I like how well-rounded and balanced you are!
ISKCON is basically a case study of the Iron Law of Oligarchy, articulated by Robert Michels. Organizations must create bureaucracy in order to maintain efficiency as it expands. Every group contains individuals that are more committed, motivated, and skilled, both technically and/or politically. This “inner circle” functions as paid administrators, executives, spokespersons or political strategists for the organization. Centralization inevitably occurs. A relatively small number of individuals become highly influential.
The objective of this ruling class is to preserve and increase their power by controlling bureaucratic procedures and decision-making processes. It is unlikely that the rank and file members of the organization would have the ability to hold their leaders accountable—the ruling class controls access to information while creating an incentive structure aimed at rewarding loyalty. In fact to obtain accountability, members would be obligated to appeal to a judicial and prosecutorial system that is external to the organization.
Moreover, it is unlikely that members would even be aware that the inner circle is abusive of its power. Charismatic leaders are often skilled at uprooting their followers’ sense of right and wrong to create a compliant set of disciples, while creating a group mind within their organization. Groups are capable of rationalizing far more heinous crimes than any single individual, were he in a state of isolation.
The behavior of the crowd is emotionally determined, not logically or philosophically determined, allowing a leader such as Bhaktipada to convince his followers that even the most improbable statements are true, or that the most egregious deviations from Srila Prabhupada’s principles are bona fide.
Although ISKCON was not organized as a democratic entity, it is my understanding that ISKCON was intended to be decentralized with local temples wielding considerable autonomy. And strictly speaking, the words “decentralized” and “democratic” are not interchangeable. Nevertheless, the factors that drive an initially democratic organization towards oligarchy are the same factors that transform an initially decentralized organization into a concentrated power structure dominated by a ruling class that becomes increasingly corrupt.
I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope this letter finds you well.
Yours in the Service of Krishna,
Chand Prasad Maryland, United States www.biodynamictheology.com
May 19, 2019
Dear Hrishikesh Prabhu,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my respectful obeisances. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
Thanks for sharing the message of Chand Prasada on the iron law of oligarchy. Prabhupada was warning us of the dangers of bureaucracy, bureaucratic procedures and decision-making processes. Yes, ISKCON was intended to be decentralized with local temples wielding considerable autonomy, but the GBCs misinterpreted the mandate to be the “ultimate managing authority” to become the collective acarya, as Hridayananda Goswami pointed out in his long GBC essay. In at least one country in Europe I hear we are still under the rule of 2 authoritarian GBCs. One of them recently admitted “having done some mistakes” but the meeting when this was spoken was coming to an end, and there was no time for anyone to ask him what were these mistakes, and how he planned to rectify them.
One of the merits of your book, KIlling For Krishna, is to warn disciples and followers, especially those of a charismatic leader, to be observant and careful, not blind followers, in other words to think for themselves, a thing which is not encouraged too much in ISKCON. One problem is the guru seen as absolute in all areas and the other, as Chand Prasada, noted, the fact that the behavior of the crowd is emotionally determined, not logically or philosophically determined.
I was also reading again the 420-page book, The Guru and the Disciple, by Kripamoya dasa. In a very open, honest and tactful way, he discusses many important issues, many of which still largely unresolved in the circles of the Krishna Consciousness movement: the mistakes made by ISKCON leaders and gurus, guru and disciple in therapy, testing the guru, when to leave a guru, etc. I attended the seminar he gave in Mayapur a couple of years ago, and was happily surprised that he was allowed to openly speak on such “sensitive” topics.
I see your book as a healing agent for ISKCON, forcing it to look at its dark side, both collectively and individually. Painful, but necessary. Your hard work did not go in vain, even if it will take much time for its contents to filter through layers of fears, misconceptions, untruths, lies, conditionings and deranged devotion.
Anonymous ISKCON devotee in India.
May 22, 2019
Hare Krishna, Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I have been reading your book, Killing For Krishna, and following your Killing For Krishna page on Facebook. It is one of the best written and honest piece of ISKCON history.
I’m from India but have spent most of ISKCON days in the U.S. I came in contact with ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada’s books while I was in U.S. I’m back in India now and find that most Indian-bodied devotees are being misled by corrupt GBC and false GBC-approved gurus. Some of them have interest in reading but they don’t have access to Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and conversations because of language problems. The same goes to the history of bad things happened in ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada left this planet. Most of it is on the Internet but the problem is, it is all scattered here and there. And it is in English. I admire your effort to consolidate the information along with providing genuine references.
I recently saw your post about Killing for Krishna being translated in Spanish. India is where these bogus gurus have made their hub and looting innocent Indian-bodied devotees. Your books need to be translated in Indian languages; especially Killing For Krishna. I have experience in translating books from English to Hindi. I translate and a scholar friend reviews it for me. He has Ph.D in Hindi. I would like to offer my services to translate KFK and other related media to Hindi. Attached is my translation of your Dedication.
Thank you for your valuable service to Srila Prabhupada.
An aspiring servant,
Name withheld by request
April 12, 2019: Henry, I just came across your Hare Krishna book, Killing For Krishna. Looks wonderful. I was involved with ISKCON for twelve hears. Went directly from graduating high school to moving into a temple. Glad you’ve gotten all of this information.
April 13, 2019: I ordered your book at Amazon. Sounds great. About time someone exposed what was actually going on there and it sounds like you’ve done a wonderful job at it. The bit I read last night, online, was absolutely intriguing. . . . Anxiously waiting for your book. Talking about ISKCON opens a valve. I could keep writing and writing.
April 18, 2019: I’ve read 199 pages at first sit. Interesting. I never really thought of “behind the scenes” at ISKCON. This gives a view of the movement that I never suspected.
April 21, 2019: Have read to the Addendum. Absolutely outstanding. Many, many things come to mind reading the book. I, too, have spent years getting over ISKCON. I quit years ago but, hey, it was a big deal in my life.
