Saturday, April 25, 2009

One-Year Arrest Update on Prakashanand — He Must Be Praying for a Miracle

File under: Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

By a former resident of Barsana Dham

[Ed.note: This is the first of what we hope will be many stories written by the readers of this blog. This first piece about Prakashaka BOOM, longtime Gp target Kreepalu's agent in America, is excellent and sets the bar quite high at the onset. If you'd like to have your say about your ex-guru, drop us a line at tips@guruphiliac.org].

25 April 2009 — Last year on this day, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati was cooling his heels in a prison in Alexandria, Virginia. Today he is obsessively compulsively flying back and forth from India to Austin; perhaps trying to shore up his life before he returns to jail — permanently.

Last year, on Thursday, April 24, 2008, after exiting an international flight at Washington Dulles International Airport, Prakashanand was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals from the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and arrested on 20 counts of indecency with a child. From that afternoon until Saturday afternoon, he was in the custody of law enforcement officers. If justice is served, he will spend the rest of his life in their company.

However, for the past year he has been free on one million dollars bail for the case involving two female minors. He also has a $10 million bond posted by one of his wealthy followers to ensure that he shows up for pre-trial hearings and the trial. The bond was posted so that he could receive his passport back. One stipulation of his bond is that he cannot step one foot back into the multi-million dollar ashram he built southwest of Austin with followers’ money. When in Austin, he stays two miles down the road at a home owned by one of his followers.

He has spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to move heaven and earth to get back into his “magical kingdom.” But so far Hays Judge Charles R. Ramsay has said no way two times. Now Prakashanand is trying his luck with the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals.

He also appears to be fighting like hell to postpone the actual trial for as long as humanly possible. In fact, for the past year he has not had one single pre-trial hearing. In the past year, Prakashanand’s case has been set and reset eight times, according to an article published Friday by Eric Dexheimer, an Austin American-Statesman journalist following the case. He wrote: “Prakashanand’s case has been winding through the court system at an unusually slow pace.” The Hays DA said in an email to him: “It is true that cases typically are not reset or canceled this many times in my experience.”

Although the Hays County DA has not revealed why the hearings have been delayed, rumors indicate that the excuses include Prakashanand claiming illness and hiring new lawyers (who then need time to get up to speed on the case).

The main reason is likely that he is praying for miracle: Hoping that his bad karma will all just go away.

You can be sure that Prakashanand is sparing no expense (of his followers’ donations) for the most aggressive legal defense. On one recent document submitted to the 3rd Court for his appeal there were seven lawyers cited. One of his lawyers brags on his firm’s website about his history of keeping accused murders and child molesters out of jail.

Since Prakashanand’s arrest, Barsana Dham has propagated much misinformation. Most notably, they have been telling followers and new parishioners that the women in the indictment are claiming sexual abuse by Prakashanand, because “they are angry at their parents” and “mad that they had to grow up in Barsana Dham.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The two women are, in fact, among the bravest people on the planet. They stood up to this man and his criminal behavior when so many others have left the organization quietly or turned a blind eye to the truth.

But Barsana Dham’s preachers and other higher-ups have not only committed lies of commission regarding this case. They have also omitted sharing several salient points including:

    The Hays County Sheriff’s office conducted a criminal investigation before they arrested Prakashanand.
    The Hays DA presented the case to a 12-member Grand Jury. This means that 12 citizens of Hays County heard the state’s case and agreed that there was enough evidence to indict Prakashanand of 20 counts of indecency with a child.
    Four branches of the law were involved in Prakashanand’s arrest — which could have occurred in Austin, Texas: But didn’t.
    Barsana Dham’s leadership calls former members “demons,” because they are speaking out about Prakashanand’s (and Barsana Dham’s other guru, Kripalu Maharaj’s) criminal behavior. The organization forbids current members to have any contact with them. Barsana Dham prefers its ex-members to just go away quietly — and, of course, has profited from people doing just that for decades.
    Prakashanand’s lawyers are bending the truth on his filings, including the brief to the 3rd Court of Appeals.
The irony is that Prakashanand’s followers treat him as if he is God. So, why aren’t they asking themselves: How could God get himself into such a mess — and, even more telling, why can’t he gracefully get himself out?

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28 Comments:

At 4/26/2009 3:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this.

 
At 4/27/2009 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good luck to the women

and we need more judges like this man, he seems the decent sort

this is what happens when the blind lead the blind and the blind follow the blind

a huge circus!

 
At 4/27/2009 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks to the author of this very concise and, I would precise piece. I echo the authors comments the two girls who took this action against Prakashanand are extremely brave and I hope that in the end justice is served and their effort is not in vain.

