Respected Maharajas, Prabhus, and Matajis,
Three weeks ago in Mayapur, my son Balaram asked me a question. He said, “Until a few years ago you were completely engaged in serving the cause of the Yamuna in Vrindavan. What convinced you to leave that important project and take up the service of collecting Laksmi for the TOVP?”
I answered, “In the maturity of my life, I have understood that the only way dharma and Vaishnavism can save the world in Kali Yuga is through the preaching mission of Srila Prabhupad’s ISKCON society. And the only way ISKCON society can become strong and flourish is when Sri Dham Mayapur, the world headquarters of the society, will prosper. By building the TOVP temple, the spiritual morale of the entire international congregation of ISKCON will be strengthened. Therefore I have given priority to this work even above the Yamuna cause.” To this, my son in appreciation applauded and commended my clarity of thought and vision in regards to my service.
In 2012 I joined the TOVP team as the fundraising director and orchestrated ways and ideas of motivating the entire world of ISKCON with awareness and participation to build this temple. I made presentations from GBC level down to temple devotees to solicit contributions in order to complete this half-finished project, which at present stands at 100 million dollars until completion.
Since then I have tirelessly traveled, made presentations, spent a night in a South African jail, suffered from heart troubles, and went to the hospital three times in an ambulance. But I never stopped for a day to consider my health, my family, or my business. As a result, I have been able to motivate over 17,000 devotees to pledge 35 million dollars in pledges to the TOVP of which 15 million dollars has already been realized and spent on the construction.
Just in 2015, I was able to collect 7 million dollars in cash and 20 million dollars in pledges. In USA and Canada, from March to July, in those four months I travelled to 45 cities and visited 450 homes, collecting in pledges 16 million dollars. Besides this, I have taken time on weekends to travel to various temples in the USA and collect for their individual projects in Central New Jersey, Parsippany, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Las Vegas.
During my tour, I personally made pledges to the amount of $150,000 to local temples in USA to encourage them and impress upon them that together we can serve Prabhupada, and my services are always available indiscriminately to any temple in ISKCON. Other than this I also visited UK for 15 days and collected 1 million pounds by doing home programs every night.
I made presentations in Vrindavan, Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Delhi, and at Vyasa Puja celebrations and any other opportunity that I could possibly get to motivate people to contribute. This is how, with a begging bowl, I have travelled. With mostly small money being pledged and collected, I have been able to give the money required to construct the TOVP temple for the last 3 years.
Two weeks ago I came to Mayapur, having extensively travelled all over India, and met with Bhavananda das outside the TOVP with Ambarish and other TOVP devotees standing next to me. He asked me, “How are you.” I replied, “I am ok, but I’m travelling too much.” His immediate reply in front of everyone was, “You like travelling. What is your problem? “Followed by, “You don’t like your wife anyways, and therefore you can’t stay home. So it is good that you are traveling.”
My days are spent travelling and struggling with temple authorities all over the world trying to get my foot in the door of their temples and congregations to do fundraising for TOVP. It is not an easy job. The only place I expect some sympathy and appreciation is from my own department devotees, the TOVP.
I met Bhavananda after one year and this is the greeting I get from him. As a respectable Indian man, it is impossible for me to tolerate a statement that insults my wife. I was brutally hurt but still in that condition I performed my service and made a presentation to the 50 devotees that were visiting the TOVP site with Vaisesika prabhu.
Bhavananda never took the opportunity or time to approach me and appease the situation. The next day, feeling very hurt, my wife and daughter took me on a parikrama with Vaisesika Prabhu. I was at the Goshala when I received a phone call from Bhavananda das, he says, “Radha Jivan Maharaj. I fall at your feet and ask for forgiveness. We are at the TOVP site and want you to come where we are making a film for the GBCs in which you are needed.” Even at that point I was thinking that I should go back, but I told him that I am presently at the Goshala. His reply was, “Oh, ok. Have a good day.” A stiff apology is second insult. By his sarcastic tone, I concluded that he didn’t really need me in the TOVP.
I returned from Parikrama in the afternoon and I was walking outside the TOVP office with my wife, where Bhavananda approached me from behind on the street. He said, “When can I talk to you.” By then I was already feeling very dejected and insulted by his behavior in the last 24 hours. In the emotion of feeling so rejected, I blurted out to him in pain, “There is no more talking. I am resigning.”