May 17, 2019: I mentioned to you that I’d completed the book. Exceeded any expectations. . . . Overall, I found the group practices the very things it preaches against. But, in the end, I’ve suffered years of that group nagging me internally, in my mind. Your book helps me get over that hump.
May 29, 2019: Every three to four weeks I go and see a counselor. During the last three weeks I’ve had some wonderful realizations regarding my life. I’ve had much pain in my life. Luckily, I’ve made it through. I told her that reading your book was a liberating experience for me. I feel so much lighter now. Again, I thank you for the book. It played a large part in freeing me from the horrendous pain of my past.
Mesilla, New Mexico
June 1, 2019: Dear Henry Prabhu,
I had heard about your book, Killing For Krishna, a year ago and finally got it. Reading it shakes the very foundation of having any good feelings towards ISKCON. Thankfully, I am a Prabhupada disciple. Otherwise, I doubt that I would be practicing Krishna consciousness. Trivikrama Swami was in Chico, California, for a year in 2000-2001, so I could see he’s no more a guru than I am.
I fear for your life, because ISKCON can play dirty. Watch your back.
You have done a great service by your efforts in publishing this book. The truth will always set us free.
Forest Ranch, California
June 10, 2019: Namaste, Dear Prabhu.
I hope that more devotees will understand the serious defects some of these ISKCON gurus have. Your eye-opening book can be another torch light, guiding us away from deranged devotion and back to Krishna consciousness. Prabhupada said that Krishna consciousness is 80% common sense and the rest is devotion.
Before reading your book I had a general understanding about what had happened to Sulochan, but by reading it, more details and unknown facts were revealed. One German devotee told me she wasn’t going to buy K4K, because she already knew all those things. I am convinced that she would get some new insights, too. But what can I do? For some strange reason conversations between devotees, at least in my experience, don’t last very long in Germany. And there seems to be little time for clearing up important issues. I hope this will improve in the future.
Name withheld by request
June 19, 2019: Hi Henry.
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your book, Killing for Krishna and the insight on ISKCON it has brought me. I’m from Vancouver and a older friend of mine was unfortunately abused during his time at ISKCON as well back in the day. Physically and mentally it has taken a toll on him. I very much appreciate your work and exposing the truth for what it is.
I have a background in Hindu practice myself, that is in the lineage of Shiva/Divine Goddess which of course is pretty different than Hare Krishna, but I never imagined things as crazy as the stuff in your book were possible. Very eye opening and I’m looking forward to your next book, Eleven Naked Emperors.
Vancouver, British Columbia
December 23, 2019: Dear Henry Doktorski,
I have recently finished reading your book, Killing for Krishna, and wish to thank you for your amazingly well researched and even-keeled account. I can only faintly imagine the amount of work it represents, and even that thin reflection boggles my mind. Imagining all your effort over so long a period of time, and imagining too some of the reasons for inhibition you may have felt, I can only marvel and offer you my heart felt gratitude and deepest admiration. In my humble opinion, you have rendered the Vaishnava community—and all of us—an important, if challenging, service—for to have any real value, faith must be able to digest the truth.
I am looking forward to reading your forthcoming book on the zonal acharyas. (I know it’s already available on Kindle, but wish to read the physical copy.)
Lastly, I was happily surprised to find you play the accordion! I have just this year begun to learn the accordion, and now play simple melodies well enough for the occasional harinam. Perhaps as I develop I’ll explore some of your books on this topic too :-)
Wishing you the very best.
You are welcome to put my email on your website if you think it will help. I will tell some of my friends here about the book, but already imagine the friction I’ll encounter. Understandably—and as I am sure you know all too well—many devotees feel cautiously protective of the faith they’re hoping to develop and are already struggling to manage their proximity with Iskcon, looking for that sweet-spot between what attracts them to the temple and what repulses them. I shared Nori Muster’s book with one friend who later admitted that he kept it on the bed-stand for months before finally gathering up the courage to read it. This was despite my having told him there was a touching sweetness to her account, and that she didn’t seem out to bash but simply to share the truth of her experience, and that I felt genuinely grateful to her as a devotee. Later, after having read it, he was happy he did and agreed with my assessment. But his initial hesitation is telling.
I suppose the proponents of secrecy and denial would say that such open reveal as you have undertaken is potentially destructive as it may prematurely stress the fragile faith of many new devotees. And I think there’s some truth to that. But as a position, it is ironically not the ‘safe one’ it might at first appear. Rather, it is the more dangerously precarious option. Denial inevitably births that fecund mother of all lies: “I did not lie...” And as the truth seeps out—which it nearly always does—fledgling devotees find themselves in the most unfortunate (and ultimately more destructive) position of feeling they have to choose between their desire for faith and their desire for truth. This, of course is the underlying theme of your book, Killing for Krishna.
I can only see this as extremely unhealthy. It hobbles the all-important function of devotee association, making it lopsidedly formal and superficial. And it cannot help but subtilely bend the interpretation of shastra by those somehow obliged to maintain denial. How can such skirting around the truth encourage the development of robust faith?
You mentioned that your work on Killing For Krishna has been a labour of love; rest assured this was abundantly clear to me while reading your book—and the primary reason I wanted to write to you with my thanks. At a certain stage in the illness, intrusive surgery is required, and that takes courage—which means “heart.” So once again, let me express my thanks to you for your work.
February 26, 2020: Dear Henry Doktorski,
Greetings from India. I recently read your book Killing for Krishna. I purchased the Kindle version on Amazon. First thing, take a bow for bringing out the truth to the whole world. I have no words to thank you for your years of research and writing and hard work for the benefit of all, especially for us in ISKCON.
