File under: Gurubusting
, Gurus Doin' TIme
, Hands Where They Don't Belong
and The Siddhi of PR
[Ed.note: We just love it when an insider comes through with the straight skinny. All are invited to fill us in on the shenanigans of their present or former gurus. Much thanks to the soul who's provided today's tasty treat covering a Gp fave, Swami Prakashaka BOOM!
]By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident
How much does it cost to have some highfaluting lawyers appeal a judge's ruling in the Texas Court of Appeals? Estimates range from $75,000 and $100,000. For that kind of money you would think that maya would bend a little to a swami's demands. But no such luck. On Wednesday June 24th, Prakashanand Saraswati was thwarted for the third time in his efforts to return to his 250-some-acre, multi-million-dollar ashram southwest of Austin.
He's been blocked from entering his former sanctuary since May 3rd, 2008, by his own agreement with the court after he was arrested on 20 counts of indecency with two children who grew up there.
On the day Prakashanand's legal "team" made their plea to the Texas Court of Appeals, they repeated one mantra over and over to the three judges: "Barsana Dham has 54 adult residents and no children." (I wonder if they were using japa beads?)
What an odd refrain. And an obvious stretch of the truth. While it's true that no children "live" there, plenty visit and stay overnight in the ashram's many guest quarters. Plus, one regular teenage visitor sleeps in the temple in a room roughly 100 yards from Prakashanand's bedroom door. What's more, Barsana Dham holds "Family Camps" a couple of times a year -- during which many families, including their children, spend several nights. And there are children running around the place on any given day of the week and during holidays. The place is a kid magnet!
Is that why an accused pedophile wants back inside his ashram? I don't know the answer to that (though I can guess). But one has to wonder why he would spend so much time and money trying to get back into this particular piece of God's green earth before his trial—where he can allegedly prove his innocence and get on with his life.
After all, the man has multiple other homes around the world. He's got three suites in three ashrams in India, one in New Zealand, and one in LA. He can stay in any devotee's home anywhere he travels. Why, oh why, does he need so desperately to be back in Barsana Dham?
There is only one reason: Keeping the myth alive.
I mean, come on: How must it look that a God-realized Saint cannot control maya? How must it appear to those 54 residents that their Lord and master is so powerless? How must it look to new people that the guru can't even appear in the flesh in his own ashram?
In the motion to the Court of Appeals, filed in January 2009, Prakashanand's lawyers claimed that by not allowing him into Barsana Dham, the court "violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution." They cried that he was deprived of practicing his faith. Oh. My. God. Hey, Prakashanand, I thought you taught us to practice titiksha and do our devotions every second of every day no matter if we are hungry, cold, hot, sick, or whatever. Come on, buddy. A little practice-what-you-preach would be nice.
Oh and I love that this man is suddenly so keen on his own rights under U.S. law—meanwhile, has no qualms about breaking them to suit his, uh, needs.
Meanwhile, back in May 2008, at his first hearing, Prakashanand's lawyers asked the Hays County Judge to amend the conditions of his bond, asking for the return of his passport, the reduction of his bond, and for access back into Barsana Dham. They added: "We'd like to focus on the returning of the passport and travel to India as a change in conditions."
After a few minutes of deliberation in the judge's chambers, both parties agreed that he could have his passport back, but have no further access inside of Barsana Dham (because that's where the crimes allegedly occurred). When they returned to the courtroom, the judge stated clearly: "[J]ust for the record, the passport will be returned with the additional conditions that you have agreed on, including the new bond" (which was $10 million to ensure his return for the trial). Prakashanand's counsel responded, "That's correct, Your Honor."
Famous last words. By August 20th, his lawyers were back in the courtroom begging for their client's access to Barsana Dham. The judge said "no." They tried again on Sept. 29th. The judge again said "no." So it was off to the Court of Appeals. And the resulting third blow to Prakashanand's status as controller of maya.
My favorite line of the Texas Court of Appeals oral argument is this: "Appellant's (Prakashanand's) inability to return to Barsana Dham was no less a hindrance to his ability to practice his religion or associate with his followers in May than it was in August, or than it is today."
OH, BURN! Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Appeals, J. Woodfin Jones, do you know who you just smacked down? May I touch your feet?
What I really love, what really brings a smile to my face, what is truly a great practical joke by God—is that every time
Prakashanand is driven to his way-more-modest Austin-area residence (in a devotee's home 2.5 miles down the road on RR 1826), he has to drive right past his resplendent Barsana Dham ashram.
Oh what a cruel, cruel world. ;-)
[Ed.note: Check this out for a bit more exposure of the hijinks at Barsana Dham, and at the mother org, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat.
Labels: Gurubusting, Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong, The Siddhi of PR