Dear Devotees of ISKCON,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
We are writing as a follow-up to our letter dated January 13, 2012.
After several in-depth conversations with Prabhavisnu Prabhu and others, we would like to report further on Prabhavisnu Prabhu’s situation. We apologize for the delay in sending this letter out. It took time to answer the many questions being asked and to gather and digest the information.
Although it appears Prabhavisnu Prabhu strictly maintained both his brahmacari and sannyasa asramas from the time he joined in 1971 until 2001, he has admitted to a number of sexual falldowns, particularly in 2001.
Rumors that Prabhavisnu Prabhu had been in contact with a prostitute began to circulate around 2002. He was questioned about them by a godbrother (and later by a disciple), but he denied the allegations and the godbrother did not investigate the matter further. Rumors about his sexual improprieties again circulated in 2008. This time the source was identified as a life member who had told a senior devotee that he saw Prabhavisnu Prabhu with a woman in Bangkok. The Sannyasa Minister investigated, but again Prabhavisnu Prabhu denied there was any truth to the rumor. During the investigation, when the life member was contacted, he refused to verify his allegations or discuss the matter further. While concerned, the Sannyasa Minister felt it was not possible to confirm the allegations.
Prabhavisnu Prabhu says he thought that he could overcome his weaknesses by sticking to his duties and service. Because he wasn’t successful, he says he stopped accepting new disciples from 2002 until the present (with the exception in 2004 of the spouse of one disciple).
Allegations surfaced again around the time Prabhavisnu Prabhu resigned a few weeks ago.
In conversations with GBC representatives, Prabhavisnu Prabhu has informed us that in addition to the problems mentioned above, in 2011 he met a woman in Bangkok and began a relationship with her. She runs a clothing business and is not a devotee. He informed us he is undecided about his long-term plans, but he is considering marriage. He also told us he is exhausted by his responsibilities and the amount of travel his service has required of him, and acknowledges that he overstepped himself in accepting the sannyasa-asrama at such a young age. (The GBC has since instituted much longer waiting periods and much stricter monitoring for sannyasa candidates.)
His actions have betrayed the trust of others and caused pain and distress to his disciples and other devotees, and for that he expresses great regret. When a leading devotee falls from his vows and betrays others’ trust, it calls on the devotee community to respond with compassion and support both for those whose trust has been broken and the person suffering the weakness. The GBC is in communication with Prabhavisnu Prabhu’s diksa and siksa disciples, offering them support, and with Prabhavisnu Prabhu himself, trying to help him in his spiritual life.
The GBC is also aware that Prabhavisnu Prabhu had a duty to ISKCON not to misuse money collected in the Society’s name during his time as a guru and sannyasi. After our initial review, we are yet to find any misuse of funds. Prabhavisnu Prabhu appears to have channeled donations he has received in his position as an ISKCON leader to ISKCON projects either locally where he was visiting or especially to Bangladesh and Nepal for the development of ISKCON there. He also provided funds to a trust in Vrindavan for a house there. That house is used primarily for brahmacaris, though he has stayed there during his visits to Vrindavan and is one of four trustees of the
property. He informed us that any money he spent for other purposes was drawn from an inheritance he received from his father.
Gurus and sannyasis are required by ISKCON law to provide financial statements for ISKCON monies received and disbursed each year, and after reviewing these records and interviewing devotees in positions of leadership under Prabhavisnu Prabhu, this seems to be the case.
There may be questions still needing to be answered. The GBC will continue to look into the matter, but we hope this information will help the devotees understand the situation more clearly.
Prabhavisnu’s actions severely violated his vows. Sadly, he betrayed the trust of others, and caused pain to devotees around the world who have been inspired by him and followed him in devotional service. Spiritual leadership requires honesty with oneself and others. His inability to live up to the standards he vowed has been disappointing and disturbing. Spiritual life is difficult, and as Srila Prabhupada warned, even stalwarts can fall prey to the allurements of illusory pleasures. The GBC has learned the wisdom of responding to such difficult situations carefully and with humble hearts, and we try to respond according to a person’s willingness to admit his deviations and feel remorse.
In that regard, Prabhavishnu Prabhu has apologized to the ISKCON society, the GBC, and to his followers and disciples. He has expressed his regret and acknowledges that his actions have caused pain. He has also stated his desire to continue to serve Srila Prabhupada in a humbler way. And rightly, given the circumstances, he gave up his positions as guru, sannyasi, and GBC member.
While acknowledging his serious deviations, we pray he will rectify himself under the guidance of senior Vaishnavas and again choose a noble, if humbler, path of service. The GBC wishes to acknowledge the pain this causes those who been serving with and under Prabhavisnu Prabhu while at the same time acknowledging, as we feel Srila Prabhupada would, the extensive service Prabhavisnu Prabhu has rendered in some of the most challenging parts of the world.
Hrdaya Caitanya Das
Bhakti Caitanya Swami
GBC Executive Committee