I and most of us are convinced (almost 100%) now who were involved in plotting/killing Sulochan, but the important question still remains unanswered. Did Radhanath Swami kill Sulochan? I honestly want to know your thoughts. I don’t care whether Judge/Jury let Radhanath Swami scot-free. You were in New Vrindaban for so many years and I want to hear it from you. This has been troubling me for a long time.
Devotee in India (Name deleted by request)
Author’s reply: Hare Krishna prabhu and thanks for your kind appreciation. Yes, I lived at New Vrindaban many years, but I never saw anyone kill anyone. I only interviewed people who were involved in the murder plot and I read classified documents in the secret Swami Bhaktipada Archive. But those people and documents incriminate Radhanath Swami as a principal member of the murder conspiracy. This is, as you know, all explained in Killing for Krishna.
Devotee in India: Thank you for your reply. What is your suggestion for people who are initiated by Radhanath Swami and now come to know about the murder plot?
Henry Doktorski: I suggest they follow their conscience, as I did 27 years ago when I became convinced that my “spiritual master”—Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada—had been engaging in illicit activities. For years I had dismissed these unsavory allegations as “rumors,” but finally I began to have doubts, so I conducted my own investigation and talked to some of the young men who said Bhaktipada had sexually molested them when they were gurukula students. I believed them. Why would they lie?
Then, I had a private darshan with my “spiritual master” during which I asked him directly if it was true. When he denied it, saying “I haven’t broken any regulative principles since I met Srila Prabhupada,” I knew he was lying so I immediately rejected him as spiritual master and stopped serving his mission.
But everyone has to do what they think is right. Not all may be able to reject a lying and cheating spiritual master immediately. For many, especially those who may be financially or emotionally dependent on ISKCON, it may take some time.
Devotee in India: Thank you again for your timely response. You have done many of us a great favour by publishing your books. The Lord will never forget warriors like yourself and Sulochan.
Henry Doktorski: Hare Krishna, my friend. Are you a disciple of Radhanath Swami? I’d like to put your question and my reply on the Killing for Krishna Facebook page. May I use your name or merely say “anonymous devotee?” Thank you.
Devotee in India: I am a disciple of Radhanath Swami. Please do not use my name. I will be in trouble. If my name is mentioned I will be kicked out of the community. I have a family and I don’t want them to be in any kind of trouble. You have no idea how powerful Radhanath Swami is in India. He has over 10,000 disciples.
I find that most Westerners have a pretty open mind, but Indians are very sentimental. Indians do not have an open mind to read this book. ISKCON is now all about profit adoration and distinction. I feel very hurt and cheated. I can’t even share this with my wife. She is such a faithful follower of Radhanath Swami.
Henry Doktorski: I won’t mention your name.
Devotee in India: Thank you. I want to read next your second book, Eleven Naked Emperors. Hare Krishna.
Henry Doktorski: Hare Krishna, my friend.
February 27, 2020: Dear Henry Prabhu,
I have a few questions and comments about your book, Killing For Krishna. Request you to please answer if possible.
How can conspirators such as Krishna-Katha and Kuladri get 100% immunity, as they are intimately involved in the plot? The USA justice system is apparently more corrupt than the 3rd world countries!
Regarding the money and fingerprints episode, the police could have just checked whether the money used for bail had fingerprints of Bhaktipada. If there were none, it would have proved that Radhanath Swami was lying and Dharmatma was right.
We see that so many conspirators were there. But Tapahpunja is having special status. Why is he pleading with Bhaktipada for ten hours at the behest of Tirtha? I mean, others such as Kuladri and Dharmatma are also involved. But they don’t seem to care. Tapahpunja could have similarly distanced himself! Why was he trying to escape with Tirtha? He could have escaped separately. Gorby requested Hayagriva to give Tirtha the money to escape.
Why did the 2nd trial take place at all in 1996, if Kirtanananda was acquitted of the charges after his successful appeal against the judgment of the 1st trial in 1991? Why did the government place a plea deal in 1994 before an innocent Kirtanananda (as he won in the appellate court in Richmond)?
Why were Radhanath and Janmastami called to testify before the grand jury? No one had implicated them. Even if Dharmatma had implicated Radhanath, why was Janmastami called to appear before the grand jury? Why did ISKCON suspect that Radhanath could be involved in the conspiracy? I conjecture because they had told that he could be a GBC member, provided he was not implicated or indicted in the investigation.
Regarding the Winnebago Incident, only the driver saw. How is it possible that the half of the community believed the accusations against the spiritual master by one man? Why was the driver’s words taken so seriously? The implications are grave. How Radhanath Swami lost his faith so quickly and left in haste? Who threatened Radhanath and Devamrita Swamis that they had to leave New Vrindaban? If Radhanath Swami came to know that Kirtanananda was corrupt, why did he never appreciate Sulochan’s efforts to expose Bhaktipada as a pretender?
Why would Janmastami threaten all residents of New Vrindaban? What could be his motive? Janmastami is apparently not directly related to any of the New Vrindaban conspirators, barring Radhanath. So if Radhanath is innocent, who else could have brought him into the plot to kill Sulochan?
Devotee in Kolkata, India (Name deleted by request)
Author’s reply: Dear Friend,
Thank you for your inquiries. You have excellent questions. Some I may be able to answer, others not.
Q: “How can conspirators such as Krishna-Katha and Kuladri get 100% immunity, as they are intimately involved in the plot? The justice system is apparently more corrupt than the 3rd world countries!”
A: As I understand it, often the prosecutors need inside information to convict the big crime bosses. So they give immunity to a lesser player and expect him or her to tell the complete truth, in return for freedom and immunity from all charges. This works very well to get the big bosses of organized crime behind bars, even if some lesser players go scot-free.
Q: “Regarding the money and fingerprints episode, the police could have just checked whether the money used for bail had fingerprints of Bhaktipada. If there were none, it would have proved that Radhanath Swami was lying and Dharmatma was right. We see that so many conspirators were there.”