In brief I tried to explain to him my pains and the efforts I have put into my service. My wife was standing by my side as my witness and she mentioned later that anyone who would have heard my painful words at that time would have cried. Bhavananda das, instead of showing me any sympathy for my pains, points to Ambarish who was walking away from me, and says, “You want to resign? Then go. Go right now and resign. You are saying resign. So go right now, go to Ambarish.” That attitude and those words and the confidence in which he pointed out to his friend Ambarish completely broke me. In retaliation, while I was shaking, I said to him, “Who are you to tell me to resign? I work on behalf of the GBCs to collect money for TOVP. I will resign to them.” Then he looks to me strongly in the eye and says, “You think you’re a big man don’t you?” By then, my wife pulled me to Prabhupada’s lawn where I sat in total disgust and disappointment at how I was being dealt with by this man in the last 24 hours. I came back to my room and called my three sons in America. I relayed the entire incident and asked for their advice. They unanimously recommended resignation, and that I return back home in the USA. Brajavilas can be a witness to this, since he was present.
The next morning, I went to Pancattatva and Radha Madhava at Mangal Aroti and prayed, “Till yesterday, I was enthusiastic to give up my life to build this temple for You. And today I am resigning and leaving. What is the correct course of my action? Kindly become an inspiration and guide me in my heart.” When I came out of the temple, my mood had changed. Now I wanted to leave, but after getting justice and being heard by those who appreciate my efforts to TOVP.
I therefore called a few of the Mayapur devotees who were in Mumbai at a meeting and they gave me assurance that they would come the next day and will hear my case. I relayed my story to Jayapataka Swami, Bhima Prabhu, Doyaram, Bhakti Purushottam Maharaj, Devakinandana Prabhu, and other senior leaders. They all unanimously showed sympathy and support. The local Bengali devotees organized a meeting with the community so that I could present the insult and pains I was feeling from Bhavananda das’s behavior. This meeting took place on Tuesday last week in Namhatta hall. I spoke in Hindi for 45 minutes and everything has been recorded without any editing, which I have sent to several leaders for their perusal.
On Wednesday afternoon I received a letter signed by Ambarish Prabhu that I am being expelled from my services because I have become very strident in my personal ambitions concerning my position in TOVP (The letter is attached). This letter has been signed by Ambarish prabhu who was not even present in Mayapur at the time. I have noticed from the day I joined the TOVP project that Bhavananda das has taken complete control of the TOVP project, keeping Ambarish Prabhu in the front as his instrument. Ambarish prabhu is a docile, meek, and a humble Vaishnava.
Bhavananda das takes full advantage of him in running the TOVP according to his whims. It is very difficult to approach him with any ideas or needs that may be good for the project because his first reaction is always a very stiff “No” and then with much pleading he may let you explain in very short and keeps all the decisions completely unilateral to himself. In taking my complaints to other leaders, I realized that many of them had similar complaints of him offending them. Such as Jayapataka Swami, Bhakti Purushottam Swami, Doyaram das, and many other devotees. My observation about him is that he is very flamboyant in his expenses in the TOVP. This is his nature. I have known him for the last 37 years. In my estimation, he does not care about using materials that will be long lasting for enduring the use by millions of people that will be visiting this temple. I had even mentioned this to him one time to which his reply was, “I don’t fucking care, I will build this temple and die. And they can do the repairs.”
Last year during my presentation at the All India Temple Presidents’ meeting, I impressed upon the Mayapur management the importance of TOVP receiving some bulk money in order to purchase marble. To which I got a verbal agreement of a loan of 2 million dollars from Bhakti Purushottam Maharaj through the Mayapur temple funds. In my excitement I immediately called Bhavananda das in Australia and relayed my success story. His response: “Take the money and fuck them. Don’t pay them back.” Last year, when the GBCs took a tour of the temple, and some of them voiced concern about the straight shape of the altar in a round temple room, he became very angry and was using F words to express his rejection of their recommendation. I have constantly noticed this kind of attitude in his service to TOVP and in years it has only becoming more and more evident, ugly and intolerable.
With all these experiences of so many senior Vaishnavas being offended by this man, I have come to the conclusion that the stand I am taking to have this man removed from the TOVP is not only my fight and experience, but it is on behalf of all these Vaishnavas and ultimately on behalf of Srila Prabhupada’s TOVP project.