On reading this article one question kept coming to mind, if Prakashanand is guilt free then why would he not be running into the courtroom to protest his innocence? I think this is a key question whilst considered in the context of Prakashanand's policy to continually delay the trial.

x-devotees and objective observers alike might be forgiven to conclude that Prakashanand is hiding something, or many a lot? One can speculate that if he is proven guilty more women might be encouraged to come forward?

I don't live in the U.S. but having a good understanding of how the legal system works over there I am surprised that Prakashanand is not anxious to get on with the trail to prove his innocence. I can only concluded that he is way in over his head at this stage in the game and he is running scared.

To Prakashanand's 'loyal' devotees I would recommend that at the very least you should step back from the organization at this point. Ok so you've invested a lot of money and time. Perhaps you have introduced a lot of people to the movement and maybe your kids have grown up with to be part of the movement? Take away the good things that you learned, the positive aspects of being associated with the organization. But right now the most rational thing to do is take a break. If Prakashanand is proven innocent you can always step back in and take up where you left off. If he is proven guilty and goes to jail then you won't feel like you have been completely fooled.

Finally, and again to current devotees, you can have a spiritual life away from Barsana Dahm. It's a big lie that God only exists for Prakashanand and the movement.

I write as an exdevotee who is in no way angry about what is going on, I left the movement long before this all came to light. I still believe in the first lesson Prakashanand taught me - 'be good and do good' but I doubt that he really believes these words, which I heard him speak on many occasions.

 
At 4/28/2009 9:33 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

'I still believe in the first lesson Prakashanand taught me - 'be good and do good' but I doubt that he really believes these words, which I heard him speak on many occasions.'

Good comment. It also highlights that what matters is not the guru, or what the guru purports to give you, but what you take from the guru and make your own that counts in the end.

And it doesn't really matter, in the long term, whether the guru is a good or bad example, once you relise that this is a learning process for yourself, you can learn something worthwhile from anybody.

 
At 5/02/2009 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it doesn't really matter, in the long term, whether the guru is a good or bad example, once you relise that this is a learning process for yourself, you can learn something worthwhile from anybody. well spoken...

Dattatreya, the ascetic saint of ancient India has said:

"The Self alone is my Guru. Yet, I have learnt wisdom from twenty-four other individuals and objects. So they, too,
are also my Gurus."

Dattatreya then mentioned the names of his twenty-four Gurus and spoke of the wisdom that he had learnt from each as follows:

"The names of my twenty-four Gurus are earth, water, fire, sky, moon, sun, pigeon, python, ocean, moth, honey-gatherers (black bee), bees, elephant, deer, fish, the dancing-girl Pingala,
raven, child, maiden, serpent, arrow-maker, spider and beetle.

1. I learnt patience and doing good to others from the earth.

2. From water, I learnt the quality of purity.

3. I learnt from air to be without attachment though I move with many
people in this world.

4. From fire I learnt to glow with the splendour of Self-knowledge and austerity.

5. I learnt from the sky that the Self is all-pervading and yet it has no contact with any object.

6. I learnt from the moon that the Self is always perfect and changeless and it is only the limiting adjuncts that cast
shadows over it.

7. Just as a sun reflected in various pots of water appears as so many different reflections, so also Brahman appears different because of the bodies caused by the reflection through the mind. This is the lesson I have learnt from the sun.

8. I once saw a pair of pigeons with their young birds. A fowler spread a net and caught the young birds. The mother pigeon was very much attached to her children. She fell into the net and was caught.
From this I have learnt that attachment is the root cause of earthly bondage.

9. The python does not move about for its food. It remains contented with whatever it gets, lying in one place. From this I learnt to be unmindful of food and to be contented with whatever I get to eat.

10. Just as the ocean remains unmoved, even though hundreds of rivers
flow into it, so also the wise man should remain unmoved among all the various sorts of temptations, difficulties and troubles.

11. To control the sense of sight and to fix the mind on the Self, is the lesson I learnt from the moth.

12. I take a little food from one house and a little from another house and thus appease my hunger. I am not a burden on the householder. This I learnt from the black bee which gathers honey
from various flowers.

13. Bees collect honey with great trouble, but a hunter comes along
and takes the honey away easily.
From this I learnt that it is useless to hoard things.

14. The male elephant, blinded by lust, falls into a pit covered with
grass, even at the sight of a female elephant. Therefore, one should
destroy lust.

15. The deer is enticed and trapped by the hunter through its love of music. Therefore, one should never listen to lewd songs.

16. Just as a fish that is covetous of food falls an easy victim to the bait, so also the man who is greedy for food loses his independence and easily gets ruined.

17. There was a dancing girl named Pingala. Being tired of looking for customers, one night she became hopeless. She had to be contented
with what traffic she had that day and retired to a sound sleep.
I learnt from this fallen woman the lesson that the abandonment of hope
leads to contentment.