A: I imagine the police might have checked Tapahpunja’s bail money for fingerprints, but if they did, they did not find any fingerprints of Kirtanananda. So the money must have come from somewhere else, maybe the New Vrindaban Accounting Office. But remember, at that time, one week after the murder, the Kent police had no idea who was Radhanath Swami, and why they should have checked the bail money for fingerprints. I never heard that the Kent police checked Tapahpunja’s bail money for fingerprints. Yes, Kent police (or federal investigators) checked Tirtha’s money for fingerprints, but that is because they had a warrant for Tirtha (not Tapahpunja or Radhanath.)
Q: “But Tapahpunja is having special status. Why is he pleading with Bhaktipada for ten hours at the behest of Tirtha? I mean, others such as Kuladri and Dharmatma are also involved. But they don’t seem to care. Tapahpunja could have similarly distanced himself! Why was he trying to escape with tirtha? He could have escaped separately.”
A: I guess that Tapahpunja Swami felt affection for Tirtha. He had some pity for Tirtha. He also knew that if Tirtha was arrested, New Vrindaban would be in trouble. He loved Bhaktipada and New Vrindaban. He understood that Tirtha must leave the country and fast. Dharmatma and Kuladri did not have the same love for Tirtha which Tapahpunja had. Tapahpunja had much more association with Tirtha. He lived with Tirtha in Buffalo, and in Columbus. He knew Tirtha was at heart a sincere devotee, even childlike, in some respects, perhaps due to his unhappy childhood. So Tapahpunja wanted to help him escape.
Q: “Why did the 2nd trial take place at all in 1996, if Kirtanananda was acquitted of the charges after his successful appeal against the judgment of the 1st trial in 1991? Why did the government place a plea deal in 1994 before an innocent Kirtanananda (as he won in the appellate court in Richmond)?”
A: Even when a conviction is overturned on appeal, the prosecutors are allowed to schedule another trial, to try to convict the accused again. The prosecutors made mistakes in the 1991 trial, which they intended to avoid in the 1996 trial.
I imagine the government offered a plea deal in 1994 because they didn’t want to spend all the money to have a second trial. Maybe the prosecutors were mindful that public opinion might have changed, or maybe their budgets were curtailed. Who knows?
Q: “Why were Radhanath and Janmastami called to testify before the grand jury? No one had implicated them. Even if Dharmatma had implicated Radhanath, why was Janmastami called to appear before the grand jury?”
A: Obviously, the prosecutors thought Radhanath and Janmastami had important information regarding the murder plot. Undoubtedly Krishna-Katha in Los Angeles told the prosecutors about Janmastami, who he met in Los Angeles in February 1986, and traveled with Tirtha to the Mojave Desert to look at abandoned mine shafts in which to dispose of the body. So the police HAD to interrogate Janmastami. Regarding Radhanath Swami? Who knows. Obviously they thought RS might have been involved, or might have information to incriminate Bhaktipada, who was the person the prosecutors really wanted to get.
It is likely that it was Jagad-Guru Swami (B. G. Narasimha Swami), who heard Radhanath’s confession about the murder on a beach in San Diego, who reported Radhanath to the investigators. He said so himself, in so many words.
Q: “Why did ISKCON suspect that Radhanath could be involved in the conspiracy? I conjecture because they had told that he could be a GBC member, provided he was not implicated or indicted in the investigation.”
A: It is likely that Radhanath spoke about the murder plot to some of his ISKCON godbrothers. We know he spoke about it, after the murder, to Jagad Guru Swami on a beach in San Diego. Jagad Guru Swami says he spoke to the FBI. I’m sure he was one of the persons who incriminated Radhanath Swami. RS undoubtedly spoke about the murder plot to others.
Q: “Regarding the Winnebago Incident, only the driver saw. How is it possible that the half of the community believed the accusations against the spiritual master by one man? Why was the driver’s words taken so seriously? The implications are grave.”
A: Half the community believed for two reasons: (1) Sarvabhauma dasa was a respected and serious devotee, not a fringie. (2) We had heard rumors for so many years, and many of us had serious doubts about Bhaktipada. The Winnebago Incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back and allowed all those people who in secret harbored doubts to now reveal those doubts to others and we were surprised that so many others also had doubts. Of course, those who remained dedicated disciples considered us blasphemers.
Q: “How Radhanath Swami lost his faith so quickly and left in haste? Who threatened Radhanath and Devamrita Swamis that they had to leave New Vrindaban? If Radhanath Swami came to know that Kirtanananda was corrupt, why did he never appreciate Sulochan's efforts to expose Bhaktipada as a pretender?”
A: As early as 1987, Radhanath had heard from reliable sources (the gurukula boys) that Kirtanananda Swami was giving fellatio to the boys in his ashram at his house. At the time, Radhanath thought that this testimony might be rumor, after all, it was only one year earlier he had participated in the murder of Sulochan to protect the “pure devotee” Bhaktipada, so Radhanath had doubts about the boy, and the boy was forced to leave New Vrindaban, out of fear of death threats. Six years later, in 1993 at the Winnebago Incident, Radhanath was finally convinced (like many of us at New Vrindaban) that Bhaktipada was having sex with boys and young men. Or, if he was convinced earlier, finally he did something about it: he rejected Bhaktipada as spiritual master and left his service.
Ramanath dasa, a disciple of Bhaktipada from Malaysia with Mafia connections (now deceased I have heard) who was visiting New Vrindaban for the first time for Bhaktipada’s 1993 vyasa-puja festival, made the threats, as I heard. I’m sure others might have made similar threats. When Radhanath Swami finally understood that his shiksha guru, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, was corrupt, Sulochan had been long dead for seven years. I imagine Radhanath felt terrible that he had participated in the conspiracy to assassinate a godbrother who was eventually proved correct in his criticism of Kirtanananda Swami. I noticed that in the 1990s Radhanath preached incessantly about love and tolerance. I think he was trying to reverse the prevailing opinion at the time: that blasphemy should be corrected with violence.