As for ambitions in life, it is important for me to mention some of the sevas I have done with my own Lakshmi: building a temple in Dwarka, a school building in Rajkot, a huge Namahatta building in Mayapur, collecting and having Ekachakra temple opened just last week, amongst others. You will not see a plaque or any kind of recognition for me in these projects. A few years ago, I donated $80,000 to Alachua temple and collected $150,000 for building a kitchen for the temple and the installation of Krishna Balaram. Against my donation, the name was written anonymously. Till today, very few people in my community in Alachua know of my contributions to the temple and community.
I personally run a clothing business for the last 25 years employing 15-20 people, and I have always given 100% opportunity only to devotees to be employed in my company. Every day when I’m in Alachua, I deliver the butter my wife makes for the deities and take the opportunity to sweep the entire temple every day. I do this because it’s my greatest joy. I lived in Varshana for 9 years with Ramesh Baba, doing various meaningful services for the Brajabasis: spreading Harinam kirtan in 10,000 villages, fighting the local mafia in Braj for 7 years, and working for the cause of the Yamuna for 5 years. I slept on the streets in front of the Parliament in Delhi for 17 nights with 2,000 supporters for the cause of the Yamuna. With all this work, every day I would still sweep the streets of Varshana for at least two hours. Whether it would be winter, summer, or rain. It is important for me to mention all of these things from my own mouth even though it is not proper. This is so that you understand the standards that I accept for my spiritual enhancement.
Bhavananda das has used Ambarish Prabhu, a docile and a humble Vaishnava who is also my family friend for the last 35 years. His wife and my wife are like sisters; not a day goes by when she does not call our home. With such a family relationship, Bhavananda das has used Ambarish against me like a Brahmasthra..
The letter that Ambarish Prabhu has circulated to all the temple presidents, which by now may be in the hands of every devotee of ISKCON, has defamed me with the allegation of being ambitious. This is worse than calling me a thief, because if he had alleged misappropriation of money, I stood a chance of explaining myself by showing accounts. But ambition is an allegation to which there are no explanations. I am receiving phone calls from friends who are saying that ISKCON community is suspecting you have misappropriated money and your expulsion is only a cover up in the form of ambition. I ask you esteemed members of the GBC to consider that such a brutal attack on my character has been made, without showing any cause or proof, or even first approaching the GBC with this complaint. Rather, by going to the entire world of ISKCON, Bhavananda das has caused me and my children such damage that everywhere we go now people are going to look at us suspiciously.
I have been a devotee for the last 38 years, coming from a very respectable family in Patna, Bihar. The only world I gave to myself and to my four grown-up children is the world of ISKCON. With this one letter, he has taken my entire world away from me and left me with nowhere to go. My daughter is presently in Mayapur with me and was planning to attend and participate in the ILS meetings is now too troubled to do so, and is forced to leave Mayapur. My son Balaram and his fiancé who have come all the way from USA to do service at the ISKCON Varshana eye camp are experiencing the same emotions there. My youngest son, Shri-Ram, who has left the comforts of his own home to join the Krishna House in Gainesville while going to college, called me yesterday and mentioned that all day at the Alachua temple he was being approached by devotees with so many doubts and questions.
This false allegation on me through the letter signed by Ambarish Prabhu, a devotee in impeccable standing in ISKCON movement, leaves no choice for my family and I but to leave shamefully. This is the reward I have received from serving Srila Prabhupada’s most important project, the TOVP, in a tireless manner, with extreme sacrifice to my business and family. My conclusion to whatever trouble Bhavananda das has brought to me is that I go away from Mayapur rejected, disappointed and helpless. I will definitely take this letter, orchestrated by Bhavananda das and signed by Ambarish prabhu, enlarge it and frame in my home for my family to see, knowing that this is the remuneration their father has received for his extreme sacrifice and hard work to build the TOVP temple.
I leave my matter now in the hands of the GBC and the Vaishnava community of ISKCON. My stand and request is that for the good of TOVP, Bhavananda das should not be allowed to be a part of this project. The execution rests on all of you, since you are all the seniors and protectors of Prabhupada’s movement. I go away from here completely broken hearted. However, one last thing I want to say is that if you ever need my services in the TOVP to collect from the devotees, I will be willing to come back. Not as the director of fundraising. But with the title, “Beggar for TOVP”.
I beg to remain always in your service, in the service of Lord Chaitanya’s movement, and pray to you all that you will give me a place in this society of ISKCON, since we have not learned where to survive elsewhere. This can only be done if my name is cleared in the world of ISKCON and justice is given: Justice delayed is justice denied.
Humbly and sincerely yours,
Radhajivana das and family
Victims of Bhavananda das.