18. A raven picked up a piece of flesh. It was pursued and beaten by other birds. It dropped the piece of flesh and attained peace and rest.
From this I learnt that a man in the world undergoes all sorts of troubles and miseries when he runs after sensual pleasures and that he becomes as happy as the bird when he abandons them.

19. The child who sucks milk is free from all cares, worries and anxieties, and is always cheerful. I learnt the virtue of cheerfulness from the child.

20. The maiden was husking paddy. Her bangles made much noise and there were visitors from her husband's house. To silence the bangles, she removed them, one by one. Even when there were just two, they produced some noise. When she had only one, it did not make any noise, and she was happy.
I learnt from the maiden that living among many would create discord, disturbance, dispute and quarrel. Even
among two there might be unnecessary words or strife. The ascetic or the Sannyasin should remain alone in solitude.

21. A serpent does not build its own hole. It dwells in the holes dug out by others. Even so, an ascetic should not build a home for himself. He should live in a temple or a cave built by others.

22. I learnt from the arrow-maker the quality of intense concentration of mind.

23. The spider pours out of its mouth long threads and weaves them into cobwebs. Then it gets itself entangled in the net of its own making. Even so, man makes a net of his own ideas and gets entangled in it.
The wise man should, therefore, abandon all worldly thoughts and think of Brahman only.

24. The beetle catches hold of a worm, puts it in its nest and gives it a sting. The poor worm, always fearing the return of the beetle and sting, and thinking constantly of the beetle, becomes a beetle itself.
I learnt from the beetle and the worm to turn myself into the Self by contemplating constantly on It; thus I gave up all attachment to the body and attained liberation."

Dattatreya was absolutely free from intolerance or prejudice of any kind. He learnt wisdom from whatever source it came.
All seekers after wisdom should follow the example of Dattatreya.

 
At 5/03/2009 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could God get himself into such a mess — and, even more telling, why can’t he gracefully get himself out?

its all lila, dont you know, ask all the other cult leaders. these are all the little foibles of the great godhead.

nice to know that the great godhead is just as whacked out as the next lunatic who is locked safely behind bars, bouncing off the padded cell walls.

 
At 5/05/2009 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to anonymous 5/2/09

dattatreya, whoever he was, sounds like a true and humble guru.
what a wonderful, gentle and kind soul he comes across as!

wish there were more like him, true and good gurus i mean.

 
At 5/06/2009 8:41 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

'Dattatreya was absolutely free from intolerance or prejudice of any kind. He learnt wisdom from whatever source it came.
All seekers after wisdom should follow the example of Dattatreya.'

A lovely post, Anon. Thank you.

 
At 5/06/2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Dattatreya is about as likely to have existed on this earth, as Mickey Mouse. Story book students and story book teachers are always the most noble.

 
At 5/06/2009 7:26 PM, Anonymous ellen said...

'Story book students and story book teachers are always the most noble.'

Likewise dead ones. Its easy to be perfect when you're dead and the hagiography has been airbrushed.

Whoever wrote it, Dattatreya's testimony points to the value of observing and learning from whatever is around--- the only real wisdom available to anyone.

 
At 5/06/2009 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Dattatreya is about as likely to have existed on this earth, as Mickey Mouse.His story is from the Hindu Scripture, Srimad Bhagavatam, 11th canto, chapters 7-9. Interested seekers can read the summary in this article at:
http://www.exoticindia.com/article/guru/

 
At 5/06/2009 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Krishna answered with these immortal words:

"Those who investigate the nature of this world with their own
efforts manage to lift themselves up even without the help of a
guru. The self (atma) is one's real guru and guide, and man is
fully capable of arriving at his own good by both direct
perception and inference." (Shrimad Bhagavata Purana: 11.7.20)

This echoes the message of the Bhagavad Gita:

"Raise yourself by your own self" (6.5)

Towards this end, Krishna narrates the observations of the
accomplished master Dattatreya, who advanced spiritually by
learning from twenty-four different gurus in nature, stressing
that an alert person can learn valuable lessons from whatever he
sees and wherever he goes.
- an excerpt from the Dattatreya article

 
At 5/07/2009 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Dattatreya is about as likely to have existed on this earth, as Mickey Mouse

i know, a scary thought! even scarier still is the way they are always portrayed as this perfect beings when in real life, they possibly werent. deception in religion, a scary thing!

maybe scary is not the right word, maybe dangerous!

 
At 6/07/2009 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all, thanks for the constructive comments. Can anyone tell me what is going on with this case at present? When is it all due to come to a head?

 
At 6/12/2009 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh dear dear jody, whats happened?
why are you nolonger printing my comments? dont tell me this site is now being heavily censored?

or is it that the likes of chuck and co are the only ones floating your boat?

or have admin fallen asleep or is it their time of month?

oh dearie dearie me....