Q: “Why would Janmastami threaten all residents of New Vrindaban? What could be his motive? Janmastami is apparently not directly related to any of the New Vrindaban conspirators, barring Radhanath. So if Radhanath is innocent, who else could have brought him into the plot to kill Sulochan?”
A: Janmastami did not threaten all residents of New Vrindaban. This was a rumor spread by a sannyasa disciple of Radhanath Swami (out of respect I did not mention his name in Killing For Krishna, although I included a few clues regarding his identity) when he communicated with me by email. Thomas Westfall, the former sergeant at the Marshall County Sheriff Office, know nothing about this. Therefore, it certainly did not happen.
Radhanath is not innocent, as attested by Janmastami dasa, Hari Venu dasa, Kuladri dasa, Jyotirdhama dasa, Jagad-Guru Swami (B. G. Narasimha Swami), and Priyavrata dasa. Please give me permission to post our exchange on the Killing For Krishna Facebook page, my friend.
Devotee in Kolkata, India: Thank you for answering the questions. It cleared a lot of doubts. Please post prabhu if you want. I have one request. Please don’t write my name. I know the ISKCON temples, but I am not a regular devotee. I am practicing at home.
April 16, 2020: Hi Henry,
I’ve read Killing For Krishna twice now. Once, including every End Note, and once just the story itself.
Oh my! Your attention to detail, your myriad End Notes, and your personal memories have made this a book far beyond the usual range of such literary documentaries! Reading Killing For Krishna has been a very difficult, informative and also healing experience.
All I had to go by for years was [the pulp-fiction book] Monkey On A Stick, and conversations with a few of the New Dwarka [Los Angeles] devotees. Interestingly, you’ve somehow presented each person as an actual person, not just a cardboard cutout.
My Amazon Review is going to be carefully written, so as to follow in your compassionate footsteps, while telling of the care and talent you’ve given in this book.
I’ve also just started Tirtha’s [book] 100 Monkeyz. Tell me—did he actually write this? It’s too well structured, and so nearly poetic, that it’s difficult to reconcile him in his role in Sulochan’s murder with him as a talented author. Not that all sociopaths are without such talents, but showing such emotionality doesn’t seem to “fit”—or am I wrong? The one consistent thought is that the entire story is all about him. Him the victim, him the strong survivor of countless strange difficulties.
Actually, sociopaths have a particular knack at presenting [themselves] as good, well-meaning, emotional (crocodile tears abound) fellows.
Fortunately, my training and experience in psychology—including forensic psychology—made such “theatrical acts” pretty transparent.
This honestly was a painful healing. The work you put into this book, just like [your more recent book] Eleven Naked Emperors, is nearly tangible. Your thoughts, experiences really made it more like a conversation with a friend. It was hard to put the book aside for ordinary daily living activities.
Every “player” really becomes a person. Even Kirtanananda, who I met only once or twice, and found him rather scary. I had the uncomfortable experience of Hayagriva, in the Haight-Ashbury temple [during the spring/summer of 1967]. Uncomfortable because I was a young (overly sheltered) 17 year old, and he was constantly touching and hugging me ... he smelled ...
I think most revealing was Rabid-Nut [Radhanath Swami]—his manipulating ways. Never met him, but have seen videos of him—and he’s oily. As I said before, you treated him with compassion and respect. You’re a bigger man than me.
I am now eagerly awaiting your third book [Gold, Guns and God]—I know it will be another keeper!
Wade Ryan (Damodar dasa, ACBSP)
April 20, 2020
Dear Henry Prabhuji.
I purchased Eleven Naked Emperors through Amazon. I plan on getting a print copy of Killing for Krishna before the May 2020 Sulochan Memorial in Los Angeles as well, but I especially love that both your ebooks are free for Amazon Prime members. I have recommended, and got many people to read Killing For Krishna on their Kindle app because it’s free if you have Amazon Prime. A LOT of people who wouldn’t have purchased a copy, quite a few younger devotees who don’t have much money, read Killing For Krishna through their Kindle readers.
I recommended Eleven Naked Emperors and Killing For Krishna to all my friends on the Facebook group I manage, which has about 30 people on there, and I read at the end of Eleven Naked Emperors in the “Aftermath” chapter where you talk about where each of the eleven zonal acharyas are now, so they could get more info on that. Your book had stuff in it that even I didn’t know! Amazing work! I’ll do a short recommendation video soon.
I can’t wait to meet you and Yashodanandan Prabhu at the Sulochan Memorial. Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances as well Prabhuji. Thank you for giving such great work! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
San Francisco, California
April 23, 2020
Henry Doktorski III, Hare Krishna!
Thanks for your hard work to make THE TRUTH visible for all those who haven’t chanced to see her (THE TRUTH) without taking ANY side: ISKCON—GBC vs. ISKCON—IRM. Thanks for your objective pointing THE TRUTH in both of your books, Killing For Krishna and Eleven Naked Emperors. Looking forward on your third book, Gold, Guns and God, because you are bee and you are blessed by HDG Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna to open eyes of many aspirating devotees who are confused by rumor (prajalpa) and contaminated with hearing/reading offences (Vaisnava aparadha) even to the devotees who don’t deserve to be offended.
Dinanatha dasa (Dragan Buskoski)
Kičevo, Republic of Macedonia
May 10, 2020
I had a question as I was reading the last chapter of Killing for Krishna. Please tell whether there is any proof that Radhanath, Janmastami, and other members were subpoenaed in 1993. Because Kirtanananda, if I am right, had successfully appealed against the judgment of the first trial that concluded in 1991. Why were they subpoenaed? Please tell in some detail about how Radhanath Swami’s father was able to protect him from the government? He was not a big man! There was no evidence that Radhanath was involved in the plot at that time. There was no witness who would testify against him. So why would he take the help of his father in the first place.
Devotee in Kolkata (Name deleted by request)
Author’s reply: Thank you for your inquiry, Sir. Very soon after Bhaktipada was convicted on Good Friday, 1991, he made a motion to appeal his case. If the motion was approved by the judge, the prosecutors knew if he won his appeal that they would have to try him again in court. As it was, Alan Dershowitz, whom Bhaktipada hired in May 1991, won Bhaktipada’s appeal two years later, on July 1, 1993, as explained in Killing For Krishna.
Janmastami claims that he and Radhanath and Paramahamsa-Krishna Swami and Bhakti-Rasa Swami were subpoenaed in Spring of 1993, Janmastami claims that he and Radhanath were asked to talk about the Sulochan murder charges, and PK Swami and Bhakti-Rasa on copyright issues. PK was director of Palace Publishing. At this time Bhaktipada had not yet won his appeal, but even if he had, there is no reason why the prosecutors would not continue their investigation, as they thought if Bhaktipada won his appeal, they would charge him again and try him again in court, which they did in April 1996.
Regarding Radhanath Swami and his father, we do not know what influence Gerald Slavin had/has on Federal Law Enforcement or Investigative agencies. We know, as stated in Radhanath Swami’s autobiography, that Gerald Slavin had become quite wealthy since the 1970s. Wealthy people often contribute generously to political campaigns, such as elections for judges, police chiefs, district attorneys, governors, Congressmen, etc. Wealthy people often have strong connections with political leaders.
It is rumored that the father of Shri-Galim (Gary Gardner), a wealthy Texas cattle rancher, sold 100 head of cattle to pay off the West Virginia District Attorney who was in charge of the child sexual molestation case of Shri-Galim to convince him to drop the charges. Mother Kanka, whose son was molested by Shri-Galim, had several boys, including her son, ready to testify at trial that Shri-Galim had sexually abused the boys. However, suddenly and without warning, the charges were dropped. Very strange, in my opinion. Wealth certainly has a great influence on justice in the United States.
Lately it has come to my attention that Radhanath Swami may still be involved with a government agency, perhaps the CIA, as an informant within ISKCON. It is certainly possible, that the United States government in 1993 wanted a spy with a very high position at New Vrindaban, and they may have promised Radhanath Swami that any information incriminating him in the murder of Sulochan, or other crimes at New Vrindaban, would not be used against him, if he became a government informant, as Randall Gorby earlier had been.
Undoubtedly, as he was implicated up to his neck in the plot, as revealed in Killing For Krishna, Radhanath Swami would have jumped at the opportunity to save his neck. A year later, when he rejoined ISKCON as an initiating guru and GBC member, he undoubtedly became much more valuable as a government agent highly planted in ISKCON. We do not know any of this, but recent events, including a government agent familiar with the New Vrindaban case, has recently approached one of the devotees who participated in the murder plot, and strongly suggested that he keep his nose out of business which the United States government does not want anyone to know about. This devotee has decided to “retire” from his efforts to convince Radhanath Swami to confess his involvement in the murder as he knows he has absolutely no power against the vast wealth of the United States government. He does not want to end up as Randall Gorby, another government agent, ended up: dead. It was officially ruled a suicide, but under extremely suspicious circumstances.
Perhaps Radhanath Swami also fears the United States government. If he is and has been an agent for the last 27 years, he has undoubtedly contributed much information about criminal activities which may be still going on in ISKCON. Maybe he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he confesses that he helped in the conspiracy to murder Sulochan, he would certainly lose his favored agent status, and might expect an assassination attempt, similar perhaps to what happened to Gorby. We can only pray for Radhanath Swami’s deliverance. When I last saw him, he appeared to be in great anxiety, and I expect he is still in anxiety today. Certainly the actual facts regarding the story of the murder of Sulochan are difficult to discern, and it is likely, in my opinion, that Radhanath, Kuladri, and others in ISKCON and the government will take these secrets with them to their graves.
June 22, 2020
It is terrible to become fully aware of so many terrible events like those you describe in Killing for Krishna. But it is necessary to know the truth. When I bought your book last year I put it on a shelf and started waiting for the right moment to read it. Everyday I took a look at its cover and didn’t open it: I was scared of what I would read in it one day. Now I know. Thank you Henry.
Devotee in Italy
August 26, 2020
Henry, if you can open the eyes of just one person and save them, it is enough. If you can save more, it is the beginning of a new era. We all need to know the Truth. I suffered while reading Killing for Krishna. After buying the book I let it sit on top of a shelf for about a year. I was afraid of reading it although I already knew something about Sulochan’s death. Then I decided it was time to read it. I cried for long hours when I discovered about the mischievous actions of those who were supposed to take care of so many people and educate them spiritually. But I went on. I am a different woman now. No lies in my Life. No Fairy tales: I don't need them anymore. Krishna Is in my heart. But I say NO to rascals telling lies and abusing people.
November 18, 2020
In Senigallia, Italy, today is a sunny day at 3:49 in the afternoon and I’m happy because through reading your book, Killing For Krishna, I’m learning lots of things and gaining new insights every day. When you mentioned a couple weeks ago that you were tired of always being asked by reporters and interviewers about negative things regarding your past experiences at New Vrindaban, I started thinking: “Henry is right. Everything has a good counterpart.”
So I started seeing things differently. Our spiritual life is something great, the way we get to it is personal, but I must say that the Hindu philosophy has helped me cope with the heavy load I sometimes have to carry on my shoulders. One of my nephews told me a few days ago: “Henry gave you the opportunity to renew your faith in God and live happy.” And it’s true. Now I’m not trying to convince myself something great exists beyond reality. I know it exists and I can talk to a friend who is not a fanatic! Thank you Henry!