 
At 6/25/2009 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the couts say he can't get back into Barsana Dham. Guess he's not above the material laws as was told to the residents by the Vice President

 
At 3/08/2011 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i couldnt figure out what exactly was the Gurus crime?

 
At 3/08/2011 6:06 PM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

when guru/good people comes and wanted to serve something.we objected him and see fault at him.When he left and proved innocent,we worship him.there was always devi's advocate ,in Jesus time too.Lord could have done miracle at that time too.He had all facilities ,if he is person of odd moto ,he could have done all very safly.why he would have taken a risk with child?as complained.do not u feel that the western grown child might have felt suffocating when asked to grow inside ashram by parents.can u be able to remove the bad name/impression u earned for swamiji in public,if he is really innocent?its easy to blame.I personally know him from last 20 years and the org,he is really good good and innocent,its only individual perception .Thanks Auro

 
At 3/21/2011 11:13 AM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

Shall we accept a Bedroom story ,without any substantial proof,narrated by a Woman after 20 yrs living in a Home,taking the advantage of law. Wherever it may be in USA or India irrespective of religion.And if she feels molested she could have done much bef.why to wait 20 yrs to express the same?at the same time her family likes to live in the same environment?what is the intention behind?is she uneducated ?is she financially not sound ?or because failed to get peronal benefit or eye over the proprietary of the community?There are beautiful ladies in the community too,have we interviewed them,before alleging a innocent person ?If the allegation is not TRUE shall the system will be be able to recover his reputation?I think every wise people will definitely think about this irrespective of gender,religion and nationality.

 
At 3/21/2011 8:11 PM, Anonymous Michael S said...

don't just blindly trust what the system has convicted him of. the state tries to ruin self-sustained communities all the time, which happen to be spiritual institutions and ashrams a lot of the time. these women were clearly paid off by someone, or provoked to do what they did for the reward money. there has been guru after guru convicted of these charges because american, redneck judges know nothing about indian culture, and it scares them to know more. i am not his devotee, but it is hard for me to believe he did this.

 
At 3/21/2011 8:14 PM, Anonymous Michael S said...

also, the so called evidence of a tape that was supposed to be used in court proceedings magically vanished one day. maybe, because it just...magically vanished. orrr, because the tape could have easily been criticized to prove his innocence. one of the jurors in quote: "it just all sounded so real!" oh really? well, i'm glad we can use the justice system to throw people in jail for the rest of their life based on what a testimony sounds like.

 
At 3/22/2011 11:37 AM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

Hope there would always people in the world who would analyse ,trying understand some situation like this,bef blaming...thanks

 
At 3/22/2011 11:57 AM, Blogger jody radzik said...

Aurobinda, face it, Prakashana's little gopi lilas were wrong. He is a creep, and he's been busted, found guilty, and is now a common criminal.

 
At 3/23/2011 12:50 PM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

This is not new for Indian Saints..they faced it ..got tortured for 200 years ,bef independence even within their own territory by outsiders but still values exits and are getting excepted by same the people 1000 times more today .You did not answer my qs.So as per you..we all should accept the incidents like this and with unverifiable evidence and should victimize people ,when we are in power ?and nobody should object that irrespective of religion,gender and nationality?do u believe this philosophy to act without transparency and no analysis ?

 
At 3/24/2011 3:47 PM, Blogger jody radzik said...

do u believe this philosophy to act without transparency and no analysis ?

The court did the analysis. The verdict: guilty. Many have spoken out about the abuse at Barsana Dham, as well as the abuse perpetrated by Kripalu Maharaj. This wasn't much of a secret in the first place. It was only the power of the JKP to intimidate that has kept it under wraps for so long.

 
At 3/25/2011 10:11 AM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

you are seems drawing your yr juries own line..you wrote abuse from Kripaluji maharaj ....where you draw that line?..this is yr perception..or your juries..many have condemd that..there seems the similar case..false implication he had to face by similar prostitutes deployed by agencies and ..no laws of any country convicted HIM and apologies with honor..and ..peoples drawing line from the petitions of such cases and trying to mix from half of chapters..this is relative perceptions...the similar situation here..unfortunately u are mapping with wrong reference..

 
At 3/25/2011 10:30 AM, Blogger Aurobinda said...

yeah we all could see what kind of irresponsible analysis your system doing..allowing terrorists to get VISA and get entry but strip search to eminent personalities and even presidents of country....Hadely !!..resulted 9/11 in your country and 26/11 at ours..ok we are not capable?but you say your system is ok this way?..one more recent incident--wikileaks analysis with improper data ... ref to the USA embassy here..tried to destablize the Govt even...so its obvious how the juries acted on the data provided..

 
At 3/27/2011 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hereby declare that Swami PrakaShanand Saraswati is being cullminated, the charges against him are false and nothng will get proved in the court..!!

 

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