November 20, 2020
I finished your book, Killing For Krishna. I found it good to help me heal from the trauma I experienced while in ISKCON. Many, many ISKCON members were abused by their leaders’ strange ideas of Krishna. Most temples copied Kirtanananda’s mood to push devotees to be unpaid slaves of the invented idea that by making money one pleases Krishna. It’s very cultish. You did well to survive after all that weird stuff at New Vrindaban. It would probably ruin most folks.
I joined in 1978 in Ireland, and I helped buy the Inis Rath temple. I’m still trying to heal from all the cult false patterns. It ain’t easy to unlearn fake spiritual concepts. My bad karma, perhaps? Jayatirtha was my first “spiritual master,” then came Satsvarupa. Later, I took diksha outside of ISKCON and then, of course, I was treated like a criminal. Such a cruel little fundamentalist group. Material energy is cruel. Real surrender to God is a very intimate, private thing.
While living in Ireland, we had little trouble, but while reading your book I saw that Prithu (the temple president at ISKCON Inis Rath) and most of ISKCON tried to copy mad Kirtanananda. Of course the Lord allowed it to happen. It is a priceless lesson for you and all of us to really go deep and see how many nasty traps there are if we follow such an unfortunate person. It is truly one of the darkest places to go with such a wonderful process. However, I sense ISKCON is now more polished and even more crafty than Kirtanananda was, and it's still is going on. It’s like a phony strange Disneyland version of Krishna.
Reading your book also activated some trauma in me, as I experienced the sense of falseness which cults create. Indeed, I’m lucky to be alive. Four devotees from Ireland committed suicide; such was the damaging effect of their mis-treatment in ISKCON.
I left ISKCON around 2006, but the training—does it ever leave us? Every year in November and December I shut down, cause of old trauma from doing loads of Christmas marathons. Such an artificial, unnatural life style. I feel ISKCON is one the worst cults. It holds real truths, but they use it to cheat folks to make slaves for money for their fake GBC and gurus. I’m healing. I’m learning. I hope the mystical Lord will help you heal fully and a real blossoming of love awakens in your heart.
Clifford Kirk (Keshimardana dasa)
November 20, 2020
[Regarding the letter from Clifford Kirk to Henry]: Right. A psychotherapist told me that when there is a cult, the people who die from suicide are really only the tip of the iceberg. Many others are suffering terribly, but only a very few more severe cases will actually take the step to take their own lives. That means many others, perhaps hundreds or even thousands, are feeling depressed and somewhat suicidal. They are surviving, meanwhile suffering a lot of mental trauma. They are more in control of their depression, begging the question, what kind of “leaders” make their followers depressed, even suicidal?
I had a friend here who was initiated by a GBC guru, and he just could not live with himself any more, because he was sort of a violent goonda “enforcer” for the GBC guru. He told me “I have committed many, many dark deeds to defend my guru.” And so, after he discovered his guru was bogus, he only lived for about 8 months, and he took his own life. I really cried over that death, such a waste and for no good reason, other than his bogus guru had a big ego to feed.
And there are a number of similar cases. So his guru has all the blood of this suicide victim on his hands, since the bogus guru is 100 percent responsible that this event happened. Wow, it seems to me Yamaraja is going to take these gurus and have his agents take the stuffing out of them, if we are to believe shastra. And the enablers and goody two shoes apologists like Mukunda swami will have their place on Yama’s planet fixed up as well.
Sometimes there is also physical trauma, because the victims gave the best years of their lives and now that they are more elderly and worn out, and they are somewhat disabled, they get weeded out and left to fend for themselves. Anyway we have seen some other positive feed back from Henry’s books—because then the victims’ lives make more sense, they are simply co-victims along with many others. And so it gives them a little relief that they are not just isolated fools who are offenders who are going crazy.
Some devotees commit suicide direct—and others get cancer etc. due to stress and depression—and they sort of commit suicide through the back door. Needless to say, these leaders are going to have literally hell to pay for making all these Vaishnavas suffer. This devotee is correct, the reason Kirtanananda became the darling of the ISKCON leaders is—they wanted to be like him. He was the role model for the rest of them, like Prithu, etc.
So it is a cult, and a very nasty one too. The only good news is—more people are waking up and sharing their experiences and realizations, so it is slowing down future victims from getting exploited. Perhaps Krishna created the Internet so people could research all this and figure out what is what.
Right now another professional author has contacted PADA for some help with putting together a book of the history. Again it is odd, so many devotee complain they do not like the books of Henry, and they may—or may not—like this author either, meanwhile they are not authoring their own books. Lots of sour grapes out there. Anyway we wish this devotee [Clifford Kirk] well, he is right, it is a miracle me, Henry and himself even survived all this. Many did not.
Tim Lee (Puranjana dasa)
Originally posted in “Feedback from Killing For Krishna”
Krishna 1008: Hare Krishna News
November 20, 2020
The books of Henry have a way to show us that we were not alone being brainwashed with all kinds of nonsense beliefs: like the ISKCON GURUS, Kirtanananda, Jayatirtha and so many others were “PURE DEVOTEES.” Thousands of naive and innocent devotees had to take initiations from those unscrupulous phony spiritual masters and suffer the consequences and unfortunately as you mentioned here many did commit suicides.
I joined ISKCON in 1969 in Los Angeles. The Hare Krishna movement then was still innocent, in a sort of a GOLDEN age of Krishna consciousness on the west coast of the USA. I mainly dealt exclusively with Swami Bhaktivedanta, who could be quite a SAGE and wise person at times. And at other times he would make very stupid and dangerous statements such as stating that KIRTANANANDA (a very active pedophile at the time) was a pure devotee of Sri Krishna. Statements that eventually lead to killing of Sulochan and sexual abuses of hundreds of children in Hare Krishna schools.
Some devotees are still 40 years later totally brainwashed and still signing the GLORIES OF PRABHUPADA, and some have actively DEPROGRAMMED themselves from such brainwashing, and reprogrammed their hearts and minds with positive things to do with their life. Henry is a bit of a role model for making a great change with one’s life. He writes (and I am sure that is therapy for him), he plays music, teaches chess to children, and is close to his parents and his kids. Deprogramming does take a strong desire to get rid of unwanted beliefs. Sometimes it takes years to accomplish. Spirituality is still the center of my life, but now it’s more things like Buddhist and Advaita meditations. Some of the basic teachings of Krishna consciousness, like the Bhagavad-gita chapter 2, will always be important to me. The beliefs in GODs and GODDESSES has left my life. It’s more ZEN in the HERE and NOW.
Henri Jolicoeur (formerly Hanuman Swami, ACBSP)
February 4, 2021
I just finished reading your very well-documented book: Killing for Krishna. In the first place, I’d like to thank you for your brave and diligent work to find out the truth behind a curtain of lies and misinformation.
I also appreciated the degree of compassion that you show with everyone involved in the whole drama related to the Kirtanananda/New Vrindaban affairs. You do not try to justify any of the misdeeds committed by the conspirators, yet you put the facts in a light in which is possible to understand what led people to do what they did.
It really puzzles me how such a beautiful and delicate doctrine as Vaishnavism can lead to such bizarre outcomes, the Lord for sure is mysterious. I myself am really puzzled by the complexity of Prabhupada, also. Sometimes right on spot and divine, other times allowing for strange ideas and notions to creep in the leadership of his movement.
I am a Brazilian and also sympathetic to the Hare Krishna movement. Since I live in a kind of “isolated state” here, I do not have much direct association with the devotees, so I just got together a small group to make kirtan, chant Hare Krishna and study Vedic literature. I do one-hour of mahamantra a day, which corresponds to only 4 rounds in my very slow pace. I have some concrete results with japa meditation and I believe the doctrine is really beautiful and contains more than a grain of truth in it, so I really feel bad that pretenders hold positions of power in what could be such a beautiful movement to bring happiness and peace to people in general.
That said, I'm getting in touch to see if you would like to have your book translated to Brazilian Portuguese, I think the propagation of this type of information could really help advance the cause of Truth.
Although I’m not a professional translator, I do work in the Academy (I’m a University professor), having a Math PhD in one of the best universities here in Brazil, also I collaborated with researchers in Italy, India, USA and other countries. I did some translation work also from Italian to Portuguese for some Italian devotees (two books) that I did exclusively as devotional work.
Please let me know if you have any interest in getting your books translated to Portuguese.
Name deleted by request
March 15, 2021
I am listening and watching the Interview with Mahatma das (Mario Pineda), Part 1. Very impressive! And you come across as very sincere and want to help expose the truth. It’s very good. You reveal in the interview that you had no animosity towards anyone, and that you enjoyed the spiritual time of 15 years you spent in New Vrindavan. Why I think your book, Killing For Krishna, is important for devotees to know about, is that there is still seemingly immovable corruption of different sorts, in the highest ranks of ISKCON leadership. That I have personal and unfortunate experience of. To be true to the phrase that Srila Prabhupada said, “Purity is the force,” that corruption has to be revealed to the devotees, who in turn have to act to help rid iskcon of this serious darkness. There has to be checks and balances over the GBC and the guru system, by persons who are not GBC members. So let’s start....by telling the truth! face it, accept it, and help return ISKCON to the pure force that was there in the original ISKCON Prabhupada started.
Disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1971
Founder of two ISKCON temples in Arizona
May 12, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars. Non-devotee loved this book. Prior to reading this book I knew virtually nothing about the Krishna community but despite this, I really enjoyed Killing For Krishna. Factual events are presented in such way that it reads like a mystery as it describes disturbing information concerning this “cultish” religion as well as our legal system. And I have so much empathy for the man who is still in jail for this crime. In the beginning, I thought he was the “bad” guy, but he’s the hero. (As well as the author for telling the story.) I will be reading the next one, Eleven Naked Emperors. I’m very impressed with the work and extensive info the author put into the first book.
October 27, 2022
Prabhupada said we should enter like a needle and exit like a plow. Perhaps my history books are beginning to have a small effect for the better? I received the following message this morning from a former ISKCON devotee who works as a therapist. He explained:
I had a long conversation with a distraught young lady on the phone last night. She was nearly brainwashed to join the Radhanath cult. Radhanath's disciples attempted to pressure her to surrender and become a Radhanath Swami disciple. It looks like your books and your interviews with me helped make her decide not to go forward into the abyss. She says she is leaving the Radhanath cult. She is still shaken. So BRAVO for your books.
December 30, 2022
Lots of people like the book Killing for Krishna. Lots of people do not like the same book. Meanwhile! Lots of people never write any history of any type anywhere ever themselves, but they like to armchair advise others.
“Write this and not that!” OK, are you going to stick your neck out and write something yourself? Didn’t think so! I am the original person who bought out “the poison tapes” and that is because—no one else could or would. Could not be bothered. If you can present the history better than us, then go for it! Everyone has the same freedom of speech we do!
Puranjana dasa ACBSP (Tim Lee)
Srila Prabhupada’s Poison Complaint (2 Volume Set)
January 8, 2023
Mandatory reading for devotees hopefully.
London, United Kingdom
January 8, 2023
Over time this book will be read by millions—perhaps. After all it is very well researched history in ISKCON’s post-Prabhupada era. Couple hundred years from now it’ll be a classic and one of the few books from this time that is honest.
Daryl Mark Johnston
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